How to switch carriers on iPad and Apple Watch

If you have been using an iPhone for a year, you might remember the days of signing a two-year contract with a carrier. However, things have been changed from the first iPad model, as according to Apple, you no longer needed to commit to a two-year contract plan for your iPad. Instead, you could enable/disable service if you saw fit.

This same philosophy also applies to the Apple Watch Series 3 LTE. You can pay monthly to get an Apple Watch as a part of your current iPhone carrier plan. However, what’s different here over the iPad is that the Apple Watch and iPhone come with the same phone number.

How can you change cell carriers? The answer is that it depends on the SIM card of your iPad and iPhone.

iPad Cellular Connections

All iPad models with LTE support have a SIM card tray. After putting the tiny SIM card into the tray, your iPad will be able to connect to the internet using a cellular connection.

This SIM card can be an Apple SIM supporting many carriers or a carrier-specific card.

Switch carriers if iPad has a carrier-specific SIM card

If you want to change your iPad to a different carrier, you will have to visit your carrier’s store and get a new SIM card for your iPad. After that, you can establish cellular service directly on your device.

  1. Launch Settings app
  2. Tap on Cellular Data.
  3. Select Manage CarrierAccount.
  4. Choose an account option.
  5. Tap on the data plan.

Switch carriers if you have an Apple SIM

Apple also has its own SIM card and interestingly, it works with a lot of carriers. So, if you have an Apple SIM available and are using an iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, or iPad mini 3 or other models that support LTE and would like to switch carriers, a SIM card might not be required. To do so:

  1. Launch Settings app
  2. Tap on Cellular Data.
  3. Select Set Up Cellular Data.
  4. Tap on a carrier.
  5. Pick a data plan and give current account information or set up a new account with your carrier.

All iPad Pro models include both a SIM tray and an Apple SIM. In such case, you will see a data plan for the SIM card, and an “Add a New Plan” option for the inbuilt Apple SIM.

Also see: How to dock, undock, split, and merge keyboard to iPad

Switch carriers with Apple Watch

An Apple Watch supporting LTE connectivity shares the same phone number with its paired iPhone. If you want to change the carrier for your Apple Watch, you first need to change carrier for your iPhone. But your iPhone might be locked to the carrier. So you should contact your carrier for the unlock instructions. Most carriers have the instructions on their website.

After your iPhone is unlocked, insert a SIM card from a new carrier and then set up your iPhone again. Next, continue to use your iPhone to set up the new carrier on your Watch. To do so:

  1. Open Watch app
  2. Tap on My WatchCellular.

The cellular service on your Apple Watch will also automatically switch to the new carrier. If not, you can do it manually.

  1. Tap on the Info button near the former carrier’s name.
  2. Select Remove CarrierPlan to remove the plan from your watch. However, you need to contact your carrier for cancellation if necessary.
  3. Tap on My Watch to return
  4. Select Cellular > Set Up Cellular and follow the on-screen directions to get a new plan from the new carrier.

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