What is an eSIM?
Written By: staff
What is an eSIM?

The sim card as we know it, has come a long way since its in inception back in 1991. We have seen it evolve from being the size of a credit card to being a tiny plastic chip. And now, with the introduction of eSIM, sim technology has evolved even further.

Phones such the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, XS, XS Max, XR, Samsung, Galaxy S20, Samsung S20 all have eSIM support.  In 2019, the ever eSIM-only phone, the Motorolla Razr was introduced, and it is only a matter of time before more follow.

 But what exactly is an eSIM and what does it do?

An eSIM is simply an electronic or embedded sim. There are no physical sim cards involved. Instead of a physical card, SIM technology is built right into your phone. It is a small chip that is used to authenticate your identity with your carrier. In order for an eSIM to work, it needs to be supported by a network carrier in an unlocked phone.

The Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch was the first device to implement an eSIM in 2016. This was followed the Apple watch series 3 series and Google’s Pixel 2 and Pixel 2XL in 2017. In September 2018, Apple launched 3 new iPhones (iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR) that all offer a dual sim with nano-SIM and an eSIM support).  Since then, eSIM technology has expanded from phones and smartwatches to fitness bands, laptops, and even cars.

GSMA and Remote Provisioning

The eSIM is global specifications by the GSMA, an organisation that represents the interests of mobile operators from around the world. The GSMA enables remote provisioning by allowing consumers to activate and change their eSIM devices remotely. Consumers are able to store multiple profiles on a single device and switch between them simultaneously, although one profile can be used at a time.  This specification extends to a range of devices including smartwatches, tablets and laptops and other devices.

Benefits of eSIM’s

The eSIM promotes digital transformation and this will drive businesses to adapt to this growing technology. The demand for eSIM will also reduce the demand for removable SIM cards, which will have a heavy impact on SIM vendors. They can adapt to this by improving customer loyalty, marketing the benefits of eSIM, and adding eSIM products to services that they offer.

Consumers benefit from the eSIM because they are able to compare, select prepaid plans and switch providers. This is all done from their handset or device without the need to physically purchase a sim card. Additionally, because consumers don’t need to visit telco stores to purchase an eSIM, Telecommunications providers can provide better plans, services and new ways in which they communicate with consumers.

Manufactures will be able they will be able to make smaller devices, therefore making extra space for things like a longer battery life.  Consumers are able to select their preferred network provider and securely download an eSIM profile on any eSIM enabled device including small devices.               

The eSIM eliminates the needs for distribution and storage of physical cards, resulting in cost savings for Mobile Network Operators (MNO’s).  The Internet of things (IoT) is one of the fastest-growing technology areas and eSIMS are key components in internet-connected smart devices since they enable mobile connectivity.

Carriers that support eSIM

The countries that support eSIM have increased as they are now available in over 40 countries. In the USA, eSIM is available in carriers such as T-mobile, Verizon wireless, Truphone and more. In the UK, carriers include EE, O2, Truphone and Ubigi. While Germany eSIM carriers include Telekom, Truphone, Vodafone and O2. The number of carriers in different countries that support eSIM continues to grow. As we’ve previously stated, in order to activate an eSIM, your carrier will need to support the eSIM.

Devices support eSIM

Devices that currently support the eSIM include the Apple watch series, iPhones XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 pro, iPhone 11 Max, Samsung Galaxy fold, Samsung gear S2, Samsung gear S3 and more.  The Motorola Razr is currently the only eSIM-only smartphone on the market.

Apple offers dual sim on the iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, and iPhone Xr, and later. This means that users can store a physical nano-sim and an eSIM on any of these devices and operate two different mobile numbers and phone lines.

How to set up an eSIM

The process of setting up and an eSIM depends on your device, but you will either need to have a carrier’s app, a QR Code you can scan, or you can enter their information manually. An eSIM is relatively easy to add to a data plan and connecting devices with eSIMs to a mobile account can be done in minutes.

eSIM is the future ?

The GSMA has estimated that eSIMs will grow 350% over the next 5 years, exceeding 1 billion eSIMs globally by 2024, and the global M2M market is expected to reach over 1 billion connections by 2020. As technology continues to evolve, and the masses adopt the SIM, we could see the elimination of physical sim cards to a world where eSIM’s are the norm.

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