What is eSIM and how does it work?

September 25, 2023

SIM cards have been around for a little over 30 years. While they’ve certainly gotten smaller over the years, the basic premise has remained the same: a physical SIM must be inserted into your phone in order to get connected. As convenient as this process is (and let’s be honest, it’s really not), it may not be around for much longer, thanks to the new kid on the block, the eSIM, which aims to replace physical SIM cards altogether.

Need some proof? When Apple launched the iPhone 14, they announced that future models would no longer include a physical SIM tray. Instead – you’ll need to scan and set up your eSIM upon setting up your device.

If you’re hoping to learn more, I’ve got you covered. In the following guide, I’ll explain what exactly an eSIM is, what it means, and how it works. So without further ado, let’s get started.

Here’s the short answer:

An eSIM is a virtual/digital SIM. It allows you to connect to your carrier’s network without the need for a physical SIM card.

A plane flies on the background of a sunset sky with pink clouds with internet thanks to esim

What is eSIM?

In simple terms, an eSIM is a programmable chip that is embedded in your smartphone, tablet or smartwatch. It serves the same purpose as a physical SIM, except that it is not dependent on a provider and can be configured digitally.

If your smartphone supports eSIM, changing providers is even easier than buying and installing a physical SIM card. All you have to do is get a QR code to scan and activate it.

How does eSIM work?

An eSIM is basically a digital SIM card. It is a reprogrammable chip that allows you to download data on the go. You no longer need to find a SIM provider or mess with a physical card to change your provider or data plan. Now, you can simply buy an eSIM package abroad, scan a QR code, and start browsing immediately. In other words, it makes life easier, with the ability to quickly connect to the internet and make calls instantly without having to buy and install a physical SIM.

Wait a minute, does an eSIM offer calls and internet? 

Yes – you have access to everything and more. Even if you are flying abroad, crossing countries, changing providers – your number remains the same. With eSIMple you receive everything to the app you download. For instance, whoever calls you, from anywhere in the world, will make the call as usual. The only thing that will be different is the way you receive the call or message and that is, as mentioned, through the eSIMple application.

A woman takes a picture with her phone with a SIM card in the sand

What are the benefits of eSIM?

You Keep Your Numbers

With an eSim, you can have more than one phone number. Just like new phones that have space for 2 SIM cards, an eSIM allows you to have multiple phone numbers – and keep your original number. The main advantage of this is that you can make and receive calls and texts with either number.

An Easy Set-Up

While physical SIM cards need to be inserted into your phone in order to be activated (often a task that requires the hands of a surgeon!) an eSIM can be activated simply by scanning a QR code sent to your email. In most cases, the entire setup process takes no longer than a few minutes.

Switching Providers is Simple

eSIM makes it much quicker to change networks, as it removes the need for a new plastic SIM card. This means you won’t have to visit your network’s retailer or wait for a card to arrive in the post. Using an eSIM on your phone, you can choose your provider and then connect to their network remotely, receiving the information you need to connect on your phone or online.


Again, with no physical SIM card, you won’t need to pay for the one-time purchases. All purchasing and replacing is done with a few clicks so there’s no need to buy replacement SIM cards when they get lost or destroyed. This means less money wasted. In addition, eSIMple eSIM packages are the cheapest option when compared to other cellular companies.

A woman is on her way to a plane at an airport, with a suitcase

Who is eSIM suitable for?

eSIM and travel abroad go hand in hand, but there are many other uses for this technology. Here are just a few ways our customers use our services:

Travel for fun

Most eSIMple customers use eSIM for travel abroad. Whether it’s a weekend getaway or a long trip, eSIM is an easy and affordable way to stay connected around the world. For long-term stays in one country, most travelers will top up their eSIM every month – just like they would with a local SIM.

Study abroad

eSIM is also popular with international students. Leaving home for a long period of time is a life-changing experience that can be quite challenging. eSIMs make it easy for you to keep the same number and enjoy calls and internet in another country, helping you to stay in touch with loved ones. 

Business travel/work

eSIM is a great option if you travel a lot for business or if you work as a flight attendant or pilot. The flexibility of eSIM makes it easy and inexpensive to move between destinations. There is no need to find a local SIM provider, keep track of multiple SIM cards, or worry about roaming charges.

Data usage (HOT SPOT)

Some customers use their eSIM as a flexible alternative to home data. This makes perfect sense if your local provider’s network is slow and/or unreliable, or if you only want to use data for a few days or weeks a month.

Remote work

If you are a digital nomad living abroad, using an eSIM is a perfect solution. eSIM makes it super easy to connect to a local network, allowing you to work from anywhere. From the moment you land at your destination, you able to receive emails, take Zoom calls (and regular calls), and work from anywhere in the world.

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