What is e-SIM and Should You Be Using It on Your Phone?

What is e-SIM?

An eSIM, or e-SIM card, is a type of SIM card that is physically embedded on a mobile device. Instead of a removable SIM card featuring an integrated circuit, eSIM software is installed on an eUICC chip inside the device itself.


  • Multiple numbers on one device
  • Better security
  • Easily switch carriers
  • Affordability
  • Improved number portability
  • Ease of international travel
  • Reduced physical space


  • Limited availability
  • Reduced compatibility
  • Lack of standardization
  • Inability to remove SIM

If you have a smartphone, then you have some type of SIM card, a necessary component for connecting your device to your service provider’s cellular network. You may know it as a tiny chip inserted into a slot on your phone, or perhaps embedded into the phone’s hardware in the case of some carriers or phone equipment. Now, a new non-physical version known as an “Embedded Subscriber Identity Module”, or e-SIM, takes the SIM card to the next level in the evolution of telephone technology.

e-SIM has revolutionized the way we use our phones, allowing us to switch carriers and access different networks without the need for a physical SIM card. This technology has many advantages, such as the ability to access multiple networks, the convenience of being able to switch carriers without having to physically change your SIM card, and lower roaming costs. New Apple phones are now exclusively using e-SIM technology, and it’s likely eSIM will become the new industry standard. If you are wondering what exactly e-SIM is and whether it is something you should be using, we’re here to answer all your questions.

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E-sim card phone chip external

What are SIM cards?

SIM card tray and phone

Subscriber Identity Module, or SIM cards, are small chips used in mobile phones to store identification information and data. They are used to authenticate the cellular subscriber and enable them to access a specific mobile network. Original SIM cards were usually removable and could be swapped between devices, but some were physically embedded on a chip in the phone’s hardware.

SIM cards contain a unique serial number which identifies the user and allows them to make calls or access data services. Additionally, SIM cards can be used to store additional information such as contact lists, personal security keys, text messages, loyalty programs, credit card numbers, and applications. The SIM card also contains a security key which is used to protect the data stored on the card.

As demand for faster and better technology and smaller devices has increased, SIM card technology has evolved over time, resulting in smaller sized micro- and nano-sized cards. These have freed up more space in mobile phones for better camera technology, larger batteries, smaller profiles, and other features. eSim was developed in an effort to further minimize the physical space occupied by SIM cards.

Digital SIM card sending signal

What Is e-SIM?

You can think of an e-SIM card as a virtual SIM card. The e-SIM card is hardwired into the phone itself and can load new carrier information digitally. An eSIM consists of rewritable software installed onto an Embedded Universal Circuit Card (eUICC) chip permanently attached to a device. It allows users to store their phone number, carrier information and other data on a secure server. The “e” stands for “embedded,” (or is sometimes referred to as “electronic SIM card”), because unlike traditional SIM cards, eSIM cards are embedded into the device’s hardware and cannot be removed, but they operate by communicating with virtual SIM cards stored on secure servers.

An eSim is programmable remotely, and can hold multiple SIM profiles at the same time, even for multiple service providers. They are used in more than just smartphones – they can be found in tablets, smart watches, drones, and even newer-model automobiles.

e-sim card on a microchip

e-SIM vs Embedded SIM

Microchip e-SIM vs embedded SIM

Although their names are identical, e-SIM and embedded SIM cards are similar but not the same. The main difference is that an e-SIM is a digial SIM card stored on a secure server that communicates with a physical chip or SIM card embedded in the hardware of the device. An embedded SIM is a physical chip that is inserted into the device but does not communicate with a virtual SIM card. Embedded SIMs are also typically more expensive than eSIMs and are not as flexible since they cannot be swapped between devices, or sometimes even between providers.

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Benefits of eSIM vs Traditional SIM Cards

eSIMs are becoming the industry standard for a good reason – they provide a number of advantages over traditional SIM cards. Benefits of using an eSIM card include:

    • Multiple numbers: With e-SIM cards, two numbers can be used on a single device. Instead of fumbling with multiple phones, you can add a business phone line to your cell phone and have your personal number on the same smartphone. Or, rather than choosing between the two, you could add both a local and a toll-free number for your business at the same time!
    • Security: There are significant security benefits to using an e SIM card. Removable SIM cards can be stolen, with or without the phone, and have even been used in criminal activity such as port-out scams, where identity thieves place stolen SIM cards into different phones to gain access to the victim’s data such as calls and text messages, or try to reset credentials and gain access to the victim's financial and social media accounts.An eSIM card is safer because it cannot be removed without the phone itself, making port out scams more difficult. eSIMs are also safe from 2FA scams, when identity thieves take a stolen traditional SIM card and use the phone number that is connected to get the necessary codes to log in to the victim’s private online accounts. If you have an e-SIM card and your smartphone is lost or stolen, you can easily block your e-SIM and request a new one, allowing you to quickly protect your data in case of theft.
    • Switching carriers: The convenience of switching carriers with an eSIM card is one of the most convenient aspects of the eSIM. With the touch of a button, users can easily switch between carriers or update service without having to replace the physical SIM card or having to activate it in person. This can all be done remotely and on multiple lines at once. This is a fantastic time-saver whether you have a small, medium or large business. In addition, e-SIM cards make it easy to temporarily change to another network because up to five virtual SIM cards can be stored on one eSIM at a time. So if you find yourself in a new place without a signal on your usual network, it's easy to get yourself connected again quickly.
    • Affordability: eSIMs are often cheaper than physical SIM cards since you don’t have to pay for the physical card itself. e-SIM cards can also be more cost effective since they eliminate the need to purchase multiple SIM cards. If you are a frequent traveler, for example, you no longer need to pay for the data plan while traveling and then have to purchase the SIM card itself in addition. With eSIMs, you just need to add the data plan to the e SIM you already have. Using an e-SIM to connect to a local mobile network while abroad can also lower costs as it is often much cheaper than paying roaming costs to your usual network.
    • Number porting: e-SIM cards make it a breeze to transfer phone numbers between devices. Subscribers simply download the eSIM onto their new device during the setup process and avoid the usual hassle of porting a phone number to a new provider.
    • International travel: eSIMs are an incredibly convenient option for staying connected while traveling internationally. All you need to do is buy a second plan, install the eSIM using a QR code, activate it once you land at your destination, and you don’t miss a beat – or a message – as you settle in wherever your travels take you.
    • Physical space: Another advantage of eSIMs is that they will eventually negate the need for a physical SIM card and its tray, so less physical phone space is needed. Smartphone manufacturers could potentially use this space to increase a phone’s battery size or add more features to a device. Without the tray, there are also fewer holes in a device, which also means more protection from moisture and dust, and thus less breakdowns.
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Drawbacks to Using eSIM

There are a handful of drawbacks that come with eSIM cards to consider, including the following:

    • Limited availability: One of The main drawbacks to using eSIMs are that they are still relatively new and not widely available in all countries or across all mobile networks.
    • Compatibility: In order to use an e-SIM, your device must be compatible with the technology, which may not be the case with older models.
    • Lack of standardization: There is no universal standard for e-SIMs, meaning that different carriers may have different requirements for their e-SIMs.
    • Tracking: With a traditional SIM card, if you don't want to be tracked by a carrier, you can simply remove the SIM card from the device. This is not possible with an e-Sim card.
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Which Devices Support eSIM?

iPhone vs Samsung Galaxy Devices

Apple, Samsung, Google, and most other major mobile device manufacturers are now carrying phones with eSIM technology, but not all models are eSIM compatible at this time so it’s important to check with your device manufacturer before purchasing an eSIM card.

Apple has now gone e-SIM only, and uses the technology in the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro, iPhone XS, iPhone SX Max, Iphone XT and iPads from 2019 and newer. Google Pixel devices, the Motorola Razr 5G, and most Samsung Galaxy devices are all eSIM enabled. Some devices and carriers support the use of both physical SIM cards and e-SIM cards at the same time – known as a dual SIM feature – while other devices are switching to e-SIM only technology.

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How to Activate an eSIM Phone Number

There are different ways to activate an eSIM and the method will depend on which device you have as well as whether you’re new to a network, upgrading/replacing your device, or bringing a prepaid device. Activation with a QR code or an app are common. Some carriers support SIM transfers from one phone to another from the device itself without needing to contact them. A physical SIM may also be converted to an eSIM.

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A New World of Flexibility for Phone Number and Device Portability

Managing your phone and service plans couldn’t be easier with eSIM cards, which is why they are quickly becoming the preferred choice for those looking for a more secure, cost-effective, and flexible SIM card option. If you travel a lot or have multiple phone numbers, eSIM cards are definitely worth considering. Check with your device manufacturer to see if it’s compatible with eSIM technology, and then sign up for a free 7-day trial with LinkedPhone to get your phone connected to a local or toll-free number.

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A special high five to Faith Dickens for her outstanding research and contributions to this article. We love working with and supporting like-minded entrepreneurs. Thank you Faith! ❤️

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