What Is an eSIM, and How Is It Different From a SIM Card?
Albeit all the advancements in technology and how things come and go so very quickly, the SIM card has survived for decades without any substantial replacements. However, that might finally change, and the SIM card finally looks like it’s on the way out. The eSIM is finally here to replace it.
Here, we will discuss all you need to know about the eSIM, but it might help for us to begin by discussing the SIM card technology itself.
The SIM Card
Although it has been here for a while, not too many people actually know what the abbreviation ‘SIM’ stands for. SIM stands for Subscriber Identity Module, and as the name suggests, it contains the identity information so the network carrier can authenticate the device’s identity.
The SIM card will tell a carrier that your device (or phone number) is making a request, validating that this phone number is indeed subscribed to the network, and you can then use the network’s service.
The standard SIM card doesn’t really offer many additional features: some offer small extra features here and there, but the core functionality remains the same: confirming your identity.
So, what about the eSIM? How much of an upgrade can we expect?
The ‘e’ in eSIM might refer to electronic or embedded, and unlike the traditional SIM card that is a physical card, but it is embedded (built-in) into the phone or tablet. The main function of the eSIM remains the same: authenticating your identity with the network carrier, but now if you want to change to another network, you don’t need to switch to another physical SIM card.
So, one of the key advantages of the eSIM is that it’s now much easier to switch carriers, which is very useful if you are traveling to different countries. You don’t have to switch between different physical SIM cards (which can be a hassle) and the eSIM can even switch between networks automatically when stated to do so.
Another advantage of the eSIM is that if you want to use more than one number or is a dual-SIM user for one reason or another, eSIM supports multiple accounts and you can easily switch between them.
To Summarize, Here Are The Advantages Of Using eSIM Over The Traditional SIM Card:
- For the user, the smartphone or device with the eSIM can be used almost immediately as the device is switched on. You don’t have to insert a physical SIM card which requires a special tool (the SIM card ejector) that can be time-consuming.
- For network carriers and ISPs, this will mean they don’t need to produce their own SIM cards, so it can improve their cost-effectiveness.
- eSIM enables new business opportunities for consumer-connected devices and also for network carriers offering international data plans.
- The eSIM allows devices to be smaller and thinner. Although it’s already pretty small, the SIM card tray does eat up space, and losing the tray can be extremely helpful for wearable devices. Also, this will mean more space for a bigger battery.
However, as good as the eSIM technology is at the moment, it is not yet 100% better than the traditional SIM card, and at the moment there are some important disadvantages to consider with the eSIM card:
- It is, at the moment, only available on some of the latest devices since it’s relatively new. So, if you want to take advantage of the eSIM, you ‘d need to get a new phone that might be expensive
- It’s less versatile if you want to switch between devices. For example, if your iPad runs out of battery or damaged, you can’t use your older SIM card and have to rely on cloud backups that might be time-consuming
- Quite obvious, you can’t use the ESIM with multiple phones since it’s embedded
eSIM VS SIM Cards: Pros and Cons
It’s important to note that some phones that do offer eSIM still has a physical SIM tray (like iPhones 11 at the moment), so it’s still possible to have one eSIM and one traditional SIM running together.
Although it’s clear that eSIM is going to replace the SIM cards sooner or later, at the moment there are still some advantages to using traditional SIM cards:
Pros of Traditional SIM Cards:
- Removable: if, for example, your phone battery died, you can swap the SIM card into another phone or device and use the data plan.
- Obviously more devices support a traditional SIM card, so at the moment you have more option
- If you are traveling, you can easily find a prepaid plan at the airport or the local market. Although they can be quite expensive for long-term use, they are very easy to find.
Cons Of Traditional SIM Cards:
- Hackable. Cybercriminals can access your SIM card and steal sensitive information.
- The SIM card is a physical chip, so it will wear out after a while and can become damaged
- Limited memory capacity. It can only store limited information and processes
- Locked to one network, so if you want to change into another network, you’d have to physically replace the card.
eSIM is set to replace the physical SIM card technology in the near future. The embedded SIM technology can switch between different network carriers and will also allow the user to use more than one carrier. This is especially useful for frequent travelers that need to switch between carriers as they move between different countries.
If you are planning to travel abroad with eSIM-enabled devices, you can check international data plans from companies like Truphone that offer affordable travel data plans with eSIM technology.