Chinese Hackers Activate iPhone XS’ eSIM to Connect to China Unicom’s Network

BY Rajesh Pandey

Published 18 Jan 2019

China Unicom iPhoneXS

A Chinese hacking team has managed to activate the eSIM functionality on the iPhone XS to connect to a Chinese carrier that is yet to support it officially. As per the screenshots posted, the Chinese hacking team in question has managed to get eSIM functionality to work and connect to China Unicom’s network on a Hong Kong variant of iPhone XS.

Apart from China Unicom’s network, the iPhone XS in question was also connected to China Mobile’s network thanks to a traditional SIM card installed on it.

No mobile network carrier in China supports eSIM. While the technology was trialed by China Unicom when the Apple Watch Series 3 LTE edition was launched, it was quickly nixed due to government pressure.

Due to the lack of official eSIM support from network carriers, Apple sells a special variant of the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR in China featuring dual nanoSIM slots. In other parts of the world, the 2018 iPhones only come with one physical SIM slot and use eSIM to connect to the second mobile network.

Details are scarce on how this Chinese hacking team got eSIM to work on China Unicom’s network. It is also unlikely that they will release this hack to the public as it would then be patched by China Unicom. It is possible that China Unicom had the eSIM tech ready and has simply not activated it due to the Chinese government crackdown.