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What is eSIM?

A SIM card is a small plastic chip that is inserted into your phone. Your device already has an eSIM installed. An eSIM, like a physical SIM card, connects you to your cellular network securely, granting you access to your cellular service and storing information such as your contacts and phone number.

An eSIM is simply a virtual SIM card that performs the same functions as a physical SIM card. However, eSIMs have a few advantages over physical cards, which we'll discuss further below.

What are Benefits of eSIM?

How To Switch From Physical SIM to eSIM: Benefits For International Travelers

Because eSIMs can be reprogrammed, switching to a new carrier is simple (or, in some cases, can be downloaded onto another slot on the eSIM). Physical SIM cards, on the other hand, cannot be reprogrammed. This means that with eSIMs, you can switch to a new carrier more quickly.

eSIMs are instantly activated. Instead of waiting for a physical SIM card to be shipped to you or visiting a physical store, PureTalk allows you to activate your eSIM immediately after you checkout online. This means that switching to PureTalk is now easier and faster than ever.

One of the most significant advantages of eSIM is that your phone can have two SIM cards (and thus two phone numbers) on the same device.

eSIMs are helping to improve future devices. Without the need for a SIM tray, thinner and lighter devices will be possible (ie: phones, tablets, laptops and wearable tech). Many people believe that eSIMs are the way of the future, and that physical SIM cards will soon become obsolete.

READ MORE: 11 Simple Ways To Prevent Your Phone From Being Tracked

This is the Future.

It's only a matter of time before eSIMs take over as the primary mode of communication. By switching now, you will be one step ahead of everyone else.

The eSIM occupies far less space than the SIM card.

In fact, some analysts believe that because of its size, the technology will benefit smart city infrastructure. They predict that by 2025, smart street light sensors will account for 88% of eSIMs.

eSIMs will be added to an increasing number of devices.

Already, eSIMs are used in devices like smartwatches. The Apple Watch Series 5 and 4 and the Samsung Gear S2 and Gear S3 all have eSIM.

The significance of the iPhone 14 being eSIM only in the US cannot be understated. When Apple adopts a new technology,

How do mobile phones that only use eSIMs work?

Every eSIM is assigned a unique number known as an ICCID (Integrated Circuit Card Identifier). This is the same number found on physical SIM cards, and it is what the carrier uses to identify your eSIM, as well as to activate the card. This number must be provided to the carrier when you activate an eSIM.

Because the ICCID is stored on a chip inside your phone, it cannot be transferred to another device like a physical SIM card. This also means that if you lose or damage your phone, you will need to obtain a new eSIM from your carrier.

The carrier will activate the eSIM after receiving the ICCID.

Are eSIMs costly?

This is a difficult question to answer because it depends on the country you are visiting and your specific requirements. In general, when compared to a SIM card from a local provider, using an eSIM is usually more expensive than using a physical SIM card when traveling.

Let us explain: in most countries, purchasing a local SIM card upon arrival is the cheapest way to stay connected while traveling. This is especially true when visiting countries with low-cost data plans, such as Bulgaria or Montenegro.

How to set up an eSIM for international travel

How To Switch From Physical SIM to eSIM: Benefits For International Travelers

The process from purchasing to activating is super easy. When you decide which plan suits your travel you just need to purchase online, and it will be sent to you via email with a QR code.

Step 1

Check that your phone is compatible (click here to check)

Step 2

Buy an eSIM

Step 3

Activate it via the QR code (or enter the code manually)

To activate the eSIM, you must have internet access. The plans are determined by the number of days required and the amount of data required. Our recommendation is to turn it on the day you start traveling or when you arrive at your destination. Just keep in mind that you will need to be connected to the internet to activate, so if you do it when you arrive, you will first need to connect to WiFi. This isn't a problem if the airport provides free WiFi, but we found it easier to do it before we left.

Another thing you must do is disable (turn off) your existing physical SIM card from your home country. Alternatively, simply remove it from the phone.


When you get home, return to your regular data plan.

Welcome back! Nothing needs to be done with your eSIM. If there is any data left in your package, it will expire on its own. However, you can always turn off your eSIM at any time so that it does not appear at the top of your screen even if the data has expired.

If you turned off your primary SIM while on vacation, now is the time to turn it back on so you can receive calls and texts as usual. You will also instruct your device to resume using your regular data plan, if you have one.

What happens if you use up your data, need to add more, or renew a plan?

Again, the process is extremely convenient. You can track your data usage via the app of the eSIM company you’re using. You can top up through the app or purchase a new plan (if needed). It’s clear and straightforward.

How to convert a physical SIM to an eSIM with your current iPhone

Apple announced late last year that the new iPhone 14 would be eSIM-only in the United States. What does this imply? To begin with, it means that other telecom companies will be looking to incorporate eSIM technology as well. However, it also implies that Apple sees eSIMs as the future of connectivity. The eSIM is a SIM card that is already in your phone. It completely digitizes the process of purchasing and activating a data plan. More and more phones are becoming eSIM-compatible.

You can convert the physical SIM inside your current iPhone to an eSIM if you want to get a head start on the transition to eSIM. When your new iPhone 14 arrives, you'll be able to transfer that eSIM.

On your iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular.

Tap Convert to eSIM. If you don’t see this option, you’ll have to contact your carrier.

Tap Convert Cellular Plan.

Choose Convert to eSIM.

Wait for your eSIM to activate. Once this is complete, your previous SIM card is deactivated.

Remove the physical SIM and reboot your iPhone.

What is the best eSIM for international travelers?

Choose one of these Airalo Global eSIMs or Regional eSIM data packs for the best eSIM plan for travelers exploring the world.

These data packs are also among the most affordable eSIM plans available. When you purchase an Airalo SIM card for international travel, you will receive the following benefits:

AFFORDABLE eSIM Data Packs for international travel. See all of the available plans here.

eSIM is quick and easy to download to your device, taking only a few minutes (check here to see if your device is compatible with eSIM).

When you're running low on data, you can easily top up within moments and receive a message from Airalo to let you know. This is extremely useful.

When you buy an Airalo best eSIM for international travel, you don’t need to remove your original physical SIM card from your device – because it’s all virtual. You can receive calls and messages from friends and family at home with your actual phone number (the one that everybody knows) while data roaming on your Airalo digital eSIM.

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