Before you can start using your iPhone, even if you only want to set it up to use Wi-Fi, you need to insert your SIM card correctly. There are many different iPhones on the market, but the way you insert it and where it goes hasn't changed since the iPhone 4. Finding out how exactly to do this, how to use your iPhone without a SIM card, the process of transferring your SIM over to a new phone, and what a SIM card tells you is everything you need to know to use your iPhone.
What Is the Use of a SIM Card in an iPhone?
Your SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card identifies you and allows your phone to communicate with your cellular carrier's network, essentially serving as an intermediary. In addition to this, it may store your contact list and hold your security data. When your contacts are stored on your SIM card (or on iCloud if your previous phone is an iPhone), switching the SIM card over to a new iPhone allows people to contact you on it using your old number and gives you what you need to contact them.
The SIM card itself has a gold contact on it, which is mounted on a rectangular plastic body with one corner cut diagonally. This helps you orient it the right way when it comes to putting it in your iPhone.
How to Insert a SIM Card Into an iPhone
Locate the SIM tray on your iPhone. For all iPhones from the iPhone 4 onward (including the X, 8, 8 Plus, 7, 7 Plus and so on), you find this on the right side of the device, opposite the volume buttons and the mute switch. Look for a small oval-shaped panel on the edge of the iPhone with a tiny circle in one end. Use a stretched out paperclip (you don't need to stretch it all the way out; just one end is enough) to poke into the hole. This opens the tray that holds the SIM. You can also use a SIM eject tool if you have one.
Look at the tray, noticing which corner is cut to an angle. Match the cut corner on your SIM card up to this, so you know which way to insert it. You can only fit it in one way. As long as it fits, reinsert the tray, and you have installed the SIM.
On older iPhones, use the same process but look for the SIM tray on the top edge of the iPhone instead of on the right side.
How Do I Transfer My SIM Card to an iPhone?
To transfer your existing SIM card to a new iPhone, make sure your contacts are stored on iCloud if you had an iPhone before or on your SIM card if you didn't have an iPhone before, and insert it into the SIM tray. Turn on the iPhone and, if necessary, run through the setup process as prompted.
Navigate to "Settings," then "Contacts" and press "Import SIM Contacts." The import process starts, and when it is complete, you will see your numbers in the Contacts list.
Can I Just Swap SIM Cards in iPhones?
You can swap SIM cards in iPhones provided the SIM card fits into the slot. SIM cards come in several sizes. If you need a new SIM for your new iPhone, contact your carrier for one. However, if your SIM card fits, you can swap it over without issues.
Can I Use My iPhone Without a SIM Card?
You can use your iPhone as a Wi-Fi only device provided you perform the initial setup with a SIM card inserted. After you go through this process, you don't need to have a SIM card inserted to use apps or anything that requires only an internet connection. If a request to insert a SIM appears when you restart the phone but after the initial setup, dismiss this by tapping "Cancel."
IPhones from the iPhone 5 onward (including the 5s, 5c, SE, 6, 6s, 7, 8, X and any Plus models) use a Nano SIM. This means your existing SIM card is compatible if you have one of these models or a modern Android phone because nano SIMs are the industry standard. The iPhone 4 and 4s use the slightly larger Micro SIM card, and older models use the large SIM cards.
- iMore: What Is a SIM Card and What Does It Do?
- Apple: Remove or Switch the SIM Card in Your iPhone or iPad
- Apple: Learn Which Size SIM Card Your iPhone or iPad Uses
- Apple: Import Contacts From Your SIM Card to Your iPhone
- Tech Radar: Ask: How to Use an iPhone Without SIM Card (Like an iPod)
- Apple: Set Up Your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch