What is an eSIM?
A few years ago, we told you that eSIMs are going to change everything. Well, that prophecy is quickly becoming a reality in Australia, with several eSIM phones and plans to choose from this 2021.
An eSIM is a digital SIM that is embedded into a device by the manufacturer. It is essentially a SIM card that is built into your device, but it has a lot more capabilities. The most significant point to note is that eSIMs are digital – that is, because they are built into the device, you can activate your SIM plan right from your phone without having to switch physical SIM cards.
This comes with a number of advantages. We particularly like the advantage of being able to switch telcos in a matter of minutes, right from your handset, without having to wait for the telco to send a physical SIM card in the post.
Imagine finding a telco which is offering a better deal than your current phone plan, and then being able to purchase and activate that offered plan on the spot. Also consider your next trip abroad, and being able to purchase and activate an eSIM plan from a telco in the country you’re visiting to avoid roaming charges, without having to search for a local shop to purchase a physical SIM card.
There are other benefits of course, such as the ability to have two phone numbers on the same device – one for the eSIM and another on the physical SIM card.
Back in 2016, we saw eSIM technology enter the country in the form wearable devices like the Apple Watch. Later on, we also saw tablets and other devices being sold with eSIM capability. But today, eSIM technology is available in a number of flagship phones in Australia, and there are many eSIM plans to accommodate them.
In this post, we’ll tell you where you can get an eSIM in 2021, so read on to find out.
eSIM phones in Australia
eSIM technology is now found in a variety of devices. Everything from wearables to tablets, laptops, and now smartphones. We had to wait a few years for the major manufacturers to launch eSIM phones, but the wait is over.
Here’s a look at the most popular eSIM smartphones that are available in Australia:
- Apple iPhone XS and up
- Samsung Galaxy S20 5G and up
- Samsung Galaxy Fold
- Google Pixel 4 and up
These eSIM capable smartphones can be purchased from any of the major telcos in Australia, as well as in traditional brick-and-mortar stores and online. And if you want to save a few bucks, you can find second hand eSIM devices now that the technology has been around for a few years.
eSIM plans in Australia
Now that you know which eSIM phones are available in Australia and where to purchase them, you’ll also need an eSIM plan to get started.
Thankfully, we now have four phone companies selling eSIM plans in Australia:
Telstra offer eSIM plans on their prepaid lineup. Unfortunately, Telstra don’t currently offer eSIM plans on their month-to-month Upfront plans. This has some implications that we think you should take not of. First, because most of Telstra’s 5G plans are Upfront plans, your Telstra eSIM prepaid plan likely won’t give you 5G access – only one Telstra prepaid plan offers 5G access. Second, Telstra sends a card with a QR code in the post for customers who purchase eSIM plans – this might defeat the purpose because you still have to wait a couple of days to receive the eSIM card in the post, just as you would if you purchased a physical SIM card.
Optus offer eSIM plans on their prepaid and postpaid mobile lineup, as well as their prepaid and postpaid broadband lineup. Some Optus business customers also have access to eSIM plans. Optus eSIM activation can be completed on the My Optus app without having to wait for a QR code in the post. Also, because Optus postpaid customers can use eSIM technology, their eSIM plans also have 5G access.
Vodafone prepaid and postpaid customers can activate their plans via eSIM technology. Like Optus, Vodafone doesn’t have to mail a QR code by post in order for you to complete the activation process. Also, you can have up to 5 plans on your eSIM, but only 1 Vodafone plan can be active at a time.
Gomo are the only sub-brand that currently offer eSIM plans in Australia, which makes them very unique. All Gomo plans can be activated with your eSIM device through the Gomo Australia app without having to wait for a QR card to come in the post.
While Gomo are the only small phone company with eSIM access right now, we expect other sub-brands and MVNOs to eventually gain access as well. The ACCC have already expressed concerns over the fact that the major telcos seem to be keeping the technology to themselves, and Telstra recently announced that they intend to open up eSIM to MVNOs reselling the Telstra wholesale network.
Now that you know where you can get an eSIM in 2021, you’ll be glad to see just how easy it is to purchase and activate your eSIM plan. We’ve written an article demonstrating how to activate an eSIM in your new phone, so be sure to check that out.
One of the major barriers the eSIM needed to address to ensure it became the new standard, was becoming available from each of the major phone companies. As we can now see, that has been done. In fact, one smaller phone company – Gomo – now has access, too. With the back of the problem broken, it’s not hard to imagine most plans being available as eSIM plans over the next 12 months. We have seen them start to pop in to our listings on this site.
On the other hand, awareness among the Australian public of what an eSIM is and what it does, is also a barrier – at this stage, understanding the technology and its benefits is very low. It could be that, since we all became more accepting of QR codes during COVID (and since connecting to an eSIM plan often uses QR code capabilities), consumers will have one less issue with uptake when that information becomes mainstream.