How to use Dual SIM with an eSIM on iPhone XS and iPhone XR

The iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR all feature support for a dual-SIM setup, letting you have two phone lines in one device. Instead of using two nano-SIM card slots, the 2018 iPhone lineup lets you associate one line with a physical nano-SIM card, and one with the new embedded SIM, or eSIM.

To set up a second line on your iPhone, you'll need a couple of things. In addition to one of Apple's latest iPhones, you'll need to have a QR code given to you by your carrier or you'll need to have downloaded your carrier's app. Also, make sure that your carrier supports eSIM.

Note: Apple says that you can actually set up more than one eSIM at a time on your iPhone, but only one of them can be active at a time.

What carriers support eSIM?

Here are the carriers around the world that have so far either rolled out support or announced future support for eSIM in the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone XR.

Austria

  • T-Mobile

Canada

  • Bell
  • Virgin

Croatia

  • Hrvatski Telekom

Czech Republic

  • T-Mobile

Germany

  • Telekom
  • Vodafone

Hungary

  • Magyar Telekom

India

  • Airtel
  • Reliance Jio

Spain

  • Vodafone Spain (Coming later in 2018)

United Kingdom

  • EE

United States

  • AT&T (Coming later in 2018)
  • T-Mobile USA (Coming later in 2018)
  • Verizon Wireless (Coming later in 2018)

So if you're in the U.S. or Spain and hoping to use two lines in your new iPhone right away, sorry, you're out of luck right now.

Here's how you go about setting up a second cellular line on your iPhone using eSIM. These steps should actually also work if you want to use your iPhone's eSIM for a primary phone line.

How to set up your eSIM line with a QR code

Some carriers will provide you with a QR code that you can scan in order to set up your line.

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Cellular.
  3. Tap Add Cellular Plan.
  4. Scan the QR code that your carrier provided using your iPhone's camera.
  5. Enter the confirmation code your carrier provided if you're asked to do so.

How to set up your eSIM line with your carrier's app

  1. Download your carrier's app from the App Store.
  2. Follow the steps to purchase a new cellular plan.
  3. Open Settings on your iPhone if you need to enter your plan details manually.
  4. Tap Cellular.
  5. Tap Add Cellular Plan.
  6. Tap Enter Details Manually at the bottom of the screen.
  7. Follow the instructions to enter all of the necessary details of your new cellular plan.

How to label your cellular lines

You'll be asked to label your plans after you set up your second line, but if you want to change those labels later, you can always do so in Settings.

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Cellular.
  3. Tap the number whose label you wish to change.
  4. Tap on one of the pre-made labels in the list.
  5. Alternatively, tap Type label here under Custom Label.
  6. Enter your custom label.

How to set up your cellular plans to work together

When you set up a second line, you'll need to choose which line will be your default one. You'll also be able to choose how each line will be used. The default number you choose will be the one that iMessage and FaceTime use automatically. Here's how your options break down (this assumes you chose Primary for your first line label and Secondary for your second line label):

  • Use Primary as your default line: Your Primary line will be the default for voice, SMS, iMessage, FaceTime, and data. Your Secondary line will only be available for voice and SMS.
  • Use Secondary as your default line: Your Secondary line will be the default for voice, SMS, iMessage, FaceTime, and data. Your Primary line will only be available for voice and SMS.
  • Use Secondary for cellular data only: Your Primary line will be used for voice, SMS, iMessage, and FaceTime, while your Secondary line will be used only for non-iMessage and non-FaceTime data.

How to change your cellular data number

Only one of your numbers at a time can use cellular data. You can change which of your numbers that is in Settings.

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Cellular.
  3. Tap Cellular Data.
  4. Tap the number that you want to use cellular data.
  5. Tap the switch next to Cellular Data Switching to the green "on" position if you want to switch to using cellular data on your voice/SMS line while you're on a call.

If you don't have cellular data switching turned on, you won't be able to use data while on a voice call if you have a separate line handling cellular data.

How to set a cellular line to use for a specific contact

With two lines set up, you can choose which number your iPhone uses to call one of your contacts.

  1. Open Contacts.
  2. Tap on the Contact for which you'd like to choose a number.
  3. Tap Preferred Cellular Plan.
  4. Tap the number you want to use by default to call this contact.

How to switch phone numbers when calling a favorite

  1. Open the Phone app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Favorites.
  3. Tap the i button next to the favorite you want to call.
  4. Tap the current phone number.
  5. Tap your other number.

How to switch phone numbers when using the phone keypad

  1. Open the Phone app on your iPhone.
  2. Enter the phone number.
  3. Tap on the phone number near the top of the screen.
  4. Tap the number you want to use for the call.

How to designate a line for iMessage and FaceTime

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Messages.
  3. Tap iMessage & FaceTime Line.
  4. Tap the phone number you want to use for iMessage and FaceTime.

How to switch messaging numbers in the Messages app

  1. Open Messages on your iPhone.
  2. Tap the New Message button in the upper-right corner.
  3. Enter your contact's name or number.
  4. Tap the number you're currently using to send messages.
  5. Tap the number you want to use.

How to manage cellular settings

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Cellular.
  3. Tap on the number you want to change.
  4. Tap each option or setting as you normally would.

How to erase your eSIM

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Cellular.
  3. Tap on the cellular plan you want to erase.
  4. Tap Remove Cellular Plan.

iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR

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