Next-gen Apple iPhones may offer dual-SIM functionality

Smartphones with dual-SIM functionality allow “users to have two different numbers — for personal and official use, without having to carry two different phones,” Ritesh Bendre reports for BGR. “If the latest patent filing is to be believed, future iPhones may finally boast dual-SIM card functionality.”

“Apple has been granted a patent for dual-SIM technology by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In another report on Forbes, a document filed with China’s State Intellectual Property Office also describes an iPhones with dual-SIM card feature,” Bendre reports. “The details mentioned on the patent talk about the system, apparatus and the means of controlling access to different antennas with devices featuring multiple SIMs. The description also illustrates the use of two SIM cards and how the priority of SIM card is determined. For instance, if one SIM card is being used for making a phone call, it gets priority over the second SIM which is used for mobile data.”

“Dual-SIM smartphones have a great demand in Asian counties, especially India and China. According to Counterpoint Research’s Tarun Pathak, nearly 90 percent of India’s installed smartphone user base is dual-SIM enabled,” Bendre reports. “Apple, after all, has made it quite clear how important the Indian market is for its growth in the next decade.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Here’s hoping this appears along with all of the other rumored improvements in Apple’s next-gen iPhones.

12 Comments

  1. This feature is quite popular among the cheap, no-name Chinese Android devices (as well as some brand-name models). I’m not quite sure how frequently it is used, though. I can see it coming in quite handy in EU, where there are dozens of national carriers across the continent, and lack of borders enables complete freedom of movement between the countries and carriers. For people who live in the north, for example (UK, Netherlands, Belgium, etc), and have a summer house in Spain, two SIMs allow avoiding roaming overages. For EU at least, that roaming trouble may become moot, when the new EU law forces carriers to eliminate, or drastically lower, their roaming charges within the EU lands.

    I wonder how many people really need two SIM slots. If this percentage is as low as I think it may be (low single digits), I can’t see Apple wasting internal space for a card slot that almost nobody would ever use. That would be completely un-Apple.

    If it did actually happen, I’d definitively be among those who use it, as I travel frequently overseas and it is always good to be able to keep the US T-Mobile SIM card in the phone, for those texts and calls from the US.

      1. Great idea! Let’s also get electronic trackers implanted in our foreheads too. For corporate and security reasons, you see.

        SIM cards are non updateable and secure. The user can therefore change carrier anytime. With virtual identity, how do you know when it is hacked, who accessed it , or whether you former carrier persists in collecting your data? At least with a single physical SIM, you only have one company to worry about.

    1. What would be really nice would be to have a virtual SIM setup. I know Apple wanted to do that a few versions ago but couldn’t get the support of the carriers.
      I had to go back to the UK and took a UK SIM along I had used 3 months earlier. I kept on having issues with not being able to get data and the phone number did not match what was previously used.
      So having a virtual setup would allow you to switch seamlessly between carriers.

      1. About the only possible disadvantage of the physical SIM over an e-SIM is that it is physical; it requires a slot in the phone, and it can be misplaced when out of the phone.

        On literally all other counts, virtual SIM is a solution in search of a problem. It takes all of 10 seconds to swap a SIM in your phone. I was on T-Mobile USA, and the next moment, I’m on Vodafone Hungary. I don’t need to call anyone, hoping they will speak a language I can understand, before I can use that other SIM. Swapping SIMs on a phone is as seamless as it gets. Having to call a mobile operator in order to activate your phone’s virtual SIM on another carrier is a hassle most people would rather not have to deal with.

        About the only way I can see this work is if the phone software had a solution that would allow you to keep the virtual SIM data in your phone at all times. In such a scenario, the virtual SIM is always activated (and if you have several of them, they are ALL active at all times), and inside your phone software, you pick which one you want to use to connect at any given time.

        While technologically feasible, I can’t see this happening anytime soon, as it would require support from all GSMA operators (as well as VMNOs).

        1. You’re missing the obvious disadvantage of having to obtain a physical SIM in the first place. I’m much rather turn off Airplane mode when my plane lands and go to Settings to see a list of available carriers and tap, tap, Apple Pay for a temporary plan than search the airport kiosks for SIMs (which many airports don’t have) or walk around the city trying to find one).

          While I agree, I don’t see this happening soon, it’s clearly a better way to go.

      1. Not going to happen any time soon (if ever). There are over 800 GSM mobile operators around the world, plus additional 1,300 VMNO (virtual mobile network operators), totalling over 2,000 companies that currently use SIM cards to provide services to their customers. Before your E-SIM becomes a meaningful, it would require adoption of the majority of big operators (with large numbers of subscribers).

        More importantly, I don’t see the purported advantages of e-SIM as the advantages; actually, they are potential causes of trouble. Right now, I have fiver different mobile SIMs, from five different operators (five different countries). When I travel around, I simply pull one out and put the other one in as soon as my airplane lands and is taxiing to the gate. By the time I’m off the plane, my local SIM number is already active on my phone. I don’t have to call anyone, I don’t have to worry if my call will be after hours, or on a holiday, and I won’t be able to activate my e-SIM on a different operator.

        The problem with the existing concept of e-SIM is that I have to call the operator (or contact them in another way) in order to activate my account on my phone, which requires some sort of access to a phone (or internet) in my country of destination. This is a hassle. I would then have to wait to get off the plane, hope for free WiFi at the airport (in order to enable me to connect), and that’s assuming that my operator allows activation of e-SIM via internet. And if it doesn’t, I have to find a local phone in order to call the operator (or incur massive roaming charges for my phone call on my other SIM). There is also a possibility that, due to some mistake, the operator declines to activate my card and I now have to deal with customer service, all the while raking up roaming charges on my other SIM.

        Existing system of simply swapping SIMs on my phone (or the opposite; swapping phones with the same SIM) takes the carrier(s) out of the communication loop. If those mobile accounts are in good standing, those SIMs can be used on any device I want, and I don’t have to call anybody in order to do this.

        I remember, in the early 2000s, many women throughout Europe used to have several phones (different colours, to match different outfits / purses), and would simply move their SIM from one to the other. This was the time of the old “dumb”-phones, where the only personal data was the contact list, and even that was on the SIM card. Having to call mobile operator ever single time you need to switch your line from one e-SIM to another is a non-starter and a deal-breaker.

        1. Having to call mobile operator ever single time you need to switch your line from one e-SIM to another is a non-starter and a deal-breaker.”

          It doesn’t have to be that way though. It could be set up to be managed in Settings as well as allowing linked numbers (multiple devices sharing the same number/plan).

  2. I regularly swap SIMs when I’m in a country that I’ll be in for a while. It’s much cheaper to get a local Sim with a data package than to use data roaming from my the service provider that I use at home.

    There’s another use that I can see for a dual SIM iPhone. My wife has her own iPhone, but also has to field out of hours calls via a different iPhone supplied by her employer. The problem arises when she’s driving, because only one of those phones at a time can connect to the BlueTooth hands free system on her car. Driving while using a handheld cellphone is becoming a very serious offence in the UK and obviously she wouldn’t want to fall foul of that law. One phone that can answer calls from two numbers via the hands-free facility in her car would be a very tempting proposition.

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