What are eSIMs?
These days, it has become more important than ever for us to stay connected to our friends, family, and workplaces no matter where we go. Whether you want to keep in touch with your friend in a different country or are planning to move to another city and want to stay in contact with your family regularly, being able to make phone calls on the fly or stay in touch with people on social media has become an essential in the world today.
Buying the right SIM card can sometimes be more stressful than you think, especially if you are planning a trip. The good news is that the arrival of the eSIM can make it easier. Perhaps you haven’t heard of the eSIM before, but they are certainly becoming more popular.
As the name suggests, this is a SIM card. However, rather than being a regular SIM card, it is embedded. These SIM cards work in the exact same way as a regular SIM card. They are connected to specific mobile networks and you will need to activate either a mobile plan or a data plan before you can start using your SIM. Both traditional SIMs and eSIMs store the same information, your phone number, authentication key, mobile subscriber identity, and in some cases your text messages and contact list. Although you can’t see the eSIM like you can see a physical SIM card, it has the same purposes and functions.
Since the eSIM is already included in the smartphone or device, there are several benefits. One of these is that manufacturers have more space and flexibility while creating the handset. It frees up extra space that can be used to make the device slimmer, expand the screen pixels, or add new features to the phone. For users, there are several further benefits including that you only need to call the mobile network if you want to change your phone plan or activate a new number. And, you don’t need to carry a SIM card with you to use for a short period of time if you are traveling.
What’s an eSIM?
An eSIM or embedded SIM is a programmable SIM card that cannot be removed. It is physically connected to the device’s motherboard. While it does everything that a regular SIM card does, it cannot be physically removed from the device without breaking the phone open and unsoldering it. This might seem like it would cause problems at first – for example, if you are traveling to another country, you can swap your SIM to another carrier’s SIM card to get cheaper mobile coverage if you have a removable SIM card. Or, if you wanted to switch to a different carrier but keep your handset, you could simply switch the SIM card over.
You may be surprised to hear that eSIMs can actually make it even easier to switch mobile carriers. Instead of waiting for your new SIM card to arrive in the mail or visiting a local store to get a new one, you can easily switch right from your phone. This is because in smartphones that have an eSIM, there are a few settings that you can use to switch between carriers and manage your accounts. eSIM technology also supports multiple accounts, which can make life easier for dual-SIM users.
Where Can You Get eSIM Plans?
While eSIMs are not that new, they haven’t completely reached the market, and traditional SIM cards are still the standard. Bear in mind that not all mobile networks accept eSIMs yet. However, there are some mobile devices that are designed to work with this type of SIM card, including smartphones and smartwatches. Smartwatches are most likely to be using eSIMs these days.
The first was the Apple Watch 3, which was launched in 2017 and has an eSIM that only takes up 1% of the space that you would expect a traditional SIM card to take up. The first smartphone to use an eSIM was the Google Pixel 2, which was also launched in 2017. However, this will only work with Google Fi, a mobile virtual network operator that is run by Google. The iPhone XS and XS Max were released in 2018 with a new feature; dual SIM with a nano-SIM card and an eSIM. This new characteristic in the iPhone means that you can easily use the same phone for business and personal use, and easily change your cellular plan when traveling to another country.
eSIM Providers and Phones
Chances are that if you have one of the latest smartphones, your mobile device might already have an eSIM card, even if you are using a removable SIM card with it. Laptops, iPads, smartwatches, and other devices that have cellular connectivity will also often use eSIM technology to connect. The popular Surface Pro X comes with an eSIM, along with other models from Asus, Acer, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, and Dell. While regular SIM cards are still sometimes used in laptop designs, this is becoming less commonplace. Until eSIM technology becomes the standard universally, most phones and some other devices are still likely to include a tray designed for using it with a removable SIM card.
Main Benefits of eSIM Phones
An eSIM offers multiple benefits and advantages for users of smartphones and other devices. Some of the biggest advantages of using an eSIM include:
Cheaper: Smartphones and other devices with an eSIM may be cheaper since the cost of a surface mount integrated circuit is not as much as the cost of supporting a removable SIM tray and installing the SIM.
More Reliable: As the eSIM is surface-mounted on the electronics board, it is often much more reliable. This is especially true when using the phone in vibration intensive applications such as when in a car.
Better Security: Since using an eSIM means that there is no physical SIM card that can be removed from the device, it is no longer possible to remove a SIM from a smartphone or another device and use it in one that is not authorized.
Smaller Devices: Without the need to support a tray for a physical SIM card, it will be possible for manufacturers to create smaller, slimmer, and more user-friendly devices with more room for components such as larger batteries.
Use Two SIM Cards: One main benefit is that you can have two SIM cards and two numbers in a phone that has both an eSIM and a SIM tray, which can be beneficial for business owners, for example.
Instant Activation: eSIMs can be instantly activated rather than having to wait in line at the phone store to get a new one. Once you have your eSIM-enabled phone, all you need to do is scan a QR code to get set up.
Swap Operators Easily: The data on an eSIM can be reprogrammed, which can be beneficial if you want to switch to another network.
Environmental Benefits: It’s hard to deny the environmental benefits of eSIM cards since with less disposable, removable SIM cards, there’s less plastic being thrown away.
Disadvantages of eSIMs
Like anything else, eSIMs also have some disadvantages to be aware of. Some of the main cons of using an eSIM include:
Not Disposable: Unlike removable SIM cards that can simply be removed from the device and disposed of, eSIMs are built into the device itself, and cannot be removed without opening up the phone.
Harder to Change Devices: Since eSIMs cannot be removed from mobile devices, this can make it more difficult to change between devices. It can also make it harder to transfer ownership of the device to somebody else.
eSIM vs Regular SIM
An eSIM is simply an embedded or virtual version of the SIM card that you are probably familiar with. SIM stands for subscriber identity module. The purpose of the SIM card is to connect you to your carrier and allow you to access your phone plan services. Like physical SIM cards, eSIMs do all of this along with storing contacts, phone numbers, and other information. The main difference between the two is that while a SIM card is a small plastic card that you can put in and remove from your phone, an eSIM is embedded in the device already. In many newer phones, there is both an eSIM and a SIM tray that will take a removable SIM, which will make it easy for you to have two numbers at the same time on one phone.
Phones With eSIM - How to Transfer eSIM to New iPhone
If you have a phone handset that is compatible and a phone carrier that offers eSIM, the process of getting started is very simple. Right now, only certain phones are compatible, including Apple iPhone XS and newer, and Google Pixel devices. You will need your device to be unlocked if you want to use the eSIM.
An eSIM works in the exact same way as your regular physical SIM card. However, the main difference is that rather than being removable, it is embedded into the phone. While the technology is not new, it’s still not quite as popular as traditional SIMs. But its use in smartphones, smartwatches, and IoT devices is likely to increase in the future.