eSIMs are annoying episode #2 – or why I kicked my iPhone to the curb

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ARTICLE – A week ago, I posted an article about my experiences transferring an eSIM from my iPhone 15 Pro Max to a brand new Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. Long story short, it was easy going making the swap from the iPhone to the Samsung but when I tried to switch back, chaos ensued. I ended up having to go into a T-Mobile shop to get them to do the switch. I even made a Gadgeteer Video Podcast about it which you can go watch now if you like.

Ok, all caught up? Good. Let’s skip forward to late last week when I received the OnePlus 12 to review (go read about my unboxing/first impressions). I like OnePlus devices a lot. My current favorite Android device is the OnePlus Open folding smartphone. So I want to do a good job on the review of the OnePlus 12 which means I need to make it my primary phone and that means switching the eSIM from the iPhone to the OnePlus. Following so far?

I went into the OnePlus 12’s mobile network > eSIM settings and chose the add eSIM option. It then asked if I was transferring from another phone, to pick the carrier, and then if I was transferring from an iPhone. I picked all the right picks and was immediately brought back to the first question about adding a new eSIM. I tried this half a dozen times with the same result. Grrrrrr…

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Then I went to T-Mobile’s site with my MacBook, logged into my account, chose my main line, clicked update device SIM, and was then shown the image above. What the heck? Yes, I tried several times over a couple of days with no joy.

What did I do next? I put on my shoes, grabbed a jacket, my iPhone 15 Pro Max, the OnePlus 12, and my keys, and drove up to the T-Mobile store (again). I felt kind of embarrassed to walk back into the store after just being there a week ago for a similar problem. I told them that I wanted a physical SIM for my primary number so that I could put it into the OnePlus 12 (which they drooled over). Less than 10 minutes later, I walked out with a deactivated iPhone in one pocket and the OnePlus 12 with a physical SIM and my main phone number.

What about my iPhone 15 Pro Max? Well right now, I’m so annoyed with Apple that I don’t even want to look at it. Is this eSIM problem truly Apple’s fault? Not fully. I do think that moving eSIMs back and forth between phones is not something that we mere mortals can easily do right now and not between platforms (iOS/Android). But it should get easier between two Android devices soon with Google’s eSIM transfer tool that has been rolling out to some phones (maybe that’s what I used on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra last week and didn’t know it).

But when it comes down to it, I actually do blame Apple for this/my issue because with the iPhone 14 and newer, they don’t give you a choice between an eSIM or a physical SIM like other phones do. If you don’t want to use an eSIM, then you can’t use an iPhone. So for now at least, the iPhone and I are on a break.

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5 thoughts on “eSIMs are annoying episode #2 – or why I kicked my iPhone to the curb”

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  2. Kind of figured things like this would happen. The conspiracy theorist types will say it is done just to make it harder for consumers to switch phones/carriers. I know the phone manufacturers like the eSim idea, less connections, less space bla bla bla, but personally, I LIKE THE PHYSICAL SIM! Pop out of one, pop it in another, quick & simple. Now, you have to have an app, twiddle around with it, probably go to a store and all the headaches.
    A solution, that was in search of a problem!

  3. Or, is it possible that physical SIM cards allow a point for water intrusion and many more people have iPhones go bad because of water versus how many people actually change their SIM card to a new phone? Sorry to debunk the conspiracy, just the most logical idea I could think of.

    1. Steen, I don’t think you debunked the conspiracy… if solve water damage issues was actually the reason, don’t you think Samsung, Motorola, and OnePlus would have followed suit and also went to eSIMs only? I think the reason is we’re seeing a shift to eSIMs is that it’s easier for carriers to use eSIMs. No physical cards means no defective cards, no need to replace cards, etc. However, if there isn’t an easy way for tech enthusiasts to switch between phones, it’s a non-starter for me and causes more frustration than it supposedly fixes.

  4. Julie,

    Indeed, what a frustrating experience. I don’t this is vendor lock-in. I’m gonna bet Apple isn’t compelled to put a lot of time into fixing this as I suspect a very small percentage of their customers move off their newly received iPhone 14/15 devices (or even know what a ‘SIM card’ is). Over time, when users become less attached to their new toys, Apple will see the ‘light’, fix this and announce it as a new marketable feature. IMHO, until that very small percentage grows not much is gonna change. (Apple: “Should we devote development resources to fixing the eSIM or improving battery performance….Yea, I thought so, we’re on to the battery issues.”)

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