What is eSIM and why is it better than a standard SIM card?


Holidays are coming and you are looking to buy a new mobile phone? Keep in mind that eSIM card technology is already here. But what is this eSIM and how does it work?

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If you are looking at a new iPhone 13 or hoping to get a Samsung Galaxy S21, you may find that they have one feature you may not know much about: eSIM.

ESIM is a smaller, embedded version of the traditional SIM card and it is inside a phone or a smart device. But how does an eSIM work and is it worth having? Let's take a look.

What is an eSIM?

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ESIM is one built-in SIM card. It is a replacement for the physical SIM card that connects phones to a mobile network, but the eSIM is much smaller. It has made its appearance since 2015, by Apple, but is now essentially consolidating.

The biggest difference between an eSIM and a physical SIM is that, unlike a traditional SIM card, the eSIM is mounted on the motherboard of the phone (or other device) and cannot be detached.

You do not need to install it and you can not remove it. However, this does not mean that you can not change numbers or change your mobile phone company, as information within eSIM can be rewritten as many times as you want.

In fact, switching or adjusting it is much easier. You do not have to wait for a new SIM to be delivered to your home. Everything can be done immediately with one phone call.

ESIM cards use the same technology and run on the same GSM networks as regular SIMs. The only thing that changes is its activation.

Can I use an eSIM?

To use an eSIM, you must be in a mobile company that offers this feature and have a compatible phone.

esim activate qr code

Providers
Most major providers, including Cosmote and Vodafone for Greece, AT&T and T-Mobile in the US, EE in the UK and also over 120 providers worldwide, offer eSIM support.

What does this mean; If your mobile phone has a built-in eSIM then you can turn it on any global provider you want, which is also active in Greece.

Especially in internet packages you do not need to be trapped in the 3 big Greek companies (Cosmote, Vodafone, Wind). You can easily select an Internet package from the list of the website https://esimdb.com/greece, pay electronically and have your eSIM card activation sent to you online.

The above global providers use the antennas of existing major mobile networks (for example the Truphone uses the WIND LTE network). And the charges are lower than the "classic" 2 GB / 1 month / 8,50 euros of Cosmote, as for example the company Airalo offers 3 GB / 1 month / 7,98 euros. And if you travel around the world, some packages are valid in several countries without roaming.

Phones
ESIM cards are currently used to enable dual SIM capability on smartphones, including the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 series, the Pixel 5, Pixel 5, Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy S21 + 5G and smaller devices such as the Apple Watch.

In time, all phones and tablets will likely switch to eSIM. Its much smaller size means it could also become a common feature on Internet-of-Things devices, although there is an even newer and much smaller technology on the doorstep called iSIM.

How to set up an eSIM card

You usually connect most phones to a network by inserting the SIM card in their dedicated slot. But if eSIM will not come to you from your store or provider, how do you connect an eSIM phone?

It depends on the device you have and whether you purchased the package with a mobile plan or if you added the plan separately. If you purchase the phone separately and the eSIM program also separately, you will receive an eSIM activation card that includes a QR code that you need to scan with your phone.

For iOS: Go to Settings> Cellular (or Mobile Data)> Add Cellular Plan and then scan the password when prompted.
For Android: You can set your eSIM to Settings> Network> Add. Follow the on-screen instructions and select Use 2 numbers when prompted. This may, of course, vary depending on your Android version and phone.

Your Apple Watch comes with a preset eSIM if you buy it with an app or if you can add its settings via the Apple Watch app. On a Samsung Galaxy Watch, you need to complete the setup via a mobile app on your phone.

The Dual-SIM devices must support DSDS (Dual SIM, Dual Standby) to offer full functionality. This is available on iOS 13 and later, and on Android 10 and later. DSDS allows both SIMs (one normal sim and one esim) to connect to a network at the same time. When you set it up, you have to choose which line to use as the default line.

What are the benefits of eSIM?

The main advantage of eSIM is that it is really small. Nano SIMs may already look quite small, but at 108,24 mm επιφάνεια, they are actually more than three times larger than an eSIM, which is only 30 mm μέ in size.

esim size comparison

And without taking into account the extra size of the SIM case and the card reader inside the device. These are no longer needed with integrated technology.

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This not only allows extra space for other components or perhaps a larger battery, but also allows manufacturers to reorganize the internal layout of their devices. An eSIM does not need to be near the edge of the phone and could make the devices even more waterproof.

There are also benefits for users. There are no awkward cards and you do not need to find a paper clip to remove the SIM case.

SIMs.

As we have seen, eSIMs allow devices to easily offer dual SIM capabilities. This is ideal if you want to keep separate personal and business numbers or if you are traveling abroad.

Dual SIM phones make it very easy to access a local network and avoid the expensive roaming charges you would expect to pay in your regular schedule.

What are the disadvantages of an eSIM?

The main disadvantage of an eSIM is that it is not convenient when changing phones. You cannot simply remove the SIM card from one device and insert it into another.

It also makes it harder to control for problems with your device. Right now, when you have connection or signal problems, an easy check is to put your SIM in a different phone to check if the problem is with your network or device. You could not do this with an eSIM.

And then there is the fact that new technologies take some time to become basic equipment. ESIM support and availability are still very limited, although, with support from Apple, Samsung and Google, this is likely to change.

Which devices use eSIM?

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 series, as well as the older iPhone 11, XS and XR devices all use an eSIM along with a nano-SIM. The smaller iPhone SE also supports eSIM.

On the Android side:

  • Google Pixel phones from Pixel 2 have the same eSIM-nano-SIM setting, including Pixel 5a 5G and Pixel 6.
  • Samsung phones, including the Galaxy S20 and S20 FE series, the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G and Galaxy S21 + 5G, the Fold and Z Flip and the Note 20 series offer eSIM support.
  • Huawei's P40 and P40 Pro support eSIM.
  • Microsoft Surface Duo has eSIM support.
  • The Moto Razr 2019 also offers eSIM support.

More and more Android phones are constantly adopting the new technology, so there is a good chance that your next mobile upgrade will include it.

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As for other devices, the mobile versions of the Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch and Huawei Watch use eSIM.

There is eSIM support in Windows 10 and Windows 11 as well, so laptops that will always be connected may well become a more common sight in the future.

Do more with your SIM card

ESIM is largely the future for smartphones and smart devices. Even if you do not have such a device now, it is possible that your next phone will incorporate it.

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