eSIM: What it is and why you should get one

17 March 2023


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For years, your humble SIM card has contained important data like your user identity, location and phone number, network authorization data, contact list and stored text messages, while it has given you access to all this and the features that come along with it.

Yet in recent years, there has been a lot of buzz about eSIMS. With the ability to give smartphones dual-sim capabilities and offering a range of benefits, including convenience and flexibility amongst others, this embedded SIM has the potential to revolutionize the way we think about mobile devices and connectivity.

Here we delve deeper into this new technology.

What is an eSIM?

Unlike traditional SIM cards, which are removable and physically inserted into a device, an eSIM is a 5×5 mm chip embedded directly into a device’s circuitry and stores the same kind of information as a traditional SIM, like carrier information and device credentials. It can work with or without a physical SIM card, while if you add a physical SIM card to a device already embed with an eSIM, your smartphone automatically turns into a dual SIM device.

How does an eSIM work?

In essence, an eSIM is made up of two components – a secure element, which stores your subscriptions and settings, as well as logical elements, which facilitate communication between the device and the network operators’ servers. The eSIM communicates with these servers via cellular networks or satellites depending on availability, while the process of establishing this connection involves authentication and authorization procedures followed by encryption protocols, which in turn help ensure customer data security.

Once these processes have been completed successfully, you may then access all the different services you have subscribed to and enjoy better coverage over traditional plastic SIM cards thanks to the improved signal strength.

Man holding a normal SIM card

What are the main differences between eSIMs and normal sims?

As mentioned earlier, what sets the two apart is the fact that one is embedded directly into the device, whereas the other can be removed. Other differences include that if you want to switch providers and networks, with an eSIM you can do so remotely, whereas with physical SIMs, you must manually swap the cards. Likewise, eSIMs can be deactivated remotely by the carrier.

Unlike traditional SIMs, where all data must be manually transferred or lost, with an eSIM, all stored data remains in the device even when switching carriers. And more importantly, physical SIMs tend to be limited when it comes to storage space when compared to an eSIM, however, this also depends on your device’s specifications.

What are the advantages of using an eSIM?

As this new technology is gaining popularity among smartphone and other mobile device users, it’s not difficult to see why when considering the several benefits it offers. Here are some of the most noteworthy:

  • Convenience: eSIMs eliminate the need for a physical SIM card, which means you don’t have to swap out cards when switching carriers or when travelling abroad. And for frequent travelers, this flexibility can be a game-changer, since they can choose local carriers and plans without the need for a physical SIM card.
  • Flexibility: linked to the above, with the ability to easily change carriers or plans without needing to physically replace your SIM card, eSIMs make it effortless to select a plan that may better suit your needs and pocket.
  • Cost savings: eSIMs can potentially save you money as they eliminate the cost of purchasing and replacing a physical SIM card.
  • Security: since they are embedded in the device and cannot be easily removed or lost, eSIMS are considered to be more secure than their plastic counterpart, which makes it harder for cybercriminals to access sensitive information.
  • Size: thanks to their limited size, they are ideal for use in small devices, such as wearables, where there may not be enough space for a traditional SIM card.
  • Environmental friendliness: eSIMs automatically reduce the amount of plastic waste associated with traditional SIM cards.

What are the disadvantages of eSims?

As expected, there are some challenges. For one, not all devices support eSIMs, so you may not be able to make the most of this technology on all your devices. Other disadvantages include:

  • Cost: eSIMs may be more expensive than physical SIM cards.
  • Availability: bearing in mind that not all devices are compatible with eSIM technology, there may be limited availability.
  • Limitations: while removing your traditional SIM card from one smartphone and popping it in another is no issue, when it comes to an eSIM, you’ll have to go through the activation process each time you swap devices.

Man using his mobile holding a coffee

Which phones use eSIM and how can I tell if mine is compatible?

Nowadays, most high-end smartphones have eSIM capabilities. Wondering whether yours is eSIM compatible? To check, head over to your phone’s manufacturer website and if you’re still unsure, visit your nearest GO Outlet. Here are some eSIM-compatible smartphones and here is our entire range of mobile phones.

How can I get an eSIM and activate it?

Before getting an eSIM you must have a mobile plan. Once you have selected your preferred plan, we’ll get back to you within 1-2 days to finalize your order. During the call, you can let us know that you’re interested in an eSIM. Alternatively, if you’re already a GO customer, just get in touch with us and we’ll guide you accordingly.

Prior to activating your eSIM, you must have a device with a built-in SIM card, which is GO eSIM compatible. To activate your eSIM, all you need to do is just scan the QR code we’ll send you. By doing so you’ll be scanning an eSIM profile, which is essentially a virtual profile where you subscription and network settings will be stored. After following the easy prompts on your device, you’re good to go.

Representing an exciting new frontier in mobile connectivity and offering a new level of convenience and flexibility for consumers, it’s clear that eSIMs will become the new norm in the near future.