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iPhone eSIM bug on T-Mobile is deactivating iMessage and FaceTime

Published May 20th, 2022 1:58PM EDT
Apple iPhone 13 Display
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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Apple might be looking to make iPhones without SIM card slots in the not-so-distant future, but that can’t happen unless eSIM technology is perfectly reliable. Any issues with eSIM can lead to serious communication problems, as some T-Mobile iPhone users can attest. There appears to be an eSIM bug that leads to the deactivation of iMessage and FaceTime associated with that number. What’s worse is that you might not be able to fix the problem without help from the carrier.

SIM cards enable cellular connectivity on smartphones. They also facilitate the internet connectivity needed for apps, including iMessage and FaceTime. Therefore, serious SIM card issues can turn an iPhone into an almost useless handset.

In this case, we’re looking at an eSIM bug that is affecting some T-Mobile iPhone users.

eSIM is the virtual version of SIM cards. All Apple phones starting with the 2018 iPhone XS series come with dual-SIM support, including a physical SIM and eSIM functionality. That means losing some eSIM features isn’t as devastating. You can still fall back to the SIM card you’re using alongside the eSIM number.

But that doesn’t make it any less annoying, as this particular bug impacts iMessage and FaceTime over the eSIM number.

What’s the eSIM bug on T-Mobile iPhones?

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman took to Twitter to detail his issues with the iPhone’s eSIM on T-Mobile.

“There is a very nasty iPhone and @TMobile bug where iMessage and FaceTime for a device’s phone number will randomly deactivate and there is no way to reactivate it,” he tweeted. “The only solution that worked for me is getting a new physical SIM card. An extremely disappointing issue.”

He offered another fix, removing your eSIM account from the T-Mobile iPhone and setting it up again. “But that’s complex for most people and shouldn’t need to ever to be done,” he said.

Gurman added in the same thread that a T-Mobile store rep helped him activate a physical SIM for the iPhone, revealing that other people have experienced the eSIM bug. The issue apparently impacts iOS 15.4, iOS 15.5, and iOS 15.6 beta 1.

The bug appears to be limited to T-Mobile users only for some reason, considering the replies Gurman’s thread received.

Apple knows about the issue, according to one of the people affected. A fix might be available in the future, but there are no guarantees. The person claims they’ve been communicating with Apple about the problem for months.

Again, you can’t have an eSIM-only iPhone if the experience isn’t flawless. Bugs like this will disrupt communications, especially if they impact apps like iMessage. But if the iPhone eSIM bug only affects T-Mobile customers, the carrier might be at fault in this case.

More iPhone coverage: For more iPhone news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.