How to Install an eSIM QR Code Received on iPhone

How to activate an eSIM QR code within iPhone

QR codes are now part of our day-to-day life when accessing services on mobile phones. (See “What is a QR Code.”) In this article, we address one important topic for eSIM users: how an eSIM QR code can be activated within the iPhone itself.

Apple introduced the eSIM feature in the iPhone starting 2018 with iPhone XR and XS, and has been included in all iPhone models since then. In 2022, Apple doubled down on eSIM by introducing the world’s first dual-eSIM iPhone 14 in the USA, followed by the dual-eSIM iPhone 15 globally. Activation was available through QR code, manual activation code, or special app; QR was by far the most common option given how familiar mobile users are with QR codes.

With all the smart features of the iPhone, it was kind of “dumb” not to be able to auto-scan an eSIM QR code received on the device itself. The user had to scan the QR code from another screen/printout or download a special carrier app. Both options are very inconvenient, given the phone is now the user's main and only device and that app fatigue is real. App research shows that mobile users spend over 77% of their time exclusively on their top three apps, per Statista.

In addition to iOS 17.4, this is all changing — when a mobile user (for example a traveler) receives an eSIM QR code by email or within a travel app, they can simply “long press” the QR to open a menu, then tap “Add eSIM” to directly install the eSIM from within the device.

This feature drastically improves the iPhone eSIM user experience. We say this from after witnessing friction around activating QR codes, especially with travel eSIM. Many travelers have even been going to the front desk of their hotels to print out their eSIM QR code to be able to scan it! In this day and age, this should not happen, and thankfully things are improving with the latest iOS. 

If you do not have an iPhone, don't fret — other mobile devices and operating systems (including Android) are expected to follow this path and make it easier to activate eSIM QR codes. Mobile phones from Huawei already support scanning the eSIM QR code from the device's photo gallery (further details here), while Samsung is expected to follow suit. This is fantastic news for mobile users who now have a much easier option to activate their eSIM QR codes.


CELITECH is a premium one-click connectivity platform for travel-powered companies including KAYAK, FlightHub, Fareportal, and Expedia. As the only USA-hosted, USA-made eSIM solution, our proprietary technology delivers secure and affordable cellular data service worldwide.

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