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iPhone activation guide for eSIM and SIM

Updated on November 29, 2023

Get your service up and running with an eSIM or SIM card to finish setting up your iPhone. SIMs allow you to activate a cellular plan from your carrier and hold info like your phone number. A physical SIM card is inserted by a slot in your phone, and an eSIM is activated digitally.

How to set up your eSIM on iPhone

If you’re prompted to transfer your eSIM during your setup, simply follow the on-screen instructions.

Transfer your eSIM

  1. Find “Add Cellular Plan". Go to “Settings” > “Cellular” > “Add Cellular Plan” on your phone.  

  2. Choose a cell plan to transfer from another iPhone. If you don't see a list of numbers, select “Transfer From Another iPhone”. Note that both devices need to have iOS 16 or later.

  3. Receive a confirmation code on your old phone. Enter the code on your new phone when you get it.

  4. Activation. The plan should activate and your previous SIM should deactivate.

  5. Select “Finish Setting Up Your Carrier's Cellular Plan”. This will direct you to your carrier's website to finish transferring your eSIM. If you need help from there, contact your carrier.

Activate a new eSIM

  1. Find “Add Cellular Plan”. Go to “Settings” > “Cellular” > “Add Cellular Plan” on your phone. 

  2. Confirm if your carrier offers eSIM setup. You can do this through a QR code or by assigning a cell plan (iOS 13 or newer).

  3. Set up by either:

    • QR code. Find your QR code via your carrier account, and scan it with the camera app on your device. Select  “Cellular Plan Detected” > “Continue” > “Add Cellular Plan”. 

    • Assigned cellular plan. Once assigned, you'll receive a notification that says “Carrier Cellular Plan Ready to Be Installed” — select it to continue. If you receive the notification, follow the steps on the screen and select the desired phone number.

    • Enter the eSIM info manually. Go to “Settings” > “Cellular/Mobile Data” > “Add Cellular Plan” > “Enter Details Manually”. 


How to transfer your SIM card to a new iPhone

Your phone should be turned off for this. If you already set up your phone, you can still follow these steps by going to “Settings” > “Cellular”.

  1. Remove the SIM card from your previous phone. Open the SIM card tray by pushing a SIM-eject tool or paperclip into the hole. Pull out the tray and remove the SIM card. Skip this step if you’re not using the SIM card from your last phone.

  2. Insert the SIM card into your reborn iPhone. Open your reborn phone’s SIM tray using the same method as above. Place the SIM card in the tray (it will only fit one way) and push the tray back in.

  3. Done. Your phone will automatically detect cell service, and the network will display in the top left corner of your device. If you transferred the SIM card from your previous phone, that phone will no longer receive cell service.

Physical SIMs aren't compatible with iPhone 14 models. For iPhone 14s, an eSIM is necessary. If you’re prompted to use an eSIM during setup and would like to make the switch, learn how to set up an eSIM above.

Still need help?

If at any point during your setup your number or service is unable to be transferred or if you successfully setup your phone but service is unreliable, you can call us for help — or your carrier directly.
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Frequently Asked Questions

And all of the answers

What SIM card do I need?

Phones bought on Back Market don’t come with a SIM card. If you need a new SIM card, you'll need to contact your carrier. To make sure your SIM card/mobile plan is compatible with the phone you’re shopping for, check with your carrier.

Read more.

Will my device be compatible if I switch carriers?

It depends on whether your phone is locked or unlocked. Locked phones can only be used with a specific carrier. Unlocked phones can be used with any network or carrier in the country where you purchased the phone. Just pop the SIM card into the phone, and you’re all set. At Back Market, all our phones are labeled as locked or unlocked. You’ll see this listed in the title of the device on each product details page.

Read more.

Rachel Chou

Written by Rachel ChouContent designer

She reads content, she writes content, she eats content, she drinks content.

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