How Does eSIM Work? – Is eSIM Better Than SIM Card?

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? – Is eSIM Better Than SIM Card?

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.

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.

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.

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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.

You can read about my TOP travel tips from 20+ 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? Will my Samsung phone work with it? Is iPhone 12 eSIM compatible? 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. The short answer to your question, “is iPhone 12 eSIM compatible?”, is yes, it is. But please check all the details of devices that will support eSIM in the link above.

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, activation is effortless. You will receive easy-to-follow steps for activating an eSIM on your iPhone once you have made the purchase.

Alternatively, you can learn 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.

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 a SIM card? Have you tried Airalo eSIM yet? Please comment below to let me know if you’re a fan of eSIM or not.

If you plan to visit Europe, our post about choosing the best eSIM for Europe is unmissable.

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.

πŸ₯ 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.

πŸ‘« Group ToursG Adventures OR compare multi-day tours worldwide with Tourradar.

πŸ“Έ Day Tours & TripsGetYourGuide & Viator are the only two platforms you need.

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

πŸŽ’ LuggageOsprey Farpoint 40L Backpack or Samsonite Luggage Range.

πŸ›„ 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.

πŸ’° 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.

πŸ“Ά 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)

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

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