What is an eSIM? Everything You Need to Know
Gone are the days when we had to insert thumbnail-size chips in our mobile phones depicting the carrier and phone number we use. In SIMpler terms, the future is of digital SIMs, or eSIMs, as you may call them. An eSIM is simply an embedded, reprogrammable chip that helps you activate your cellular plan without having to insert a physical SIM.
We have gathered all the information you need about an eSIM card and more. Keep reading the article to learn what is an eSIM, how it works, and everything related to it.
Types of SIMs
Wondering what is an eSIM and what are its types? There are four different SIM card sizes available, with the recent addition of an eSIM card that is not physically visible. Let’s learn more about the types of SIM cards.
Full-Size SIM (FF)
It is the first commercially available SIM card model to hit the market. Its fundamental notion is not new and dates back to the 1960s. Except for Embedded SIM cards, every SIM card is made up of an electrical chip surrounded by variable sizes of insulating material. In truth, the only element of a SIM card that is required is the chip itself; the material around it, such as plastic or PVC, merely protects the chip from contact with other devices and generates a short circuit. As stated, Full-Size SIM cards, as the name implies, are the oldest and, consequently, the largest form of SIM.
Mini SIM (2FF)
Before the launch of the iPhone 4 in 2010, the only SIM prevalent was the Mini-SIM. Introduced in 1996, mini-SIM cards were used as a standard SIM card in every phone. This was the perfect example of having your entire phone on a single card. With Mini SIMs, it was easier to change your phone; all you had to do was take out your SIM card, insert it into another phone, and your old phone number will be transferred to your new phone. However, mini SIM cards are absolute now.
Micro SIM (3FF)
To save precious room for its newest generation of smartphones, Apple switched from using the standard mini-size SIM card to the Micro SIM cards once iPhone 4 hit shelves. Furthermore, despite its decreased size, the micro SIM’s performance was unaffected since the chip’s contact area remained constant. It was scaled down; the card required the superfluous plastic removed.
When Apple introduced the micro-SIM with the iPhone 4, it quickly became the norm for most devices. Samsung, Nokia, and HTC are just a handful of the companies that embraced the new Micro-SIM. Several people who upgraded to the iPhone 4 used an adaptor to get their SIM cards chopped down to Micro simultaneously.
Nano SIM (4FF)
The nano-SIM is currently the smallest SIM card available at the moment. At one point, Apple and Nokia clashed over the nano-SIM, with Apple attempting to make the nano-SIM the new standard in SIM cards.
The nano-SIM is much smaller than the micro-SIM and leaves just the chip of the SIM card exposed, whereas the Micro and full-sized SIM cards still have a bit of plastic surrounding the edge.
The first phone to use the Nano SIM Card was the iPhone 5, and all iPhones and iPads launched after iPhone 5 use the nano SIM card only.
Embedded SIM Card (eSIM)
Wondering what is an eSIM card or an embedded SIM?
The next SIM version is here, and now the first eSIM iPhone is here; other phone makers will undoubtedly follow suit. Already, the new Motorola Razr and iPhone 14 series only accept eSIM, which means you won’t be able to utilize a physical card if you wish to. In the following years, expect to see widespread adoption of eSIM across phones, tablets, and everything in between.
eSIM is a novel approach to loading carrier information into your phone that does not require an extra physical chip. An eSIM is a physical component – a microchip placed within your smartphone. This component can remotely download carrier data, allowing you to swap carriers on the fly.
You can actively utilize several lines simultaneously if your phone includes a physical SIM tray and an eSIM. Some phones can even accept numerous active eSIMs at the same time. Toggling various eSIM carriers on and off is as simple (pun intended) as pressing a button in your phone’s settings.
What is an eSIM?
An eSIM is a SIM card incorporated into a mobile device and can connect you to any eSIM-enabled carrier. Furthermore, the eSIM functions similarly to a standard SIM card but does not require a physical one. It is pre-installed on the device, and you may activate it by installing a new operator’s “eSIM profile.”
It is, in fact, a development of the physical SIM card. An invisible eSIM card is becoming more common in smartphones, tablets, and computers.
What is An eSIM vs. Physical SIM
The main distinction between an eSIM and a physical SIM is that, unlike a typical physical SIM card, an eSIM is permanently attached to the phone’s (or other device’s) motherboard. You don’t have to insert it and can’t take it out. That doesn’t mean you can’t change numbers or carriers because the information on the eSIM is rewritable. To grasp the fundamental similarities and differences between an eSIM card and a physical SIM card, we need to find the similarities and differences between each.
Form Factor (FF)
Subscriber identity modules classify SIM cards into 1FF, 2FF, 3FF, 4FF, and MF2 form factors. Each generation of SIM cards is smaller than the previous one. 2FF stands for mini SIMs, 3FF stands for micro SIMs, and 4FF stands for nano SIMs. As a result, physical SIM cards fall under the following form factor. The eSIM is an embedded SIM that falls under the category of MFF2, which stands for the machine-to-machine form factor.
An eSIM, unlike a standard SIM card, does not require a physical card and may be linked to many network carriers. It essentially disconnects the client from the network operator, allowing switching carriers on the same phone easy. An eSIM is embedded into the phone via software, and your coverage is purchased through mobile networks.
An eSIM is an electronic version of the classic SIM card that is integrated directly onto the device’s motherboard during the manufacturing process, as opposed to a standard SIM that goes into the SIM tray inside your phone. It does not require a physical card and is surface attached to the mobile device right out of the box. It functions similarly to an actual SIM card but without the need to insert a real SIM card into the slot.
An eSIM may store up to five virtual SIM cards, letting you switch between carriers if you are somewhere with limited service. A traditional physical SIM card only stores one profile per client. However, an eSIM store’s several profiles for the same consumer is a significant advantage. An eSIM is a logical profile on your smartphone that may be reprogrammed.
An eSIM may store up to five virtual SIM cards, letting you switch between carriers if you are somewhere with limited service.
eSIM Device Compatability
Apple is the pioneer of using eSIM in its new iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 pro after the dual SIM support from the iPhone XS onwards. If you’re looking forward to getting an e-SIM for yourself; here are some of the eSIM compatible devices available:
iPhones with eSIM
- iPhone XR
- iPhone XS
- iPhone XS Max
- iPhone 11 eSIM
- iPhone 11 Pro
- iPhone SE2 (2020)
- iPhone 12
- iPhone 12 Mini
- iPhone 12 Pro
- iPhone 12 Pro Max
- iPhone 13 eSIM
- iPhone 13 Mini
- iPhone 13 Pro
- iPhone 14
- iPhone 14 Plus
- iPhone 14 Pro
- iPhone 14 Pro Max
You can activate two eSIMs simultaneously on your iPhone 13 and iPhone 14. iPhones from Hong Kong, China, and Macao (except for the iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone SSE 2020, iPhone XS, and iPhone 13 Mini) are not eSIM compatible.
On the other hand, the recently launched iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max are not physical SIM cards compatible in the USA.
iPads with eSIM
- iPad Pro 11″ (model A2068 from 2020)
- iPad Pro 12.9″ (model A2069, from 2020)
- iPad Air (model A2123, from 2019)
- iPad (model A2198, from 2019)
- iPad Mini (model A2124, from 2019)
Samsung Phones with eSIM
- Samsung Galaxy S20
- Samsung Galaxy S20+
- Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
- Samsung Galaxy S21
- Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S21+ Ultra 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S22
- Samsung Galaxy S22+
- Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
- Samsung Galaxy Note 20
- Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G
- Samsung Galaxy Fold
- Samsung Galaxy Fold 3
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
- Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
- Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G Fold
- Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
- Samsung Watch
Google Phones with eSIM
- Google Pixel 2 (only phones bought with Google Fi service)
- Google Pixel 2 XL
- Google Pixel 3 (not including phones bought in Australia, Taiwan, or Japan. Phones bought with US or Canadian carriers other than Spring and Google Fi don’t work with eSIM)
- Google Pixel 3 XL
- Google Pixel 3a (not including phones bought in Japan or with Verizon service)
- Google Pixel 3a XL
- Google Pixel 4
- Google Pixel 4a
- Google Pixel 4 XL
- Google Pixel 5
- Google Pixel 5a
- Google Pixel 6
- Google Pixel 6a
- Google Pixel 6 Pro.
Google Pixel 3 devices from Japan, Australia, and Taiwan, are not eSIM compatible. Moreover, Google Pixel 3a from South East Asia is not eSIM compatible.
Huawei Phones with eSIMs
- Huawei P40
- Huawei P40 Pro
- Huawei Mate 40 Pro
Huawei P50 Pro and Huawei P40 Pro+ are not eSIM compatible.
Oppo Phones with eSIM
- Oppo Find X3 Pro
- Oppo Reno 5A
- Oppo Reno6 Pro 5G
- Oppo Find X5
- Oppo Find X5 Pro
- Oppo A55s
The Oppo Find X5 is not eSIM compatible.
Other eSIM Compatible Devices
- Motorola Razr 2019
- Motorola Razr 5G
- Nuu Mobile X5
- Gemini PDA
- Rakuten Mini
- Rakuten Big-S
- Rakuten Big
- Sony Xperia 10 III Lite
- Sony Xperia 1 IV
- Surface Pro X
- Honor Magic 4 Pro
- Fairphone 4
What is an eSIM Used for?
Simply put, an eSIM allows you to alter your phone provider, data plan, or service plan via software. Most eSIM devices let you change your carrier or service package on the fly by accessing a menu or photographing a QR code. You don’t have to go shopping, wait for the mail, or tinker with a little chip. You may also often use two distinct lines on the same device, such as a home and work line, or swap between various plans according to your location.
Do Laptops and Tablets Support eSIM Carriers?
Yes, many laptops and notebooks have been using embedded SIM since 2017. Most major brands have started using eSIMs on their laptops and tablets. Currently, the following laptops and tablets are eSIM compatible:
Acer eSIM Laptops
- Acer Swift 3
- Acer Swift 7
- Acer TravelMate P2
- Acer TravelMate Spin P4
- Acer TravelMate P6
ASUS eSIM Laptops
- ASUS Mini Transformer T103HAF
- ASUS NovaGo TP370QL
- ASUS VivoBook Flip 14 TP401NA
Dell eSIM Laptops
- Dell Latitude 7210 2-in-1
- Dell Latitude 9410
- Dell Latitude 7310
- Dell Latitude 7410
- Dell Latitude 9510
- Dell Latitude 5410
- Dell Latitude 5411
- Dell Latitude 5511
HP eSIM Laptops
- HP Elitebook G5
- HP Probook G5
- HP Zbook G5
- HP Spectre Folio 13
Lenovo eSIM Laptops
- ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga 2 in 1
- ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9
- ThinkPad X1 Fold
- ThinkPad X1 Nano
- ThinkPad X12 Detachable
- Lenovo Flex 5G
- Lenovo Yoga C630
- Lenovo Miix 630
- Lenovo Yoga 520
- Lenovo Yoga 720 (2-in-1 models)
There is no MacBook currently available with an eSIM. Apple is yet to release an eSIM-compatible MacBook. The new MacBook is rumored to have a 5G cellular modem, but only time will tell.
US Carriers that Offer eSIM
After the new iPhone 14 was launched, eSIM became the latest technological advancement of this era. The future is of embedded SIMs. So, what are some of the US mobile eSIM carriers worldwide? Here are some of the US carriers that offer eSIMs:
Verizon offers eSIM for mobile devices allowing you to easily activate it on a cellular network without a physical SIM card. If you have a newer mobile handset version that supports eSIMs, you may quickly replace detachable SIM cards with eSIM by Verizon. T-Mobile eSIM
eSIM Tmobile is simply a physical SIM card gone digital. An eSIM, like a SIM card, connects you to the T-mobile network. Some mobile devices can use both physical and eSIM T mobile simultaneously, so you can have two wireless accounts with text, talk, and data on a single device.
Google Fi eSIM
If you have an eSIM of Google Fi, you can easily set up your phone with a single tap without inserting a physical SIM card. Google Fi currently supports eSIM in iPhone and Pixel devices only that are compatible with eSIMs.
ATT eSIM offers a digital eSIM that helps connects the newer eSIM compatible devices to the AT&T network.
How to Acquire and Activate an eSIM?
Now that you know what is an eSIM let’s learn the ways to activate and acquire an eSIM. The process of activating your eSIM can be simple or complex, depending upon the eSIM carriers you’re using. Here are the eSIM support and activation pages for AT&T, T-Mobile eSIM, and Verizon. There are two simple ways to activate an eSIM on your phone. The simpler one is to choose your carrier from your on-device menu or through a downloadable app and sign up for a plan according to it.
Another way to do that involves using your carrier’s website to get a QR code. Then you’ll have to scan that QR code from your phone’s Settings. This second method is more complex compared to the first one. However, the benefit of using this method is that QR code-based system is compatible with more devices than apps that can only work on one OS or phone model.
eSIM Advantages and Disadvantages
Having an eSIM, like having a phone with dual SIM card slots, allows you to have numerous phone numbers. The most significant advantage is that you can make and receive calls and texts with either number, making handling your incoming and outgoing communications easier.
As a result, they may be pretty practical for distinguishing between personal and professional communications. You may also use an eSIM with a traditional SIM card to customize your connectivity across devices.
The following are some of the advantages of an eSIM card:
- It is easier to activate than physical SIM cards.
- It makes switching network providers easier.
- You don’t have to disable accounts permanently.
- They consume less space on smartphones.
While there are plenty of advantages of using an eSIM card, there are certain disadvantages to it as well. Some of which are mentioned below:
- An eSIM takes longer to restore in a new phone.
- An eSIM allows you to get tracked more easily by network providers
- eSIMs are not entirely safe from fraud, and hackers can go to great lengths to hack vulnerable eSIM mobile carrier systems to get into users’ confidential data.
If you’re looking forward to getting an eSIM card for your mobile device, we recommend using a reliable VPN service at all times to prevent yourself from hacking, data theft, and other such frauds. Installing a VPN is simple; you only need to subscribe to the fastest VPN in town – Ivacy VPN.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I convert my SIM to eSIM?
Yes, you can easily convert your physical SIM card to an eSIM card on your phone only if you have an eSIM-compatible mobile carrier. All you need to do is follow the below steps:
- Go to Settings on your phone, then tap on Cellular.
- Now, tap Convert to eSIM, and your physical SIM will easily be converted to an eSIM,
Can I use both eSIM and physical SIM?
Yes, you can swap back and forth between eSIM and physical SIM in seconds. You can use both SIMs simultaneously, your primary card for calls and messages, and the eSIM for the internet.
What happens to physical SIM after eSIM?
You can easily still use your physical SIM card after installing an eSIM on your mobile device.
Why should I convert to eSIM?
There are plenty of benefits of converting to an eSIM. One is that it makes it easier to switch mobile networks on your device without having to hunt for a SIM ejector tool around your house.
How do I remove eSIM from my iPhone?
An eSIM can not be pulled out from your device like a physical SIM card; it stays on the device and needs to be supported by your network provider or carrier to work.
How do I know if my eSIM is activated?
To check if your eSIM is activated, go to the Settings on your iPhone, then go to Cellular and see if you can find the Tap to Convert to eSIM option available. If there is no such option, your eSIM is already activated and working.
How do I register for eSIM?
There are different registration and activation processes for eSIM, depending on your eSIM carrier. Follow the guides on the official websites of your mobile carriers to learn the process in detail.
Is eSIM only for iPhones?
No, eSIM is not only available on iPhones but is also compatible with various other mobile devices like Oppo, Android, Samsung, Huawei, and more!
Can I buy eSIM online?
Yes, but to purchase eSIM data plans, you must have an eSIM profile installed on the mobile device that you will be using.
Can we get eSIM without a physical SIM?
Yes, you can directly get an eSIM without a physical SIM. The only condition is that your phone should be eSIM compatible to work well.
Can eSIM be prepaid?
Yes, you can use an eSIM with your mobile carrier’s prepaid service.