The latest flagship device by Apple–the iPhone 15–is a true marvel of modern technology. Both the base and premium models of the device boast a multitude of impressive and state-of-the-art features.
Right from the powerful processing capabilities to advancements in Camera technology, the iPhone 15 has a host of amazing capabilities to offer. One of the main user concerns about the device is whether the iPhone 15 supports physical Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards.
Like many other potential users, you also may want to know whether the iPhone 15 features support for dual-sim. While all iPhone 15 devices support dual SIM, units meant for the US market do not support physical SIM cards.
iPhone 15 units meant for sale in other countries have a slot/SIM card tray for a physical SIM card, in addition to eSIM support. Know whether the iPhone 15 in your region comes with a SIM card slot, what an eSIM is, and how to activate it on your iPhone.
What is an eSIM?
Commonly referred to as an embedded SIM, an eSIM is an electronically programmable SIM card built into the phone. With an embedded SIM card, you don’t need to insert a physical SIM card into your iPhone. Instead, you only need to log in using your carrier-provided information. The provider will then provision your iPhone remotely–such that it can connect to its network as though you were using a physical SIM card.
Having completed the setup process, as illustrated later on in this guide, you get to use your iPhone the same way you would with a physical SIM card inserted. That said, all the iPhone 15 devices sold in the US, including iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPhone 15 Pro Max models, will be eSIM-only.
In addition to an embedded SIM card, iPhone devices meant for sale in other countries will still have a single nano-SIM card slot. Only the iPhone 15 models meant for China and Hong Kong markets won’t have an embedded SIM card. iPhone 15 units meant for those markets will only have two slots for physical nano-SIM cards, as you’ll learn below.
In either case, the eSIM technology has numerous benefits to offer iPhone 15 users, including:
- Enhanced Flexibility – allows you to conveniently switch between multiple carriers and cellular plans while searching for the best service.
- Easy Setup – with an eSIM, the setup process is comparatively simple. Rather than having to insert a physical SIM, you just need to activate the cellular service from the Settings app.
- Environmentally-Friendly – by eliminating the need for a physical SIM, the iPhone 15 eSIM technology will reduce the plastic waste amount generated in the mobile industry.
Does the iPhone 15 Have a SIM Card Slot?
Does the iPhone 15 have a SIM card? Does the iPhone 15 have dual-SIM support? These are some of the things many potential buyers are still concerned about. Normally, Apple produces multiple versions for each of its iPhone models–depending on the target market.
For instance, only the units sold in the US accommodate the faster high-band mmWave frequencies since 5G was introduced on the iPhone 12. In contrast, iPhones meant for sale in other countries only feature support for sub-6GHz 5G connectivity.
This demonstrated that the manufacturer produces different versions of the same device for different markets. Whether the device will have a SIM card slot depends on the target market, as explained below:
1: US Version iPhone 15 Devices
Just like the iPhone 14 before it, the US Version of the iPhone 15 will not have a physical SIM slot. Instead the US version of the device only features support for eSIM technology. This is to say that the SIM card on the iPhone 15 is embedded inside the phone itself.
The embedded SIM card on the US version of iPhone 15 will be directly provisioned through the Settings app on the device. If you ordered an iPhone 15 in the US, you won’t get a physical SIM card along with the device–even if you purchased the device directly with a courrier.
Instead, you’ll be required to transfer your physical line to your iPhone 15 or just set up the new line directly with your preferred courrier, as illustrated later on in this guide. In this regard, you can install up to 8 eSIMs, possibly more, on the US version of the iPhone 15. However, you can only use up to two eSIMs/ numbers on your iPhone at a time.
You can install eight or more eSIMs on an iPhone and use two phone numbers at the same time.
2: iPhone 15 Versions for Other Countries
Regardless of the iPhone 15 model you wish to purchase, versions meant for sale in other countries, other than the US, are a little different. One of the subtle differences between US and international versions of the iPhone 15 has to do with support for a physical SIM card.
International iPhone 15 versions come equipped with a single slot for inserting a physical nano-SIM card. Additionally, International versions of the iPhone 15 will also feature two eSIMs. Even so, you can only use any two SIM cards at a time–just like their US counterparts.
In this case, though, you can choose to activate the two eSIMs or an eSIM alongside the physical SIM card at any given time. This is to say that you get to use two phone numbers on your iPhone 15 simultaneously.
3: iPhone 15 Versions for the Chinese Market
There is yet another version of the iPhone 15 device–the one meant for sale in China. Regardless of the model, iPhone 15 devices meant for sale in mainland China do not feature an eSIM, not even one.
Instead, these devices come equipped with two slots for physical nano-SIM cards. This is to say that iPhones meant for mainland China are still dual-SM, only that you can only use physical nano-SIM cards. Some models meant for Macau and Hong Kong feature an eSIM.
You can also use an iPhone 15 with two nano-SIM cards in Hong Kong and Macao as well. If you’d like to use an eSIM on your iPhone 15 while traveling in these regions, some of the leading worldwide providers are known to offer ideal prepaid data plans.
iPhone 15 eSIM Carrier Activation – How is It Done?
Four years ago, Apple adopted the eSIM technology for use in its iPhone XS Max,iPhone XS, and iPhone XR. eSIMs was viewed by the manufacturer as the solution to incorporating dual-SIM support on iPhones. An eSIM allows you to add a second number to your iPhone without having to insert a second physical SIM card into the device.
However, Apple had to wait a few more years for carriers to adjust accordingly before ditching physical SIMs entirely. Since the launch of the iPhone 14, the manufacturer ditched a physical SIM card slot completely–for the US versions of the device. Now with the iPhone 15, the manufacturer is offering eSIM support for international iPhone versions as well.
So, how do you activate an eSIM on your iPhone 15? You can set up an eSIM while setting up the device, especially if your preferred carrier supports either eSIM Quick Transfer or eSIM Carrier Activation. Several other methods may also be used to activate an eSIM on iPhone 15, as illustrated below:
1). eSIM Carrier Activation on iPhone 15
This is where the carrier assigns an eSIM to the iPhone 15 during purchase. As you may be aware some worldwide service providers and carriers are capable of assigning a new eSIM. This is particularly the case when purchasing a carrier-connected iPhone 15 in the US.
This is arguably the easiest way to set up an eSIM on your iPhone 15. Was an eSIM assigned to your iPhone 15 when you purchased it? If so, just turn on the device and follow the on-screen prompts to set it up and activate an eSIM.
Note: If you are upgrading to an iPhone 15 from another phone, say an Android phone, contact your preferred carrier to transfer your phone number to the iPhone eSIM. This may be accomplished by scanning a QR code–as illustrated below–or through the eSIM Carrier Activation method.
Did your carrier set up an eSIM Carrier Activation after you had already set up the iPhone? You can use the eSIM Carrier Activation method to set up eSIM. This method will also come in handy if your preferred carrier does not support eSIM Quick Transfer, you are setting up a new line, or you are upgrading from another phone.
In this case, your mobile provider automatically provisions your iPhone 15 over the air. While this is usually done automatically, you can still do it manually with a simple call to the carrier or as follows:
- Unlock both devices, enable Bluetooth, and place them close to each other. Ensure both devices are signed into the same Apple ID and running iOS 16 or later.
- Wait until you get a “Carrier Cellular Plan Read to Be Installed” prompt. When you do, tap on the prompt. Alternatively, launch the Settings app and tap Carrier Cellular Plan Read to Be Installed.
- Tap on the Continue button, towards the bottom of the screen.
- Try your cellular connectivity by making a call on your iPhone 15.
If you are unable to make a call, contact your carrier. If the eSIM you just activated appears to replace your physical SIM card plan, just remove the physical nano-SIM card and restart the device.
2). Via eSIM Quick Transfer
According to an Apple support document, you can convert a physical SIM to an iPhone Pro Max eSIM during the initial iPhone set up process. This is relatively easy to accomplish, even for users who have never used an eSIM before.
If you can’t access your current phone, you can just contact the network provider to transfer the eSIM. If you are doing it during the iPhone 15 setup, you’ll be prompted to transfer your SIM. In such a case, just follow the on-screen prompts to transfer a physical SIM or eSIM to your iPhone 15 eSIM.
To transfer additional SIMs after you’ve set up your iPhone 15, just apply the following steps:
A). How to Convert a Physical SIM to an iPhone 15 Pro eSIM on the Same iPhone
If your carrier supports this option, you can easily convert a physical SIM to an eSIM on your iPhone 15. To do this:
- Launch the Settings app on your iPhone and navigate to the Mobile Data option.
- Next, tap on the Convert to eSIM option.
Note: If the Convert to eSIM option is not displayed on your iPhone, your network provider does not support the option. If so, contact the provider to move your phone number using the eSIM Carrier Activation method or by scanning a QR code, as you’ll learn later on in this guide.
- Now tap on Convert Mobile Data Plan
Now you need to allow the device enough time for the eSIM to activate. The previous SIM will be deactivated as soon as the new mobile data plan is activated on your iPhone 15.
- When this happens, remove the physical SIM card from the nano-SIM slot and restart the iPhone.
B). How to Transfer an eSIM/ Physical SIM From a Previous iPhone to an iPhone 15 eSIM
You can also transfer an eSIM or even a physical SIM from a previous iPhone to an eSIM on your iPhone 15 after the setup process. In this case, you need to:
- Open the Settings app on your iPhone and navigate to Mobile Data.
- Tap on the Add Data Plan option.
- Now you need to select the mobile data plan you wish to transfer from your previous iPhone.
Note: If you can’t see this list of plans on your iPhone, tap on the Transfer From Another iPhone option.
- Check for a prompt on your previous iPhone and tap on Transfer to confirm. Depending on the iPhone model, you may also be asked to enter a verification code to confirm. In the later case, enter the verification code displayed on your iPhone 15 onto the previous iPhone to confirm the transfer.
Now wait until the mobile data plan is activated on your iPhone 15. If you get a “Finish Up Your Network Provider’s Data Plan” burner on your new iPhone, tap on it. This will redirect you to the provider’s web page, from where you can transfer your eSIM.
Using a QR Code From Your Carrier’s App
If your preferred network provider does not support either the eSIM Quick Transfer or the eSIM Carrier Activation methods, you can have the provider send you a QR code for activation. You can then scan the QR code to setup eSIM on your iPhone, as follows:
While Setting Up Your iPhone
- Follow on-screen prompts to set up your iPhone 15 until you get to the Set Up Mobile Data screen.
- Now tap on the QR Code option and follow on-screen prompts to complete the process.
After You’ve Set up the iPhone
If you’d like to use a QR code to setup eSIM after the initial iPhone 15 setup, you should first contact your provider to get a QR code. Once you do, the following steps will help you activate the iPhone 15 Plus eSIM:
- Launch the Camera app on your iPhone 15 and scan the QR code you got from your network provider.
- You should get a “Mobile Data Plan Detected” notification on your iPhone. When you do, tap on it.
- Next, tap on Continue–towards the bottom of the screen
- Now tap on the Add Mobile Data Plan option
Note: If prompted to provide a confirmation code, enter the numerical.code provided by your network provider. Some providers may also require you to activate an iPhone 15 embedded SIM through their app.
Manually Enter the iPhone 15 eSIM Information
If for some reason the above-described methods don’t work, the last option would be to activate the iPhone 15 eSIM manually. To accomplish this:
- Open the Settings App on your iPhone and navigate to Cellular Or Mobile Data, depending on the iOS version.
- Tap on the Add Mobile Data Plan Option
- Contact your network provider to obtain your eSIM information and fill in the details accordingly.
- Once done, click on Continue To save the changes.
All iPhone 15 models meant for sale in the US do not come with a physical SIM card slot. Instead, they are equipped with eSIMs–allowing you to save up to right eSIMs on the device and use up to two at a time. International versions of the iPhone 15 are dual-sim as well.
However, those feature one slot for a physical nano-SIM. Only iPhones produced for the Chinese market come with two slots for physical nano-SIMs and no eSIM at all. As you’ve learned throughout this guide, the iPhone 15 eSIMs offer an experience similar to that offered by physical SIM cards.
This guide will make your transition to eSIM on the iPhone 15 seamless.