With iOS 16, Apple introduced a new feature that allows you to transfer your eSIM between iPhones via Bluetooth while setting up cellular service.
To use this feature, you need to make sure the other iPhone is nearby, unlocked, has Bluetooth turned on and is running iOS 16 or later.
What is an eSIM?
An eSIM is an embedded SIM card that replaces the traditional physical SIM card. They’re available on some newer phone models, and are also used by some smartwatches.
eSIMs are more secure than traditional SIM cards because they aren’t removable. That makes them difficult to port out or use in SIM swapping scams, and it also helps protect your data.
They’re also less expensive than traditional SIM cards, because they can be programmed remotely. This can save you money when you travel, as cellular data charges can be a major pain if you have to use a different network while abroad.
Some of the latest phones, such as Google’s Pixel series and Samsung’s Galaxy series, support eSIM. They can hold up to 20 separate cellular profiles with their own data plans and phone numbers.
How to Transfer an eSIM
iOS offers a built-in feature that allows you to transfer physical or eSIMs from your old iPhone to a new one without having to contact your carrier. Taking inspiration from this, Google is rumoured to be working on similar functionality for Android.
To do this, you need to have two devices: your old iPhone and your new iPhone 14. Make sure that both phones are running iOS 16 or later.
If your carrier supports this option, a message will appear during the setup process asking you to transfer your cellular plan to your new device. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the transfer.
If your carrier does not support this feature, you can still transfer your eSIM to your new iPhone 14 by scanning a QR code from your carrier. Then, follow the steps to set up your cellular plan. When you activate the cellular plan, your previous SIM card will be deactivated. You may also need to sign into your new cellular plan with your Apple ID.
How to Activate an eSIM
An eSIM, or electronic SIM card, is embedded into phones and other devices that need it to work with a cellular network. It replaces a physical SIM card that's used to activate service and integrate with billing systems.
Unlike physical SIM cards, eSIMs are entirely digital and handled through a series of algorithms that feed a phone's hardware with information about the device's cellular network connection. This means a carrier can't lock a phone with an eSIM, and it's easier to switch phones than it is to transfer physical SIMs.
However, eSIMs have their drawbacks. For one, they require a more extensive activation process that's a bit more involved than a physical SIM.
You can activate an eSIM through a number of methods, including a QR code or by manually entering the eSIM's details. For most phones, you'll need to follow the instructions for your specific model.
How to Disable an eSIM
If you're using an eSIM to add a second line on your iPhone, you may want to disable it before switching to another carrier. This makes it easier to use your existing SIM card in your new device, and it will also free up some space on your physical SIM card slot.
To disable an eSIM, open Settings > Cellular or Mobile Data and choose the cellular plan you want to remove from the list. This option is labeled Remove [carrier name] plan on older versions of iOS.
After removing your eSIM, the contacts associated with it will be automatically updated to match whatever phone number is on your new SIM card. This is a good way to clean up your contacts, and it's easy to do.
However, some carriers will require you to activate an eSIM before it can be used with your device. This can be done by scanning a QR code, or by entering a series of written codes that the carrier provided.