What is an eSIM? A Comprehensive Guide to Virtual SIM Card

what-is-esim

In the world of smartphones, we've always used physical SIM cards to stay connected. Unfortunately, these traditional SIM cards come with their physical limitations. As a result, they are gradually becoming a thing of the past, and eSIM (embedded SIM) has emerged as a practical alternative. It offers a convenient and flexible solution to connect to various networks without the need for multiple physical cards.

With an eSIM, you can change your phone service or get a new number just by using your device's settings. This makes it great for those who often change phone plans or travel. It also helps make phones smaller and lighter, as there's no need for a slot for the SIM card.


How Does an eSIM Work?

An eSIM or virtual SIM significantly changes how we connect to phone networks. It works differently than a regular SIM card. Unlike a physical SIM you insert into your phone, an eSIM is built into your device. It’s an embedded chip set up directly into your smartphone or tablet.

The working mechanism of an eSIM is quite straightforward yet innovative. You don’t need a new SIM card to start using virtual SIM cards. Instead, you will download a small file from your service provider containing all the details your device needs to connect to the network, just like a physical SIM card would. You will activate it from your device’s settings, which typically involves just a few steps.

eSIM vs Physical SIM: Key Differences

Both eSim Cards and physical SIM serve the fundamental purpose of connecting your device to a mobile network. However, the way they do this and the flexibility they offer vary significantly.

Aspect

Physical SIM

eSIM

Form Factor

A small, removable plastic card

A small, embedded chip in the device

Activation Process

Requires inserting the SIM card

Activation through device settings

Switching Networks

Requires physical replacement

Can switch networks digitally

Device Compatibility

Limited to devices with SIM slots

Compatible with newer, eSIM-enabled devices

Storage Space

Occupies physical space in devices

Does not take up physical space

Durability

Risk of damage or loss

No risk of physical damage or loss

Role of Virtual SIM Cards in Today’s Mobile Ecosystem

With eSIMs being so different from traditional physical SIMs, they play a big role in today's mobile world. These virtual SIM cards influence phone users, companies, and the telecom industry.

For telephone users, digital SIMs make using mobile services simpler. You no longer need to swap out SIM cards when you change your phone service, It’s especially helpful for those who travel a lot or need to use different networks.

Influencing the phone companies, eSIMs have led to new designs. Since there's no need for a slot for a SIM card, manufacturers can make the device thinner or leave more room for other things, like a bigger battery or new features. Such changes have led to more attractive and better-performing phones.

In terms of the telecom industry, eSIMs have streamlined operations. The digital distribution of eSIM profiles reduces the need for manufacturing and distributing physical SIM cards. It not only saves cost for them, but it’s good for the environment too.

What are the Advantages of an eSIM?

Playing a significant role in transforming today's mobile ecosystem, eSIMs offer many benefits when you switch from a traditional SIM card. These virtual SIM perks signify a leap towards more advanced and user-friendly mobile technology.

Easy Activation and Setup

Compared to traditional SIM cards, activating and setting up an eSIM is much simpler. You don't need to go to a store or wait for a SIM card in the mail. You can activate your digital SIM directly from your phone's settings. The process typically involves a quick process of downloading a profile from your carrier and simply activating it on your device. Such ease of activation is great for people who need to get their phone service started quickly and without hassle.

Security

Virtual SIM Cards are more secure than traditional SIM cards. As these digital SIMs are built into your device, there is no risk of loss or theft. It stores all the service details in your device, protecting you against SIM card fraud or cloning. This built-in security feature helps keep your phone service and network safe and secure.

High Flexibility

We can consider flexibility as one of the major advantages of eSIMs. They allow you to switch between different network providers and data plans without changing physical SIM cards. This flexibility means you're not tied to one carrier and can choose the best service for your needs anytime. It can be especially beneficial if you are a frequent traveler. You can switch to local networks easily.

Multiple Plans and Numbers

With an eSIM, you can have multiple phone numbers and plans on the same device. It means you no longer need to carry multiple phones for multiple numbers. This is perfect for separating personal and business phone numbers using a single device. Moreover, you can tailor different plans for virtual phone numbers to suit your lifestyle or business requirements.

Durability

Virtual SIM cards have a longer lifespan than traditional SIM cards. Traditional SIM cards can tear or get damaged, especially if you frequently swap between devices. With an eSIM, this is not a concern as they are not exposed to physical handling. Their durability ensures a consistent and reliable connection over time and reduces the need for frequent maintenance or replacement.

Disadvantages of eSIM Cards

Despite their convenience and flexibility, eSIMs have some challenges and limitations. Understanding its downsides is crucial for making informed decisions about the right choice for your mobile needs.

Difficulty in Switching Devices

Unlike a physical SIM that you can simply take out of one device and put into another, an eSIM is embedded in the device itself. If you want to switch phones, you can't just move the SIM card; you have to transfer your eSIM profile. It can be more complicated. It can be inconvenient for those who frequently change or upgrade devices.

Recovery Issues

eSIM is certainly more secure than traditional SIMs against physical damage. However, it can be more challenging to recover if you lose your eSIM-enabled device or get damaged. It’s not the same as simply putting your physical SIM into another device. You might need to contact your carrier to transfer your eSIM profile to a new device, which can be time-consuming. It can be problematic in urgent situations, like when you require quick access to your phone number and services.

Device Compatibility

Unfortunately, not all smartphones and tablets support eSIM technology yet. If you have an eSIM and want to switch to a different device, your new device must also support eSIM technology. If it doesn’t, you won't be able to use your existing eSIM profile. This limitation can be frustrating, particularly if you prefer using or need to switch to a device that is not eSIM-compatible.

Devices that Support eSIM

Although eSIM technology is not yet a universal feature across all devices, the good news is that many of today's modern devices do support it. Both iOS and Android platforms have equipped their latest modern to embrace eSIMs.

iOS Devices

Several iOS devices now support eSIM technology. They include:

  1. iPhone  XS, XS Max, XR

  2. iPhone SE 2020

  3. iPhone 11 series 

  4. Phone 12 series

  5. iPhone 13 series

  6. iPhone 14 series

     

Android Devices

On the Android side, too, many manufacturers have started incorporating eSIM technology into their devices. They include:

  1. Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, S20 Ultra

  2. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

  3. Samsung Galaxy Fold

  4. Huwaei P40, P40 Pro

  5. Huawei Mate 40 pro

     

How to Convert a Physical SIM to eSIM?

For the above-mentioned devices and other compatible devices, most service providers offer you to convert a physical SIM to eSIM. The conversion process is typically straightforward for both - Android and iOS.

How to Activate eSIM on iPhone?

Before beginning the process, ensure that your mobile carrier supports eSIM and you have a compatible iPhone. Then, follow these simple steps:

  • Step 1: Access your iPhone. Go to 'Settings' > 'Cellular'.

    Step 2: Tap on “Convert to eSIM’. (Note: if this option is unavailable, it means your carrier doesn’t support it. In this case, contact your carrier to convert your physical SIM to a virtual SIM. They typically allow conversion by scanning a QR code.)

    Step 3: Tap on “Convert Cellular Plan”.

How to Activate eSIM on Android?

In general, the eSIM activation process on Android includes the following steps, though there might be slight changes depending on the device you use:

  • Step 1: Request an eSIM activation from your carrier. They will give you a QR code or details for a digital plan.

    Step 2: Open 'Settings' on your Android device.

    Step 3: Go to 'Network & Internet' > 'Mobile Network' > 'Carrier.'

    Step 4: Tap 'Add Carrier' and scan the QR code provided by your carrier.

    Step 5: Follow the on-screen instructions to finish.

How to Set up an eSIM on a Third-Party App?

Besides the standard methods, you also use VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service to switch to eSIM. In fact, this option can be more beneficial. Not only does it offer the convenience of making phone calls over the Internet, but it also brings a host of additional features. Plus, VoIP service provider like Calilio offers number porting options, too. It means you can retain your existing number while enjoying an eSIM card with VoIP features.

Both iPhone and Android users can set up an eSIM with VoIP, and the process is quite simple. Here is how.

Step 1: Choose a VoIP Service

Select a VoIP service provider that offers the features you need. Ensure they provide number porting if you wish to retain your existing number.

Step 2: Download the VoIP App

Download the selected provider’s VoIP app from the App Store (for iPhone users) or Google Play Store (for Android users).

Step 3: Create an Account

Sign up to create your account. Often, it requires you to provide personal information and payment details.

Step 4: Select Phone Number

Login. Follow the on-screen instructions, which typically involve choosing a plan and phone number and making payments.

(Note: If you're porting your existing number, the app will have a separate process to convert physical SIM to virtual digital SIM).

Step 5: Configure Setting

Typically, your new eSIM number activates instantly. Jump to the setting and configure it to meet your requirements.

How to Choose the Right Virtual SIM Provider?

A virtual SIM, or eSIM, especially one that integrates with VoIP services, certainly offers many advantages. Having said that, it's crucial that you choose the right provider.

Here are some key aspects to consider when choosing your virtual SIM provider to make sure you get the most out of your eSIM experience.

Customer Support

Good Customer support becomes crucial for resolving any technical issues quickly and efficiently. The service providers with responsive and helpful customer service can significantly enhance your experience. They promptly address any issues with your eSIM or VoIP service. So, ensure your chosen service provider offers excellent customer support to experience consistent connectivity.

Reasonable Pricing

Different virtual number providers offer services at distinct pricing structures. Go for the eSIM provider that offers a good balance between cost and features. It's important to assess not only the upfront costs but also any hidden fees or charges. Selecting a provider with transparent pricing and good value for money ensures you don’t pay more than necessary to enjoy eSIM perks.

Variety of Plans and Services

A provider offering a variety of plans and services can cater to a broader range of needs. For instance, sometimes you may need a lot of data but unlimited calling and vice versa. Having a provider that offers a variety of choices means you can select a plan that fits your lifestyle and business communication needs.

Network Reliability

A Reliable network is crucial for consistent connectivity and quality communication using your eSIM. Check the service provider’s network reliability and coverage to ensure a strong network in your desired areas. Consider examining the network performance in your chosen area before making a decision.

Flexibility and Scalability

Select the virtual SIM provider that offers the utmost flexibility and scalability. It ensures that a provider can adapt if your needs change over time. This could mean offering different plans, the ability to switch plans easily, or accommodating additional lines or services as needed. A flexible provider can grow and change with your evolving eSIM needs.

Wrapping Up

With convenience and flexibility perks, it is not surprising that the popularity of eSIM is on the rise. You can easily set up an eSIM on both iPhones and Android phones, choosing your own telecommunication carrier. You can even experience additional communication features using eSIMs with VoIP services.

While switching to eSIMS with VoIP offers exceptional benefits, selecting the right service provider is equally important. Consider number porting Calilio for a reliable virtual SIM number designed to enhance your communication experience. We offer a variety of plans to suit your unique needs and demands. Contact Us today and select from our range of eSIM plans to streamline your phone calls and business communication.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is virtual SIM traceable?

Virtual SIMs are traceable. Just like traditional SIM cards, these SIM cards are linked to your mobile network. Your carrier usually traces it for network and billing purposes.

Does an eSIM have a phone number?

An eSIM has a phone number the same as your physical SIM. When you activate an eSIM, your carrier assigns a unique phone number for calls and texts.

How do I switch between a SIM card and an eSIM on iPhone?

On your iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular. Here, you can select the plan you want to use and switch between your physical SIM and eSIM whenever you desire.

Can I buy a virtual SIM?

You can buy a virtual SIM or eSIM from mobile carriers or some third-party providers like VoIP service providers. After purchase, you can swiftly activate them on compatible devices.

Are virtual SIM cards good?

Virtual SIM cards or eSIMs are good compared to traditional SIMs. They offer flexibility, easy switching between carriers, and eliminate the need for physical slots.

How can I get a free eSIM number?

Some carriers and service providers offer free virtual SIM cards or eSIM numbers as part of their plans or promotions. However, they may come with limited features.

How much does the eSIM card cost?

The cost of an eSIM card varies depending on the carrier and the plan you choose. Some carriers may offer the eSIM for free with a plan, while others might charge a certain fee.

Who is the best eSIM provider?

The best eSIM provider depends on your specific needs, such as coverage, price, and customer service. If you’re looking for the eSIM with VoIP, Calilio can be the best option.

Is eSIM really worth it?

An eSIM is worth it for many users due to its convenience, especially for those who travel frequently or want to manage multiple numbers easily. It offers flexibility and ease of switching services.

How does dual SIM work with eSIM?

Dual SIM with eSIM allows you to have two different phone numbers or service plans on the same device. You can have one physical SIM and one eSIM, and easily switch between them in your device's settings.

How to Switch Providers with an eSIM Card?

To switch providers with an eSIM card, you typically need to contact the new provider for an eSIM activation. Once you receive the activation details, you can set it up through your device's settings.

Is an eSIM Better than a Physical SIM?

An eSIM can be better than a physical SIM in terms of convenience and flexibility. It eliminates the need for physical swapping of SIM cards and allows for easy management of multiple lines in a single device