What is an eSIM: activation, compatibility

Eric Costilia Eric Costilia
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An eSIM offers the best combination of coverage, flexibility, instant delivery and price.

In order to help you choose which eSIM card would be best for your trip, we put together this guide on the best eSIMs for international travel to make your decision easier.

What is an eSIM

An eSIM is a SIM card that you can use without plugging it into your device. It's one of the newest technological developments in mobile service and it's designed to make traveling easier than ever. With an eSIM, you simply get an email with credentials or a QR code to scan that unlocks your data.

The best thing about an eSIM card is that you don't have to wait for a local SIM card from a company like AT&T or T-Mobile because it doesn't require any additional hardware on your phone. All you need is an eSim to have full access to the internet abroad.

Plus, since there are no contracts with an eSIM, you can switch providers as often as you want without any penalties or fees.

How Do eSIMs Work?

An eSIM card is a mobile data-only SIM card that you can use in any unlocked phone, tablet, or hotspot. You purchase an eSIM from a provider like Telefonica or T-Mobile and then activate it on your account. Once activated, you can put it into your unlocked device of choice and start using it immediately. You don't need a physical SIM card anymore.

An eSIM card is a great option for travelers because it provides seamless connectivity all over the world without having to worry about changing plans with each country. Whether you're crossing borders or passing through areas with limited coverage, you'll be able to keep up with your favorite shows and text friends back home.

Compatibility

Apple

iPhone 14, Pro, Pro Max

iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 13 Mini

iPhone 12, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, 12 Mini

iPhone SE (2020), SE (2022)

iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max

iPhone XS, XS Max

iPhone XR

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 Air (4th generation)

iPad Air (3rd generation)

iPad (8th generation)

iPad (7th generation)

iPad mini (5th generation)

Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S20

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G

Samsung Galaxy S20+

Samsung Galaxy S20+

Samsung Galaxy S21

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S21+

Samsung Galaxy S22 5G, Ultra 5G, S22+

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

Samsung Galaxy Note 20

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 5G

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE 5g

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 FE

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, Ultra 5G

Samsung Note 20+

Samsung Fold LTE model

Samsung Galaxy Fold

Samsung Galaxy Fold 2 5G

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 Ultra 5G

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

Samsung Galaxy S20, s20+ and S20 Ultra(Single SIM Nano-SIM and/or eSIM models

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G

Samsung Galaxy Fold

Google Pixel

Google Pixel 7, 7 Pro

Google Pixel 6a

Google Pixel 6 Pro

Google Pixel 6

Google Pixel 5a 5G

Google Pixel 5

Google Pixel 4a

Google Pixel 4

Google Pixel 3 & 3XL ( Limited support )

Google Pixel 2

Advantages of an eSIM

Cost-Effective

In most cases, eSIMs offer more competitive rates than traditional SIM cards. From no longer having to purchase multiple physical SIM cards for different countries to eliminating excessive roaming fees for visiting multiple countries, eSIMs are more economical to SIM cards.

Instantaneous Delivery

eSIMs are delivered electronically, don’t require a physical SIM to be inserted, and can be activated easily from a phone or tablet. Depending on the device and carrier, most eSIMs can be activated instantly, but in some cases it can take up to a few hours.

Convenience

With eSIMs, you can keep the same phone, SIM card, and you don’t have to visit local stores. An additional advantage includes how eSIM cards are compatible with any device that supports eSIM technology, thereby, eliminating the need to jailbreak or unlock a device.

Data Allowance

Depending on the country or region you’re in, eSIMs support different data allowances and pricing than traditional SIM cards. Compared to SIM cards, eSIMs provide greater flexibility in terms of special promotions and bundles, while allowing you to choose a plan that fits your data needs and budget.

No Roaming Charges

Compared to a user’s home carrier, which typically charges high per-minute, per-text, and per-MB rates, eSIMs do not inherently have roaming charges. With the average roaming charge at $2.00 per MB, eSIMs provide a cost-effective alternative to roaming charges and prevent the price gouging that’s typically carried out by other telecom providers.

Disadvantages of eSIMs

  • Compatibility: Not all carriers support eSIMs in all areas, so it's important to check with the carrier about the coverage area, roaming charges and the availability of the eSIMs in the areas you plan to visit.
  • Limited Control Over the Number: With an eSIM, you will not have a physical SIM card, so you cannot physically transfer the number to another device in case your device is lost or stolen.
  • Unsupported devices: Not all smartphones support eSIM. Check your device before using eSIM

FAQ

Is eSIM better than a plastic sim card ?

eSIMs offer many benefits such as flexibility, convenience and cost-effectiveness but also have some limitations such as availability and compatibility. It's important to weigh the pros and cons and evaluate if it's the right choice for you.

What are top 3 reasons to use eSIM ?

Instant delivery, no roaming, cost-effective

Is it possible to use 2 eSIM in one device?

You can use Dual SIM by using a physical SIM and an eSIM. iPhone 13 models and later also support two active eSIMs

Written by: Eric Costilia

Eric Costilia is an experienced writer, editor and researcher. His writing focuses mostly on tech, gaming. He wrote dozens of eSIM carriers reviews, which makes him an expert of this technology.

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