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AT&T is locking down Apple SIM cards in the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3

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So much for shopping around

Just when we think the SIM card may be about to die, here comes AT&T on a self-serving life support mission. MacRumors reports that the Apple SIM card, which is designed to be used by a growing number of carriers around the world, will be locked by AT&T as soon as you sign up for a month of service. Apple confirms the report in a support document: "When you choose AT&T on iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, AT&T dedicates Apple SIM to their network only."

It's a disappointing if predictable move from the United States' second-largest wireless carrier, which appears to be reacting in terror to the idea that customers would sample other carriers and prefer their service. A spokesman told The Verge that customers can still physically swap their SIM cards after AT&T locks them down — but the whole point of Apple SIM is that it makes it possible for customers to try different carriers on a single card. (iPads sold directly through carriers are locked; Verizon, the nation's largest carrier, doesn't participate in the Apple SIM program.) AT&T declined to comment for this story, though a spokesman told Recode: "It's just simply the way we've chosen to do it."