Apparently, with the release of its iPad Air 2, Apple is also offering its customers the option of purchasing a cellular edition that features the Apple SIM. As many may know, a SIM card is that small piece of plastic inside any smartphone that lets users connect to a wireless carrier's network. Normally, SIM cards are configured to work for one particular carrier only. For example, if you purchase a smartphone on a two-year agreement from, say, T-Mobile, the device will typically come with a T-Mobile SIM card inside it. Obviously, you would not be able to use your phone on another network, like AT&T's for instance -- unless of course, you purchase an AT&T SIM card and put it in your device.
That is about to change, courtesy of the Apple SIM. You see, Apple's SIM card is designed to work with more than one carrier, so you need not purchase just one SIM for each carrier anymore. With the Apple SIM, you can flip flop from one carrier to another whenever you want to, and you will not need to sign up for any two-year agreement, or buy anything directly from a specific carrier.
As explained by Apple in its website, the Apple SIM comes pre-installed on iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models, and the product is meant to provides users with flexibility, especially with regards to choosing from short-term plans offered by specific US (and UK) wireless carriers. Effectively, the tech giant is empowering users to choose the plan that works best for their needs, with no two-year strings attached. As for those who frequently travel, they can use the Apple SIM to switch to a local carrier only for the duration of their trip.
Because it is used on the iPad for now, the Apple SIM may not significantly affect carriers yet. Besides, a lot of users opt for the Wi-Fi only edition of the iPad, and tablets generally are not as subsidized as much as smartphones on two-year agreements. Case in point, an iPhone 6 bought via AT&T (two-year agreement) typically starts at $199, which is less than the $649 full price. But when it comes to iPads, AT&T cuts only $100 off the tablet if it is on a two-year agreement, which is not that different from the iPad's full price.
However, if Apple decides to deploy the Apple SIM for the iPhone, that is when things will get really interesting. Buyers may start to pay the iPhone's full price just to save money on data, and then switch between multiple carriers, especially those that offer less expensive plans.
As for the carriers -- well, they may need to offer more inclusions and perks just to entice buyers to go to them instead of Apple. Just imagine this scenario: you put an Apple SIM on your iPhone, and then open it to find many carriers trying to offer you the best deals to use.
For sure, if the Apple SIM does make the jump to smartphones, the carriers will cry foul. Perhaps there is a reason that Apple is “quietly” introducing the Apple SIM after all. The future is not clear yet regarding this potential game-changer from Apple. But either way, it should be interesting for mobile manufacturers, wireless service providers, and consumers alike.
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