What is an eSIM?

With the eSIM, there is an alternative option to SIM Cards for international travelers! What exactly are the differences of an eSIM to a SIM Card?

eSIMs - Quick Overview

The eSIM is a further development of the classic SIM card and is expected to replace it in the future. Unlike the normal SIM card made of plastic, the eSim no longer has to be inserted manually into the smartphone, but is permanently integrated into the smartphone as a microchip. The “e” stands for “embedded”.


The eSim has the advantage that customers no longer have to buy a physical card in the store or order it online from the mobile network provider with a delivery time. The eSIM also does not have to be swapped out when the mobile provider is changed. This not only eliminates the hassle of inserting the SIM card into the card slot and breaking out or cutting the card, but also protects the environment at the same time. In addition, networking different devices becomes child’s play. Via Bluetooth, data stored on the eSim can be quickly and easily transferred from a smartphone to a smartwatch. In this way, the gadget becomes a smartphone on the wrist: making phone calls, writing messages or paying for purchases becomes possible.


With the eSIM, the data from the mobile network provider is transferred contactlessly (over the air) to the integrated chip. This creates an electronic eSIM profile. This profile can be used to load cell phone rates and cell phone contracts directly onto a terminal device. When a provider is changed, the data only has to be rewritten. Depending on the smartphone model, several profiles can even be created on an eSIM. This makes it easy to switch flexibly between different contracts – ideal, for example, for combining business cell phones and private use on one device or for using one phone number on several devices.


Once activated, the eSIM works just like a physical SIM card. It also uses the same specifications, making it compatible with all other card types.

How does an eSIM work?

After concluding a cell phone contract, it is necessary to identify the smartphone with the cell phone provider. This is done via the SIM card. However, the card first has to be activated or unlocked before the concluded cell phone rate can be used.


With the classic SIM card, this process has so far been as follows: The customer receives a SIM card from the mobile network provider. Depending on the device in question, different types of card (mini-SIM, micro-SIM or nano-SIM) are used. There is usually a small drawer on the edge of the smartphone. This must be opened with a special needle. The card is then inserted into the compartment. Only then is it possible to activate the SIM card.


With an embedded SIM, this procedure becomes obsolete. Manual insertion of the card is no longer necessary because it is installed directly on the device’s motherboard as an approx. 5 x 6 mm chip. The chip is thus even smaller than a nano-SIM card.


Since the eSIM no longer has to be inserted or replaced in the cell phone, it is also less susceptible to mechanical damage or external influences. The card compartment can also no longer be damaged or scratched. In addition, there are no longer different card sizes, which eliminates the need to break out or cut SIM cards. Smartphone manufacturers can use the saved space for larger batteries or a slimmer design instead.

How to activate an eSIM

To use the eSIM, a smartphone must be eSIM-capable. If this is the case, an eSIM profile must first be requested. Interested customers receive this after signing a contract with a mobile network provider or can order it directly from their provider’s customer service. The user data for the respective network operator is stored in the profile.


The eSIM profile must then be activated. A special QR code is required for this. This is either sent by mail or can be viewed in the online customer portal. In the case of a new activation in the store, the code is also available immediately on site, depending on the provider. After scanning the QR code with the smartphone, the profile is automatically activated by the device. The SIM card can now be used.


Which smartphones support eSIMs?

The first version of the eSIM architecture specification was already published at the end of 2015. However, the technology was not very widespread at first. Only with the increasing availability of eSim-capable end devices has the range also increased. In addition to smartphones, the eSIM is playing an increasingly important role, especially in the area of tablets and wearables such as the smartwatch.

Currently, the major manufacturers Apple, Google and Samsung primarily support the new technology. However, the list of devices is constantly expanding, so it does not claim to be correct and complete.

List of eSIM-supported devices

Smartphones with eSIM capability include:

  • Apple iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.
  • Apple iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • Apple iPhone SE
  • Apple iPhone XR
  • Apple iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max
  • Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL as well as the 3a models
  • Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL
  • Google Pixel 4a
  • Google Pixel 5
  • Samsung Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+ and Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20+ and Galaxy S20 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
  • Huawei P40
  • Motorola Razr (2019)


eSIM-enabled tablets and notebooks:

  • Apple iPad Pro 12.9″ (3rd and 4th generation)
  • Apple iPad Pro 11″ (1st and 2nd generation)
  • Apple iPad Air (3rd generation)
  • Apple iPad (7th generation)
  • Apple iPad mini (5th generation)
  • Acer Swift7
  • Asus Transformer Mini
  • HP Spectre Folio
  • Lenovo Yoga 5G
  • Microsoft’s Surface Pro X


eSIM-enabled smartwatches:

  • Apple Watch (Series 5, Series 4 and Series 3)
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Watch Active 2
  • Samsung Gear S2 3G
  • Huawei Watch 2 Pro
  • Amazfit Verge 2
  • TicWatch Pro


What is an eSIM?

The eSIM is a SIM card that is permanently installed in the smartphone, tablet or smartwatch. Instead of a physical SIM card, a small microchip is used to which the user data is transferred. This is done via a so-called eSIM profile.

To use an eSIM, customers need an eSIM-capable device.eSIM is a SIM card that is permanently installed in the smartphone, tablet or smartwatch. Instead of a physical SIM card, a small microchip is used to which the user data is transferred.

This is done via a so-called eSIM profile. To use an eSIM, customers need an eSIM-capable device.

What providers offers MNO?

Almost any local provider offers eSIMs nowadays.

What are the advantages of an eSIM?

The eSim enables customers to switch providers more quickly and with the greatest possible flexibility when buying a new smartphone, as they no longer need to swap SIM cards.

Instead, the new rate is simply booked onto the eSim chip. Activation takes place via QR code. In addition, there is no need to cut SIM cards or use an adapter.

The eSim cannot be lost either. If the eSIM profile is deleted unintentionally, it can be reactivated without complications. In addition, the eSIM enables the use of multiple profiles.


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