What is an eSIM & how it works
What is an eSIM & how it works
Written By: Alexandra Nuschele

Inserting a SIM card into your phone is delicate, but it’s relatively easy. First, you have to take it out of its package and then take off the transparent plastic film on the front and back (if your phone has one).

The most recent phones require a nano-SIM, which is much smaller than the older standard SIM cards. You may be fully aware of the procedure.

However, when you’re continually switching from phone to phone… or from SIM card to SIM card… it might get a little repetitive. The good news is that an eSIM does the opposite. This article discusses all the important factors about an eSIM, and how an eSIM works.


What is an eSIM?

The term “eSIM” is a new type of SIM card. It has no physical form, and no physical swapping over is required. Although this technology needs to be supported by the network or carrier and enabled by them, not all networks support eSIM. An eSIM is a small chip inside your phone and works similarly to the NFC chip used for payment techs like Apple Pay and Google Pay. Further reading: What is an eSIM?


History of eSIM 

According to the SGMA association, the omnipresent SIM card has played a crucial role in mobile telecommunications for nearly 25 years. As a result, end-users are familiar with it. Moreover, it provides a safe method of logging devices into networks, all in a removable “Secure Element” that can be easily transferred between mobile devices.

The GSMA has specified a radical new technique to load SIMs into handsets, even though the role of the SIM remains the same. The SIM card can now be safely downloaded into a ‘Secure Element,’ which can be permanently installed on any device.

The GSMA has assisted the development of the eSIM solution by facilitating an ecosystem of trusted platforms and partners. Moreover, it provides comparable security and protection to the removable SIM card.


 How does an eSIM work? 

Setting up an eSIM is not hard, and the process varies depending on what device you have. For example, if you have an iPhone, you can scan a QR code. If you have other devices, you can manually enter the information. One cool thing about eSIMs is that they are relatively easy to order and once your account is set up, connecting your device is quick and painless.

The eSIM works the same way as a traditional SIM card, but it is also pre-installed on your device. You can activate it by downloading an “eSIM profile” from one of the new operators, and you don’t need a physical card to do so. You don’t have to carry a wireless ID module, so you have one less thing to lose or forget. Plus, you can switch carriers or data plans at any time.

In addition, you don’t need to physically visit a carrier shop to subscribe, which makes it easier to react quickly in emergencies. For example, most carriers charge a hefty fee when you’re travelling abroad.

With eSIM2Go, you can save up to 90% on roaming costs. eSIM is more secure, so it is less susceptible to hacking than a physical SIM card.  


What is remote SIM provisioning?

Remote SIM provisioning is an eSIM specification which was realized by the GSMA that defines how the process of remote Subscriber Identification Module activation should work. It allows individuals to remotely change and activate the SIM profile embedded on portable devices such as smartphones, smart watches, tablet computers, and fitness bands and many more. There are actually two remote provisioning specifications.

  • M2M Solution 

The first remote provisioning solution developed for b2b markets such as healthcare, transport, utility industries and many more.

  • Consumer Solution

The consumer market solution helps manage the interaction with the end user using the mobile device end user interface.  


 Advantages of eSIMs 

Beneficial to businesses: The eSIM is a rapidly growing technology that will significantly impact the retail world. It will promote digital transformation and help companies solve their problems with time and cost. Part of the demand for the eSIM will come from reducing the need for removable SIM cards.

Saving time and cost: The eSIM provides consumers with many benefits. They can compare and select prepaid plans from their handset without buying a physical sim card. This saves time and money and makes it easy for consumers to switch providers without physically changing sim cards.

Saves on battery life: Manufacturers will be able to make smaller devices, making space for bigger batteries. Consumers will select their wireless carrier and download an eSIM profile on any eSIM enabled device.

Fewer SIM cards: eSIMs are a vital component of internet-connected devices quickly gaining popularity. They have many benefits, such as eliminating the need for distributing and storing physical cards, which costs Mobile Network Operators MNOs money.

Frictionless: Users will no longer have to struggle to obtain the proper SIM card size or put the plugins into the device with the eSIM.  


What is the difference between a SIM card and eSIM

A SIM card is a chip that is physically installed or removed inside your phone with your provider’s plan, while an eSIM (embedded sim) is built-in to your phone and downloads your provider’s plan indirectly.

Here are some of the differences between SIM cards and eSIMS.

  • eSIM cannot be physically damaged or lost and a SIM card can.
  • SIM cards are limited and eSIMs are not.
  • eSIMS are not available for older phones and SIM cards are.
  • SIM cards are easier to hack and eSIMs are not.
  • eSIMs can store multiple cellular profiles and SIM cards cannot.

An eSIM is preferable to an actual SIM card since it offers numerous advantages:

The eSIM is compact: This frees up space for additional components or a larger battery, but it also allows manufacturers to reorganize the interior arrangement of their devices. An eSIM doesn’t have to be close to the phone’s edge, which might make waterproofing easier. Because eSIM is incorporated into devices, it cannot be physically destroyed or lost.

eSIM is safe: It can’t be copied.

eSIM can hold several cellular profiles: eSIM can keep many shapes, so you can easily change between them to choose which carrier you want to use.  


Networks that support eSIM 

The number of countries that support eSIM is increasing, but the USA and UK are leading the way. In the United States, carriers such as T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and Truphone offer eSIM.

In the United Kingdom, EE, O2, and Vodafone all support eSIM. Vodafone is currently only supporting it on Apple Watch, but they will launch it for other devices in 2021.

Three doesn’t currently support eSIM, but they may in the future. eSIMs are available from selected carriers. You’ll need to download the carrier’s app or scan a specific QR Code to activate eSIM. The most crucial detail is that the page needs to support it.


 What devices support eSIM 

Apple has decided to turn to eSIM for some of its latest releases that will include eSIM support, such as;

  • The iPad Pro
  • Apple Watch Series 3, 4 and 5
  • The iPhone XS series
  • The XR series

This will allow users to add more than one SIM card to their devices. Google’s Pixel 2 supported eSIM when it was first released but only for those in the US, for Google Fi. This is no longer the case with the latest Google Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL and the Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL. As well as Google’s new Pixel 4a.

Samsung’s Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra are available in three sizes. In addition, they all have a built-in eSIM card, and the Motorola Razr flip phone now has eSIM support. Many Windows users are probably already aware of the “eSIM”, where Windows 10 users can switch carriers without swapping out a physical SIM card.

However, this is not the only technology that does this. For example, some smartphones use a “modem” to do the same thing – like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon-powered devices.


eSIM use cases

eSIMs provide a simple and secure method for downloading a profile (or several profiles) over-the-air from a mobile network operator (MNO). Here are some use cases for eSIMs.

  • eSIMs enables many service opportunities.
  • eSIMs are operator or OEM specific but can support multiple carrier profiles.
  • You can remote download and manage additional carrier profiles.
  • eSIMs eliminate physical SIM swaps and have over the air profile management.
  • There is one SIM for multiple carriers.


How to get & activate an eSIM

At eSIM2Go, we offer a variety of eSIM travel data solutions for international travelers. eSIM2Go offers prepaid travel eSIMs for tourists & business travelers, reducing global roaming fees by up to 90%. You can get eSIM packages for 150+ countries.

Getting an eSIM at eSIM2Go is simple and cheap, here is how it works.

Step 1: Select your travel destination.

Step 2: Choose your dates of travel.

Step 3: Pick your package and checkout.

You can create profiles for each country which are stored on your account. When you reach the next country, simply change to your current country’s profile.


It’s good to know 

Is eSIM the future? Indeed! eSIMs are essential for the IoT (IoT) because they are already embedded in many devices, including cars, wearables, home appliances, and industrial machines.

The eSIM has many benefits for international travelers some of which include low costs & ease of use to easily keep in touch with families and friends constantly, anywhere you are. 



What is the size of an eSIM?

An eSIM is very tiny. The eSIM size is 2,5mm by 2,3 mm, and the thickness is 0,2 mm.

What is an eSIM profile?

An eSIM profile is the software that you download to your eSIM-enabled device to access the carrier’s mobile network.

Which smartphones support eSIM?

The devices that support eSIMs include-, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, Google Pixel 3, Google Pixel 3 XL, Apple Watch Series 4, Apple Watch series, Motorola Raz, Nuu Mobile X5.

How many eSIM profiles can I have in the same device?

You can have multiple eSIM profiles in a device, but it’s advisable to have up to 3 eSIM profiles in one device.

Can an eSIM be used for roaming?

Yes, you can use an eSIM in the same way as you would use a regular SIM card abroad through international roaming.

Does an eSIM work without internet connection?

Purchasing and downloading the profile requires internet access, switching between previously downloaded profiles does not need any internet access at all.

Can I use WhatsApp with an eSIM?

Yes, you can use WhatsApp with an eSIM just like normal.

What is the difference between an eSIM & eUICC?

An eSIM is the hardware component of the SIM where different profiles are stored, while the eUICC is the software component that makes it possible to store multiple profiles in a single eSIM through remote provisioning.

How secure is an eSIM?

eSIMs are generally very safe in that they can’t be physically removed and placed in other devices by thieves and they can be programmed to request verification from operators whenever someone tries to change a user profile.

What is an eSIM data plan?

An eSIM data plan, is a prepaid data-only plan that you can download directly to your eSIM-compatible device.


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