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Some iPhone 14 models might not even need a SIM card, rumors say

Published Dec 27th, 2021 7:31AM EST
Apple iPhone 13 Back
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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Apple is planning a big change for the iPhone 14 series, according to a recurring rumor. The iPhone 14 Pro models will feature a hole-punch display, while the cheaper iPhone 14 versions will retain the notch design that Apple used since the iPhone X. But that might not be the only significant upgrade for the 2022 iPhone series. A couple of distinct reports say that Apple is already developing an iPhone that will lack a physical SIM slot, with one implying it might happen as soon as next year’s iPhone 14. The other says the iPhone 15 series will lack a physical SIM slot — that’s the phone that Apple would unveil in 2023.

The iPhone’s eSIM technology

The iPhone X successors that Apple launched in 2018 both delivered the iPhone update many customers have been asking for. That’s dual-SIM functionality, a feature that was available only from some Android devices.

But Apple did it differently. The company went for a hybrid solution rather than increasing the SIM slot size to fit two nano SIM cards. Since the iPhone XS/XR, all iPhones have support for a physical and a digital SIM (eSIM).

All future iPhones should continue to support dual SIM connectivity, whether it’s the iPhone 14 or iPhone 15 series. That’s because most carriers now support eSIM functionality.

That said, the next step is for handset makers to remove physical SIMs. Apple is one of the usual suspects when it comes to such a radical design choice. The company’s port-less, button-less iPhone has appeared in leaks and patents more than once. Such a device isn’t likely to feature a physical SIM card slot. As a result, such an iPhone would be waterproof, as the liquid would not have any means of getting into the handset.

iPhone 13 Pro Lightning PortImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

iPhone 15 without a physical SIM slot

Brazilian blog blogdoiphone learned from sources familiar with the matter that the iPhone 15 Pro models will not feature physical SIM slots. The 2023 iPhone Pro versions will feature support for dual-eSIM functionality.

An insider with an unnamed British company is supposedly working on the project. That person revealed the iPhone 15 will lack a physical SIM. The report makes no mention of iPhone 14 SIM design changes.

The same blog notes that the iPhone 15 series should introduce Apple’s 5G modem and an under-display fingerprint sensor. Additionally, the iPhone 15 might lack a physical charging port.

Whether the iPhone 15 SIM rumor is accurate or not, a different report says that Apple might set in motion plans that would eventually lead to the removal of the physical SIM card slot. According to MacRumors, it might start in 2022 with iPhone 13 versions.

It might start with the iPhone 14

Apple supposedly informed major US carriers to prepare for the launch of eSIM-only phones by September 2022. A tipster shared a document outlining the plans, but there’s no mention of Apple or the iPhone in it. The document suggests the SIM change will happen before the iPhone 14 launch.

US carriers should start selling select iPhone 13 models without a nano-SIM card in the box in the second quarter of 2022. That’s already happening with iPhone 13 models that Apple sells online or in its stores. Buyers can activate these devices via eSIM cards rather than a nano-SIM card.

That said, all iPhone 13 models have a physical SIM slot. That way, you can use them with any nano-SIM card in the world.

MacRumors speculates that Apple might remove the physical SIM card slot as soon as the iPhone 14 series, considering the September 2022 deadline. However, we’re a long way from an actual confirmation. Instead, we might be witnessing the next steps that Apple needs to go through before launching an iPhone without a physical SIM card.

Whether the iPhone 14 or iPhone 15 series will be the first to ditch the physical SIM card, Apple has to ensure that carriers can support eSIM-only devices and that customers can seamlessly transition to an eSIM-only experience.

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.