How to Use an eSIM: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

advantages of eSIM

The advantages of eSIM. src

eSIM: An Idea whose time has come

SIM cards have been constantly shrinking over time. First, there were the full-sized SIM cards, followed by the mini-SIM cards, and then the micro-SIM cards, and then the nano-SIM cards. And now, the technology has taken on a new digital form that completely does away with its physical form and the attendant limitations.

eSIM is a software version of traditional SIM cards, with a programmable capacity algorithm that allows users to switch between numbers and carriers by pressing a few buttons on their device. When you activate a certain number on your eSIM device, the carrier is able to remotely delete all the data pertaining to the previous carrier to reprogram the device. This can be done within a few minutes, so you won’t have to wait around to get your SIM card delivered, or swap SIM cards physically.

In practice and principle, all eSIM-enabled devices are basically unlocked, allowing owners to switch between multiple carriers on demand. This furnishes mobile users with a host of advantages. Business people using multiple lines for various reasons, as well as International travelers, stand to benefit the most from the convenience and flexibility that eSIM offers.

The advantages of using eSIM

With eSIM devices, you’re always just a few clicks away from switching between different mobile carriers, numbers, and phone plans. You won’t have to worry about finding a pin to pull out the SIM card slot, or worse, losing or damaging your SIM cards in the process of inserting or removing them.

Other key advantages of using eSIMs include:

  • Instant activation of SIM cards:
    You won’t have to wait around for your SIM card to arrive in your mailbox.
  • Portability:
    eSIM cards are as portable as any mobile phone component can get. As such, it’s ideal for powering cellular network in small devices such as sensors, wearables, and many other IoT devices.

The drawbacks of using eSIM

Although it’s a mold-breaking technology that will help take our mobile experience to another level, the eSIM is still fraught with challenges. For starters, its relative nascence has denied it the level of patronage that traditional SIM cards currently enjoy. Although the technology has been around for a few years now, there are currently only a handful of devices and service providers that support it.

Other drawbacks currently limiting the technology include:

  • Most eSIM devices don’t support dual SIM functions, meaning they can’t host more than one network simultaneously.
  • You can’t access your line with a SIM-powered phone since you can’t separate the eSIM from the eSIM device.
  • Also, because you can’t simply pull out your eSIM card, when you’re passing on the phone, you’d need to do some extra work to clean out your information from the device.

Which devices use eSIM?

esim technology

Though the technology is poised to have wide scale applicability including in industrial and domestic IoT systems, there are only a handful of eSIM powered devices in the markets today – mostly smartphones and wearables. src

So far, a good number of eSIM-powered devices – mostly phones and wearables – have hit the market. Some eSIM-powered wearables available today include Apple Watch Series 3, Apple Watch Series 4, Samsung Galaxy Watch, Samsung Gear S3 classic, and Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2.

Some popular eSIM powered phones include the Google Pixel 2, Google Pixel 3, Google Pixel 4, iPhone 11, iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and Motorolla Razr.

Final words – How to activate an eSIM

Simplicity is at the heart of eSIM’s design. It’s super-easy to buy and activate an eSIM phone plan on an eSIM device. It usually entails purchasing a selected eSIM plan and then following through with the instructions sent along in the confirmation email.

Here are the typical steps for activating an eSIM plan on an Apple device:

  • Open the Settings app on the Apple device
  • Navigate to “Cellular” or “Mobile Data”, and then select “Add Cellular Plan”
  • On the next page, scan the QR code that was sent in the confirmation email, and then enter the activation code that was also sent (if required).

And that’s it; your device should be running on your chosen eSIM plan in a few minutes.

To activate eSIM on an Android device:

  • Open the settings menu, and then select “Network & Internet”
  • Go to “Mobile network > Carrier > Add carrier”
  • Next, select the “Don’t have a SIM card?” option, go to “Next > Scan it now”, and then scan the QR code contained in the plan’s confirmation email.
  • Click on “Start”, and then select “done”

Your eSIM number and plan should be up and running within a few minutes afterward.

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.