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In a nutshell: The first iPhone without a physical SIM card slot was originally expected to be the iPhone 15 Pro model forecasted to launch in late 2023 but the latest from the rumor mill suggests the change could happen a year sooner. Potential benefits include a more seamless design and improved water resistance, among others.
An anonymous tipster recently divulged to MacRumors that Apple has told major wireless providers in the US to prepare for eSIM-only iPhones by September 2022. The source provided the publication with a “seemingly legitimate” document that laid out the timeline for the initiative, although notably, said document didn’t mention Apple or the iPhone by name.
Per the transition, some US carriers will reportedly start selling select iPhone 13 models without a nano-SIM card in the box in the second quarter of 2022. iPhone 13 models sold on Apple’s website and at its retail stores already don’t include a nano-SIM, but support digital SIM cards called eSIMs that let uses activate service without a physical card.
Considering the alleged September 2022 date, it’s plausible that Apple could start phasing out physical SIM card slots as early as the iPhone 14 family.
An eSIM-only design could bring Apple’s iconic handset one step closer to former design officer Jony Ive’s vision of an iPhone that looks like a single slab of glass. It would also likely make manufacturing a bit easier and further enhance water resistance.
Apple's next iPhone - or at least, the Pro models - are also rumored to feature a 48MP camera with a periscope-style lens design said to be in the works for the following year.
Image credit iFixit