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Why eSIMs are a Game Changer for Smartphone Users

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The new buzzword in the mobile technology industry is eSIM. Thought of as a virtual SIM card, an eSIM is a small chip embedded inside a range of the latest devices that helps them connect to mobile services. But what is it about eSIMs that are causing such a stir? And why are many consumers now deciding to add an eSIM line to their device? 

An “Embedded Subscriber Identification Module”, or eSIM, is not a new technology. In fact, the possibility of a software-based SIM card was first discussed in 2010 and then integrated into a consumer device only six years later. While Samsung was an early adopter of eSIM technology and has since released a number of eSIM-enabled devices, it is Apple and Google who have led the charge and placed millions of eSIM-enabled smartphones into the palms of consumers.

Now, with the possibility of buying an eSIM plan from anywhere in the world, at any time, it’s sure to be a game changer for smartphone users. 

eSIMs versus SIM cards

At first glance, an eSIM may not seem all that different from a traditional SIM card. After all, it helps connect a device to cellular services and uses the same infrastructure as the normal SIM. However, there are a few fundamental differences between eSIMs and SIM cards.

The most important distinction between a traditional SIM card and eSIM, and what is most beneficial to consumers, is that the latter enables multiple network profiles on a single SIM. Currently, should a user wish to change network providers (from Verizon to AT&T, for example), they would need to replace their SIM card. This is not necessary with an eSIM; a second (or third, or fourth) profile can be activated and stored on the chip and the user can switch freely among them. 

The way in which an eSIM is provisioned also differs from a traditional SIM card in that it can be provisioned remotely by the user. In layman’s terms, this means altering the eSIM’s profiles over-the-air. Uniquely, owners of an eSIM-enabled device can download an eSIM plan over the internet, from anywhere in the world, at any time. 

This is hugely beneficial for smartphone users as it gives them the freedom to switch between mobile operators and always benefit from the most cost-effective cellular plans.

Advantages and Disadvantages of eSIMs

There’s no doubt that the biggest advantage of eSIMs are in the form of cost-savings for the consumer; a user can browse multiple offerings, pick and choose the best plan for them, and add a new plan at any time. This is particularly beneficial when using mobile services overseas as a customer will no longer be tied to expensive roaming charges applied by their regular mobile network operator.

This is made possible by remote provisioning; the customer can choose to download an eSIM profile from a participating local operator to access local rates, or choose from a range of eSIM plans designed for travel that offer near-local rates.

Another advantage of eSIM is in its size and location; it cannot be removed and thus, lost. It also creates more space for manufacturers to improve on phone design and functionality. 

However, the location of an eSIM – embedded inside a device – is also the cause of a couple of disadvantages.

The biggest difficulty an eSIM user may experience is when they wish to change their device for a newer, or different model. They will not, conveniently or easily, be able to move the contents stored on the original eSIM to the new device’s eSIM, which includes any prepaid eSIM service plans or subscriptions that may be live. 

Since eSIMs cannot be removed, it may also cause other concerns for those who are worried about being tracked. Currently, a user can simply remove their SIM card if they do not wish to have their location identified, which is impossible for those using an eSIM. 

What are eSIMs used for?

By far the most popular use of eSIM in the commercial sector is within smartphone models as an alternative – or companion – to the traditional SIM card. However, eSIMs are also used in a wide range of other devices to enhance connectivity; everything from smartwatches, to tablets and wearables. 

There is also a growing market for eSIM elsewhere. Earlier this year, Jaguar Land Rover revealed their latest Defender model, which comes with an eSIM to support in-car streaming of internet radio and apps, and to provide a hotspot for its passengers.

eSIM has also proven to be a catalyst for IoT devices, including security systems, household appliances, and even electric scooters.

How to buy an eSIM

eSIM plans can be purchased from online eSIM stores or participating mobile network providers. Options include everything from data-only bundles for specific regions worldwide, to global plans with voice, data and SMS services.

About the author


Olivia Frances

Olivia Frances is a keen writer with a passion for technology and travel. Having spent many years traveling the globe, she loves to provide helpful tips and advice on how consumers can use technology to save money while traveling overseas. Having settled down in recent years, she has now become the marketing manager for eSIM.net, an online store selling eSIMs for the USA and the rest of the world.