Various news flashes on Apple SIM. Which basically allows what we were talking about in April, the ability for Apple to steer its users to specific Roaming partners though its partner Gigsky.
Yesterday Apple launched a technology called Apple SIM poised to instantly connect travelers with local data networks the second they touched ground in an international country.
Yesterday, Apple and GigSky have announced a partnership that includes the ability to instantly connect to a local data network in more than 90 countries and territories upon touchdown—no need to visit a kiosk, talk to a service agent, or really, do anything at all. Instead, iPads with AppleSIM cards will automatically offer the option to sign up for a data plans as soon as a local network is in reach. (The GigSky network includes most of Western Europe, from France and Germany to the Netherlands; Australia; South Africa; parts of the Middle East; and beyond.)
Because travelers are accessing onto local networks, rather that roaming from their domestic carrier, prices are impressively affordable as long as you’re traveling on the beaten path. Entry-level data plans begin at just $10, covering anywhere between 10MB (in Papua New Guinea) to 75 MB (in Italy); in countries with better access, the premium plans top out at 3GB for $50. By comparison, AT&T’s best deal currently charges $30 for 120 MB or $120 for 800 MB. And unlike with most major telecom companies, travelers won’t need to worry about overage or monthly recurring charges—GigSky’s plans are inherently short-term.
For now, the technology is limited to iPad—AppleSIM has been coming pre-installed on iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 models with WiFi + Cellular capability (and have been since that model debuted last year). They’re also available at Apple stores for a mere $5 if one isn’t already in your device. Not sure whether you have one already? Simply pop out the SIM card and see if there’s an Apple logo on it.
Now there’s only one caveat that remains: at this point, Apple could confirm no plans to bring the technology to iPhone. But perhaps a year from now, we’ll have another surprise to report on that front.
In theory, Apple SIM allows users to swap mobile networks as they travel without changing the actual SIM card inside their device. Whereas previous devices have included dedicated SIM cards that are tied to a single carrier, this update has the ability to detect local telecom signals and offer short-term plans with the corresponding carrier. That means travelers toting their iPads to London might be given a pop-up option to sign up for a week-long subscription to EE, rather than using their home network’s more expensive roaming rates.
The innovation carries the potential for serious disruption, especially if it can be rolled out to smartphones in its next generation. But so far, the only international carrier that’s jumped on board is the aforementioned EE, which serves the UK. Whether other international networks will embrace the technology remains to be seen—though Apple claims that they’re making the process transparent and that networks won’t be charged to join. Still, domestic carriers may be reluctant to offer compatibility—in fact, Verizon has already decided not to support Apple SIM.
Apple has reached a partnership with mobile connectivity company GigSky to expand Apple SIM cellular data plans to over 90 countries and territories around the world. iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 users that have Apple SIM installed can now purchase short-term data plans while traveling in a long list of countries throughout Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa, South America and other regions worldwide.
Apple SIM is now available for purchase at Apple Retail Stores in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. Apple SIM cellular data plans were previously limited to participating carriers in the United States and United Kingdom, including AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile in the U.S. and EE in the U.K.
With Apple SIM in iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models, you get the convenience of choosing a cellular data plan from select carrier partners right on your iPad. And when you travel abroad, Apple SIM gives you the added flexibility to stay connected in more than 90 countries and territories around the world. So when you reach your destination and want to check your email, find directions, or send a message back home, you can purchase a cellular data plan for the duration of your trip — whether it’s a day, a week, or a month.
GigSky cellular data plans are available on a pay-as-you-go basis with no long-term commitments. Exact prices are listed on GigSky’s website and vary based based on the country, data amount and length of plan. Given that iPads are unlocked, travelers can also insert a SIM card belonging to a local carrier if preferred.
Apple has posted a full list of countries with Apple SIM coverage on its website. http://www.apple.com/ipad/apple-sim/
Sources: TIME, Travel + Leisure, Mac Rumours, Apple