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The Tech Behind the Scenes: How Does an eSIM Work
6 min

The Tech Behind the Scenes: How Does an eSIM Work

6 min
Uploaded on
Jul 2, 2023
Last updated on
Nov 7, 2023
Uploaded on
Jul 2, 2023
Last updated on
Nov 7, 2023
How does an eSIM work?
eSIM vs. SIM: The Ultimate Face-off for Your Digital Passport!

Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards have proven to be a main pillar that has substantially supported and promoted communication technologies around the world for decades. However, eSIM technology is gradually replacing the simple tiny SIM cards that you carry around on your cell phones. eSIMs are entirely integrated SIM cards that can be accessed virtually, as opposed to normal SIM cards that can be withdrawn from the device. Given the growing popularity of the technology, it appears conceivable that eSIMs may soon replace traditional SIM cards.  After reading this, it's natural to wonder, "What is an eSIM card?" What distinguishes it from the traditional SIM card? "How exactly does an eSIM work?" Let's go find out!

What is a SIM card?

To understand how an eSIM works, let’s start from the start. 

Remember the tiny card in your phone that used to sit in a tray-like thing? Yep, that's the SIM card. SIM cards were programmed to store information such as phone numbers and other profile details. The information stored in the SIM card helped it to authenticate your network. SIM cards also became an important module for internet usage through mobile data. Now that you know what is a SIM card, let’s see how an eSIM differs from a SIM card and how does an eSIM card works. 

What is an e-Sim Card?

Different from the conventional SIM cards, eSIMs stand out for being integrated directly into the device’s hardware build when the cell phones are manufactured. This process negates the need for consumers to embed the physical SIM cards, which are removable in nature. This concept streamlines the process by transforming the nature of Sims Cards in general and makes it virtually possible to be provisioned and modified without the need for any physical intervention. Nevertheless, this is a highly innovative approach which makes it easier to manage cellular plans digitally. 

Sim Card vs e-Sim Card: The Difference

The evolution from traditional SIM cards to eSIMs is a remarkable shift when it comes to how people perceive and interact with the developed network connectivity. Electronic SIM cards or eSIM cards operate differently when compared to regular SIM cards. So how does an eSIM work? Embedded into your phone (literally soldered to your phone's motherboard), eSIMs are not removable. Although, the distinction between these two dynamic sources of connectivity is not just physical but also functional. With an electronic SIM card, switching the network becomes as easy as scanning a QR code. eSIMs can allow you to configure your SIM card and connect to the local network. Electronic SIM cards can also make switching between multiple accounts easier. Let’s understand in detail how an eSIM works and how it evolved into what it is today. 

eSIM Card History  

Before we get into how an eSIM works exactly, let’s see how the regular old SIM cards evolved into their digital counterparts. The good old regular SIM cards worked well with the then-available models of mobile phones. As the phones started to evolve into more powerful and advanced versions of themselves, the SIM card also started to shrink in size. However, a regular removable SIM card may limit the smartphone's scope of usage and the unmatched power in current smartphones. How does an eSIM work parallel to the ever-evolving designs of smartphones today? The embedded, virtual SIM cards have become the ultimate liberating factor in the evolution of the current smartphone technology. eSIMs have made it possible for you to avoid the hassles of waiting for your SIM package to arrive and inserting it into the phone manually.

How does an e-SIM work? 

It is extremely important to understand how e-SIMs work to deconstruct their functionality better. How an e-SIM works is quite different from the functionality of traditional SIMs. When the device is being manufactured, an eSIM is securely embedded or integrated into the hardware’s architecture. The process of switching networks while activating a new cellular plan includes the user receiving QR codes from whichever network provider they have opted for. The QR code is nothing else but a key to enable the eSIM and roll into operation. This is more efficient as it involves zero hardware or physical intervention, which highly reduces the complexities and intricacies that are associated while the consumers try to embed the traditional SIM cards into their devices to initiate the activation process. 

The Benefits of eSIM Card

eSIMs may look a little complex since most of us are more familiar with removable for physical SIM cards. But in reality, once you understand how eSIMs work, you will find that it’s more beneficial to use an eSIM than a physical one. eSIMs have unparalleled advantages that make usage very easy as it negates the need to manipulate the cards physically. Benefits of eSIMs include the convenience of use since there is no need to remove the SIM while changing the line or provider. Since you don’t remove the SIM from your device, there’s also no risk of losing it or stealing it. The easy activation process of an eSIM also provides superior connectivity as soon as you are in a new country! As we know how eSIMs work, the top benefit of having these non-removable sim cards is that there is almost zero risk of losing or misplacing it and thus, it enhances the security and convenience, which further augments the seamless experience for the users. 

Costing & Plans for eSIM cards

The cost-effectiveness of eSIMs is another compelling reason why eSIMs are currently the best option for network connectivity. Traditional SIM cards involve many process fees, including manufacturing, packaging, and distribution costs, which makes the end price for them a bit higher. But when it comes to eSIMs, they are meant to bypass a lot of those costs. Being embedded directly into the device during the manufacturing process helps reduce the costs that fall in the later stages of it. 

Device Support

Embracing eSIM technology, significant device manufacturers have driven its integration across various products. So how does an eSim work on an Iphone? Apple is one such industry giant that has standardised eSIMs for its user base, leading the way for others. Although the ecosystem of eSIM technology transcends Apple, big players such as Samsung, Google and Microsoft have also welcomed eSIMs in their products. Positioned to revolutionise cellular connectivity, eSIMs have made compatibility possible amongst a range of devices, including laptops, smartphones, smartwatches, and tablets. This transformation impacts how users manage and access their cellular services.

eSIM Card Operators

Apple has been one of the leading manufacturers to start incorporating eSIM cards into their devices. Even though the eSIM technology still has yet to completely take over the physical SIM cards, Apple has been one of the most remarkable eSIM operators, using a combination of SIM card slots and embedded eSIMs to provide a dual SIM experience to users. As one of the major eSIM operators, Apple has been operating in major countries, including India, the US, Canada, most European countries, Qatar, Kuwait, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, UAE, etc.

From physical SIM to eSIM Card: making the transition! 

If you are an international student living independently, dealing with removable SIMs can be risky and hassling. The delicate design, as well as the sheer risk of changing SIMs while being on the move, can be stressful. This is where the convenience of an eSIM comes in. With the SIM already embedded, you can easily make sure that you don't lose your SIM card while also being able to easily switch between networks and operators. If you are a user of Apple products or Google Pixel, you can transfer the information from your physical SIM card to your virtual SIM card while making the transition. eSIM cards are a popular choice among international students since they also help them avoid roaming charges and the hassle of finding the right data plan. Being connected with your loved ones and beating away the loneliness without burning a hole in your wallet becomes easier with an eSIM card. 

Activating on Devices

In order to transition from traditional SIM cards, it is crucial that users comprehend how to activate an eSIM, and this begins with obtaining a QR code from their preferred network provider. iOS device users can activate their eSIM by scanning this code with their camera, which will then provide the necessary configuration information and prompt the user to pursue on-screen directives for activation. Android device users, on the other hand, will need to venture into their Mobile Network settings and engage in a comparable approach, often by scanning QR codes from their carrier.

Activating eSIM Card on iOS devices

Step 1: Open your mobile camera
Step 2:
Scan your QR code 
Step 3:
Open the Cellular Plan Detection notification
Step 4:
Follow the instructions displayed 
Step 5:
Confirm the addition of the network

Activating eSIM Card on Android devices: 

Here is how you can activate an eSIM card on an Android device:

Step 1: Go to the Connections menu on your Network & Internet setting
Step 2:
Open Mobile Network 
Step 3:
Add a Mobile plan or Download your eSIM card 
Step 4:
Follow the instructions
Step 5:
Scan the code when required 
Step 6:
Cost of eSIM Vs. physical SIM

Apply for an eSIM card 

1. The service provider sends a QR code via email or website 

2. Get the instructions online according to your provider

3. Keep your device unlocked

4. Activate your eSIM card

5. Once you've gotten your hands on the QR code sent by the provider, here is how you activate an e-SIM.

How does an eSIM work when it comes to its pricing model? As possible as it might sound, virtual SIM cards don't cost more than physical SIM cards. When it comes to eSIMs, there are no manufacturing costs to cover. There are no packing expenses for the providers as well. Thus, it doesn't make sense for the providers to charge you more for an eSIM card than a physical SIM card. With the knowledge of how does an eSIM work, it is safe to say that there are advantages of eSIMs for international students since it’s easier and more hassle-free to use. With easy switchability between your lines and carriers, eSIM cards can help you use your smartphone in the best and most efficient ways possible. We hope the blog answered the question “how does an eSIM work?” and helped you gain perspective on this telecommunication technology! Toodles!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to put an eSIM on my phone?

How do I set up my device for eSIM?

Can you switch from a physical SIM to an eSIM without changing the number?

Are eSIMs only compatible with iOS?

Is eSIM as good as SIM card?

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