What is an eSIM? How does It work?

An eSIM is a SIM card embedded in a mobile device that allows you to connect to any operator that offers eSIM services.

Furthermore, an eSIM functions similarly to a traditional SIM card, but it does not require a physical SIM card to be used. It is actually pre-installed on the device, and you can activate it by installing a new operator's "eSIM profile."

It is, in fact, an evolution of the physical SIM card. An eSIM card is becoming increasingly common in smartphones, tablets, and laptops.


How does eSIM work?

You can easily install an eSIM profile (provided by operators/carriers) on an eSIM-compatible device to purchase an eSIM data plan when you need it, on the go. Furthermore, you can use multiple operators and subscribe to multiple data plans at the same time, depending on your needs: when travelling, working from home, or remotely. 

The eSIM is also known as an eUICC (Embedded Universal Circuit Card) or a virtual SIM.

It's worth noting that eSIM technology is already embedded in cars, wearables, home appliances, and industrial machines, so it plays a significant role in the Internet of Things (IoT).

What Does eSIM Let You Do?

Simply put, eSIM allows you to change your wireless carrier, data plan, or service plan via software. In general, you can change your carrier or service plan on the fly by going to a menu or taking a photo of a QR code on eSIM devices. You don't have to go to the store, wait for the mail, or fiddle with a tiny chip. You can also frequently use two different lines on the same device, such as a home and work line, or switch between different plans based on your location.


Which Phones Support eSIM?

On recent iPhone(Opens in a new window) and Google Pixel models, all three major US carriers support eSIM. ESIM is also supported by the folding Moto Razr. However, while the Samsung Galaxy S20, Note 20 series, Z Fold 2, and S21 series support eSIM in theory, they do not support them in practice in the United States, most likely due to carrier resistance.


Which Tablets and Laptops Support eSIM?

Apple's iPads have an excellent eSIM interface, allowing you to select your provider and plan from an on-device menu. US Mobile lists (Opens in a new window) some laptops that support eSIM from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, and Microsoft. Apple laptops currently do not support eSIM or cellular data.

How Do You Get and Activate an eSIM?

T-Mobile eSIM, AT&T, and Verizon have certain eSIM support and activation pages. They're pretty basic and hidden away on the support websites. There are two ways to use an eSIM on your phone.

The simplest option is to select your provider from an on-device menu or a downloadable app, and then sign up for a plan.

Little less simpler method involves generating a QR code on a carrier's website or having the carrier mail you a piece of paper with a QR code on it. The QR code is then scanned using a feature in your phone's settings menu.

This is less convenient, but it is preferred by some carriers because it requires fewer changes to their own systems. A QR-code-based system also works on more phones than an app, which may only be compatible with one operating system or phone model.

September 08, 2022 — Gaurav Khanna
Tags: esim