What is an eSIM for iPhone? (2023)

An eSIM, or embedded SIM, is a digital SIM card that allows you to activate a mobile plan from your carrier without the need for a physical SIM card. With an eSIM, you can install multiple SIM profiles on your iPhone and use multiple phone numbers simultaneously. It is a standard industry technology that provides flexibility and convenience for users [[SOURCE 1]].

Requirements for using eSIM on iPhone

To use an eSIM on your iPhone, you will need the following:

  1. iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, or later models.
  2. A mobile network operator or service provider that offers eSIM service.
  3. The new iPhone must be connected to a Wi-Fi network.
  4. Please note that eSIM for iPhone is not available in mainland China. However, it is supported in Hong Kong and Macao, with some iPhone models. For using dual SIM with two nano-SIM cards in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macao, please refer to the specific guidelines provided by Apple [[SOURCE 1]].

How to set up an eSIM on iPhone

Setting up an eSIM on your iPhone is a straightforward process. Here are the general steps:

  1. Turn on your new iPhone and follow the on-screen instructions. Usually, during the initial setup, you will have the option to activate or transfer your eSIM.
  2. If your carrier supports eSIM activation or quick transfer, you can activate it while setting up your iPhone. The activation process may vary depending on your carrier.
  3. If your carrier offers quick transfer, you can transfer the SIM from your previous iPhone to the new one without contacting the carrier. Make sure both devices are signed in with the same Apple ID, and the previous iPhone is unlocked, nearby with Bluetooth enabled, and running iOS 16 or later.
  4. If the above options are not available, you can contact your carrier to activate the eSIM using a QR code or the carrier's iPhone app.
  5. For iPhone models from iPhone 14 and later that only support eSIM, they can be activated without a Wi-Fi network [[SOURCE 1]].

Allowing the carrier to activate eSIM on iPhone

In some cases, carriers and service providers can assign a new eSIM to your iPhone, making the setup process more convenient. This typically happens when you purchase an iPhone connected to a carrier in the United States or when you acquire it through a carrier and provide your mobile plan details. If your iPhone comes with an assigned eSIM, you can follow the on-screen instructions to activate it [[SOURCE 1]].

Using quick transfer of eSIM on iPhone

Some carriers offer the option to transfer the SIM from your previous iPhone to the new one without contacting them. You can also convert your current physical SIM card to an eSIM. Here's how:

  1. If you have access to your current iPhone, follow the on-screen instructions during the setup process to transfer the physical SIM or eSIM.
  2. If you need to transfer the eSIM but cannot access your current iPhone, contact your carrier for assistance.
  3. If prompted to transfer the SIM during the iPhone setup, follow the on-screen instructions to transfer the physical SIM or eSIM. If you need to transfer multiple SIMs to the new iPhone, follow the additional steps provided [[SOURCE 1]].

Transferring physical SIM or eSIM to eSIM after setup

If you want to transfer the physical SIM or eSIM from your previous iPhone to the new iPhone after the initial setup, you can follow these steps:

  1. On the new iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular Data > Add Cellular Plan.
  2. Choose the mobile plan you want to transfer from another iPhone. If you don't see a list of numbers, tap "Transfer From Another iPhone." Both devices should be running iOS 16 or later.
  3. Follow the instructions on the previous iPhone to confirm the transfer. You may need to enter a verification code displayed on the new iPhone.
  4. Wait for the mobile plan to activate on the new iPhone. The previous SIM will be deactivated once the mobile plan is activated on the new iPhone.
  5. If you see a message on the new iPhone to complete the setup of your carrier's mobile plan, tap it. You will be redirected to the carrier's website to transfer the eSIM. If you need assistance, contact your carrier [[SOURCE 1]].

Converting a physical SIM to eSIM on the same iPhone

If your carrier allows it, you can convert a physical SIM to an eSIM on the same iPhone. Follow these steps:

  1. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular Data.
  2. Tap "Convert to eSIM." If you don't see the option to convert, it means your carrier does not offer this service. Contact them to transfer your phone number from the physical SIM to an eSIM using their eSIM activation or QR code scanning method.
  3. Tap "Convert Mobile Plan."
  4. Wait for the eSIM to activate. The previous SIM card will be deactivated once the mobile plan is activated on the iPhone.
  5. Remove the physical SIM card from the iPhone.
  6. Restart the iPhone for the changes to take effect [[SOURCE 1]].

Scanning a QR code or using a carrier app

If your carrier does not offer eSIM activation or quick transfer options, you can use a QR code or the carrier's app as an alternative. Here's how:

  1. During the iPhone setup, when you reach the "Set Up Cellular Data" screen, tap "Use QR Code."
  2. Follow the on-screen instructions to scan the QR code.
  3. If you want to activate the eSIM after setting up the iPhone, contact your carrier to obtain a QR code. Then, follow these steps:
    • Open the Camera app and scan the QR code.
    • When the "Mobile Plan Detected" notification appears, tap it.
    • Tap "Continue" at the bottom of the screen.
    • Tap "Add Mobile Plan."
    • If prompted to enter a confirmation code to activate the eSIM, enter the code provided by your carrier.
    • If the carrier offers eSIM activation through their app, download the app from the App Store and follow the instructions [[SOURCE 1]].

Manually entering eSIM information if necessary

If you need to manually enter eSIM information, contact your carrier to obtain the details. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap Cellular Data.
  3. Tap "Add Cellular Plan."
  4. Tap "Enter Details Manually" at the bottom of the iPhone screen.
  5. Enter the required eSIM information [[SOURCE 1]].


In this article, we have explored the concept of eSIM for iPhone and discussed the requirements and steps to set up an eSIM on your device. Whether you are activating an eSIM during the initial setup or transferring a physical SIM or eSIM to an eSIM after setup, the process is designed to be user-friendly and convenient. By following the provided instructions and guidelines, you can easily configure and utilize the benefits of eSIM technology on your iPhone [[SOURCE 1]].

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