eSIMs: How to activate yours

Jun 18


Olivia Frances

Olivia Frances

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Learn more about eSIMs and how you can activate the eSIM embedded inside your smartphone.


If you’re the owner of a smartphone released in the last year or two,eSIMs: How to activate yours Articles it’s likely that your phone is fitted with an eSIM. If you’re unsure what eSIMs are, don’t worry as you’re not alone. Millions of smartphone users around the world are holding a device that has its very own virtual SIM card built inside that helps them connect to cellular services - and they don’t even know it!


What are eSIMs?

eSIM is a chip embedded inside a range of devices that can either replace an existing SIM card, or act as a companion to it. A bit like a regular SIM, users can purchase cellular plans that activate the SIM with services like voice, SMS and data. And just like a regular SIM card, a user can choose from a whole host of network providers and deals.

However, an eSIM is activated in a totally different way to a regular SIM card. Unlike purchasing a physical SIM card from a network operator like Vodafone, users can download their mobile service over the internet and activate their eSIM at any time. The plan will even work concurrently with a user’s regular SIM card, meaning there’s no need to remove an existing SIM.

Although a user can only have one physical SIM card loaded into a phone at a time, they can actually store as many eSIM plans as they like within the single embedded SIM. They can switch easily between network providers and offerings, always making sure they have the best deal possible.


Why use an eSIM?

There are many uses for eSIMs, but the most common is to support cheap communication while traveling overseas. As an eSIM chip can be reprogrammed to any participating mobile network provider around the world, users are no longer tied to expensive roaming charges applied by their regular operator. Instead, those with an eSIM-enabled device can find and download a cost-effective plan for their chosen location - whether that be from a local operator or an eSIM designed for travel.

Other uses for eSIM include:

  • Adding a second line to your handset and enjoying a personal and business line on one device
  • Being able to access multiple networks to enjoy stronger coverage in your area
  • Connecting other devices to the internet. i.e. tablets or wearables


Where do you buy eSIMs?

eSIMs can be bought through participating traditional Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) like Verizon, T&T or O2, or through Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) who own online eSIM stores. However, no two eSIM plans are the same and offerings will vary depending on whom you choose to purchase from.

MNO plans are popular for a number of reasons:

  1. A user wishes to switch their regular plan over to an eSIM plan
  2. A user wishes to add a second line to their device from the same operator
  3. When overseas, they want to download an eSIM plan from a local MNO to benefit from local-rates

So, why is there a demand for stores that sell eSIMs online? What is the difference?

  1. Instant download - customers buy online and can activate their plan immediately
  2. Often cheaper than domestic MNOs, with the same level of coverage (or more)
  3. Greater variety of plans and packages available - everything from data-only bundles to global plans with voice, SMS and data services
  4. Generally less commitment and greater flexibility - no lengthy contracts

Regardless of where you choose to purchase your eSIM from, the plan is activated over-the-air and completed by scanning a provided QR code which is sent to you via email or in the post. Users scan the QR code using the guidelines provided and then follow the instructions given by your phone manufacturer. Set-up is done in a matter of seconds.


eSIM devices list

Not sure if your smartphone is eSIM enabled? Here is a list of compatible eSIM-enabled handsets and laptops/tablets:


  • Apple’s iPhone 10, 11 and SE (2020) series’
  • Huawei’s P40 series’
  • Samsung’s S20 and Z Flip series’, Note 20+ and Galaxy Fold
  • Motorola Razar
  • Google Pixel 3 and 4 series’

Tablets and PCs:

  • Apple’s iPad Mini (5th gen.), iPad (7th gen.), iPad Air (3rd gen.), 12.9-inch iPad Pro (3rd gen.), 11-inch iPad Pro
  • Windows 10 devices


In the coming years, it is expected that up to 60% of all smartphone sales will be eSIM-enabled, making it the norm to download your mobile service over the internet. If you already have an eSIM-compatible device in your hand, why not activate a plan today?

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