Apple’s Dual SIM Functionality Not Playing Well With Verizon’s Network [Update: AT&T and T-Mobile Too]

iOS 12.1 Dual SIM eSIM

Earlier today, Apple officially launched iOS 12.1 to the public. The new software brings with it plenty of new features, including Group FaceTime and dual SIM support. Unfortunately, the latter isn’t working so well with one of the largest wireless networks in the United States.

The dual SIM support is facilitated by Apple’s eSIM technology, and went live with the rollout of iOS 12.1 earlier today. However, as was first reported on Tuesday by PCMag, when Verizon’s SIM card is slotted into the “secondary” position within the dual SIM setup, the network will automatically switch to Verizon’s 2G CDMA network. As one can imagine, that severely degrades the network coverage itself, but also drastically reduces the customer’s network speeds as well.

“The problem comes when a physical Verizon SIM is pushed into the ‘secondary’ position while the phone is in the US. Under the current software build, that kicks the Verizon connection down to 2G CDMA, an old network with significantly less coverage than the current LTE network. The old network also has no MMS support, and certainly wouldn’t work for FaceTime. So Verizon customers may find they have perfectly good coverage with their SIM in ‘primary’ position, but no signal and fewer features with the SIM in ‘secondary.'”

At the time of publication, Verizon’s network throughout the United States is 30% LTE-only at this point, so there is a considerable drop in network availability when going to the 2G CDMA option.

As for why there is an issue, it apparently comes down to Verizon wanting to make sure its customers have the best possible experience while using the dual SIM support in their newest iPhones. More than that, if a subscriber chooses to “activate another carrier’s service on your iPhone’s eSIM”, then their Verizon coverage will be severely degraded due to the “current software configuration”.

Here’s Verizon’s statement:

“Wireless customers will be able to activate Verizon service eSIMs as soon as we’re confident you’ll be able to have the great, high-quality service you expect from us on both your primary and secondary line. If you are a Verizon customer and you activate another carrier’s service on your iPhone’s eSIM, your Verizon service will be degraded due to the current software configuration.

“Based on our discussions with Apple, we believe these concerns will be resolved quickly and you should be able to add our great Verizon service on your secondary line before the end of the year. Until the secondary line can deliver Verizon’s full suite of voice and high-speed data services, we won’t activate Verizon service on any eSIM. This includes our own customers’ iPhones with dual SIM capabilities as well as iPhones on competitors’ networks.”

It is worth noting that international roaming does not seem to cause any issues. So even if you put the Verizon SIM in the “secondary” slot while you travel internationally, your service won’t be severely impacted in the same way it is in the United States. And, looking ahead, Verizon says this particular issue will be fixed before the end of 2018, which is good news.

Still, dual SIM support is one of the more oft-requested features for Apple’s smartphone lineup. It’s unfortunate that it isn’t working on the nation’s largest wireless network right out of the gate. T-Mobile is also not supporting the feature right this moment, either, but will be adding support soon. AT&T, too, isn’t jumping on board with the feature at this point in time, either.

Update: All the three major U.S. carriers are expected to add eSIM support by the end of this year.

[via PCMag]