How to receive SMS with eSim
September 17, 2023 9:49 AM   Subscribe

Airalo eurolink eSim installed but we haven't left the U.S. yet. When we get to our first European stop I want to make sure I'm doing everything correctly.

The eSim installation instructions say to "Choose a label for your new eSIM plan," and I chose "Travel" as the label.
The next instruction says "Choose Primary for your default line" which I set to my normal U.S. phone number, but I'm not sure if that's right.
The next instruction says "Choose the Primary you want to use with iMessage and FaceTime for your Apple ID." This implies there is more than one Primary, which is confusing. I don't remember what I did there, but there's a big warning that I can only install the eSim once, so I don't want to go back and mess anything up.

I'd like to use the eSim for iMessages as well as data, but I don't want to have to give people a different phone number (that I can't even find now and probably won't until the eSim connects to a network in Europe). Will my iPhone (11 Pro Max) seamlessly use my Apple ID with the eSim after I turn off data roaming on my own phone number?

I don't have a problem using the eSim for data, but messaging seems to be a special case as it's linked to my Apple ID.

I'm guessing that I need to "turn on" the eSim and then turn off "airplane mode" when we land. If I leave my phone in airplane mode to avoid massive data roaming charges, the eSim also won't connect?

Is there anything else I need to do to make this work? My first time using an eSim, so step-by-step directions would be appreciated.
posted by Joleta to Technology (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When I have used airalo, it has been data only. I would turn off my regular sim and only use the airalo. This means no regular calls and no sms, but you can use WhatsApp because it is running on the data connection. I think the Messages app uses data connection for some things (like iPhone to iPhone messages), but sms for other things, so I imagine it would not work well unless you were also roaming on your regular sim.
posted by snofoam at 10:59 AM on September 17 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My experience is with a different eSim provider, but if your eSim from Airalo is data only, that means you will not be able use voice and SMS with Airalo. The instructions below assumes that.

On an iPhone, you are able to set "Default Voice Line" to "Primary", which is your U.S. line, and set "Mobile Data" to "Airalo" (i.e. "Travel"). That means your regular phone calls and regular SMS will be using your U.S. carrier's, and you will incur roaming charges. (The telco I use provides free incoming SMS, but outgoing SMS and all incoming and outgoing voice calls are expensive. Your telco may be different.) But mobile data (e.g. web browsing, FaceTime, Zoom) will use Airalo.

You can choose "Primary" to use with iMessage and FaceTime. My understanding is that you will then retain your phone number for iMessage and FaceTime. But, the actual mobile data used by iMessage and FaceTime will be on Airalo.

To ensure you are not using your U.S. telco's data roaming, you can turn it off in the settings.

So, in the Settings app:

Mobile Data > Travel > Turn on This Line : turn on (to enable Airalo)
Mobile Data > Travel > Data Roaming : turn on (to use Airalo's data)
Mobile Data > Mobile Data : select "Travel" (this is so that you are using Airalo for data)
Mobile Data > Default Voice Line : select "Primary"
Mobile Data > Primary > Data Roaming : turn off (this is so that you do not use U.S. telco's data)

If you don't need regular phone call and SMS, you can also turn off your primary line:
Mobile Data > Primary > Turn on This Line : turn off

Do remember that if you are using any services that requires OTP via SMS (e.g. logging in to your bank's website), you will need to turn on SMS.

Hope this helps.
posted by applesurf at 6:34 PM on September 17

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