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I am travelling internationally, and charges for Internet data are about $15 per megabyte. My provider doesn't offer a roaming package for that. I plan to add a second local SIM using eSIM. I want to be sure Data Roaming is off, even if Cellular Data is on.

Currently using an unlocked iPhone SE 2, with iOS 14.7.1.

According to this Apple help page: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201643 in order to turn off Data Roaming, I should: "Open Settings and tap Cellular, or Cellular Data, or Mobile Data. Turn off Cellular Data, then tap Cellular Data Options and turn off Data Roaming."

[edit: it appears that Apple changed that help page from "Turn off Cellular Data, then tap Cellular Data Options" to "Turn on Cellular Data, then tap Cellular Data Options", sometime in September or October 2022, according to archive.org. This explains the missing option. But it doesn't fully answer my question that includes "how can I assure that Data Roaming is off?" - see the answer below.]

I did the above, as far as turning off Cellular Data. However, when I tap Cellular Data Options, there is no option for Data Roaming. There is only Low Data Mode. Why is it missing, and how can I assure that Data Roaming is off?

I understand that turning off Cellular Data should stop any data roaming charges. However, I don't want to make an expensive mistake, in case I accidentally turn on Cellular Data. I want to be sure that Data Roaming is off, even if Cellular Data is on. I don't want to experiment with turning on Cellular Data to see whether an option for Data Roaming appears.

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  • Please say the iPhone model and the iOS version installed. Sep 14, 2021 at 3:48
  • According to referred Apple help page: “ To use bought or rented SIM cards, you need an iPad (Wi-Fi + Cellular), unlocked iPhone, or SIM-free iPhone.”. Is your phone unlocked? Sep 14, 2021 at 4:41
  • If I remember correctly you must have mobile data turned on to disable roaming. So try enabling mobile data and immediately turn off roaming.
    – X_841
    Sep 14, 2021 at 11:34
  • @ X_841, the Apple note specifically says to turn off Cellular Data first, then disable roaming. If I turn on Cellular Data, it could burn through more than $100 in just a few seconds if Data Roaming is on. So I don't really want to experiment with that, based on "if I remember correctly" that contradicts what Apple says. Thanks anyway. Sep 14, 2021 at 13:53
  • @ X_841, it turns out that the Apple note was wrong, and has since been corrected. You were right, you must have cellular data turned on to disable roaming. It seems like a bad design, because you may end up enabling both Cellular Data and Data Roaming briefly, long enough to incur high charges, while attempting to ensure it's disabled. But that is the way it is. Sep 22, 2023 at 18:24

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I tested this further after arriving home. The instructions on the linked Apple Support page are incorrect, since it is not possible to "Turn off Cellular Data, then tap Cellular Data Options and turn off Data Roaming". [edit: the instructions have since been corrected] As soon as you turn off Cellular Data, the option to turn Data Roaming on or off disappears from the Cellular Data Options page.

The goal is to ensure that Data Roaming is off, before enabling Cellular Data. The best solution I can find is to turn on Airplane mode first. Then you can tap Cellular Data. It won't actually turn on (if you tap it again, it will look like it turned on, but it still doesn't). But then the option for Data Roaming appears in the Cellular Data Options page, and you can turn it off. Then, after turning Airplane Mode off, you should be able to safely turn Cellular Data on, so that you can use a second local (e-)SIM.

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Are you looking inside your phone number tab? (By that I mean where it says "personal", or "primary", etc., under "SIMs". Is that line turned on? If so, the button should be there...) I had the same problem and turns out I was just not looking at the right place. Hope that helps - have a nice day! :)

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    – Community Bot
    Aug 18, 2023 at 3:26
  • Thanks, but I don't have any of the things you describe in my settings. I only have one SIM card. And no, I was not "just not looking at the right place". Apple's instructions were wrong, the "Data Roaming" button does not exist if you have Cellular Data off. The instructions have been corrected. Sep 22, 2023 at 18:13

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