Who Offers eSIM Phones and Plans in Australia

esim trend

eSIM trends

eSIM hit the Australian market in 2017. The technology is essentially a SIM card that has been embedded in a device. Unlike regular SIM cards, this allows users to switch networks and plans digitally and as much as they want, without a physical SIM, eliminating the need to physically switch cards.

The technology has been a bit slow to catch on, despite its many advantages over traditional SIM cards. However, forecasts predict significant growth in the eSIM market – from USD$253 million in 2018 to USD$978 million in 2023.

eSIM market

eSIM market set to grow. src

In fact, we’ve seen some indicators of that growth here in Australia. While previous years saw wearables and some tablets as the majority of eSIM devices, more and more major manufacturers are now launching smartphones in Australia with eSIM capabilities.

In this article, we’ll tell you all about the eSIM phones and plans in Australia today.

eSIM phones in Australia

Google’s Pixel 2 was one of the first smartphones to come with an eSIM. However, the technology wasn’t really popular back then, and Google wasn’t that popular as a phone manufacturer either. Instead, most eSIM devices were wearables, as well as tablets and Windows 10 devices.

The eSIM started picking up speed in 2018 when Apple launched its first eSIM iPhone. Today, eSIM smartphones are becoming more widespread amongst major manufacturers.

Here’s a look at some eSIM phones in Australia:

  • iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, 11, and 11 Pro
    You can get these iPhones from Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone, and use their eSIM support with those telcos.
  • Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, S20 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy Fold, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
    You can get all of these Samsung eSIM-capable phones from Vodafone. Telstra and Optus also sell all of these Samsung eSIM phones, except the Galaxy Fold. However, you can purchase the Galaxy Fold unlocked from another vendor to make use of Telstra and/or Optus eSIM plans.
  • Pixel 3, 3 XL, 3A, 3A XL, 4, 4 XL
    You’ll find these eSIM phones on Telstra and Optus. You can also purchase them from other vendors and use a Vodafone eSIM plans.
  • Huawei P40, P40 Pro
    None of Australia’s major telcos currently carry the Huawei P40 or P40 Pro. However, you can purchase them elsewhere and use their eSIM plans.
  • Motorola Razr
    The Motorola Razr is available on Telstra and Optus. You can also purchase it elsewhere and use Vodafone’s eSIM plans.

eSIM plans in Australia

Only Australia’s Mobile Network Providers (the major telcos) offer eSIM plans. You won’t be able to find any eSIM support from MVNOs right now, but that may change soon because the ACCC has expressed concern over that fact.

In the meantime, you can purchase eSIM plans from Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone, directly from your eSIM-capable phone. The plans are the same as their normal mobile plans, but if you purchase your phone from these telcos, then you can only use their respective plans – the phones will be locked.

If, however, you purchase your eSIM phone unlocked from another vendor, you’ll be able to use eSIM plans from any of the three major telcos.

How to activate eSIM plans

To sign up for a plans using your eSIM instead of a physical SIM, you’ll probably have to go into your phones settings menu and follow some steps. Eventually, you will have to scan a QR code with your phone’s camera to activate the plan, and that will either be emailed to you or mailed to you via post. Some telcos might provide an option to enter a code instead.

The particular steps for switching to an eSIM plan will vary from device to device, and telco to telco. But here are some general steps:

  • iPhone users go to Settings > tap Mobile > tap Add Mobile Plan > Scan QR code and follow prompts.
  • Android users go to Settings > tap Network & Internet > add Mobile Network > Scan QR code and follow prompts.

As stated, depending on your telco, the QR code will either be provided via email or by post. If your telco has a shop nearby, you can also check it out to complete the process.

Summary

An eSIM is essentially a SIM card that is built into your device. Unlike traditional SIM cards, eSIMs are rewritable – that is, you can use different telcos and plans with them, even after using several.

eSIMs allow you switch telcos and plans digitally, right from your phone without having to physically switch SIM cards. And while the technology was mostly available to wearables and Windows 10 devices, smartphone manufacturers have began adopting it.

Today, only Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone offer eSIM plans – MVNOs are yet to be granted access to the technology. To use the major telcos’ plans, you can purchase locked eSIM phones from them, but that means you can only use the eSIM plans from the particular telco you purchased the phone from. To avoid this, you can purchase unlocked eSIM phones from other vendors to use any eSIM capable telco you pleas.

 

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.