Will dual-SIM iPhones have an Apple SIM inside?

“Do you want a different animoji for each line, Tim?’

Speculation claims Apple will introduce dual-SIM support in upcoming iPhones. That’s great for travellers and business users who need to clearly define the difference between personal and enterprise use of their devices, but I’m wondering if Apple might have a bigger plan around this?

iOS 12 seems to support a dual-SIM iPhone

Most recently, eagle-eyed sleuths spotted code in iOS 12 that seemingly refers to a second SIM. This follows lots of claims to the same effect – including an April claim from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, and – of course – a growing demand among customers for such a feature.

The new international

If you use an iPad you may already have used the built-in Apple SIM when travelling. It’s a smart solution that lets you purchase LTE data access from third-party providers wherever you go, and while the data allocations you get are (to be honest) expensive and not especially generous, I’ve used these quite extensively when I travel.

Thing is, if you stop to think about it, Apple clearly has a chance to act as an OEM seller for international connectivity just by popping an Apple SIM inside its iPhones. We know there’s a business in this, just take a look at all these international SIM deals.

Making customers great again

This isn’t so outlandish an idea – there’s international recognition that ‘bill shock’ for travellers must be stamped out, and many carriers now offer ways in which travellers can stay in control of their spending.

This means carriers are less dependent on extorting big money from travellers – not least because they know it increases customer disloyalty and churn, which costs them more than they gain, once the cost of attracting new customers is added into the equation.

Treating customers well and not badly is a good way to keep them, so I think even carriers offering locked iPhones may see sense in providing customers with a new smartphone on their network that also integrates an international, pay-as-you-go, Apple SIM. Particularly if they can reach affiliate deals with the chosen partner networks an Apple SIM may work with.

For me the most alluring notion behind a dual-SIM phone is that I can have two lines, one for my beloved chosen home country in Portugal, and another for the declining island nation that is the post Hard Brexit UK that I appear to be trapped on by some accident of birth.

What about that second-line thing?

Dual-SIM phones let you use two lines, not just one. You can speak to people on different lines, receive calls and texts on both lines, and more. However, this does also require that you maintain the cost of both lines.

The idea that an Apple SIM might support an ad hoc second line, or be set to act as a permanent one, seems attractive.

Within this picture, the notion that you can have one SIM and one embedded SIM you can enable on an ad hoc basis has a certain appeal – and that’s even before considering the connectivity needs of connected autonomous vehicles and 5G. After all, who will provide the networks future smart cars will depend on, and who will you sue if those networks fail?

Jonny Evans

Watching Apple since 1999. I don't say what they should do. I say what they might do. They sometimes do.

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