eSIM vs Physical SIM: Is eSIM better?

May 29, 2024

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Ever fumbled with those tiny SIM cards while setting up a smartphone plan? 

We've all been there. 

But guess what? There's a new player in town – eSIMs. 

Wait, what’s an eSIM? 

These digital wonders are shaking up the world of smartphone connectivity and are set to make traditional SIM cards seem like relics of a bygone time.

A SIM card (short for Subscriber Identity Module) is a small, removable chip used in mobile phones and other devices. It stores important data that identifies and authenticates a user on a mobile network, allowing you to make calls, send texts, and use data.

Embedded SIM technology comes built into smartphones. Your device probably features embedded SIM technology; you just haven't used it yet.  

Let’s dive into three key differences between eSIMs and physical SIMs to help you understand which option is right for you. 

1. Compatibility

Physical SIM: Physical SIMs work with almost any device (as long as it’s unlocked). This universal compatibility makes them a solid choice, especially if you use older phones.

eSIM: eSIMs are becoming more and more common in newer devices. Brands like Apple, Samsung, Google, Huawei, and Motorola all support eSIM technology today, but some older models do not. Here’s a quick look at when eSIM technology became standard:

  • iPhone: iPhone XS and later
  • Samsung: Galaxy S20 and later
  • Google: Pixel 3 and later
  • Huawei: P40 and later
  • Motorola: Razr (2019) and later

2. Ease of installation

Physical SIM: You’ve probably gone through the process of installing a traditional SIM card before. It needs to be physically inserted using a tray eject pin. And if you want to switch SIM cards for any reason, you have to wait to buy it. Not ideal if you’re in a hurry.

eSIM: With an eSIM there’s no more waiting to purchase a physical SIM card. Simply purchase your eSIM online and you’ll receive a QR code with email instructions to guide you through the setup and activation process.

3. Security

Physical SIM: Traditional SIM cards can be a security risk. If someone steals your phone, they can remove the SIM and use your data. It’s not as secure as an eSIM, which is built into your device.

eSIM: eSIMs win big on security. They’re embedded in your device, making them hard to clone. This means your data is safer. If your smartphone gets stolen or lost, eSIMs are easier to trace and manage remotely, adding another layer of protection.

eSIM vs physical SIM: What’s right for you? 

Ultimately, the right choice depends on your personal needs and priorities. 

If you’re travelling, security and flexibility will be paramount making eSIM truly a godsend for you. 

Travelling with a physical SIM means you need to swap it with a local SIM card when you arrive at your destination to keep connected. This usually involves finding a store, which can be a challenge when you’re in a strange place. 

With a travel eSIM, you can instantly access local data plans without hunting for a store. Just download the profile and enjoy instant access to the internet and your favourite apps. Plus, you can store multiple eSIM profiles and switch mobile networks with a tap of your finger. Find out how easy it is to buy an eSIM online with this 5-step guide.

But if you plan to spend months in one location, a physical SIM card will work out cheaper. Indeed, physical SIM cards are well-suited for users who have long-term plans with a single provider. And if you're hopeless with tech, the straightforward familiarity of a physical SIM card offers a traditional, dependable solution at home and abroad. 

But it’s worth noting that we’re in a transitional phase. 

As smartphone technology evolves, more devices are being designed with both a physical SIM slot and an eSIM chip so users can experience the benefits of both technologies. But physical SIM card trays are slowly being phased out to provide more space for other hardware components. It means that eSIMs might soon be the best (and only) solution for staying connected at home and abroad.

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