Recent iPhone 14 leaks claim Apple is making some bold changes (which range from the controversial to the long-awaited) to its iconic smartphone range, but now new information has revealed by far the most shocking design change yet.
Multiple sources this week are claiming that Apple plans to remove the iPhone’s physical SIM card slot, which will leave the range entirely reliant on digital eSIMs. Moreover, while the first leak tipped the change to happen in 2023, two well respected sources now state it will happen as soon as next year in time for the iPhone 14 lineup. Let’s break this down and why the move makes a lot of sense.
Brazilian site BlogdoiPhone was first with the news, stating that Apple has made the decision to remove the SIM card slot a priority but that this was unlikely to happen before 2023. The site has no track record with Apple leaks, so many — including myself — took it with a pinch of salt. But that all changed when both a MacRumors source and respected leaker @dylandkt not only corroborated the leak but accelerated the timeframe.
“Apple has advised major U.S. carriers to prepare for the launch of eSIM-only smartphones by September 2022,” explained MacRumors, adding: “The tipster shared a seemingly legitimate document outlining the timeframe for this initiative.”
@dylandkt was similarly effusive, stating “I am in agreement with recent rumors regarding the removal of the physical SIM card tray” and linked to an earlier claim he had made back in February that Apple “will be working to remove the Sim Card Tray sooner than later… internally they are testing an undisclosed iPhone model with only eSim.”
Why Remove The iPhone SIM Card Slot?
The answer to this is three-fold: cost, durability and simplicity.
Cost – moving parts cost money and removing the SIM card tray will save money in the manufacturing process. It will also create a more seamless design and potentially allow Apple to use the space saved for other internal components. In smartphone design, every millimetre counts.
Durability – while iPhones have been water resistant for several years now, removing a point of access to the internal components is only likely to improve this. It would also be an easy way to justify the change to iPhone fans.
Simplicity – SIM cards have gotten ever-smaller through necessity (see above), with Apple one of the first to adopt the Nano-SIM back with the iPhone 5 way back in 2012. But Nano-SIMs are unpopular due to their tiny, easily-lost size. In fact, the hassle of ordering and swapping Nano-SIMs can be enough to discourage users from switching mobile networks. With eSIM-only that all changes and switching networks or adding additional contracts is only a few taps away.
There is one caveat to this move: not all carriers currently support eSIM. That said, Apple is arguably the one phone-maker with the influence to change that and iPhones going eSIM-only is likely to see mass adoption across the board. Something I believe would be a very positive step forward for the whole mobile industry and rivals would likely waste no time in copying the move.
Furthermore, the move to eSIM could be the cherry on top of what is shaping up to be the most exciting iPhone upgrade in years. Highlights include a more budget-friendly iPhone 14 Max, the potential return of Touch ID, a new punch-hole display that finally kills the notch and even a shock transition from Lightning to USB-C — though I remain sceptical about this.
Either way, if you’re still undecided about upgrading to the iPhone 13 range, all signs now point to the smart money holding for the iPhone 14.
Follow Gordon on Facebook
More On Forbes