AT&T locks down Apple’s interchangeable SIM cards in iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 [Update]

image iPad Air 2 cellular

The cellular connected iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 offer a different type of SIM card right out of the box called the “Apple SIM.” It’s designed to be interchangeable between networks. According to new reports, AT&T missed that memo.

According to a report published by MacRumors and citing several different accounts culled from Twitter and the publication’s own forums, the interchangeable SIM card within the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 is actually getting locked down by the Big Blue carrier after it has been initially activated on an AT&T data plan. As a result, the SIM card that should work moving from AT&T, to T-Mobile, to even carriers in the United Kingdom, can’t do that at all.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a secret. Apple has recently published a page dedicated to choosing a data network with an Apple SIM, and it explicitly outlines that while switching between carriers like Sprint and T-Mobile is indeed possible, even after starting a data plan with one and then using the other, that is not the case with AT&T:

Using Apple SIM, you can choose from different cellular carriers and their various programs. The data plans vary by carrier. For instance, in the United States, you can choose a domestic plan from either Sprint or T-Mobile and also pick an alternate plan from the other carrier as needed. When you choose AT&T on iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, AT&T dedicates Apple SIM to their network only.

As it stands right now, it would appear that AT&T is the only carrier that is locking down the Apple SIM in this way. It remains to be seen if that will always be the case, but for now, if you wish to switch between data plans on networks for whatever reason, be wary of AT&T’s own efforts.

Update: AT&T has confirmed with Re/code that they do, indeed, lock down their Apple SIM — just as it says on the Apple support page.

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel confirmed to Re/code that customers who use the Apple SIM on AT&T will need another SIM card to switch carriers, but stressed that the device itself remains unlocked.

“With us you can change carriers with this iPad any time you want,” he said. “It is an unlocked device. … All [you] have to do is switch out the SIM in the device so it works on another carrier.

Did you pick up an iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3 through AT&T?

[via MacRumors]