How to Use an eSIM to Set Up Your Cellular Plan

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

The iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and XR have Dual SIM cards, which includes a nano-SIM and an eSIM. The eSIM is a digital SIM that allows your phone to have a second active cell plan from your carrier. Essentially, your phone will have two phone numbers. This is great if you want a business number separate from your personal number or are traveling out of the country and want to get a phone number from a local carrier without swapping out the physical SIM. Typically this feature only works with iOS 12.1 and later with a few carriers in the US. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile currently support this feature with varying restrictions. Check with your carrier to understand how you can best use eSIM with your device. Below, I'll give a general overview of how to set up an eSIM.

Related: Insurance for your iPhone: Is It Worth It?

Setting Up a Cellular Plan with eSIM

We've already discussed choosing the best iPhone plan for you. Now that you have your plan, let's go over setting your plan up using eSIM. The nano-SIM in your device will be used for one cellular plan while the other cellular plan will use the eSIM. If your carrier allows, an eSIM can serve as your only cellular plan if you don't have a nano-SIM. 

To activate the second cellular plan, you can do one of the following:

Scan the QR Code Your Carrier Provided:

  • Open Settings and tap Cellular.
  • Tap Add Cellular Plan.
  • Scan the QR code that your carrier provided with your iPhone.

To activate the eSIM, you might have to enter a confirmation code, which your carrier should provide.

Manually Enter the Information:

On the screen to scan the QR code, you can select to enter details manually. 

Use Your Carrier's App:

  • From the App Store, download your carrier's app.
  • Purchase a cellular plan via the app.

Again, the best way to set up an eSIM is to check with your provider if and how they support this feature for iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and XR. Going forward, it's expected more providers and devices will enable eSIM to be used to its full potential.

Top image credit: sitthiphong /

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Author Details

Hallei Halter's picture

Author Details

Hallei Halter

Hallei is a 2018 graduate of Maharishi University of Management with a BFA in Creative & Professional Writing. She's currently working on a novel about people using witchcraft to clean their houses.