What an eSIM is and why you need it

We explain what the new iPhone's eSIM is all about…
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What an eSIM is and why you need it

The iPhone Xs and Xs Max are both awesome phones. Not only do they have dual SIM capability, but they both also contain an eSIM. If you’re not too familiar with eSIMs don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s a brand new piece of technology that’s just starting to make the news – helped by the fact that it’s now on two new iPhones, of course. Here’s what we know so far.

What is an eSIM, and how does it work?

An eSIM is a small chip inside your phone that acts just like a SIM card. It’s not a physical SIM card, so you don’t have to worry about inserting it into your phone or swapping it with other SIMs.

To get your eSIM up and running, you simply contact a network that supports eSIMs, and they’ll activate it for you. You can have plans from more than one network stored on your eSIM, but you’ll only be able to use one at a time.

What are the benefits of an eSIM?

Okay, so you’ve got a new phone with an activated eSIM. But what exactly are the benefits of having this little chip inside your phone?

As we mentioned earlier, because the eSIM is embedded into your phone you don’t have to physically insert it onto the device. That’s not a huge selling point, but it does at least do away with a fiddly little job that most of us find annoying.

eSIMs take up less room on a phone than a SIM card and its tray. Phone makers could potentially use this extra space to add extra features to your phone, or a bigger battery perhaps - extra battery life is always welcome.

Switch between networks

Because an eSIM lets you store more than one network in it, you’ll be able to switch quickly between them. This could come in handy if you find yourself with no signal, in an area that your network doesn’t cover. If this happens to you now, you’re stuck. But in the near future you could simply switch to the network that offers the best coverage.

Benefit from local tariffs

Regular travellers could also get huge benefits out of an eSIM, because it has the potential to get rid of roaming charges. If you add an eSIM from the country you’re in onto your phone, you’ll be treated like a local when you use it.

Another benefit of eSIMs, perhaps, is that networks will no longer have to manufacture or send out SIM cards. The cost savings could then be passed onto customers somehow. Perhaps.

Our final thoughts…

It’s early days for eSIMs. We haven’t heard of any UK networks that can activate them just yet, although EE has said: "this functionality will be available shortly after the launch of the new iPhones”. When we get more news from other networks, we’ll update this article.

If you’ve got an eSIM-shaped question, post it below and we’ll do our best to answer it.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

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