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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

AT&T iPhone Upgrade Program units ship with an eSIM

Note: This story has not been updated since 2021.

As a subscriber to the iPhone Upgrade Program for lo these many years, I’ve been glad to see that Apple has streamlined the process year after year. What once required you to go into a store and hand over your existing phone can now be handled via the mail.


And this year, Apple has continued to improve the process: when you go through the process of setting up your upgrade order in the Apple Store app—at least with my carrier, AT&T and, according to others I’ve spoken to, T-Mobile—you’ll be notified that your replacement phone will ship with an eSIM instead of a physical SIM. That, I believe, is a first.

Two years ago, when I first wanted to transfer my AT&T physical SIM to an eSIM, it was a ridiculous multi-day process that involved me visiting no fewer than three brick and mortar AT&T stores before I found one with access to the special barcode that would let me switch.

Last year, “thanks” to the pandemic, that process was simplified to talking to an agent online.

This year, I won’t have to do a thing, exactly as it should be.

Combined with the fact that the new iPhone 13 features Dual eSIM support, it sure seems as though the physical SIM card’s days may be numbered.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]

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