What is eSIM card? How does eSIM work?

The conventional plastic SIM cards, which is a norm in smartphones & Tablets are on the verge of getting replaced by the embedded SIM (eSIM). Whereas SIM cards are a substantial part of a global mobile market, eSIM is prevailing as a new trend of technology that provokes the concept of global connectivity and seamless network transitions.

No surprise that you will notice this tech pretty much since Apple is manufacturing its new iPhones to support the permanent existence of the eSIM into its devices.

Thus, you need to know more about this tech; what eSIM card is, how it works, why it is catching on and its future implication. Now, you are just in the right place to capture a clear image of the eSIM card.

What Is eSIM Card?

what is esim

Just as the name indicates, an embedded SIM is:

  •  Integrated within the device itself.
  • Can’t be removed.
  • Writable.
  • Compatible with all leading carriers.
  • Works precisely as a SIM card.

This is the way the manufactures of the new models of the SIM cards place them in the motherboard across the industry so that you do not need to order and physically insert new SIM cards into your device.

eSIMs are not quite the norm of all phones at the moment. However, interest in them is steadily growing. This is because the market of smartphones, including Apple, Samsung, Google, and Huawei, is orienting its products towards eSIM adoption. You might feel pleasantly surprised by what eSIM has to offer if you’re on the fence about this new technology.

What Is the Size of the eSIM?

An eSIM module is very tiny.

Height: 6.0mm
Width: 5.0mm
Thickness: 0.67mm

What Devices Support eSIM?

A variety of consumer products such as smartphones, wearables, and computers include eSIMs. Also, other devices contain the eSIM like:

  • Smart meters
  • Medical IoT devices
  • Home automation
  • Security systems
  • Connected cars
  • IoT asset tracking devices, or handheld POS (Point of Sales) systems

What are the devices supporting eSIM?

This list can change as more eSIM-compatible devices are released into the market. As of February 2021, the list of eSIM compatible devices is as follows:

iOS 

  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 Mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone SE (2020)
  • iPad Air (4th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd Generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9‑inch (4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9‑inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11‑inch (2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11‑inch (1st generation)
  • iPad (8th generation)
  • iPad (7th generation)
  • iPad Mini (5th Generation)

Android

  • Samsung Galaxy Fold
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S20
  • Samsung Galaxy S20+
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
  • Samsung Note  20+
  • Nuu Mobile X5
  • Google Pixel 3 & 3 XL
  • Google Pixel 3a & 3a XL
  • Google Pixel 4, 4a & 4 XL
  • Google Pixel 5
  • Gemini PDA
  • Motorola Razr 2019
  • Huawei P40
  • Huawei P40 Pro
  • Huawei Y7 Pro 2019

Windows 10

ACER

  • ACER Swift 3
  • ACER Swift 7

ASUS

  • ASUS Mini Transformer T103HAF
  • ASUS NovaGo TP370QL
  • ASUS Vivobook Flip 14 TP401NA

Dell

  • Dell Latitude 9510
  • Dell Latitude 7410
  • Dell Latitude 7310
  • Dell Latitude 9410
  • Dell Latitude 7210 2-in-1

HP

  • HP Elitebook G5
  • HP Probook G5
  • HP Zbook G5
  • HP Spectre Folio 13

LENOVO

  • Lenovo Yoga C630
  • Lenovo Miix 630
  • Lenovo Yoga 520
  • Lenovo Yoga 720 convertible laptops

SAMSUNG

  • Samsung Galaxy Book 2

SURFACE

  • Surface Go 2
  • Surface Pro X
  • Surface Pro 5 LTE Advanced

Note:
Depending on the country of origin or carrier, device compatibility constraints may be as follows:

  1. The iPhone series: iPhone 12 eSIM, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 11, iPhone XS Max, and XR series are not available in China mainland, Hong Kong, and Macao, whereas eSIM is available for iPhone 12 mini, iPhone SE (2nd generation) and iPhone XS purchases in Hong Kong and Macao.
  2. Pixel series: eSIM only works on Pixel 2 devices that come with the Google Fi service. The Pixel ordered from Australia, Taiwan, and Japan is not compatible with eSIM, while Pixel 3 devices imported from any carrier in the US or Canada except for Sprint and Google Fi do not operate with eSIM.  Besides, Pixel 3a is also not compatible with eSIM that is purchased in South East Asia and with Verizon operation.
  3. Samsung series: US-based Samsung S20 Series, Samsung Galaxy S21 5G Series and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G, US-based Samsung Note 20 Ultra and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 originated from the USA and Hong Kong are not eSIM compatible.

Do all networks support eSIM?

eSIMs aren’t supported by all networks. But it is a matter of time to be provided by all.

In the UK, EE, O2, and Vodafone all currently support eSIMs in some capacity.

In the US, AT&T, T-Mobile USA, and Verizon Wireless support eSIM.

How Does eSIM Work?

In order to visualize the way eSIM works, you need to know how SIM cards work in general.

Let’s say how John’s physical SIM card is connected:

  1. Buys a SIM card from a carrier.
  2. It provides the SIM with their network-specific data stored in it.
  3. Gets the SIM to install it into his phone.
  4. The phone uses that data stored on the SIM to connect to the carrier.

In case, he wants to change carriers, he has to take out the SIM card from the phone and get to repeat the previous steps from another carrier.

Now, as mentioned earlier, eSIM is basically a pre-installed SIM card with empty data slots, and it is inserted into the device:

Let’s again consider, John wants to use the new technology:

  1. Buys an eSIM enabled device.
  2. Picks up a plan from a certain carrier and order it.
  3. The carrier sends a QR code instead of her visiting them in place to get the SIM.
  4. Scans the code and activates the plan.
  5. The carrier sends the SIM profile (the same data stored in the physical SIM) into an eSIM slot on her phone.

Unlike physical SIMs, in case he wants to switch carriers or needs another number to dedicate for work, he can download new plans and get new profiles on the same eSIM over the internet.

how does SIM and eSIM work

But Still, What Is the Difference between SIM and eSIM?

First of all, you have to understand that it is not as rumors claim that those cards are entirely different technologies. On the other hand, they have a lot in common, for example, they both:

  • Link your phone to the network of your mobile service provider.
  • Determine the sort of phone you have and the plan you’re on.
  • Can be used in a dual-SIM phone at the same time.
  • Technically, they’re both SIM cards.

The concept of physical SIM card dissecting is becoming increasingly prevalent. But what exactly makes the eSIM different from the SIM card?

On one hand, SIM card:

  1. Basically gives the subscriber a unique identity through an easily accessible number.
  2. Occupies a relatively large proportion of a device where it can be manually installed and removed.
  3. Its progress came across different sizes: Standard, Mini, Micro, and Nano.
  4. Companies keep this mission of management under their control.
  5. Physically removing your local SIM and replacing it with a new line from a local carrier in the country you visit make it more likely to get damaged or even stolen.

On the other hand, eSIM:

  1. Is approximately half the size of the smallest Nano SIM card granting manufacturers more design flexibility.
  2. When you need to change networks or update the settings of your eSIM using an over-the-air, remote SIM provisioning solution (RSP), you can do it remotely.
  3. You won’t drop and step on an eSIM by mistake, for no one can take them out from the device in the first place. Know more about the differences between SIM and eSIM.
the difference between embedded SIM and SIM

When can I start using an eSIM?

It may be a while before the eSIM’s full potential is realized. However, with the right phone and service, you can now take advantage of such technology. Moreover, several manufacturers of handsets, such as Apple and Google, have embraced the eSIM. Also, many major carriers around the world now support eSIM services.

In a nutshell, if your carrier already supports eSIM along with your smartphone, you can start using the new technology today. That is, no more extra roaming rates surprise you, for you would be able to procure data roaming services prior to travel. Therefore, which eSIM data plan should you pick, and how you can set it up?
Here is a tutorial on how to install your Data Only eSIM Packages Plan using Numero data eSIM plans.

[ Visit our Data eSIM page to choose the plan you prefer]

Is eSIM Related to 5G?

The basic relationship lies in the fact that eSIM and 5G are two new standards that came to make a revolution. 5G changes the way a connection can be touched even in tiny objects such as sensors, drones, and smart meters. This has to do with developing the IOT (Internet of things) technology that, in consequence, needs the support of eSIM to create a connection between different devices. As a result, in the 5G era, eSIM will become increasingly popular.

Why Are Carriers Opposed to embedded SIM?

There isn’t any carrier that has its commercial line running well finding it easy to shift to adopt the eSIM because of the difficulty in supply and implementation.
However, the core concept of eSIM which has to do with the easy switch between carriers doesn’t satisfy carriers that count on store traffic to generate revenue.

That is, consumers won’t visit the store anymore to get a new SIM card or activate a data plan. As a result, there will be no buyers of the mobile accessories and other things they display to attract buyers.

Also, giving the consumers the ability to choose their service providers directly from their phones, resulting in customer turnover.

After all, they will have to find a way to ride the wave by, for example, finding novel use cases that can improve the customer experience while also generating income.

It is a digital world that carries can exploit to offer services and bundles, such as shared data plans for numerous devices, all of which are enabled via an eSIM and a digital app.

Is it a Dream Coming True Sooner or Later?

Apple is currently the pioneer in the product domain with its iPhone series supporting embedded SIM. According to a Bloomberg report, high figures indicate a steady demand for the company’s most important smartphones, Apple iPhone 11 and Apple iPhone XS. Therefore, Apple suppliers are preparing to produce components for up to 75 million new iPhones in the second half of 2019, almost the same number as in the previous year.

According to ABI Research, the embedded SIM smartphone market will reach 420 million units every year by 2022. Moreover, due to Counterpoint’s “Emerging Technology Opportunities Service” report,
by 2025, eSIM-based phone shipments will reach nearly two billion units, up from 364 million in 2018.

After all, it is not a dream but rather a really smart technology to be undertaken.

Where Are eSIMs Available?

Growing from 10 countries enabling local eSIMs to over 40 countries is a radical change confirming the wide recognition of the eSIM technology. Nevertheless, the part that backs you from getting more excited has to do with the limited number of providers around the world supporting eSIM. For instance, in the US, Truphone and T-Mobile USA support it. However, the list of US carriers is missing a big one: Sprint.

The increase in eSIM-enabled devices is gaining more networks to jump on board. This is a slow process, though. Since eSIM is directing its users into an easier world of connection, carriers are fluctuating to adopt this innovation because of the risk of losing customers and having to break into price wars over the best deals in a bid for market share.

What does the future of embedded SIM look like?

That the eSIM is on its way is no longer in question. They will power the future by:

  • Making things quicker: Nowadays, technology is making everything simpler and easier as nobody wants to do anything through a laborious process. This is one area where eSIM has a big role to play.
  • Connecting more devices: eSIM could eventually allow manufacturers to produce devices that are even smaller or slimmer than those currently available. This could also mean smaller tablets and laptops capable of connecting via the smaller eSIM. As Windows Central wrote, “The ability to take a PC or 2-in-1 wherever in the world you are and still have multiple ways to get on the internet is going to be critical for businesses, the modern nomadic millennial workforce, creators, those who are self-employed, and even regular consumers.”
  • With 5G connectivity set to radically alter mobile services, the eSIM will play an integral role. When 5G becomes standard, devices containing them will possess processing power that is incredibly robust and will rely on the eSIM to manage their connection.
  • Microsoft collaborated with global carriers to sell single-use data packages via the online Microsoft Store. Imagine buying 1 GB of data just like buying a game or an app. Then the store uses the eSIM to get you online with that one-click simplicity.
statistics about the embedded SIM market

How Does Dual SIM Work on iPhone?

You’ve probably seen the term “Dual-SIM” before now while you were browsing Apple’s iPhone XS, XS Max and XR for 2018. Therefore, announcing such technology was profound, especially for the countries where eSIM is not supported yet. Still, you can enjoy having two phone numbers on one device; one for business, another for personal use. And when you travel abroad, it is considerably easier and more convenient to use your own mobile.

Adding support for dual SIM and eSIM on iPhones is welcome news indeed! Yet, do they differ?

Essentially, both dual SIM and eSIM allow you to have two distinct plans on your iPhone 11, XR, and XS/XS Max. Moreover, both give you two phone numbers for calls and text messages. Another truth about both is that your iPhone can only use one data network at a time.

On the other side, the key difference is that an eSIM is a digital SIM integrated within your phone, while a dual SIM is having two physical SIM card slots. With eSIM, there’s no need for two SIM cards. Instead, your eSIM activates a mobile plan without the need for a physical SIM card.

On Whole

Once eSIM does become more omnipresent, which is inevitable in the near future, all will observe the true possibilities of what the technology can provide. ​Tell us about your impression of this technology, and whether it is worth trying or you still uncertain about taking a step towards this adventure. What do you think? Will this tech soon be the standard, or will it still take a while for everyone to move over to eSIM?

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