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Carrier Preparing for Friday's e-SIM ATT activation / transfer of # to eSIM

MareLuce

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 26, 2010
796
289
I purchased a 11 Pro Max "Unlocked and SIM-free" arriving Friday.
Am thinking through what I will need to do Friday...
I have 2 phones numbers on my ATT account. The iPhone 11 will replace one of those. I receive a corporate discount with my plan, but I personally pay for both lines.

I am in the same situation as the person below who posted this to the ATT forum:

"I have an iPhone XS and was very excited to get the eSIM activated with my current number and keep the sim tray empty for when I travel abroad and use those sims cards."

But then s/he describes a problem:

"I recently went to the store to request the QR code or whatever I'd need to get my number activated on the eSIM.

I was told my store staff as well as ATT customer care that the only way I can get the eSIM service activated is to add a whole new line, which doesn't sound right to me at all.

Has anyone else run into his issue when requesting the same thing from ATT? any help is appreciated!"


https://forums.att.com/t5/Apple/activating-eSIM-on-an-existing-ATT-number/m-p/5786418#M310133

Anyone else run into this?

Is anyone in same situation have more recent experiences to share related to
transferring an existing ATT phone # from an old iPhone to a new iPhone using the e-SIM on ATT?

And, crucially, does the Apple / ATT eSIM technology work reliably internationally if I decide to buy an international data plans from ATT instead of buying the local country SIMs?
 

imlynxy

macrumors 65816
Mar 8, 2012
1,283
455
Att eSIM works abroad. I used it in 10+ countries.
For my 11 PRO MAX 512 I ordered eSIM through att app chat on Saturday.
You can also get one free from Apple store , if only they have it in stock.
I use eSIM since day 1 it became available. I use rSIM slot for T-mobile or free Sprint or sometimes swap it with local prepaid abroad.
If you have eSIM QR card simply call Att. Give them electronic IMIE( important to insist they change IMEI to eIMEI) and your esim number.

Enjoy your new phone.


Advice : if you travel, call Att international support and ask them to push Manual Network Selection on your eSIM. If he/she doesn’t know due to poor training or low IQ, simply ask for level 2 support or hang up and call them again. This way in Canada/Mexico/Bermuda and some EU countries you can choose from 2+ providers, not Att picks for you.
 
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MareLuce

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 26, 2010
796
289
Just returned from AT&T store.

They would NOT give me an e-Sim activation # (card) without having the phone I was physically activating with the e-Sim # there. (Since I'm activating my 11 Pro Max, I don't have it.)

They said, "Once you leave the store, if it's not activated immediately it will be deactivated due to fraud risk."

I asked, "So how would it work if AT&T physically mailed me the card?"

They said I'd need to bring in the phone to the store with the card for activation.
 
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MareLuce

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 26, 2010
796
289
Done: AT&T-specific eSIM activation


I wrote out my experience below in hopes of saving others' time and preparing them for what's they might hear at their AT&T store. YMMV.


1)Yesterday's AT&T eSIM activation experience

It went differently than expected.

Me: "Hello, I need to activate my new phone's eSIM.
This iPhone 11 is the new phone with no physical SIM.
This old phone has the AT&T SIM with the phone # I want to transfer & activate on the new phone's eSIM."

ATT Apple Expert: "It's not possible to do that."

[...]

"To make the e-SIM in your new phone active, I need a completely different phone's SIM card with a different phone # to put into the new phone when I activate its eSIM."


In my case, because I already carry 2 phones, this was not a show stopper.

1 line for work, 1 line for play / personal / family
So I simply took my second phone out of my purse and gave him that phone #'s SIM card.

That worked!
He successfully activated the eSIM on my new iPhone 11 to my work phone # when my personal phone #'d physical SIM was in the new phone's SIM slot.
After activation, I removed my personal phone's physical SIM from my new phone.

Tested the new work phone to make sure it showed as dialing from my work phone #. Check.
Tested my old personal phone to make sure it was using my personal phone #. Check.


Net:
Based on my experience today, AT&T can't activate an eSIM without the physical SIM from a different phone line in the physical SIM slot.

To restate: based on my experience today, you need to either have or borrow (from your spouse? a friend? ) a second phone / SIM card and bring it with you bring in to the ATT store for eSIM activation.

FYI: In iTunes just did first backup of new phone. eSIM number showed up as "Phone Number 2"


DONE!
Work phone on the right with eSIM activated to AT&T. No physical SIM. iPhone 11 Pro Max, midnight green. It does remind me of sea glass referenced in that other topic.
Play phone on the left with AT&T physical SIM. eSIM not activated. iPhone 10 SX Max, in last year's iridescent gold.
 
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MareLuce

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Sep 26, 2010
796
289
2) Option B described by ATT Apple Expert

What I could also do if I didn't have a second SIM: Have an international carrier activate the e-SIM for ATT as same time as purchase of the international physical SIM.

But... would I want to wait to activate the eSIM when overseas?

Of course not. I wanted to get it done NOW, in the store.
When I'm across the pond I have a million things to do. Last thing I'd want to do is stand in line for at least 30 min or more while this happens.

Moreover, the first time this ATT expert tried it, the activation failed. He had to attempt it twice and had a million screens to click through on his iPad.

Would an Intl carrier store customer rep know what to do like he did if eSIM activation failed at first? Too much risk of lots of time wasted.

Am interested in hearing others' experiences related to 2).
 
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tatarin

macrumors newbie
Mar 7, 2012
17
5
Apple's direct phone to phone data transfer procedure successfully transferred my AT&T eSim from my old iPhone XR to my new SiM-free iPhone 11 Pro. During the transfer, it warned me that my AT&T service was being transferred to the new iPhone and that my old iPhone would no longer have service. Everything works fine -- no new eSim QR code or visit to an AT&T store was needed.
 
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jplusc

macrumors 6502a
Jul 5, 2010
634
112
Los Angeles
Apple's direct phone to phone data transfer procedure successfully transferred my AT&T eSim from my old iPhone XR to my new SiM-free iPhone 11 Pro. During the transfer, it warned me that my AT&T service was being transferred to the new iPhone and that my old iPhone would no longer have service. Everything works fine -- no new eSim QR code or visit to an AT&T store was needed.
Interesting, so transferring phone to phone vs from iCloud will transfer the eSim? If so I’ll have to do that in the future. I had to active the physical sim that came with the phone and order a new eSim.
 
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tatarin

macrumors newbie
Mar 7, 2012
17
5
This was not a data transfer using iCloud or iTunes. It is a third method that Apple calls "Quick Start" It only works on devices running iOS 11 or later.
 
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jplusc

macrumors 6502a
Jul 5, 2010
634
112
Los Angeles
This was not a data transfer using iCloud or iTunes. It is a third method that Apple calls "Quick Start" It only works on devices running iOS 11 or later.
Yeah when setting up it’s when you get the option to transfer directly from your phone or setup via an iCloud backup, correct? (After holding your old phone near your new phone to initiate setup)
 
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tatarin

macrumors newbie
Mar 7, 2012
17
5
That's correct. I don't know if the eSim would have transferred to the new phone using the other two methods. I was very impressed with Quick Start. All my apps and websites with passwords worked fine. I only had to enter the 3 or 4 digit security codes for my credit/debit cards in Apple Pay. All the affinity cards like Sam's Club, Panera, Life Time Fitness, etc. transferred fine.
 
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Trodolak

macrumors member
Sep 27, 2017
32
14
Hilton Head, SC
When I migrated my XS to the new 11 pro, everything transferred except the eSim number. I didn’t use an iCloud backup but rather the backup on my iMac. I had to go into an AT&T store to get the eSim number transferred. I travel internationally quite a bit and inserting a local SIM card in the physical sim tray on my iPhone works very well. I then use the eSim number for everything else.
 
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ecschwarz

macrumors 65816
Jun 28, 2010
1,330
280
@tatarin, that's good to know - I'm saving my AT&T QR code because some places have said that if you remove it from your phone and then re-add it to a new one, it might work (if it's added and active elsewhere it seems to complain and not work).

Also, for everyone out there having trouble getting eSIM activation cards for AT&T, Apple Stores do have them as a free SKU like other SIMs - I did that since AT&T stores were hit-or-miss with lots of bad information in my area a few weeks ago when we were setting up a work phone.
 
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ZipZap

macrumors 603
Dec 14, 2007
5,737
1,042
@tatarin, that's good to know - I'm saving my AT&T QR code because some places have said that if you remove it from your phone and then re-add it to a new one, it might work (if it's added and active elsewhere it seems to complain and not work).

Also, for everyone out there having trouble getting eSIM activation cards for AT&T, Apple Stores do have them as a free SKU like other SIMs - I did that since AT&T stores were hit-or-miss with lots of bad information in my area a few weeks ago when we were setting up a work phone.

Order the QR Code online for free with Free delivery. The stores are clueless and some may try and charge you.

Once you use an QRCode its done. If you need to move a programmed eSIM from an old phone to a new one you need a new QR Code.
 
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avanpelt

macrumors 68030
Jun 2, 2010
2,932
3,802
Done: AT&T-specific eSIM activation


I wrote out my experience below in hopes of saving others' time and preparing them for what's they might hear at their AT&T store. YMMV.


1)Yesterday's AT&T eSIM activation experience

It went differently than expected.

Me: "Hello, I need to activate my new phone's eSIM.
This iPhone 11 is the new phone with no physical SIM.
This old phone has the AT&T SIM with the phone # I want to transfer & activate on the new phone's eSIM."

ATT Apple Expert: "It's not possible to do that."

[...]

"To make the e-SIM in your new phone active, I need a completely different phone's SIM card with a different phone # to put into the new phone when I activate its eSIM."


In my case, because I already carry 2 phones, this was not a show stopper.

1 line for work, 1 line for play / personal / family
So I simply took my second phone out of my purse and gave him that phone #'s SIM card.

That worked!
He successfully activated the eSIM on my new iPhone 11 to my work phone # when my personal phone #'d physical SIM was in the new phone's SIM slot.
After activation, I removed my personal phone's physical SIM from my new phone.

Tested the new work phone to make sure it showed as dialing from my work phone #. Check.
Tested my old personal phone to make sure it was using my personal phone #. Check.


Net:
Based on my experience today, AT&T can't activate an eSIM without the physical SIM from a different phone line in the physical SIM slot.

To restate: based on my experience today, you need to either have or borrow (from your spouse? a friend? ) a second phone / SIM card and bring it with you bring in to the ATT store for eSIM activation.

The AT&T rep you worked with was mistaken. In order to activate the eSIM, the phone does have to have connectivity, but it can be Wi-Fi connectivity and it does not need to be cellular connectivity.

Before the AT&T rep I worked with tried to activate my eSIM, I made sure I was connected to the in-store “attwifi” network since I had read other posts on this board that said a network connection was required in order to activate the eSIM. When my eSIM was activated, the nano SIM slot in the phone was empty.
 
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