Skip to main content

How to protect your SIM card with a PIN

Iphone 11 Pro Sim Card Hero
Iphone 11 Pro Sim Card Hero (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

All cellular phones, including your iPhone and cellular iPad, require a subscriber identity module (SIM) card in order to use cellular services on GSM and some CDMA networks. With the new Nano-SIM that phones currently use, a CDMA device can connect to GSM networks when roaming, which is useful if you travel a lot.

When you purchase a new iPhone 12 or iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular, the device should come with a SIM card for you to use with your chosen cellular provider. If you purchased it as an unlocked device, or if it did not come with a SIM card, you can usually buy one from a store that provides cellular service plans.

Usually, SIM cards can be transferred from device-to-device, so if your iPhone becomes unusable, you can just take the SIM card out of the tray and pop it into another device and still be able to make calls and send SMS.

But did you know that you can also set a SIM PIN with iOS 12 and later so that each time you restart your device or remove the SIM card, the SIM card is locked and unusable until you input the SIM PIN? This is done to prevent others from taking your SIM card and using it for phone calls or cellular data.

How to set up your SIM PIN

  1. Go to Settings on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap on Cellular.

Activate SIM PIN by launching Settings, tap Cellular (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Locate SIM PIN and tap it.
  2. Toggle the SIM PIN to ON.
  3. Input your current SIM PIN if it was enabled before.
  4. Enter a new SIM PIN, and make sure that you remember it.

Activate SIM PIN by tapping SIM Pin, toggle it ON, and input your PIN (Image credit: iMore)

You can always come back and change the SIM PIN to something else, but you do need to input the old one first (if it was set).

How to eject the SIM card tray on your iPhone

Should you ever need to switch devices or SIM cards, here's how to take your existing one out:

  1. Insert a paper clip or SIM eject tool (older iPhones always came with these) into the small hole of the SIM card tray. This is found on the right side of your iPhone.
  2. Press the paper clip or SIM eject tool firmly into the hole.
  3. The tray should now eject from the side, and you can remove it with your fingers.

Removing a SIM card from an iPhone 5 (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Remove the old SIM card.
  2. Place the new SIM card into the tray. The angled corner determines the proper orientation.
  3. Insert the tray back into the iPhone until it's flush with the side.

How to remove the SIM card in an iPhone or iPad

Protect your SIM card

SIM cards are a vital part of keeping us connected, and we don't want them to fall into the wrong hands. Adding a SIM PIN is a great way to make sure that no one can take your SIM card and use it as their own, so it helps give you some peace of mind. Just make sure to remember that SIM PIN, because otherwise, you may lock yourself out of your own phone!

Updated October 2020: Updated for iPhone 12.

Christine Chan
Senior Editor

Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently the iMore lead on all things iPhone, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.

When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.

2 Comments
  • NOPE! Speaking as someone who worked selling cell phones for years, and recently worked for a stint as an Apple Care advisor. DO NOT PUT A PIN ON YOUR SIM! You know why? Because unless you use the same pin as on EVERYTHING, then you are gonna forget that thing. Which means you're gonna pay your carrier for a new SIM. Taking calls for Apple, the #1 call driver was people not remembering their Apple ID password. (Not far behind it was people forgetting their device pins some how.) Do not put a numerical pin on something that you only have to enter when you switch SIMs. If somebody steals your phone they're not trying to get free data or call time for the few hours before you can contact your carrier and deactivate it. They're stealing it to sell your phone, they don't care about making outgoing calls from your number, they can already do that by spoofing your number as their number on an outgoing call. If they want to get into your banking or something, they have to already know something beyond your phone number. Hackers who have figured out your banking or other passwords and want to use your number for two factor are going to just call your cell phone company and have your number switched to another SIM. And your carrier is going to do it because they don't pay their reps enough to care about security or verifying that the caller is you. Putting a PIN on your SIM does not protect you, it means you'll have to buy another SIM when you fail to remember your PIN. THIS ARTICLE IS BAD ADVICE!
  • I agree this is an awful idea, I didn't even know this was a thing and I certainly won't be using it or recommending anyone to do it