AT&T Locking Apple Interchangeable SIMs in iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 [Updated]


macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Apple's new Apple SIM card in the iPad Air 2 and the Retina iPad mini 3 is designed to be universal, usable across a variety of wireless carriers in the US and UK, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and UK's EE.

According to user reports in the MacRumors forums and on Twitter, however, AT&T is not supporting this interchangeability and is locking the SIM included with cellular models of the iPad Air 2 and Retina iPad mini 3 after it is used with an AT&T plan.

Image via John Legere
A newly posted Apple support document details what happens to the SIM when it is activated on US carriers.
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.
AT&T appears to be the only participating carrier that is locking the Apple SIM to its network. T-Mobile's John Legere has indicated that T-Mobile's process does not lock a customer in to T-Mobile, which appears to be confirmed by Apple's support document, and Sprint's process also seems to leave the Apple SIM unlocked and able to be used with other carrier plans. Verizon, the fourth major carrier in the United States, did not opt to allow the Apple SIM to work with its network.

According to the Apple support document, when an Apple SIM becomes locked to a specific network like AT&T, purchasing a new Apple SIM from an Apple Retail store will allow an iPad to be usable with other carrier programs.

Apple introduced its universal SIM alongside the iPad Air 2 and Retina iPad mini 3 on October 16. It is the first SIM provided by Apple that is designed to work across multiple carriers.

Update 12:10 PM PT: An AT&T spokesperson confirmed to Re/code that AT&T customers who use the Apple SIM with AT&T will need a different SIM card to switch carriers.
"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."
AT&T did not explain why it opted to lock the SIM card to its network, however, with the spokesperson saying "it's just simply the way we've chosen to do it."

Article Link: AT&T Locking Apple Interchangeable SIMs in iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 [Updated]


macrumors 68000
Nov 15, 2010
You have to be kidding me, AT&T... When will carriers stop doing stupid things like this?


Mar 15, 2008
And that is exactly what I expected to happen. Too bad Verizon opted out of this. I would easily go back & forth between them & TMO depending on travel needs.

If one does go with TMO for US use, would one be able to buy data when traveling overseas with a local carrier w/o having to swap SIM cards? This would be an exceptional feature.


Dec 6, 2012
I understand why AT&T felt it needed to do this, but long term, I think this is bad Business.


macrumors 68040
Jun 2, 2011
Salt Lake City, UT
I switched from AT&T to Verizon, realized it was like voting for a President, whomever wins, we lose.

I then switched from Verizon to T-Mobile, have NOT regretted one bit. I save money and the coverage suffices for me and my needs, which is LTE where I live and travel. Win win for me.

I save $336+ a year, that covers more than an entire car payment on my 2014 Honda Accord Sport.


macrumors 6502
Dec 20, 2013
Upstate NY
Wouldn't this be in violation of some policy Apple would have put in place before they released these types of SIM's?


macrumors 601
Aug 5, 2008
San Jose, CA
I understand why AT&T felt it needed to do this, but long term, I think this is bad Business.
Well, I don't see a good reason. The only thing it does is create inconvenience for the customer. It does not keep the customer from switching carriers by obtaining another SIM.

I was actually planning to use AT&T on my Air 2, but now I will never use AT&T since I don't want to lock my Apple SIM. T-Mobile right now has a 5GB 150-Day pass for $10 as a limited time offer ...