Apple iPhone 12 Has A Secret Upgrade Possibility

We’re used to gadgets getting better over time thanks to improved software, while the hardware itself declines—as the battery gets less capable, for instance.

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But it turns out there’s a part in the iPhone 12 which can be upgraded by a user to give it a whole new feature: dual-sim support with two physical sims.

This is all explained by Hugh Jeffreys in a painstakingly realized video.

You see, the only iPhones which have two physical sim card compatibility are the ones sold in China. If you buy your iPhone 12 series phone in the U.S., Europe or anywhere else, you can only connect two lines if the second sim is an eSim. So, if you want two physical sims, you need a Chinese iPhone or to follow the Hugh Jeffreys method.

Let’s be clear, I’m absolutely not advising you to do so. After all, for pretty much everyone, if you need two lines then the physical sim plus eSim method works sublimely well.

Additionally, although Jeffreys’ video looks like it’s doable, it’s also unnerving to watch: to be honest, I was feeling queasy within the first minute when he starts heating the iPhone up to melt the glue and remove the display.

It is, however, fascinating.

Essentially, Jeffreys ordered a sim module built for a Chinese iPhone 12 and then installed it on a U.S. iPhone 12. The module itself is very similar in size to the one in the American phone, and—if you have a strong constitution, great attention to detail and the patience of a saint—seems to be installable.

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It means a lot of unscrewing tiny parts, removing of glue, inserting the new module, screwing those tiny parts back, adding a new glue layer and reconnecting the display, before precisely putting the parts together again. Jeffreys manages this with a dexterity I couldn’t hope to match.

But, of course, that’s only half the story. Remember that Apple doesn’t like people messing about with things. So, for this to work, the software had to recognize the new dual-sim component and agree that it was okay. To Jeffreys’ surprise, it did.

As he points out, many of the modular components in the iPhone 12 are locked by software, limiting what they can do after a third-party repair. As he says, swapping out a battery can mean the iPhone will no longer report battery health or True Tone will vanish after a display is replaced. Not to mention the disappearance of Face ID after new front-facing cameras are installed.

But this upgrade worked. As Jeffreys said, Apple could offer a dual sim version of the iPhone anywhere it chose to. The fact that it’s a China-only option indicates Apple thinks it has a perfectly good solution for the rest of the world, too. Or maybe one day, perhaps with the iPhone 13 or later, Apple will make this clever dual sim slot available more widely.

Once again, I do not advise you try this, but the video is definitely worth a watch. And if you’re not feeling tense and anguished as you see the iPhone 12 being disassembled and messed about with, well, you’re braver than I am.  

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