Unlucky in Raffle Draws

Smart's iPhone 13 Pro eSIM Slots are Carrier Locked

What's the point of having eSIM capabilities if I can only use them on the same network? It doesn't make sense.

Smart's iPhone 13 Pro eSIM Slots are Carrier Locked
Photo by Franck / Unsplash

When the iPhone XS was first announced, together with iPhone XR and its bigger brother XS Max, the one thing that made me excited about it was the fact that the iPhones now support dual SIM capability, or the ability to have more than one carrier on a device. This has been a feature in Samsung Galaxy phones that I found very useful, especially when travelling abroad. That way, I can spend less on data when I need it, because I don't have to worry about the much expensive roaming charges that comes with my PH-local carrier.

My fiancé got her iPhone device upgrade from her existing plan, so I was excited to welcome her back to the Apple's ecosystem. She's been using her trusty Samsung Galaxy Note 10, where her Smart and Globe SIM cards were plugged in. But she won't be able to use her Globe SIM card on the new iPhone because of a slight difference in supporting dual-SIM.

The interesting thing with iPhone's dual-SIM capability is that it accepts eSIM for the secondary carrier connection instead of the physical nano SIM card we used to fumble our hands on when plugging it on a new device. iPhones shipped on other countries such as Hong Kong or China still comes with a dual SIM card slot, but the one shipped and distributed in the Philippines only comes with a single SIM card slot. So as long as the secondary carrier is installed as an eSIM, it should be good right?

Sadly no. Turns out that even after converting Globe SIM to eSIM, we cannot use the Globe connection with the Smart one on the iPhone. We got the following error:

It appears as though even the eSIM slots were also Smart locked - which doesn't make sense. We made sure that the Smart SIM was already installed on the device. I know this limitation because my Samsung Galaxy S7 (which was also Smart-locked and dual SIM) will not accept Globe SIM cards unless there's a Smart SIM already installed.

I understand that there should be at least a Smart SIM card connected in the device before I can start adding other carriers. What I don't understand is that it seems Smart is blocking other carriers as well. Looking into Globe's eSIM Help & Support page, it appears that they also apply the same practice:

What's the point of having eSIM capabilities if I can only use them on the same network? It doesn't make sense.

I already sent an email to Smart's support to ask, although I know it's pointless. Seems like the only way to do this is by unlocking the phone which is not possible at this time (unless we pay for a fee).

What we really want is to make use of the iPhone 13 Pro's dual SIM capability which will allow us to use other carriers such as Globe in conjunction with our existing Smart subscription. That removes the need to bring two phones for different numbers.

If Smart or Globe will lock their phones even its eSIM slots, then it's still best to buy iPhones from the Apple Authorized Resellers such as Power Mac Center and Beyond the Box as those are already factory unlocked.

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Jamie Larson