eSIM vs Physical SIM – Which Is Better?

Two primary types of SIM cards are available today – the standard physical SIM card and the eSIM which is a recent technology found in most new smartphones and devices. 

While both have benefits and drawbacks, deciding which SIM is better depends on your requirements and preferences.

eSIM vs Physical SIM – Which Is Better?

Two primary types of SIM cards are available today – the standard physical SIM card and the eSIM which is a recent technology found in most new smartphones and devices. 

While both have benefits and drawbacks, deciding which SIM is better depends on your requirements and preferences.

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

Hi, we’re Rach & Marty!

We’ve visited every country in the world and want to help you get the most out of your travels!

Whether you need an expertly planned itinerary, some experienced hints and tips, or just craving a delicious food adventure, we’ve got you covered!

We may earn affiliate commissions from websites we link to, at no cost to you. Click here for details.

esim vs physical sim man with phone

In this article, we will compare eSIM vs Physical SIM, and leave it up to you to decide which suits you best.

What Is The Difference Between eSIM And A Physical SIM Card?

A physical SIM card is a microchip (the tiny plastic card you buy) that can be installed or removed from your phone. It comes with your phone carrier’s plan.

eSIM (the ‘e’ stands for embedded) is a digital SIM or version of your physical SIM card already encrypted in your phone or device. 

Many of the new smartphones we use today have a microchip that allows you to install numerous eSIM profiles. It’s equivalent to having several physical SIM cards with phone numbers and data plans loaded into your device simultaneously.

An eSIM lets you activate a cellular plan from a phone carrier without using a physical SIM.

esim vs physical sim girl with phone plan
Sim card vs eSIM? Are eSIMs better? Let’s compare them.

Physical SIM vs eSIM – How To Use Both SIM Cards?

Inserting a physical SIM card (a microchip that holds all the vital information, contact numbers etc) into your phone connects to your local carrier’s network. This permits you to make and receive calls and utilise data services such as the internet. 

An eSIM is already encrypted inside your device, so you can bypass the plastic card altogether. 

The process is straightforward to download and activate an eSIM to your phone. Essentially, you’re installing the local carrier information to your device so you can connect in that particular country – technology is awesome! Is eSIM better in terms of convenience? I’d have to say yes to that.

Read more about how eSIMs work on Airalo website. This is the world’s first eSIM store, and gives you access to 200+ eSIMs (digital SIM cards) globally at affordable prices.

Can I use both eSIM and a physical SIM card at the same time?

Yes, you can use both an eSIM and a physical SIM card at the same time on smartphones and devices that support this feature.

This is great news for those who travel frequently or have multiple phone numbers, as it allows them to switch between the two SIM cards seamlessly without having to physically swap them out.

By using both an eSIM and a physical SIM card, you have the flexibility to use one SIM card for personal use and the other for work, or use one for domestic use and the other for international travel. You can also switch between the two SIMs without having to remove the physical SIM card from your phone.

Using each kind of SIM card has a few fundamental advantages and disadvantages. Let’s cover the pros and cons of eSIM vs physical SIM below:

Pros And Cons Of Using A Physical SIM Card

esim vs physical sim card on table

Pros:

  • Widely available and easy to find
  • Just pop it in your phone and go
  • Compatible with any phone that supports it (or is unlocked)

Cons:

  • Can easily get lost
  • Damage can make it unusable
  • Sometimes difficult to top up with more credit
  • Navigating your phone in the local language is difficult
  • You need a new SIM card for each country you visit – not ideal for frequent travellers.

Pros And Cons Of Using An eSIM

esim vs physical sim man with phone

Pros:

  • No physical card to lose or damage
  • Activated without carrier help, saves time
  • Convenient, no need to swap cards
  • Perfect for travelers and digital nomads
  • Load multiple eSIMs at once and effortlessly switch between them
  • Top up online with more data when credit is running low
  • Keep your original number! Makes it easy to communicate with friends and family back home
  • Regional & Globals eSIMs (covers 84+ countries on one eSIM data pack) are amazing!

Cons:

  • Not all devices support it
  • Limited options for making phone calls (use an app like WhatsApp or Skype to make calls).
esim vs physical sim people with cell phones

Should I Use eSIM or Physical SIM?

The question about eSIM vs Physical SIM and which one you should choose entirely depends on your individual needs and preferences.

But, take it from two world travellers here (and two women that have visited EVERY country in the world) – eSIM has been a game-changer for us! 

In particular, the Global eSIMs and Regional eSIMs. We couldn’t imagine returning to using physical SIM cards any more. eSIM is the future – and it’s just so affordable and convenient.

Using an eSIM means you won’t need to update your phone number whenever you visit a new country – it remains the same.

This is one of the best advantages of e SIM vs SIM card, particularly when accessing apps on our phones, such as phone banking, as they require users to enter multiple codes. 

Either way, whatever SIM card you pick, remember that you can use both an eSIM and a SIM card simultaneously.

Do I need to switch to eSIM?

You’ve still got a choice to stick with physical SIM cards right now.

However, if you read this article by CNET.com about how the latest Apple iPhones are doing away with the SIM card slot, physical SIM cards will be a thing of the past.

The latest models will ONLY use eSIM cards. In that case, consider switching to eSIM to stay connected in the future. 

esim vs physical sim airalo checkout on phone
eSIM vs Physical SIM – eSIM technology makes staying connected so convenient and easy!

How to get an eSIM on your device?

The process for how to get an eSIM on to your phone or device is super simple! 

First, go to Airalo eSIMs website and browse through the country-specificregional eSIM or Global eSIM data packs on offer. 

Once you have found the eSIM that is most suitable for you, follow the easy step-by-step instructions on the Airalo website.

Here are a Few Tips: 

  • After you’ve downloaded your eSIM, be sure to activate it just before you arrive in your new destination. (Remember, the validity period of the eSIM starts from the time you activate it).
  • Before arriving in your new country, switch from your current mobile provider to the new country eSIM provider. Don’t stress; there is a step-by-step guide on how to do it during installation.
  • Once your eSIM card is activated, turn off data for all apps you don’t use, including those that can use a lot of data. Apps such as Instagram, Tiktok, Netflix, and YouTube will eat up your data quickly, so only access that once you reach your hotel and access the free wifi. 

Important: Your device must be compatible with eSIM. Please check this list to see if your device supports eSIM before purchasing an eSIM.

esim vs physical sim
eSIM vs SIM card. Which will you choose?

Global eSIM for International Travel 

Before we finish comparing physical SIM vs eSIM, we need to mention the Global eSIM.

A massive difference between eSIM vs Physical SIM card is the Global eSIM. This is one singular eSIM or data pack that you can download, just once – and it connects you to over 84+ countries worldwide!

So, it means that you can leave on a huge world adventure – and stay connected.

There are 5 x Global eSIM Data Packs to choose from. All Global data packs are well-suited for international travel.

The Global data packs start from $9 for 1GB (valid for 7 days), and the largest data pack is $89 for 20GB (valid for 180 days).

CHOOSE FROM 5 x GLOBAL ESIM DATA PACKAGES FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL:

Final Thoughts On eSIM vs Physical SIM

We were a little hesitant to start using eSIMs at first, but since making the switch to eSIM and enjoying the many pros (which far outweigh the cons), we couldn’t imagine returning to physical SIM cards now. 

We explain more in this post about why eSIM for all international travel is our only choice for staying connected worldwide.

Honestly, the eSIM is a fantastic product! It’s affordable, reliable, and so very convenient. So, to compare physical SIM vs eSIM for our travelling lifestyle, it’s 100% eSIM!

Use our referral code: RACHEL5045 to get $3 off your first eSIM purchase!

More Travel Tips

We have so many tips to help you travel more!

These 21 cheapest countries to visit will help you stretch your hard-earned dollars further.

Read our top 6 travel hacks to save money and the 20 best travel apps to make travel easier! 

For food lovers, don’t miss our top 10 best countries for foodies. And, if history is your thing, these 30 amazing historical places worldwide will fascinate you!

We have many tips to save money for travel and consider these 20 jobs that PAY YOU to travel the world to help you travel longer.

If you become a trusted housesitter, you can also get FREE accommodation worldwide. Read more about how this works.

Check out our ultimate packing list for travellers, and remember to pack travel insurance! We recommend these two travel insurance companies for excellent coverage.

Our 12 essential tips for safe travel in any country are worth a read. 

You’ll need to stay connected while travelling the world. We recommend eSIM. It’s easy, reliable and affordable. View eSIMs for individual countries, or consider a Global eSIM if you travel to multiple countries or regions. This eSIM connects you in 124 countries, offering data-only eSIM and data/call/text eSIM.

The Global eSIM has been a game-changer; we couldn’t imagine travelling without it now.

If you want to travel with like-minded travellers, consider joining a group tour. Get the best deals on worldwide group tours with Tourradar.

Check out our best-ever travel tips compiled from more than twenty years of experience.

Did you enjoy this article? Share it with friends and family!

Travel Planning Resources

✈️ Flights: We use Skyscanner to book cheap flights worldwide.

🏨 AccommodationBooking.com is our preferred platform for booking hotels and accommodation. We use Vrbo to book apartments and long-term stays.

🏥 Travel Insurance: We recommend Heymondo (Get 5% off Heymondo) & SafetyWing

🚌 Transportation: Trainline is the best website to reserve trains. We use Omio to book transport worldwide. For travel in Asia, we use 12Go. 

🚘 Car Rental: We use DiscoverCars to book rental cars worldwide.

👫 Group ToursG Adventures OR compare multi-day tours worldwide with Tourradar.

📸 Day Tours & TripsGetYourGuide & Viator are the only two platforms you need.

📚 Lonely Planet: The Best Range of Travel Guides & Ebooks, and FREE Shipping! (use code RACHELDAVEY10 for a 10% discount)

🎒 LuggageOsprey Farpoint 40L Backpack or Samsonite Luggage Range.

🛄 What to Pack: Don’t forget your Universal charger and a good power bank.  To help you pack the essentials, here is our ULTIMATE Packing List for all Travellers.

🐶 Become a House Sitter: Join Trusted Housesitters and enjoy FREE accommodation worldwide. Use our invite to receive 25% off your new membership.

💰 Send Money Anywhere: WISE & Revolut are the best online accounts that let you send money, get paid, and spend money internationally. Both are so easy to use and way cheaper than any bank transfer.

📶 Stay Connected: Airalo eSIM allows you to get connected the moment you land at your destination, and you can avoid those expensive data roaming charges. We LOVE this product! Use promo code NOMAD15 for 15% off ALL eSIMs (new Airalo users only) OR use NOMAD10 for 10% off ALL eSIMs (for existing Airalo users)

✅ Check out our Travel Gear and Travel Resources for more valuable tips to save you money!

Tasty Food Adventures

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