Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


Buying the iPhone 15? Here's how your carrier is handling eSIM transfers

If you're upgrading to iPhone 15 from iPhone 13 or earlier, here's how your wireless company will help you navigate one tricky issue.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor
iPhone 15 Blue in hand
June Wan/ZDNET

This week, Apple announced its new iPhone 15, which, like last year's iPhone, forgoes the traditional physical SIM card for an eSIM. If you are upgrading from an iPhone that's at least two years old, it is likely that you will have to make to switch to the new data format.

Also: iPhone 15 eSIM: How to transfer your phone number to Apple's new iPhone

The transition will vary depending on your carrier, whether it supports eSIM or not (most of them do), and what practices they have in place to facilitate the activation. Most carriers will link your phone number to the device when you order your iPhone, making the setup process as straightforward and simple as possible. Others, maybe not.

Here's how the three major US phone carriers -- Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile -- are supporting eSIM activation. 


Verizon truck

Verizon has an eSIM system in place that allows you to activate a phone in just a few steps. The process is especially easy if you purchase the phone from Verizon, of course. 

"If you purchased your iPhone from Verizon, or are a current Verizon customer, simply turn your phone on, follow the iPhone's setup steps, and you are good to go," Verizon tells ZDNET. 

If you are switching to Verizon, you'll first need to connect to Wi-Fi to start the activation process. Then, download the "My Verizon App" from the app store or visit the Verizon website to activate the eSIM. Utilizing the same app, you can switch from other carriers or upgrade your account without needing a physical SIM card.

You can find step-by-step directions on the Verizon website



With AT&T, setting up your eSIM is similar. 

"AT&T makes it easy for customers to activate an eSIM if they're moving off an old phone or switching carriers. They can simply head to a store, visit ATT.com, or use the myAT&T app to set up and activate a new phone in minutes," AT&T tells ZDNET. 

Also: Every iPhone 15 model compared: iPhone 15 vs. Plus vs. Pro vs. Pro Max

When switching from another carrier to AT&T and you're buying a new device, turn it on and follow the prompts to download your eSIM phone number. If you have an existing AT&T number and have a new iPhone, you can simply follow the setup prompts on the device.

You can find step-by-step directions on the AT&T website



T-Mobile is currently running a Network Pass program, which allows you to take advantage of the carrier's unlimited data via eSIM for three months at no charge. 

Also: Best Apple deals: the iPhone 15, MacBooks, AirPods, and more

To participate in this trial, the only requirement is to have an unlocked eSIM-compatible phone, like the iPhone 15. This is a great way to get a feel for how eSIM works and whether or not it's a good fit for your lifestyle.

If you plan on purchasing the new iPhone, like the other carriers, you can activate your T-Mobile eSIM by connecting to Wi-Fi and following the setup process on-screen. You may be asked to enter your T-Mobile account information or phone number to receive your eSIM data.

You can find step-by-step directions on the T-Mobile website

Editorial standards