Experience with text notifications and Dual SIM on iPhone

My father has Alzheimer’s, and has reached a point where he can’t really communicate on the phone. He receives a lot of spam texts, and even with filtering “Unknown Senders”, he’s often able to navigate to those messages and click on the links they contain.

I’ve made use of iCloud Messages to forward his texts to an alternate account I maintain on my laptop using his iCloud account. This allows me to clean up his text messages (when I switch to that account), and gives me access to MFA codes from accounts that I haven’t migrated to use my phone number.

I’ve recently been thinking about moving his SIM and phone number to my iPhone 12 mini, as a secondary SIM (by making my existing SIM an eSIM). I’ve read up on the process on Apple’s Using Dual SIM support page, but I’m wondering if anyone can answer a few questions I have on what the experience is like.

In particular, I’d like to disable notifications for any texts that come in to that number. My intent is to ignore the spam, but have access to those MFA codes when necessary. I can also answer calls from service providers who still have his phone number.

I would then get a new SIM for his phone, likely something that’s data-only, and then family can use Messages and FaceTime to communicate with him until he no longer uses his phone.

Is this a feasible plan, or will I have to endure endless text notifications on that line? I feel like I’ll still need notifications from unknown numbers on my own line, so I can’t just have my phone ignore all messages from Unknown Senders.

Other alternatives? Using an old iPhone plugged in at my desk is one idea, and porting his number to a VoIP service is the other.

You can call your service provider and ask them to disable SMS for his line. It won’t block scam calls, but if the problem is texts, that should take care of most of them.

I used to do this back in the day when I had to pay for texts. I assume it’s something they can still configure.

If you want his line to be data-only, your service provider should be able to configure that as well, without needing a new SIM. Call their customer service and see what they can do for you.

Hi Tom

If your service provider completely disables SMS for your father’s current number it would stop any MFA codes being sent by text, which I think negates what you’re trying to achieve.

I have a physical SIM card for my personal number and an e-SIM for my work number. I’ve just a look through Settings and couldn’t see a way turn off all text notifications for one line only (I’ve done it on a contact by contact basis but that’s no use to you against spammers and their constantly changing humbers).

Unfortunately it looks like your best option is to continue migrating all your father’s SMS based MFAs to your own number – or put up with the spam text notifications.

For his new number of course, as David suggests, ask the service provider to disable all texts.

I inherited a phone number from someone else. Migrating that number to Google Voice has been a very useful technique. I simply log into that account, or use the app, to retrieve MFA codes when I need them. Otherwise, I ignore it. (You do have to access the account fairly regularly to keep it active though.)

One possible idea, if replacing the iPhone form factor with a different device, is to replace the iPhone with an iPad mini (or any iPad) that connects only with WiFi. iMessage will get delivered, but there is no SMS. I suppose replacing the iPhone could be confusing for somebody with dementia, but iPadOS is pretty close to iOS.

I’m curious whether a data-only SIM (as one would get for a cellular iPad) will work in an iPhone. There’s no way I can change the form factor (iPhone 7 with home button) at this point, since he’s already having difficulty using it. He also has an iPad that works well, but he sometimes likes to have his phone with him when we go out.

Knowing that I can port his old phone number to Google Voice is helpful. I’m already using that on my iPhone for a side business with a separate phone/text number, but it appears I can log into muliple Google accounts in the Google Voice app, which could be a viable option.

I’m currently within reach of three iPhones with data-only SIMs (courtesy Google Fi) and they all work fine.

I have a Google Voice account dedicated to 2FA uses as well. A caveat is that not every website allows VoIP or virtual phone numbers for 2FA. Also, some sites that previously allowed my GV phone number for 2FA have stopped doing so.

This is one of the many reasons why I hope the use of Passkeys becomes widespread soon.

As a followup, after using the SIM in an old, spare iPhone 5, I decided to migrate the number to Google Voice (as recommended by @bb1), and it’s worked out great. I was getting 3-4 spam texts daily before the migration, and now the spams are infrequent and automatically go into a separate folder. I get email notification of unexpected texts, and typically have a browser tab open to Google Voice when I need to perform 2FA with my father’s old phone number. I didn’t need to receive calls with the number, so I just have them going to voice mail. Anyone who needs to speak with me can leave a message and I’ll call them back from my phone.

The AT&T bill dropped considerably now that it’s for a single line (my mother’s).

I have not purchased a data-only SIM for his phone yet. He’s moved into a Memory Care unit where the Wi-Fi in his apartment covers most of the areas he has access to. AT&T didn’t have attractive options for a data-only SIM on my parents’ calling plan, so I will likely explore Google Fi or another option to get a limited amount of data for coverage when Wi-Fi isn’t an option.