iPhone 12 mod allows dual SIM support
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Hugh Jeffreys, a dedicated Apple Right to Repair activist and tech YouTuber, has figured out how to convert a single-SIM iPhone into a dual-SIM device using DIY tools.
Most countries around the world sell iPhones with SIM card slots that can hold only a single SIM card, unlike many competing phone brands. The iPhone X
series and later models do support eSIM cards, which is an integrated digital SIM card that can be registered with most carriers—although that isn't exactly the same as being able to insert two physical cards.
However, China differs in that regard, being the only country where Apple sells some iPhone models which support two physical SIM cards. Specifically in China mainland, Hong Kong, and Macao, the iPhone XR
, iPhone XS Max
, as well as all iPhone 11
and iPhone 12
models (except the mini) feature a dual SIM slot that can hold two nano-SIM cards. This allows owners of these phones the ability to make calls or send messages from two different phone numbers.
DIY expert Hugh Jeffreys has decided it isn't fair that China should have all the fun with multiple SIMs, and posted a video to his channel explaining how anyone can take a regular non-Chinese iPhone (one that has the digital eSIM card specifically) and modify it to accept two physical cards. This hack will render the eSIM useless, essentially replacing it with the insertable card—which some people may prefer to the eSIM, however.
Hugh Jeffreys used an iPhone 12
for the DIY project, which already had an integrated eSIM but only one physical slot. He ordered a dual-SIM replacement module for a Chinese iPhone 12 model for only $24. The new module came with the dual SIM tray, internal SIM reader, and an eject pin.
When Jeffreys opened up the iPhone, the new parts clicked easily into place, being nearly the same in size and shape as the original module. Apple has left the SIM reader of the iPhone XR
, iPhone 11
, and iPhone 12 a modular part, separate from the rest of the internal components and very easily accessible with the phone's back removed.
After Jeffreys fitted the new module into place, the question narrowed down to whether the iPhone's software would be able to read both the front and back SIMs in the new configuration.
To his surprise, the phone not only worked perfectly normally after the mod was complete, but the device was able to recognize and display the new configuration as a "Front SIM" and "Back SIM" instead of displaying "Physical SIM" and "Digital SIM" as it normally would in Settings.
Although the eSIM card option had disappeared entirely, the iPhone 12 had clearly already been programmed to recognize a dual SIM slot even if it was manufactured without one.
Hugh Jeffreys had essentially created a one-of-a-kind iPhone mutant, a configuration which cannot be found literally anywhere in the world. He was successful in adding a dual-SIM card slot—which is only found in China—to a 5G-supporting iPhone 12, which is only sold in the United States.
The YouTube video, linked below, has already garnered half a million views, and it's not impossible that Apple may catch wind of Jeffrey's upgrade "hack," and patch it up so it becomes impossible in a future update.
Until that happens, however, anyone handy with a few iFixit tools (an Amazon link can be found below) can upgrade their own compatible iPhone to support two physical SIM cards in the same way. Opening up an iPhone does void its warranty, however, which is something to be aware of before taking on such a DIY project.