An eSIM, or embedded SIM, is a new technology that allows you to activate a cellular plan from your carrier without having to use a physical nano-SIM card. The SIM is embedded in the phone itself.A traditional SIM card is a removable plastic chip that stores data like your phone number, carrier network information, contacts, etc. To use cellular service, the SIM card has to be inserted into the phone.
SIM cards have been the universally accepted standard for decades now.However, eSIM technology offers greater convenience and some other advantages. In this guide, we’ll compare eSIMs vs. traditional SIM cards in detail.
eSIM vs. SIM Card: Which is Better in 2023?
The main benefit of an eSIM is convenience. Since the SIM is embedded in the device, you don’t need to worry about getting a SIM card, inserting it, or swapping it out to change networks. This makes managing cellular plans and networks much easier.
With an eSIM phone, you can quickly download a cellular plan from your carrier with a few taps. If you travel frequently across countries, you can also digitally download local carrier plans easily.
With a traditional SIM, you have to obtain a SIM card, open the SIM tray, insert the nano-SIM, and reboot your phone. To switch networks, the process has to be repeated, which is inconvenient.
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- eSIMs provide better security against SIM swap fraud. This is when hackers trick your carrier into transferring your number to a SIM card they control. With an eSIM’s data hardcoded into the device, this type of fraud is much harder to execute.
- However, a SIM card can also be reasonably secure if proper verification is done by carriers before making any changes. Overall, eSIM does have an edge considering it is embedded securely into the hardware.
- eSIM technology is now widely available on newer iPhones, Pixel devices, Samsung flagship phones, and more. However, many budget, older, or basic phones still depend on traditional SIM cards.
- Carriers have been gradually rolling out eSIM support, but it’s still more limited than SIM cards, which work on any GSM network universally. Though in countries like the US, major carriers do support eSIM activation now.
- Having dual SIM functionality on a device can be very useful to separate work and personal lines. On most phones, using a standard SIM and an eSIM is an easy way to achieve this without the need for a dual-SIM slot.
- For traditional SIM cards, you either need a dual-SIM device or have to swap SIMs frequently. Some devices with a hybrid slot make you choose between a SIM card and a microSD card as well.
- There’s negligible cost for obtaining standard SIM cards other than what you pay for the cellular plan. eSIM-capable devices tend to be slightly pricier on average. Some carriers may charge an activation fee for downloading an eSIM plan too.
So while traditional SIMs are virtually free, you may have to shell out a small premium for the eSIM functionality in some cases.
Can an eSIM be removed and used on another device?
No, an eSIM is permanently embedded into the device hardware and can’t be removed like a SIM card. Switching devices requires downloading the cellular plan again on the new eSIM.
Which phones support eSIM?
Most newer iPhones, Google Pixels, Samsung Galaxy S and Note devices, the latest Motorola smartphones, and some premium devices from other brands support eSIM. Check your device’s specifications to confirm.
Do you need a new eSIM for each carrier?
No, the same eSIM hardware can store multiple carrier profiles, which can be switched digitally without needing new eSIMs.
Can I use eSIM and WiFi calling together?
Yes, there are no issues with using eSIM and WiFi calling simultaneously on devices that support both features.
eSIM technology certainly offers greater convenience by eliminating the need for physical SIM cards. For travelers and those juggling multiple networks, eSIMs are a lifesaver.
However, for many budget device owners, getting traditional SIMs may still be an affordable option in the short term. As eSIM rollouts expand and more devices get support, they are likely to become the new normal. But even now, they offer a better experience if your use case calls for convenience and flexibility.
In most cases, unless you have an old, non-compatible device, choosing a phone with eSIM capability is recommended for future-proofing your smartphone.