Will Apple really go all out for eSIM only iPhone?

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Mumbai: Since late last year, many telcos around the world are offering eSIM options to their subscribers along with physical SIM. However, this new eSIM (embedded SIM) technology is currently supported by some of the high-end smartphone models. That includes Apple (iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13, and iPhone 13 mini), Samsung (Galaxy S20, S21, Fold and Z Flip), Google (latest Pixel models) and Huawei (P40 and Mate 40 Pro).

For Apple, however, the new eSIM technology has sort of becoming a contentious issue after rumoured that Apple plans for eSIM only iPhone.

As there’s growing speculation in the media that Apple will go all out for eSIM only iPhone during the upcoming launch in September this year iPhone ditching the traditional or physical SIM.

One analyst has tried to dissect Apple’s approach and truth from those rumours keeping in view the large perspective of the telcos.

According to GlobalData’s Technology Service Director, Emma Mohr-McClune, an eSIM-only iPhone was always a question of ‘when’, not ‘if’—but, so far, there has been insufficient consideration as to ‘how’.

“We don’t believe that Apple will take the ‘big bang’ approach—getting rid of existing systems and transferring all users to eSIMs,” said Emma.

“But rather launch an eSIM-only variant of its upcoming new model—retaining the dual eSIM-plus-physical SIM slot model for the mass market and its key carrier channel,” added Emma.

From the telcos perspective, Emma even pointed out the options that telecom companies will have on their table. “We believe telecom companies will be given the choice of whether to stock and sell a new eSIM-only iPhone variation alongside more cellular business-friendly dual eSIM/physical SIM support models,” opined Emma.

Interestingly, Emma shared a possible scenario that Apple is likely looking at. “We think it’s likely that the primary focus of this theoretical eSIM-only iPhone will be the Apple channel,” she observed.

“Apple will provide this model with ‘wireless data connectivity inside’ together with one or more connectivity partners—much in the same way it positions 4G and 5G connectivity for the iPad today,” explained Emma.

She also pointed out that Apple may come up with a VAS ( value-added service).”Apple may also consider a VAS digital service shakeup, aligning Apple-sourced connectivity with certain Apple-branded digital services for a more attractive overall proposition.”

However, Emma has some words of caution for telcos against such eventuality and elaborated on how they can prepare for it. “Telcos need to prepare carefully for such an eventuality,” she said.

“Boosting their own internal eSIM support tools, general marketing and support readiness, as well as improving their own eSIM onboarding and anticipating aggressor eSIM-support ‘test pilot’ promotion,” explained Emma.

Emma cited T-Mobile and Verizon’s Visible in the US as examples of how some telcos are addressing and dealing with eSIM technology.

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