back to article Probably for the best: Apple makes sure eSIMs won't nuke the operators

The great techno-utopian fantasy for years has been that eSIMs will destroy mobile networks' lock on customers – allowing real-time switching. The phone would tune into the best signal. This notion was touted by the same sort of people who 15 years ago thought Wi-Fi would kill off mobile networks – Clay Shirky, WiReD magazine …

  1. Waseem Alkurdi

    Yay!

    The first El Reg article on the new iPhones ... and thankfully, unlike everybody else's, doesn't worship at Apple's altar, praising "new" "features" et al.

    Thanks El Reg!

    1. Excellentsword
      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Yay!

        It's the first Reg article to report the new SIM / eSIM configurations correctly, though.

    2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Yay!

      According to The Times this morning, some daft bint thinks the new iPhones are sexist.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi

        Re: Yay!

        Cool. That means that iPhones should be eliminated from a progressive, thinking society. Case closed! xD

      2. Havin_it
        Joke

        Re: Yay!

        Welp, at least they can't claim you're holding it wrong if you can't hold the bloody thing.

        Hm, guess Trump won't be a fan either.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Sexist?

          Having a hard time seeing the logic in that, is it because 'Max' is (usually) a male name?

          Or is it because of size, since the XS is very slightly larger than the 8? I guess that the XS Max is very slightly smaller than the 8 plus doesn't count for anything? Or is it because they dropped the SE?

          1. Waseem Alkurdi
            Thumb Up

            Re: Sexist?

            , is it because 'Max' is (usually) a male name?

            Correct me if I'm wrong (Mon français n'est pas parfait), but if there's a name Maxmillien, there's a Maxmillienne as well, so that doesn't count for them.

            1. Phil Kingston Silver badge

              Re: Sexist?

              I probably know more Maxines than Maximillians.

          2. P. Lee Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: Sexist?

            >Having a hard time seeing the logic in that, is it because 'Max' is (usually) a male name?

            Maybe Max doesn't self identify with the gender binary.

            Please report to your nearest gulag reprogramming centre.

    3. Adam Jarvis

      Re: The Chinese version of the iPhone XS is a physical two nano sim device with no eSim capability

      The idea there isn't space isn't the reason Apple have taken this path, the Chinese version of the iPhone XS will ship with a sim tray that takes two physical nano sims on each side of the tray i.e. a real dual sim iPhone, with no eSim capability.

      If this was available in the UK, it would be the version I'd buy, as I'm sure most would too. Let's face it, being able to swap out dual sims as you please is a lot more flexible than an eSim controlled by Apple.

  2. Ragarath

    That's because it destroys the business case for spending even a penny on new network capacity

    Which is the reason the network should not be owned by the operators. We should have a compatible network infrastructure that space is rented/leased. I assume how MVNO's work now renting from an incumbent.

    1. Waseem Alkurdi

      Rented from whom, and leased by whom?

      The owner of the network would act like the current "incumbent" operators act.

      1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

        @ Waseem Alkurdi

        I guess he means summat a bit like Crown House (and one other I cant recall) who run TV transmitters, carring content from the Beeb, ITV, Channels 4 and 5 and th edross broadcasters

        1. paulf Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: @ Waseem Alkurdi

          @ Inventor of the Marmite Laser, "I guess he means summat a bit like Crown House (and one other I cant recall) who run TV transmitters,". IIRC:

          BBC Transmission > CTXI > Crown Castle > National Grid Wireless > Arqiva

          IBA (Transmission bit in Winchester) > NTL > Arqiva.

          So Arqiva (owned by infrastructure funds like Macquarie) now owns pretty much all the broadcast infrastructure in the UK.

          Icon, Non-ionising radiation etc.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        "The owner of the network would act like the current incumbent"

        Not if it is properly regulated - nor the owner needs to be fully private.

    2. Nick Kew Silver badge

      We should have a compatible network infrastructure that space is rented/leased.

      Like the railways?

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        because that worked so well...

        I would have thought it'd be more like Openreach

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or we could also throw out the pointless middlemen who would only exist to leech money. MVNOs can only exist by eliminating their own profit margin and in turn treat turn their employees into minimum wage slaves in order to pay for it. How can an MVNO manage to carry out the billing admin cheaper than the network owner? They cannot. Not possible for an extended period of time.

      1. David Nash Silver badge

        "How can an MVNO manage to carry out the billing admin cheaper than the network owner?"

        My assumption was that they simply charge less margin than the owner, who is seen as worth paying a premium for by some customers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "How can an MVNO manage to carry out the billing admin cheaper than the network owner?"

          They can do it because they are somewhat less greedy about gouging their customers.

          I currently carry two personal phones, one with a large monopolistic carrier and one with a MVNO, and I have had a chance to watch both in action for many years....

          1. bazza Silver badge

            They can do it because they are somewhat less greedy about gouging their customers.

            An MVNO is a customer too.

            They exist because it's a cheap way for the network operators to sell more airtime without having to make their own brand more palatable to customers looking for a better deal.

            Possibly a bit like Lexus vs Toyota, except Lexus would be the original and they'd contracted out the Toyota brand but kept the factory that made them.

  3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    I can see some of the US networks

    having a real hissy fit with Apple over this and demanding that the E-Sim is blocked on the phones they doll out in their contracts. For them it is all about lock-in. If you decry Apple for having a walled garden, the likes of AT&T have a far better one. Their bills are pieces of art with all sorts of extra charges and addons. Then AFAIK, one US network charges $80 to unlock the phone at the end of the contract.

    It seems that in Europe things are a bit different. Many of us are on Sim Only deals these days. With one-month rolling contracts or PAYG we have far more flexibility over who we use as our network provider.

    I can see business travellers using the E-SIm for their main network and buying a local PAYG when at your destinations. Granted, this is easier said than done in some places like India but it can even be done there.

    My old Samsung Galaxy that I bought in Dubai years ago always had a local and a UK Sim card in it. Sadly the version of Android it used plus the Samsung crud that was layered on top meant that using it was shit.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: I can see some of the US networks

      Apple has already battled with the US networks and won: it carries more weight with consumers who will leave a network if it doesn't support their shiny-shiny.

      1. Craig 2

        Re: I can see some of the US networks

        Yes, Apple may have won a power struggle with networks; now they can leverage that to get favourable terms (for themselves, not customers) when deciding which network(s) to support with new phones. The name has changed but the game is still to make as much money as possible by any means necessary...

    2. Waseem Alkurdi

      Re: I can see some of the US networks

      Then AFAIK, one US network charges $80 to unlock the phone at the end of the contract.

      That US network is called Sprint, and in addition to the charge, they have strict requirements (only the phone's original account holder can do it, must be fully paid, etc etc etc)

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: I can see some of the US networks

        > That US network is called Sprint

        They're assholes. Which is why they're still the smallest network... out-dicking Verizon is quite the accomplishment.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: I can see some of the US networks

      "Then AFAIK, one US network charges $80 to unlock the phone at the end of the contract."

      So did several UK networks - until that was declared illegal by the regulator

      The difference being that the regulators actually have some cojones in Europe

  4. DropBear Silver badge

    As the Chinese two-socket version demonstrates, saving space is absolutely not the real issue - whatever Apple's actual plan is pushing the eSIM, it's definitely not about saving space.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Their real plan is to build support for eSIM

      Hoping to eventually drop a physical SIM if/when most operators eventually support eSIM. I wonder if the Chinese version actually supports three SIMs, or if the eSIM is disabled in those models that have two physical SIMs?

      It is interesting that eSIM wasn't deemed good enough for the Chinese market. I wonder if that has something to do with China's unique mobile standards (TD-LTE etc.) or if Apple believes their operators will be particularly resistant to eSIM? Maybe the Chinese government won't allow eSIM for some reason?

    2. Tomato Krill

      No, to save the required space on the Chinese variant they simply removed the headphone port.

      Oh, wait...

  5. DrXym Silver badge

    eSIMs make so much sense

    With some provisos eSIMs some really interesting potential functionality falls out of being just software on a device.

    The phone could intelligently choose the best SIM out of my collection for the location I'm in. I could "pin" the main SIM for incoming calls, but set data and outgoing calls through my roaming SIM. I could buy SIMs and have them sent to my phone. Phone networks could even allow me to connect and purchase a SIM when I roam their network for the first time. SIMs could have properties like expiring after 30 days or after the credit is used up etc.

    The provisos I would see being necessary are the ability to transfer SIMs between devices, the ability to add any SIM, and limits on what operators can do to lock a phone to their network, restrict its functionality, or to prevent me removing their software SIM if I choose to switch.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: eSIMs make so much sense

      I'd like the ability to have several handsets and choose one for whatever I'm doing that day - whichever phone I'm carrying will have my number. This is currently possible but involves the faff (and physical wear and tear of mechanical components) of swapping a physical SIM. A good phone for a long train journey might not be the best phone for a long hike or a night on the town.

      1. ilmari

        Re: eSIMs make so much sense

        My operator used to have a service like this, for 3.90 Euro a month I got 5 extra SIM cards, all with the same phone number. All phones rang at the same time, but SMS only arrived on the main phone.

        Apparently this was too good of a serviy, because they only sold it for a few months. I used it for about 8 years before my level of geekiness dropped to having only one phone.

        1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

          Re: eSIMs make so much sense

          It's going to become more common again soon when BT removes geographic restrictions on phone numbers. Think having your mobile and landline ring for the same number.

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: eSIMs make so much sense

      "The phone could intelligently choose the best SIM out of my collection for the location I'm in. I could "pin" the main SIM for incoming calls, but set data and outgoing calls through my roaming SIM. I could buy SIMs and have them sent to my phone. Phone networks could even allow me to connect and purchase a SIM when I roam their network for the first time. SIMs could have properties like expiring after 30 days or after the credit is used up etc."

      That's not how it works. A SIM is associated with a phone number. Two SIMs, two phone numbers. Many people will use that to have a private phone and a works phone in the same case. If your wife calls your private number, the private phone SIM is used. If your boss calls you on the works number, the works phone SIM is used. And when you call your boss, you want to call him using your works phone number, so again the works phone Sim is used.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: eSIMs make so much sense

        @gnasher729 "That's not how it works" ......

        It's largely how I use my 3 year old dual SIM phone. Incoming calls almost always use my main number as I never tell people my second number and "might" choose not to answer should they call it. I can and do use either of my phone numbers for outgoing calls and I can select one or the other (or none) for my data connection.

    3. DougS Silver badge

      I agree

      But there seem to be a lot of people who are quite resistant to the idea, believing it will somehow allow Apple to limit their carrier choices or is part of an evil Apple plan to cut the carriers out and operate their own mandatory MVNO.

      Obviously eSIM isn't all that great if only Apple uses it, because even if every carrier supported it, it wouldn't be portable to non-Apple phones the way current SIMs are. By finally putting the eSIM in a phone it will encourage carriers to support it, and if enough do then other phones will adopt eSIM as well. Before people worry about the mention of "Apple patents" around eSIM and think this is a money grab, they've offered a royalty free license to anyone who adopts the technology. They just want it used.

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: I agree

        By finally putting the eSIM in a phone it will encourage carriers to support it, and if enough do then other phones will adopt eSIM as well.

        Indeed, and it's a terrible future to consider. Because once eSIM is widely adopted, manufacturers like Apple can start dropping the real SIM and produce eSIM only devices. That then gives them complete control over which networks you can use - should they so wish.

        They COULD make it so that any carrier can remotely provision the eSIM, or they COULD make it so that you have to use their cloud portal or similar to do it. The latter gives them 100% control over which networks you can choose - probably based on how much the network is prepared to give Apple.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: I agree

          Wrong. 3GPP standards require that ANY operator be selectable. The operators basically own 3GPP, do you really think they'd approve a standard that would make them beholden to Apple and Google? Dream on.

    4. Tomato Krill

      Re: eSIMs make so much sense

      But then none of what you list isn't (to some degree of practicality or another) already possible with multiple SIMs..

  6. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Businesses?

    The article talks about punters, but what about business that need widespread reception? Do have any clout when negotiating with network operators?

    We had a technician come to our site the other day to inspect a gas tank, but he soon went away because apparently he needed some app for the task and his network is poor around here.

    1. Nick Kew Silver badge

      Re: Businesses?

      What you need there is a foreign SIM, with an operator that has agreements with all your local operators, so it can pick the best available signal.

      At least, within an area like the EU where roaming charges won't bugger up such arrangements.

  7. Andre Carneiro

    eSIM sucks

    If the experience on my iPad is anything to go by, I’d rather have the two physical SIMs any day.

    Also, am I the only one thinking that this puts WAY too much power on apple’s side?

    The handset should be utterly network agnostic and log into whichever network it has a SIM for.

    eSIM means networks will have to actually engage with Apple in order to allow their offers to show up on a selection menu.

    I suspect it may be free now but what’s to stop Apple charging networks for the privilege?

    1. Waseem Alkurdi

      Re: eSIM sucks

      Also, am I the only one thinking that this puts WAY too much power on apple’s side?

      With network-locked phones, Apple already has *all* the power. The phone won't (un)lock except if it phones home to mothership.

      Try (factory-)unlocking a network-locked iPhone. eBay is filled with iPhones that won't unlock.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: eSIM sucks

        With network-locked phones, Apple already has *all* the power. The phone won't (un)lock except if it phones home to mothership.

        -----------------------------------------------

        Thanks for the warning.

        I'll add it to my list of reasons to never buy an Apple device.

        1. Just Another SteveO

          Re: eSIM sucks

          Maybe I misunderstood you but I’m Not sure that’s true - recently returned from a few years in the States. Forgot to unlock the iPhone before returning, Apple would not and could not unlock the phone - the ability to do that is maintained by the network operator if it’s a network locked phone. 10 minute call to the States (T-Mobile) and the phone was unlocked. According to Apple, this is to ensure they didn’t help people break their commitment and contracts with the network operator.

      2. Jan 0
        Holmes

        Re: eSIM sucks

        > eBay is filled with iPhones that won't unlock

        Are you sure it's not full of clueless owners who have no idea that that iPhones can be unlocked?

      3. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: eSIM sucks

        "Try (factory-)unlocking a network-locked iPhone. eBay is filled with iPhones that won't unlock."

        I think you are confusing two things - iPhones locked to a network, and iPhones locked with a passcode.

        If you use a passcode for your phone and it gets locked, you need the passcode to unlock it. If you are the rightful owner and forgot the passcode (your own fault), or you are a thief with a stolen phone, or you are the unfortunate heir of a deceased person with an iPhone and don't know the passcode, then there is just no f***ing way to unlock that phone. You can't do it, Apple can't do it. There are plenty of such phones on eBay, and they are worthless except to be used for parts. Most of them I expect to be stolen.

        If your phone is locked to a network, the network operator can unlock it. Many don't like to do it, and try to make it impossible for you to unlock. The easiest way around is to buy a phone from Apple directly, they are all unlocked and as far as I know, the network operator you pick can't lock them.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: eSIM sucks

      Networks don't have to engage with Apple, they might not be on a convenient list but there's a way to enter the information anyway. That's required by the 3GPP standard that was approved for eSIM - and is necessary for the main reason eSIM was eventually approved against some operator's wishes, IOT devices where even the size of a nanoSIM might be unwieldy.

      Some people always ascribe evil intent to everything Apple does. I remember the whining and moaning when Apple introduced nanoSIM and everyone was worried about the fact Apple had patents around it and thought their promises of a royalty free license would have a hidden gotcha they'd use against Android. Still waiting for that to happen.

  8. Mage Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    The Chinese variant of the XS will take two physical SIMs.

    Which makes the reason suspect.

    An eSIM a thin end of a wedge. Apple want control of your operator access eventually.

    You can fit an SD card and a physical SIM in a watch. It's just a lie that Apple don't have space for microSD card, 3.5mm jack and two real SIMs. It's about control and partly (like the notch) about differentiation. Not about cost or space.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: The Chinese variant of the XS will take two physical SIMs.

      3GPP rules around eSIM require devices provide a way to access any operator. Apple may not have a clickable icon for every 2 bit operator in the whole world, but you'll be able to enter the necessary info manually. I can't remember what the operator ID is, but I think it is something like 7 digits so hardly an insurmountable obstacle for operators who don't get an icon.

    2. Phil Kingston Silver badge

      Re: The Chinese variant of the XS will take two physical SIMs.

      Bingo. Apple have only done this because it suits them. Either as something to assist negotiations with carriers or some other reason. They want to own everything. It's not unreasonable to anticipate them becoming an MVNO in certain regions. Imagine that, buy iPhone, fire it up, set up iTunes account, choose default Apple network, all your base are belong to us.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Multiple numbers has been available for a while

    I have had for several years on my iphone a UK and US phone number both simultaneously working. I could have up to 8 international numbers all able to ring my phone regardless of which country I am in. A single sim can already do that. Two sims is good and might be able to save me money but selecting the right plan in every country is going to be a lot of work.

  10. Dave123

    I expect the main reason for not having eSIM in China is that the profile downloads would be blocked by the great firewall due to being encrypted.

    Rather than the eSIM slot being secondary to the physical slot, it is the physical SIM slot that is secondary - it is there to allow these early eSIM devices to still work on networks that are not eSIM ready. It also means your £1000+ iPhone isn’t going to be bricked if something goes wrong with the eSIM. I’d give it a year or two before the physical SIM slot joins the headphone socket in the history books.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      The physical SIM slot can only go away if eSIM is pretty much universally supported by carriers. There needs to be devices out there that implement eSIM (in greater numbers than iPads with built in cellular) to push that along.

      Eventually all operators will have to support eSIM, as the reason 3GPP finally ended up approving it after years of operator resistance wasn't because Apple was championing it. It is because makers of IOT devices wanted a way to go without a physical SIM for ease of deployment, or future devices where even a nanoSIM's size might be a problem.

      As for the great firewall being a problem, encrypted traffic can pass through it just requires approval from the government. I wouldn't think profile updates for Chinese carriers would be a problem. You wouldn't need profile updates for non-Chinese carriers while inside China, you can get those once outside the firewall. I doubt that's the reason for two physical SIMs in China. Probably more that eSIM isn't an option yet and people are using multiple SIMs today - if they only support one physical SIM there they have to wait for eSIM support before they can win those two SIM customers.

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      "I’d give it a year or two before the physical SIM slot joins the headphone socket in the history books."

      But the dual SIMs will stay, even if they become to eSims. The benefit for Apple: Lots of people want two phone numbers. Today, they might buy a $750 iPhone and a $250 Android phone. In the future, they would buy one iPhone, and since they save $250 they might go for the $1,000 iPhone. So the dual SIM will make Apple more money. (Plus the buyers who paid $750 for two Android phones and might switch to a single iPhone).

      1. DougS Silver badge

        The nice thing about eSIMs is they support holding one more than one "SIM", so you could have dual SIM, triple SIM pretty much whatever the phone's software wants to deal with (I'm sure there's some limit, but it is more than 2)

  11. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Project Fi

    The concept of destroying telco control isn't new. Google attempted to create an environment where phones could roam over multiple networks while routing telephone services through a consistent central point. I really liked the idea but the implementation had too many problems for me to try it. The biggest problems being that Google is a personal data collection corporation and Sprint's unreliable network was in the mix.

  12. DerekCurrie
    Thumb Up

    Thank You Apple!

    And everyone else inventing a positive technology future.

    Dean Bubley: I don't know what you're doing. But sticks in the mud have their uses. Just please stay out of my back orifice. We're working here.

  13. Dabbb Bronze badge

    From that 2003 article

    "When you try to make Wi-Fi cover a wide area, it's absolutely the worst way to do it, Martin Cooper, told CNET recently. Cooper is credited as the first person to make a cellphone call (in 1973, he led Motorola's cellular project).

    "In order to cover a city, you need a million sites; we actually did an analysis of that. And every one of them has got to have backhaul. So it turns out it's neither economical nor practical. "

    And yet 15 years later proponents of 5G are going exactly the same route. Fascinating.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: From that 2003 article

      "In order to cover a city, you need a million sites; we actually did an analysis of that. And every one of them has got to have backhaul. So it turns out it's neither economical nor practical. "

      The same applies to mobile cells at the kinds of densities 5G envisages. The difference being that cellular systems have more frequencies available than Wifi and the built-in ability to turn down the transmitter power to a gnat's fart or less instead of blasting out at 100mW regardless of link strength.

      1. Dabbb Bronze badge

        Re: From that 2003 article

        Sorry, but how ability of 5G cell to reduce transmitter power changes the fact that there will be millions of those cells required ?

  14. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    But Hell would freeze over before our mobile networks would dispense with the plastic SIM, and agree to real-time switching.

    Isn't that what they were saying when Apple introduced iMessage and later followed by FaceTime Video?

  15. Tim99 Silver badge
    Gimp

    Like in an iPad

    Just come back from a trip to the UK. My iPad has a plastic SIM from my Australian Supplier. It was really useful to just switch to the built in eSIM for a local UK provider, it worked.

    In a phone I could see that this would be useful, a friend wants to have one of the SIMs on a cheap prepaid plan just for crap callers (like car salesmen, insurance touts, etc.) and then periodically kill and replace the cheap plan.

  16. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

    A phone that fits northerns shovels.

    The most important announcement of the day. Two reasons. Phone operators are rubbish. Particularly with transatlantic support. Verizon (by market and software design) don't know that there's a world outside of a zipcode, you can barely dial a number on some models and native two number support isn't.

    Also, if you work in a recorded industry to prevent theft and greed. There's more than one global operator with clever integrated back-ends that will be dancing with joy. Also £1050 is less than two current iPhones.

    Also can someone make a full size thin solar panel. The large form factor is more popular than the small.

    #buyanoperator #dontlookinthehandbag

    1. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

      Re: A phone that fits northerns shovels.

      Forgot to mention the cryptography on physical SIM's is intentionally broken, for obvious purposes and mine's the A12 eSim 5G Apple TV/Gaming console and every other product line. With short-range wireless power. #dualchipwithvms #chisel

  17. Beefman

    Project Fi is already network agnostic with one phone number but multiple networks

    Google's Project Fi is already doing this (with eSIM on the Pixel 2 and standard SIMs in other phones) and despite its faults and flaws works incredibly well. Largely seamless switching between T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular and will roam on Verizon when nothing else is available. The SIM card has IMSI profiles for each network. In some places it will also roam on AT&T. It switches automatically between networks and leverages whatever is best in an area. Then, when abroad, its one price, $10 per gig and .20 per minute for phone calls, texts and pic messages are unlimited. Also, if there's a Three network in the country being visited and/or roaming on Three would provide a better experience, the SIM has a Three IMSI and will utilize that network all without any notification or involvement by the user. If one wishes, they can force the phone to any of the networks, although if in the US, one cannot force the Three SIM profile.

    1. bloggsthesecond

      Re: Project Fi is already network agnostic with one phone number but multiple networks

      Google Fi is just an MVNO, with roaming agreements to multiple networks and a list of preferred networks. Nothing magic there in a technical sense. You only need a single IMSI. Switching to a different IMSI on the same directory number and a different network is essentially porting the number and cannot be done instantaneously nor transparently to the user to protect against slamming. They use a USA country code (310) and MNC (260).

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    Its all about the data

    People have your number, for example. How would people find you in a real-time switching world?

    Ahhh, that's cute, someone is still using there phone as a telephone.

    The truth is the majority of usage is data, and data doesn't need a number. But data can be very expensive if you are roaming, so most people turn it off. However if you could get a esim for each region or even a esim per provider for areas are patchy and switch between them as needed, then that's pretty useful

    Of course not everyone would need this and it would mean you having money tied up in PAYG that you may never use, but if you are buying a £1500 iphone, I'm sort of guessing penny pinching is not high on your priorities

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