What are eSIM cards?

An eSIM (or embedded-SIM) is a digital virtual SIM card that is built into some newer mobile devices. Unlike physical SIM cards, which are small plastic cards (containing a chip) that are inserted into a device to connect it to a mobile network, an e-SIM is an electronic rewritable chip that is already embedded inside the mobile device.

Advantages of eSIMs

eSIMs have many advantages over traditional SIM cards. For a start, they are stored as a re-writeable chip on the mobile phone, so they can be updated and changed through software, rather than physically. This means that users do not have to go through the hassle of opening the back cover of a mobile handset or ejecting the SIM card tray with a pin to switch cards each time they change mobile network providers.

With physical SIM cards getting smaller and smaller over the years, they can easily be lost or misplaced when swapping them out. The Micro SIM card is only 12mm in width while the tiny Nano SIM sits at just 8.8mm wide.

Switching mobile networks with an eSIM also means not having to wait for a physical SIM card to be delivered to you before you can start using your new mobile service. This is especially important if you are travelling or away from home, and cannot use your mobile phone because you are waiting for a replacement or new SIM card.

eSIMs are more secure

The eSIM offers greater security over a traditional SIM card, because they cannot be separately lost, stolen, or cloned and used in another mobile device. An e-SIM allows users to securely store their personal information and contacts on the embedded chip, and thereby protected by the device’s security itself.

Multiple SIM cards

Dual-SIM mobile phones have become increasingly common, although less so in the UK than in other countries. With an eSIM, users can have multiple SIMs (both physical and virtual) in one handset. This is very useful if, for example, you have a personal and work/business mobile number and would rather have them both on one smartphone instead of carrying around two phones.

A mobile phone that supports multiple SIM cards can receive phone calls and SMS text messages for each of them, with the option to easily switch and choose which SIM to use for making calls, texts, and using mobile data.

Travelling abroad

Having the ability to use multiple SIMs on one mobile device also makes it easier to switch to a local mobile network while travelling abroad. Using a local mobile network in another country can be much cheaper than paying the roaming charges of your UK mobile network.

In addition, you reduce the risk of losing your UK SIM card while abroad if you do not have to remove it from your mobile phone in order to temporarily use another SIM card.

Smartwatches and wearable devices

Since eSIMs are a small chip inside a device, they are a more compact and less prone to damage than regular SIM cards, as they do not have to be inserted and removed from a SIM card tray. This is beneficial for small devices with limited space, such as smart watches or other wearable devices, as the manufacturers do not need to make room for a physical SIM card and tray.

Disadvantages of eSIMs

Since eSIMs are a newer technology, not all mobile networks currently support them, though the four main UK MNO (Mobile Network Operators) do: EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone.

You also need a mobile device that contains an eSIM. Only some of the latest smartphones and wearable devices include an eSIM. This of course will change over time, as eSIMs become the standard and more mainstream.

The other issue is that while e-SIMs provide a great deal of convenience over other SIM cards, there is an area where they fall short. With a physical SIM card, it is easier to switch it from one mobile device to another, for example, if you want to temporarily use a different mobile phone because your old one has suddenly stopped working.

Which mobile phones support eSIM?

The number of mobile devices that feature eSIM support is ever increasing as new smartphone models are released. Below is a list of some of the latest mobile handsets that come with a built-in eSIM card:

Apple iPhone eSIM models

Apple iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max, Apple iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR.

Google Pixel eSIM phones

Google Pixel 7, Google Pixel 7 Pro, Google Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 5, Pixel 4a, Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 3, Google Pixel 2 XL.

Samsung Galaxy eSIM handsets

Samsung Galaxy S23, Galaxy S22, Galaxy S21, Galaxy S20, Galaxy Z Flip, Galaxy Fold, Galaxy Note.

Android eSIM devices

Sony Xperia 10 IV, Fairphone 4, Huawei P40 Pro, Huawei Mate 40 Pro, OPPO Find X3 Pro, Motorola Razr 5G, Honor Magic 4 Pro, Xiaomi 12T Pro.

Please Note: this is not an exhaustive list of all mobile devices that support eSIMs. Always check the manufacture’s specifications for the particular model of the device you wish to use to ensure that it supports the features you need.