The Apple SIM

October 24th, 2014

 There are many different features that I’ll want to address about the new iPad Air 2, but since I’ve only received the device today, I’ll start with the simplest: the Apple SIM.

In the US and UK, Apple is now giving its customers the ability to purchase a cellular iPad with a “white label” SIM card. The card that you receive at home is not linked with any carrier, but allows you to setup a 30-days pay-as-you-go contract with one of the available carriers (in the UK there’s only EE at the moment).

The process is very easy. Once your iPad is up and running you need to go in the “cellular data” page of the settings to go through the setup. Once you’ve selected a plan (EE is definitely not the cheapest, but it has the biggest 4G network at the moment), you set your payment details and you’re all set.

The entire process last just about 5 minutes and doesn’t involve opening a new account with the carrier or registering any of your personal details to start a new contract. The whole idea behind this operation is that in theory you are free to jump from carrier to carrier after every month, trying to find the best deal for you (not in the UK right now since we only have one option).

In principle the Apple SIM is a great idea because is all about the customer allowing him to find the best deal for him. In reality it might be a different way for Apple and the carrier to lock us in even more. One thing that I’ve noticed is that the plans available through the iPad are different from the ones you can select from the carrier website, with the first option starting at just £1/month for 50MB (is this a practical joke??).

One big advantage of course is that you can interrupt the service at any time without having to pay penalties or extra charges.

One possible downside is related to carrier notifications (but it might be just because it’s a new account). Because it’s a pay-as-you-go service there is no money on my account because the monthly fee is taken and use for the data plan. This factor has triggered already 3 notifications (iMessages and system notifcation) about my account being “empty” and that I should top-up to keep using the service. I hope this will only be a temporary glitch that will be fixed by Apple/carrier.

All in all the white label SIM is a welcomed changed and I hope more carriers (at least on this side of the ocean) will join the party.