New Apple, Samsung SIM-free phones could transform global roaming

By Chris Chamberlin, July 22 2015

Imagine landing in any foreign country, switching your phone on, selecting a temporary plan from a local mobile carrier and getting on with your business.

There'd be no time spent hunting down and queuing to buy a local SIM card, nor any excessive global roaming charges from your provider back home.

That appears to be the ultimate goal of mobile phone manufacturers Apple and Samsung, both of which are working closely with the GSM Association to develop a virtual ‘electronic SIM card’ that allows mobile phones to connect to cellular networks without that traditional piece of plastic.

Globetrotters could easily switch between plans and providers as needed – perhaps to take advantage of a better data deal or the superior coverage of another network.

The 'e-SIM' is seen as the next evolution of the Apple SIM, which debuted the concept of choosing plans and mobile carriers on the fly earlier this year.

Closer to home, mobile phone users could also link two or more plans to the one device: cherry-picking the best features of each – such as free calls between certain hours and networks – without physically changing the SIM card every time.

The Financial Times (UK) reports that the GSM Association will finalise and announce the new e-SIM standard soon, with compatible mobile phones from Apple and Samsung hitting the shelves in 2016.

Also read: How to get global data roaming with your Apple SIM iPad

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ChrisCh
ChrisCh

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

aggie57

aggie57

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 148

You mean like a CDMA phone?  GSM catchup. 

TheRealBabushka

TheRealBabushka

21 Apr 2012

Total posts 3034

Yes that is all well and good. But what if Apple and Samsung enter into an agreement with the Telco of each jurisdiction to tie down a user to the telco's preferred international partner, or worse still to lock it down so that the a user cannot independently connect with another telco overseas?

At present, while it is inconvenient, we have the power to disable the sim card in our phones by physically taking it out (and replacing it with another). With that ability gone, how do we safeguard our freedom of choice?

moa999

moa999

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1372

Tend to agree. Particularly given Apple is not exactly known for open standards - eg. Third party access to NFC

markpk

markpk

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 445

Suspiciously aligned to the Red Planet survey that I received today about global roaming options...

cmck

cmck

13 Aug 2014

Total posts 1

Just join Vodafone with Red Roam, much easier than having accounts all over the world.  Vodafone changed the way I travel with this plan!! :)

percysmith

percysmith

29 Aug 2014

Total posts 16

Skeptical. If the system acts like roaming the local providers will charge like roaming.


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