ipad air 2 versatile sim

Amongst the many new features included in the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, we’ve come across an interesting one specific to the cellular models. It’s a new pre-installed, Apple-branded SIM that allows you to switch seamlessly between participating US and UK carriers.

We’ve seen a number of Apple-filed patents pertaining to such an invention over the years, with some even speculating that the company was looking to become a wireless provider. But it appears it just wanted to make it easier to use the iPad with short-term data plans.

In the US, the Apple SIM will allow users to easily switch between AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint—Apple notes Verizon is not a participating carrier, meaning users will have to go in-store to activate data plans. So far, EE is the only participating service provider in the UK.

You can see where Apple is going with this, and it could be a big deal once more carriers come onboard. Imagine traveling abroad, and being able to setup short-term wireless service with the local provider without having to make a retail trip or mess with SIM cards.

Introduced today, the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 begin at $399, with cellular versions garnering an additional $130.

  • Jose Rivera

    I’m honestly gonna just say this but, does this mean that the iPad will be factory unlocked? I mean think about it, the SIM lets you choose the carrier you want… It has to be unlocked! I may be wrong, but this is what I’m getting from the article…

    • Raz

      haven’t the iPads always been unlocked?

      • Jose Rivera

        I don’t think so… They have baseboards as well… Plus my cousin tried activating a T-Mobile iPad with an AT&T SIM and it showed the same message as the iPhone… “Invalid SIM Inserted Please insert a SIM belonging to the carrier the iPad’s activation blah blah…” You get the idea…

      • Kevin Chen

        baseboards are relevant to heaters, I think you meant basebands?

      • Mike

        a baseboard on my ipad would be a nice feature. I get chilly sometimes 🙂

      • Blip dude

        Got a T-mobile iPad Air and my AT&T SIM works just fine. To my knowledge, no iPad (that is purchased directly by Apple at least), has ever been unlocked. Hell we have another iPad Air in the household purchased directly from AT&T and T-mobile SIM works just Fine.

      • Jack Wong

        I bought the iPad Air with Tmobile sim card and currently I am using it with at&t.

        As for your cousin, he needs a at&t sim card.

      • Mike

        There’s no unlocking law on iPads like there is with phones, so I’m pretty sure they don’t bother locking for this reason.

    • Dr_Dash

      All cellular iPads are and have always been factory unlocked. In fact, I dont believe they’ve ever created a mechanism to lock them, at all.

  • Light

    No it just means you’ll be locked to Apple.

    • Who else would you need to be locked to? It’s an Apple device..

  • Virus

    How much longer now until the sim card is gone

    • Never! There’s still way too many ‘dumb’ phones on the market for carriers to ditch the simcard just yet…

    • Dr_Dash

      Sim-less devices are old tech. All older CDMA providers used to run this way. It also required special phones that we’re not compatible with worldwide networks (gsm). All this has gone the way of the dinosaur.

  • AF

    any news about how to get Yosemite?

    • When it’s released Mac AppStore and download & upgrade…

  • Can somebody please tell me what the difference between an EE simcard and this Apple one is? If there’s only one participating UK carrier there’s no need to have this universal simcard that allows us to switch to multiple carriers…

    • Jose Rivera

      No… It’s SIM card made by Apple that can be activated with one of the participating carriers… It’s an Apple branded SIM… Not a carrier branded SIM…

      • I know this but is this the only difference? I mean with only one participating carrier it want allow for seamlessly activating and switching other networks…

      • Jiří Málek

        And when other UK carriers decide to participate, you would be the first one to b*tch about Apple not bringing the feature to UK. 🙂

      • It’ll also help for if you travel to the US, you can change your plan from an EE plan to a T-Mobile or other carrier on a short-term basis, then when you return to the UK, you can switch back to EE without ever swapping SIM cards

  • Interesting, mark your calendars folks, this could be the start of Apple becoming a Carrier itself…further integrating devices and services.

    • Kevin Chen

      At most, Apple could become a wireless reseller. Because to be a wireless carrier, they’d have to setup all the wireless infrastructure (cell sites and towers) for their own network, unless they merge with/acquire some existing cellular provider..

    • Dr_Dash

      Not gonna happen. That would be an almost impossible endeavour.

      • You mean how it’s an impossible endeavour for Google to become their own ISP? Know what, they already are with Google Fibre…

        It’d take time but if Apple wanted to become their own carrier / ISP they could…

      • Dr_Dash

        Becoming a wireless carrier vs an ISP are two VERY different things. One is incredibly easy while the other is extremely hard, if not impossible simply due to spectrum licensing. Your ignorance is amusing though.

      • So you are suggesting the current carriers in the world will stay the same do to it supposedly being impossible to enter the carrier business? If Apple wanted into the carrier industry they’d get in one way or another. They probably have enough cash to buy a carrier if need be…

      • Dr_Dash

        Look, you desperately need to perform some research on the subject before we can engage in an intelligent conversation on it. The funds alone required to do what you’re suggesting is so far out of apples (or anyone’s) reach it isn’t even funny. And that doesn’t even touch the 800 other major show stopping issues that are inevitably “show stoppers”, in that there is no way any company in today’s world could accomplish a feat of that nature.

        Seriously, you need to get out of that dream world matrix you got your head in as this is (with no offence) crazy talk.

      • Are you suggesting that most carriers have more money than Apple? I’d have thought it’d be the other way round and Apple could use their billions of dollars to buy any carrier they want should they desire. Or am I wrong?

      • Dr_Dash

        Like I said. You need to better educate yourself. I’m not going to spend the next 5 hours explaining this to you piece by piece. The fact that you don’t know the difference between an ISP and a wireless carrier is enough that I’m not going to waste anymore time on you. Sorry bud.

  • James G

    Finally, one device for all carriers. No need to sell different models with different carrier configurations. If it weren’t for the shitty carrier subsidy systems in the US, we’d get this for iPhone as well.

  • Al

    Just like Verizon not to be involved. I guess they’ll jump on the late bandwagon again!! Smh