For the first time ever, Apple has introduced dual-SIM functionality to its smartphones. The tech giant launched three iPhones — iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR — on September 12 at the annual Apple Event in Cupertino, and all three support this dual-SIM feature. However, the dual-SIM functionality for iPhones is not the same as what it is for other phones. The second SIM that you can use in the new iPhone models will be a digital SIM — or eSIM.

The two SIMs will correspond to separate numbers, and a user can have two completely different voice and data plans.

Apple eSIM is however not new to India as the feature was introduced with Apple Watch Series 3.

eSIM can have several advantages for a user who can use one number for personal use and the other for work. One can also have a data roaming SIM especially for use in another country.

Here’s everything you need to know about the new eSIM technology, and its use in India.

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What is eSIM?

In simple definition, eSIM is Embedded-Subscriber Identity Module. So, eSIM is essentially a digitally embedded SIM card. It’s not a physical card, and the iPhones will not have a separate slot for the secondary SIM.

eSIMs are more compact in size — just a small fraction of the size of a nano SIM. It can be used in a variety of devices.

However, if you are buying any of the new iPhones to make use of the dual-SIM feature, you should note the device will need an eSIM-compatible network support for the secondary SIM.

In India, only two telecom operators — Airtel and Reliance Jio — offer eSIM functionality at the moment, with the help of a special cellular service.

Embedded SIMs are the future, according to many. With this technology, switching to a new operator is also easy. You don’t need a physical SIM card. So, if you want to switch from Airtel to Jio, or Jio to Airtel, you won’t need to install a new SIM card. A software will do the job.

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For eSIM support in iPhones, Apple will have a tie-up with these two telecom operators in India, it is learnt. Both the companies have been supporting eSIM for Apple Watch 3.

To set up an eSIM, the networks offer a QR code to be read by the iPhone’s camera, following which eSIM gets configured.

eSIMs in the past

eSIMs have been around for some time now. In 2016, the Samsung Gear S2 3G had come with eSIM support. Google used e-SIM for its Pixel 2 smartphone. However, the particular Google Pixel 2 version supporting the embedded SIM was available only in the US.

The technology came to India with Apple Watch 3.