Phones have traditionally used physical cards called SIM cards to connect to cellular networks, but the shift to a digital version called eSIM is progressing slowly. One of the reasons we haven’t seen more phones ditch the SIM card slot altogether is that Android doesn’t have great support for multiple eSIMs, which has to happen before most manufacturers can make the switch. The upcoming Android 13 update seems to be laying the groundwork for that.
Hope reports that the Android 13 codebase contains an implementation of a patent filed by Google in 2020, which allows multiple SIM profiles to be used on a single integrated chip. It works by splitting the single physical data bus between the modem and the eSIM chip into multiple logical interfaces which are multiplexed onto a single physical interface. It’s kind of like how most modern CPUs divide physical CPU cores into logical CPU cores, so more tasks can be done at the same time.
Unlike physical SIM cards, which require a large slot on the side of a phone or tablet, eSIM only requires a small component on the device’s motherboard. This leaves more space in the phone for a bigger battery, camera or anything else. However, few phones have completely removed the physical SIM card slot, partly because many carriers still do not support eSIM, and partly because many devices sold internationally must have eSIMs. two SIM cards. Dual eSIMs are an option offered by the iPhone 13 series, but this adds more complexity.
Google has yet to publicly mention this feature, but if it remains in Android 13 for the final release, we’ll likely hear more soon. The new feature could lead to wider eSIM support on all phones, provided carriers can be convinced.