What is an eSIM? How does eSIM work? Is eSIM better than SIM card? These are all very common and valid questions. In this post, I’ll do my best to explain, in plain english – how does an eSIM work? Once you understand this clever technology, I guarantee it will make your travels so much easier. 

How does eSIM work digital sim on phone

Firstly though, have you wondered about what is an eSIM anyway? Let’s cover that one first.

What is an eSIM?

Lately, it seems that everybody is talking about eSIM being the most cost-effective and convenient way to stay connected. The good news is, they’re correct! Let’s start with the basics and answer your question, “what is an eSIM, anyway?”

Everyone is familiar with the physical SIM card, right? The one that’s probably in your phone now; it’s responsible for holding all your essential data.

An eSIM is a virtual SIM or digital version of your physical SIM card. An eSIM allows you to activate a cellular plan from a carrier without using a physical SIM. 

How Does eSIM work?

The concept of how eSIMs work is pretty cool. Technology is awesome!

If you’re still struggling to grasp how does eSIM work on your phone or device, I get it; it takes a while to understand fully.

Essentially, your device or phone already has a microchip installed that allows you (or your newly purchased eSIM data pack) to install multiple eSIM profiles. It’s equivalent to having several physical SIM cards with phone numbers and data plans plugged into your phone simultaneously. 

Note: Before buying an eSIM, double-check that your device is compatible with this list. However, most of the latest iPhones, phones, and devices are compatible with eSIM. 

How does eSIM work on an iPhone?

How does eSIM work face of mobile

How does eSIM work? What us eSIM?

An eSIM works the same on an iPhone as on any other device. As explained above, an eSIM is essentially a digital version of your physical SIM card. 

The best part about buying an eSIM data pack is that you do not need to remove your original SIM card from your phone. So, you don’t need to worry about losing it, ultimately losing all of your data on that tiny SIM card. 

Is eSIM better than SIM cards?

Absolutely! The reason why eSIM is better than SIM cards is that you keep your original SIM card in your phone, and your friends and family can contact you on the only mobile phone number they’ve got for you.

Honestly, I travel frequently – and it’s provided such peace of mind for my parents to know they can contact me whenever they need to. 

I’m sure it has caused them unnecessary stress when I’d send them a new Italian phone number when travelling in Italy, then a few days later, send them another phone contact once I’d entered France.

It’s a bit stressful for loved ones when they’re not sure how to contact you when abroad, and nowadays, it’s unnecessary – because today, you can buy an Airalo eSIM and get connected in 190+ countries, and your phone contact remains the same as it’s always been.

How does eSIM work in terms of convenience and price?

Purchasing an eSIM to travel around Europe this summer has been the best thing I ever did.

Gone are the days of searching for a local SIM card when you enter a new country and trying to decipher the language of setting it up. 

I no longer have to spend precious vacation time searching for physical SIM cards in random shops or waiting in long lines at the airport upon arrival to get connected. I value this the most.

It’s so convenient to browse through eSIM Data Packs to choose the best one to suit the destination that I’m travelling to next.

Choose the eSIM that works best for you

Furthermore, as I continue moving through Europe this summer, I don’t have to do the monotonous task of swapping out each local SIM card.

Instead, a friend recommended I buy a Regional Eurolink Data Pack from Airalo (which covers 39 countries) to stay connected – and after crunching numbers and considering how much time I’d save, I purchased one on the spot.

how does esim work Airalo Eurolink Data Packs

How does eSIM work for getting connected in multiple countries? Buy a Global eSIM

And it has been a lifesaver! I love this product – and I’ve already checked over the Global eSIMs available (which covers 87 countries) to keep me connected after I leave the continent of Europe behind and head to Thailand or Indonesia.

I’m not really a fan of winter, I prefer warmer climates, so these two countries are desirable for my travelling lifestyle. These countries are both covered under the Global eSIM, along with loads of other destinations.

So, if I choose to change what country I’d like to relocate to next (which is highly likely, I’ve been living this nomadic lifestyle for more than 15 years now), I’m likely to get connected once I arrive as the Global eSIMS cover so much ground.

If you’re interested to see where I’ve been – check out this map.

You can read about my TOP 15 travel tips from 15+ years of living out of a backpack.

Can I use an eSIM on my Phone?

Can I use an eSIM on my phone or device? The answer is most likely if you have one of the latest iPhones or handheld devices. But, your iPhone, device or phone must be compatible for your eSIM to work. 

Which iPhones or devices are compatible with eSIM?

Nearly all Apple devices and most of Android’s high-end devices support eSIM. 

But, before you dive into the fantastic new world of staying connected with eSIMs which will surely save you money and time, check on this list to check if your phone is compatible with eSIM.

What is the difference between eSIM and SIM?

An eSIM (the ‘e’ stands for embedded) is built into your phone and indirectly downloads your carrier’s plan. It’s digital, you can’t actually see it. 

A SIM card is a microchip that is physically installed or removed inside your phone. It comes with your carrier’s plan. 

How does eSIM work virtual sim

esim how does it work? Technology is clever, isn’t it?

Is eSIM better than standard SIM? What are the advantages of eSIM?

Once you try an eSIM and discover the many pros, you’ll soon realise the answer to this question. What us eSIM? Is eSIM better than standard SIM? Yes, it is! There are two main reasons I would say eSIM is better than standard SIM.

  1. Convenience: You can buy an eSIM data pack within minutes from your phone and activate it with easy-to-follow instructions. It means you can get connected as soon as you arrive at your destination.
  2. Price: eSIM allows you to buy a data pack that suits your travel plans, AND you will save heaps of cash on international roaming charges.
  3. Effortless: If you run out of data, top up anytime, anywhere.

How does eSIM work girl on phone airport

How to get an eSIM for iPhone

How to get an eSIM for iPhone or device is super simple! First, go to Airalo eSIMs website and browse through the country-specific, regional eSIMor 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 for how to get an eSIM for iPhone. 

I wrote a post about why Airalo is the best eSIM for Italy by avoiding high roaming charges – it may have some useful information about how a country specific eSIM data pack can work for you.

How to activate an eSIM on iPhone

Once you’ve purchased the best eSIM Data Pack for your individual needs, the activation is effortless. You will receive easy-to-follow steps for how to activate an eSIM on iPhone once you have made the purchase.

Alternatively, you can read more about how and when to activate an eSIM on iPhone and other devices here.

Get $3 Off your first purchase of an Airalo eSIM

Another great reason to buy an Airalo eSIM data pack for travel is that each time you buy an eSIM or top up your eSIM, you get rewarded with credits.

Airalo eSIM code very hungry nomads rachel

Airalo awards you for staying connected with them by paying you ‘Airmoney’. You can redeem your Airmoney credit when purchasing your next Airalo eSIM. You can always check how much credit you have in your Airalo app, which is also very user- friendly.

SIGN UP AND SAVE! Receive $3 off your first Airalo eSIM purchase by using my referral code: RACHEL5045

 

I hope you now have a clearer idea about the answers to the two most popular eSIM questions – How does eSIM work? And, is eSIM better than SIM card. Have you tried Airalo eSIM yet? Please let me know if you’re a fan of eSIM or not, by commenting below.

If you’re planning to visit Europe, our post about how to choose the best eSIM for Europe is unmissable.

You may also enjoy reading these posts:

TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES  

✈️ Flights: Aviasales & CheapOair are the best websites to book cheap flights.

🏨 AccommodationBooking.comAgoda, and Hotellook are the top platforms to search for fantastic hotels and accommodation options at the best price.

🏥 Travel Insurance: Don’t forget travel insurance! We recommend World Nomads or SafetyWing.

🚌 Transportation: To book trains, Trainline is the best and cheapest website. To book transport in Europe, USA & Canada, we use Omio & FlixbusUS. For travel in Asia, we use 12Go. For all other countries, we use BookaWay to compare and book Bus, Ferry, or train tickets to get around.

🚘 Car Rental: DiscoverCars, & Europcar are reliable platforms to book rental cars.

👫 Group ToursG Adventures or Expat Explore offers the best group adventures around the world. Use our promo code VERYHUNGRYNOMADS at checkout to receive 5% off your Expat Explore Trip!

📸 Day Tours & TripsGetYourGuide & Viator are the only platforms you will need. They offer everything at unbeatable prices.

🎒 LuggageOsprey Farpoint 40L Backpack or Samsonite Luggage Range (we love this Stack’d Carry-On Spinner Suitcase).

🛄 What to Pack: To help you get started on packing, here is our ULTIMATE Packing List for all Travellers.

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

💰 Send Money Anywhere: WISE is the best online account that lets you send money, get paid, and spend money internationally. It’s 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!

✅ Check out our Travel Resources Page for more Useful Tips to Save you Money!