Using Dual SIM with an eSIM

iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR feature Dual SIM with a nano-SIM and an eSIM.1 An eSIM is a digital SIM that allows you to activate a cellular plan from your carrier without having to use a physical nano-SIM.

Here are a few of the many ways you can use Dual SIM:

  • Use one number for business and another number for personal calls.
  • Add a local data plan when you travel outside of the country or region.
  • Have separate voice and data plans.

Both of your phone numbers can make and receive voice calls and send and receive SMS and MMS.2 Your iPhone can use one cellular data network at a time.

  1. eSIM on iPhone is not offered in mainland China. In Hong Kong and Macau, only iPhone XS features eSIM. Learn about using Dual SIM with two nano-SIM cards in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau.
  2. This uses Dual SIM Dual Standby (DSDS) technology, which means that both SIMs can make and receive calls. If one number is on a call, incoming calls on the other number will go to voicemail.

What you need

To use two different carriers, your iPhone must be unlocked. Otherwise, both plans must be from the same carrier. If a CDMA carrier provides your first SIM, your second SIM won't support CDMA. Contact your carrier for more information. 

If you have an enterprise or corporate cellular service plan, check with your company administrator to see if they support this feature.

Set up your cellular plan with eSIM

One of your cellular plans uses a nano-SIM and the other (or others) uses an eSIM. If you don't have a nano-SIM and your carrier supports it, an eSIM can serve as your only cellular plan. The eSIM provided by your carrier is stored digitally in your iPhone.

To activate your second cellular plan, you can scan the QR code your carrier gave you, use your carrier's iPhone app, or you can enter the information manually:

Scan a QR code

  1. Go to Settings > Cellular.
  2. Tap Add Cellular Plan.
  3. Use your iPhone to scan the QR code that your carrier provided.

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

Use a carrier app

  1. Go to the App Store and download your carrier's app.
  2. Use the app to purchase a cellular plan.

Enter the information manually

If necessary, you can manually enter your plan information. Tap Enter Details Manually, at the bottom of your iPhone screen.

You can store more than one eSIM in your iPhone, but you can use only one at a time. You can switch eSIMs by tapping Settings > Cellular > Cellular Plans and tapping the plan you want to use. Then tap Turn On This Line.

The next sections give you more information about the remaining setup screens on your iPhone.

Label your plans

After your second plan is activated, label your plans. For example, you can label one plan Business and the other plan Personal.

You'll use these labels when you choose which phone number to use for making or receiving calls and messages, to designate a number for cellular data, and to assign a number to your contacts so you know which number you will use.

If you change your mind later, you can change your labels by going to Settings > Cellular and tapping the number whose label you want to change. Then tap Cellular Plan Label and select a new label or enter a custom label.

Choose how your plans work together

Set your default number, which iMessage and FaceTime use and which you will use when you call or send a message to someone who isn't in your Contacts app.

On this screen, choose a number to be your default, or you can choose which number is to be used only for cellular data. Your other number will be your default. 

Use Primary as your default line: If you select this option, Primary will be used by default for voice, SMS, Data, iMessage, and FaceTime. Secondary will be available just for voice and SMS.

Use Secondary as your default line: If you select this option, Secondary will be used for voice, SMS, Data, iMessage, and FaceTime. Primary will be available just for voice and SMS.

Use Secondary for cellular data only: You might want to select this option if you're traveling internationally and you want to keep Primary for voice, SMS, iMessage, and FaceTime. This will allow you to use Secondary for data.

Use two phone numbers for calls, messages, and data

Now that your iPhone is set up with two phone numbers, here's how to use them. 

Let your iPhone remember which number to use

When you call one of your contacts, you don't need to choose which number to use every time. By default, your iPhone uses the same number that you used the last time you called that contact. If you haven't called that contact, your iPhone uses your default number. If you want to, you can specify which number to use for your calls with a contact. Follow these steps:

  1. Tap the contact.
  2. Tap Preferred Cellular Plan.
  3. Tap the number you want to use with that contact.

Make and receive calls

You can make and receive phone calls with either phone number.

When you're on a call, an incoming call on your other phone number will go to voicemail, if you have voicemail set up with your carrier.* However, you won't get a missed-call notification from your secondary number. Call Waiting works for incoming calls on the same phone number. To avoid missing an important call, you can turn on call forwarding and forward all calls from one number to the other. Check with your carrier for availability and to find out if additional fees apply.

* If data roaming is on for the number that uses cellular data, then Visual Voicemail and MMS will be disabled on your voice-only number.

Switch phone numbers for a call

You can switch phone numbers before you make a call. If you're calling someone in your Favorites list, follow these steps:

  1. Tap .
  2. Tap the current phone number. 
  3. Tap your other number. 

If you're using the keypad, follow these steps:

  1. Enter the phone number.
  2. Tap the phone number, near the top of the screen. 
  3. Tap the number you want to use.

Send messages with iMessage and SMS/MMS

You can send messages with iMessage and use FaceTime on one phone line. To change which line uses iMessage, follow these steps: 

  1. Go to Settings > Messages. 
  2. Tap iMessage & FaceTime Line.
  3. Select the phone number you want to use.

You can use SMS/MMS to send messages with either phone number.* You can switch phone numbers before you send an SMS/MMS message. Here's how:

  1. Open Messages.
  2. Tap the New button, in the upper right corner of the screen.
  3. Enter your contact's name.
  4. Tap the current phone number.
  5. Tap the number you want to use.

* Additional fees may apply. Check with your carrier.

Learn about Dual SIM status icons

The icons in the status bar at the top of the screen show the signal strength of your two carriers. Learn what the status icons mean.

You can see more status icons when you open Control Center.

Change your cellular data number

One number at a time can use cellular data. To change which number uses cellular data, follow these steps: 

  1. Go to Settings > Cellular.
  2. Tap Cellular Data. 
  3. Tap the number you want to use cellular data. 

If you turn on Cellular Data Switching, then while you're on a voice call on your voice-only number, that number automatically switches to use voice and data.* This lets you use both voice and data while on the call.

If you turn off Cellular Data Switching and you're active on a voice number that isn't your designated cellular-data number, then cellular data won't work while you're on the call.

To turn on Cellular Data Switching, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Cellular.
  2. Tap Cellular Data.
  3. Turn on Cellular Data Switching.

* Your data line switches automatically for the duration of your call. This cellular-data switching will not work if you are currently using Data Roaming. Check with your carrier for availability and to find out if additional fees apply.

Manage cellular settings

To change your cellular settings for each of your plans, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Cellular.
  2. Tap the number you want to change.
  3. Tap each option and set it as you normally would.

Erase your eSIM

If you need to erase your eSIM, follow these steps: 

  1. Go to Settings > Cellular.
  2. Tap the plan you want to erase.
  3. Tap Remove Cellular Plan.

If you want to cancel your cellular plan, you still need to contact your carrier.

Learn more

Published Date: