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Some good news: on Howard Forums, a report about a new Tello SIM that enables nearly all of the missing iPhone features (with the exception of 5G): For now, it only seems to be offered to those who already have iPhones on their lines, and the offer vor a replacement SIM looks like it's being rolled out in stages across subscribers, via an emailed offer.
Link to the original report on the new SIM:
And a subsequent thread with the Tello email:
The backstory is what I think is most intriguing: The missing features on iPhones is because of the lack of a carrier bundle/ Apple-sanctioned APN, paired with Apple's refusal to allow manual APN changes. In most of the cellphone world, for anything other than iPhones, this is a relatively trivial issue: but Apple has arguably taken the path of withholding a functioning APN from providers (and users) based on a requirement to pay a large fee and/or buy a large quantity of iPhones directly from Apple at full price. Historically, Sprint MVNOs didn't have this issue, because they piggy-backed on Sprint's iPhone carrier bundle. A few MVNOs that buy T-Mobile service from a middle-man also sometimes had access to a carrier bundle provided by that middle-man MVNE. But T-Mobile's wholesale/direct agreement with MVNOs does not give the MVNOs access to a T-Mobile-negotiated iPhone carrier bundle as Sprint did.
The issue isn't restricted to T-Mobile MVNOs, either: we're just seeing a spate of them now. (Red Pocket didn't have full iPhone support on their GSMA/AT&T plans for years, until they started selling iPhones on their website.)
The early reports above indicate that the new SIM is not giving access to a new iPhone carrier bundle-- but nearly all features work anyway. If that's true, it kind of looks like Tello has found a way to side-step around Apple's policy of not providing a functional carrier bundle to providers who can't pay to play by including some programming directly on the SIM card.
My main phone is an SE 1st gen - I prefer the small form factor, physical home button, and earphone port. For years, I've been going out of my way to use the earliest IOS that will accommodate the apps I use. Currently, that is IOS 11, but I need 12 in case I need it to function on Visible, which requires 12 or later.
bingyee, I'm curious: Is your iPhone an older model not eligible for further updates, or do you have a preference to not update iOS beyond 12.1.4 ?
If it was an official Apple carrier bundle, would a new SIM be needed? Wouldn't a carrier reset/refresh do the trick? (Not being snarky here-- I'm not an iPhone user, so I'm surely not an expert.)
It suppose to support 5G as printed on the package. Anyone tested?