Sim swapping international

hey MPUsers
Am curious if any of you have had recent experiences of swapping two sims in and out of an iPhone. For example, instead of using my UK sim while I am in Italy, I am thinking to swap it out for an Italian sim for the couple of months I am there.

In the past (perhaps 2017) I had trouble with messages being lost, but I’m curious to hear any opinions, experiences, advice.
Thanks in advance.

I believe Whatsapp messages will not be available with the new card and viceversa, but are not Apple Messages stored on iCloud?

Whatever messages you have should stay on the iPhone. Even without messages in iCloud turned on. Some people may lose way to contact you – if they used your phone number for iMessage/FaceTime they won’t necessarily be able to reach you (I think).

It’s less of a problem in the UK (since that’s where activation server is) but many carriers still charge for iMessage/iCloud activation texts. International, so it’s exorbitant in the era of ubiquitous internet.

I would encourage you to check if your iPhone supports dual SIM. Not having access to your main number may become quite problematic, especially if you have two-factor authentication set up using it.

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Have a look for an eSIM.
With using this, you can keep your regular SIM in the phone, and use the eSIM as a second SIM.
It might be also an idea, to have a look around within other European Countries, to see if you can use a SIM from there, with a maybe cheaper rate, in connection with the EU-Roaming.
But I am currently not sure, if this really works.
I just have a colleague in Mind, who told me that he was using a SIM from Poland, to use his iPhone very cheap in Germany.

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I guess you could even add the Italian SIM number to the methods of reaching you by Messages - not so sure about WhatsApp though, as I belive it is more closely tied to the hardware and phone number.

Other than that, you should have few issues, I believe.

Roaming within EU is wonderful these days, whatever package you have at home, you can use within other EU countries with the same terms as at home. No extra cost. Naturally, calls to home will be charged the same rate as calls to the country you are in. This is esp. valuable for the data traffic, which enables maps and navigation features.

(If you have an “unlimited” data plan at home, there will be a cap for data usage, but it is generous.)

Thanks everyone. Great to read. I’m ‘rocking’ a state of the art (although not sure what kind of art) iPhone X that def is not dual sim. I do like the idea of an eSIM but also not a possibility for my phone. Sheesh. By the way, it’s likely that I’ll be spending even more time in Italy so under 3 months is no problem using UK roaming – works brilliantly as you say @airwhale. But O2 (and other carriers) start to get very funny if you are in another country ‘roaming’ for more than 3 months (as far as I can tell).
I might do some tests when I am there later this week (only for a month this time) and see what it’s like. I imagine a few teething issues.
But, really, it’s time to upgrade and there are some good deals on BackMarket (really trying to avoid buying new when it comes to phones). Then I think looking into an eSIM would be a good way to go.
Really appreciate your time.

eSIM startet from the iPhone Xs, XR.

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You get the option to switch to the new number or stick with the old one. So you could keep sending and receiving on your UK number using your Italian Sim.

I think iMessage works like this though, with only the number active on your phone able to send and receive messages.

We just take the UK SIM with us when we go away and then check our uk messages as often as we need, and tell friends and family to use WhatsApp if you need us.

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Italy is in the “Europe Zone”, for us on O2, we get our full allowance as if we were in the UK - might be worth checking!

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Who is your UK provider? Depending how old your contract is some providers have switched back to roaming charges post Brexit. Do check this, also if your contracts runs out while in Italy.

What is your phone model. Does it have dual-sim or not.

The best is to add your email address to iMessage so people can continue to find you if they have your UK phone number and email address in one contact record. Despite your iMessage being linked to an Italian number, you will still receive UK messages through the email connection.

Whatsapp will be no problem as long as you don’t update the number.

If your phone supports eSim, take out main contract on eSim and use local physical sim cards. Not all providers do eSim yet


if you do not tell WhatsApp that you are on a new number, the same old number still works with WhatsApp with new sim

when I was doing full time work, 50% of my time was travelling internationally. Sim swap was fact of life for me. But then I was not using imessage so much but only WhatsApp, Telegram that did not bother which sim card is in the phone so I kept using them.

If you traveling regularly (like I did), considering using Google Fi so it is one number that people can contact you no matter where you are (and what time zone you are in) - if this is something that you want

If you do remove your UK sim, then at some point it gets removed from your Apple ID. A workaround is to keep the SIM in an older iPhone—which might be a good excuse to upgrade if you’ve been looking for one?

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I’m not in Europe, but would getting a new sim mean that you have to get a new number? Do they allow for phone number transfer to a different country carrier?

I stand corrected, then. Thanks @ChrisEdwards and @fuzzygel

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This is a very interesting thread to me. I will be traveling to Australia from the US in a month for a month. My husband has an XR and I have an iPhone 13Pro. The term ESIM is very new to me and I would like to know more. Can someone point me to a source?

I usually get an Italian SIM when I’m there, and I’ve had no problem with it. I just use it for data, not usually calling. Usually TIM or WIND or one of the other providers has a nice deal for visitors with 10-20G of data for relatively little cost.

It’s deparessing how much better a deal on data you can get there than here in the US.

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No, definitely not. I’m not so interested in even keeping the same number (even in the UK). Phone calls are such a small part of how I do my work (and also personal life really). Sure, it would be a bit of a hassle but not so much.

thanks @fuzzygel. Good thinking (although tend to avoid google products as much as I can – that book by Shoshana Zuboff was the end of the end for me). I use Signal as my main messaging app and I’m curious how number agnostic it will be. It’s definitely only linked to a single number so even if I were to go dual-SIM route I’d need to pick which number.

cheers @simonsmark – I’m with O2 and on a very old contract. There are no roaming charges for being in Europe. On an iPhone X so no dual SIM (but thinking of upgrading soon enough to a 12 or maybe a 13 when the 14s come out).
And thanks for advice re main contract on eSIM – very useful.