iPhone: Understanding SIM cards

This article discusses the SIM card in your iPhone, and how to use it to import contacts and other information.

Note: This information applies to devices that use a SIM card.

Just like most cellular phones, the iPhone uses a SIM card to determine the phone number, carrier, and features are available for the account. However, the iPhone does not store contacts and phone numbers on the SIM card.

Importing contacts stored on a SIM card


While iPhone does not use the SIM to store contact names and phone numbers, you can still copy your contacts from a SIM card to your iPhone. You can use your old phone's SIM card (if your old phone is not an iPhone) to transfer the primary phone number for each of your contacts from the SIM card. Ensure that the old SIM card you're going to place into the new iPhone is the same type of SIM card. Failure to do so may result in the SIM card becoming stuck in the new iPhone. Additional numbers may not import, or may import as more than one contact. Follow these steps to import the information off the SIM card:

  1. Remove the SIM card from your iPhone and replace it with the SIM card from your old phone.
  2. Your phone may need to reactivate. If so, connect to iTunes.
  3. Tap Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Import SIM Contacts.
    Import SIM Contacts
  4. Remove your old SIM card from your new iPhone and reinstall the SIM card that came with it.


SIM cards provided by a CDMA-network provider


If you purchased an iPhone 4S (CDMA model), your device may include a SIM for use when outside the country of purchase. Find more information about using your iPhone in another country. If you need to obtain another SIM card for use while traveling, please contact your carrier.




Learn more

When troubleshooting any phone-related issues, please check that the SIM card in the device is from a supported carrier.

See this article for information about swapping the SIM card.

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