Subscriber Identification Modules cards, or SIM cards, have survived as one of the most popular communication technologies for decades. However, the technology of eSIMs has been slowly replacing the humble little SIM cards you carry around on your cell phones. eSIMs, unlike the regular SIM cards that could be removed from the device, are completely embedded SIM cards that can be accessed virtually. Looking at the growing popularity of the said technology, it seems possible that eSIMs might replace regular SIM cards shortly.
After reading this, it is pretty natural to ask, “What is an eSIM card? How is it different from the good old SIM card? How does an eSIM work exactly?” Let's find it all out in this blog!
First things first, what is a SIM card?
To understand how does an eSIM work, 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!
eSIM Vs. Physical SIM: How does an eSIM work differently from a physical SIM?
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.
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 does an eSIM work and how did it evolve into what it is today.
Before we get into how does an eSIM work 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.
Benefits of eSIM
eSIMs may look a little complex since most of us are more familiar with removable 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. 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!
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.
Is Apple the only one, though?
After figuring out how an eSIM works to be more beneficial, Apple started incorporating eSIMs in 2017. Yet now, they're not the only ones doing so.
eSIMs have also started capturing the Android market since the Google Pixel 2 was released with eSIM cards that only operated on the Google Fi virtual network. Later, Samsung and Microsoft started their journey with embedded eSIMs with Galaxy S20 and Surface PRO LTE, respectively.
From physical SIM to eSIM: 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 it also helps 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 an eSIM on iOS and Android devices
Now that you know how does an eSIM work exactly, you might have questions like, "can I use an eSIM?" or “how does an eSIM work with iOS and Android devices?” eSIMs can work with smartphones, tabs, smart watches, and basically any device that requires a SIM card to work.
First things first, list out some reliable eSIM card providers to get started with your eSIM transition. As you find the virtual SIM card provider that suits your needs, you will find various options. Sign up for a new line with your new device or upgrade your physical SIM card to a virtual one. The activation hereafter is easy.
Here's what to expect while switching to an eSIM:
- Apply for an eSIM card
- The service provider sends a QR code via email or website
- Get the instructions online according to your provider
- Keep your device unlocked
- Activate your eSIM card
Once you've gotten your hands on the QR code sent by the provider, here is how you activate an e SIM.
Activating eSIM on iOS devices:
- Open your mobile camera
- Scan your QR code
- Open the Cellular Plan Detection notification
- Follow the instructions displayed
- Confirm the addition of the network
Activating eSIM on Android devices:
- Go to the Connections menu on your Network & Internet setting
- Open Mobile Network
- Add a Mobile plan or Download your eSIM card
- Follow the instructions
- Scan the code when required
Cost of eSIM Vs. physical 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!