eSIM what is it, and why is it great news for travellers?

What is it?

In brief, an eSIM (embedded SIM card) can remove the requirement to have a physical SIM card (and SIM slot).  It’s fundamentally a small chip inside your phone and works in a similar way to the NFC chip (an NFC chip transmits data at short range).  Consequently you would not have a SIM card and wouldn’t therefore need to physically swap it. That is a very basic technical overview, however mass adoption of this is expected and that is because of some very interesting benefits…

What are the advantages for business?

There are many potential benefits if your next device includes an eSIM but here are a few possibilities that we think might interest you:

  • The information is re-writable, meaning you can decide to change operator by simply making a phone call.
  • You could use one number for business and another for personal use. A “default” line is used for calls, SMS, iMessage and FaceTime and the other is simply for voice and SMS.
  • Connecting devices with eSIMS to a mobile account will be a much faster process.
  • Vodafone are suggesting that eSIMs will enable more connected devices simply because eSIMs don’t require much space inside a device and therefore enables add-ons such as fitness trackers to have stand alone 4G connectivity in a way that simply wasn’t possible.
  • Totally separate voice and data plans.
  • Potentially there will be more space freed up within the device to enable additional battery life.
  • Laptops and tablet design could become less bulky as eSIMs don’t require much space so we anticipate a new generation of smaller devices.

What about regular travellers?

In theory, eSIM should mean that when you travel abroad you could simply add a roaming eSIM to your handset whilst retaining access to your main “home” number. Currently if you change your SIM abroad you can’t access your own number.

Potentially eSIM’s have the potential to eliminate roaming charges abroad according to Truphone’s Steve Alder. Additionally people can switch operators quickly to get connected if they are in an area with no signal.

Who is adopting this first?

Currently the eSIM has been used to add connectivity to the 3 & 4 series watch by Apple and the iPhone XS and XS Max have dual SIM support. Therefore if you are purchasing a new iPhone XS or XS Max you will need to choose an e-SIM compatible network. EE is an eSIM compatible network.

How does it work in Practice?

We looked into this and understand that this will be available on IOS release 12.1.

EE have explained for those with an iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max that if you have a physical and eSIM provisioned and are connected to two separate networks, your iPhone will display on two separate networks, your iPhone will display both networks on the screen at the same time.

You can switch eSIMs by tapping Settings > Cellular > Cellular Plans and tapping the plan you want to use. If you are in the UK it’s Mobile Data. Then tap Turn On This Line.

How to use eSIM with iPhone XS and XS Max

If you have a QR code:

1. Go to Settings > Cellular.
2. Tap Add Cellular Plan.
3. Use your iPhone to scan the QR code that your carrier provided – you may be asked to enter an activation code.

Or to activate with a carrier app:

1. Go to the App Store and download your carrier’s app.
2. Use the app to purchase a cellular plan.

You should also label your plans in Settings > Cellular. Tap the number whose label you want to change. Then tap Cellular Plan Label and select a new label or enter a custom label.

If the above sparks your interest and you would like to discuss a handset including this facility such as the iPhone XS or XS Max just call on 0345 370 5000

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