While the Apple SIM found inside Apple’s new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 is designed to be carrier agnostic – usable on a variety of carriers across the U.S. and the UK – AT&T isn’t playing nice, and is locking the SIM to the AT&T network once it is used with an AT&T plan.
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.
An Apple support document tells how the Apple SIM works when activated on U.S. wireless 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.”
After the Apple SIM is locked to the AT&T network, a user can purchase a new Apple SIM from an Apple Retail Store to allow its use with another network.
Re/code reports that an AT&T spokesperson confirmed that AT&T customers who use an Apple SIM on the AT&T network would need to get another SIM card to switch carriers. However, he neglected to explain why AT&T had decided on such a plan of action, merely saying, “it’s just simply the way we’ve chosen to do it.”