ESIM on iPhone: Setup, Transfer, And Use

An eSIM is a digital SIM that allows you to activate a cellular plan from your carrier without having to use a physical SIM. You can install eight or more eSIMs on an iPhone and use two phone numbers at the same time. Learn about setting up an eSIM and transferring a physical SIM to an eSIM.

What you need

  • An iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, or later
  • A wireless carrier that supports eSIM
  • Your new iPhone needs to be connected to a Wi-Fi network.*

How to set up an eSIM

Setting up your eSIM is usually just a matter of turning on your new iPhone and following the onscreen instructions. 

You can activate your eSIM while you’re setting up your iPhone if your carrier supports eSIM Carrier Activation or eSIM Quick Transfer. With eSIM Carrier Activation, your carrier assigns an eSIM to your iPhone when you purchase it. With eSIM Quick Transfer, you transfer the SIM from your previous iPhone to your new iPhone without contacting your carrier. With either method, to activate your eSIM during setup, turn on your iPhone and follow the instructions.

You can also use these options later to add or transfer an eSIM. If these options aren’t available, contact your carrier to activate your eSIM using a QR code or your carrier’s iPhone app.

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If you purchased an iPhone 14 model in the United States, your iPhone activates with an eSIM. To activate your eSIM using eSIM Carrier Activation, eSIM Quick Transfer, or another activation method, turn on your iPhone and follow the instructions.

Use eSIM Carrier Activation

Some carriers can assign a new eSIM to your iPhone, making setup easy. This usually happens when you purchase a carrier-connected iPhone from Apple in the United States or from a carrier and you provide your cellular-plan details. If an eSIM was assigned to your iPhone when you bought it, turn on your iPhone and follow the instructions to activate your eSIM. 

If you’re switching to iPhone (from an Android phone, for example), contact your carrier to transfer your phone number to your iPhone through eSIM Carrier Activation or by scanning a QR code from your carrier.

If you contacted your carrier for an eSIM after you set up your iPhone, and they set up eSIM Carrier Activation, follow these steps: 

  1. When a notification appears that says Carrier Cellular Plan Ready to Be Installed, tap it.
  2. In the Settings app, tap Carrier Cellular Plan Ready to Be Installed.
  3. Tap Continue, at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Make a call on your iPhone to check its cellular connectivity. If you can’t make a call, contact your carrier.
  5. If the plan you activated replaces the plan on your physical SIM, remove your physical SIM. Then restart your iPhone.

Use eSIM Quick Transfer

Some carriers support SIM transfers from your previous iPhone to your new iPhone without needing to contact them. You can also convert your current physical SIM card to an eSIM. 

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If you don’t have access to your current iPhone, contact your carrier to transfer your eSIM.

While you’re setting up your iPhone, if you’re asked to transfer your SIM, follow the onscreen instructions to transfer your physical SIM or eSIM. If you need to transfer more than one SIM to your new iPhone, transfer your additional SIMs following the steps below.

Transfer a physical SIM or eSIM on your previous iPhone to an eSIM on your new iPhone after setup

  1. On your new iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular > Add Cellular Plan. 
  2. Choose a cellular plan to transfer from another device. If you don’t see a list of numbers, tap Transfer From Another Device. This requires both devices to have iOS 16 or later.
  3. Check for instructions on your previous iPhone to confirm the transfer. To confirm, tap Transfer or, if asked for a verification code, enter the code that’s displayed on your new iPhone.
  4. Wait for the cellular plan to activate on your new iPhone. Your previous SIM is deactivated when the cellular plan on your new iPhone activates.
  5. If a banner appears on your new iPhone that says Finish Setting Up Your Carrier’s Cellular Plan, tap it. You will be redirected to your carrier’s webpage to transfer your eSIM. If you need help, contact your carrier.

Convert a physical SIM to an eSIM on the same iPhone

You can convert a physical SIM to an eSIM on the same iPhone, if your carrier supports it. Follow these steps:

  1. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular.
  2. Tap Convert to eSIM.
    If you don’t see Convert to eSIM, your carrier doesn’t support this option. Contact your carrier to move your phone number from your physical SIM to an eSIM using eSIM Carrier Activation or by scanning a QR code.
  3. Tap Convert Cellular Plan.
  4. Tap Convert to eSIM.
  5. Wait for your eSIM to activate. Your previous SIM card is deactivated when the cellular plan on your iPhone activates.
  6. Remove the physical SIM from your iPhone. Then restart your iPhone.
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Scan a QR code or use a carrier app

If your carrier doesn’t support eSIM Carrier Activation or eSIM Quick Transfer, you can scan a QR code from your carrier instead.

To activate your eSIM while setting up your iPhone:

  1. When you get to the Set Up Cellular screen, tap Use QR Code.
  2. Follow the onscreen instructions.

To activate your eSIM after you set up your iPhone, contact your carrier to get a QR code. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Camera app and scan your QR code.
  2. When the Cellular Plan Detected notification appears, tap it.
  3. Tap Continue, at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Tap Add Cellular Plan.

If you’re asked to enter a confirmation code to activate the eSIM, enter the number that your carrier provided.

If your carrier supports activating eSIM using an app, download your carrier’s app from the App Store and follow the instructions.

Enter the eSIM information manually if necessary

  1. Contact your carrier to get the eSIM details you need to enter.
  2. Go to Settings.
  3. Tap either Cellular or Mobile Data.
  4. Tap Add Cellular Plan.
  5. Tap Enter Details Manually, at the bottom of your iPhone screen.

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