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Home / Tips and Tricks / What is an eSIM anyway? This is the next important phone feature that you need to know more about

What is an eSIM anyway? This is the next important phone feature that you need to know more about



  SIM cards

Plastic SIM cards will soon be a thing of the past.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

The iPhone 1

1 Pixel 4 and new foldable Motorola Razr all have something in common, and no, it's not just all phones. They can all save your phone number – the essential ingredient for calling and texting & # 39; and – in a so-called eSIM . An eSIM not only makes it easier and faster to set up a service with your wireless network provider, but you can also have two phone numbers on one phone.

Admittedly, an eSIM is not nearly as exciting as a foldable screen or a camera that can take photos in the dark, but it is an essential part of our phones. Without a SIM card our phones cannot connect to our wireless providers and this can just as well be a iPod . In addition to technological advances in the area of ​​displays, the SIM card is changing – and it is for the better.

What exactly is an eSIM and why do you care? Glad you asked. Here is everything you need to know about eSIM technology and why it matters.

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What is an eSIM?

An eSIM – or, built-in subscriber identity module – is a small electronic chip in a telephone that has the same function as the small plastic SIM cards that we have been using for years. Without a SIM card, your phone does not know which provider to connect to or your telephone number, and your provider does not know which phone to provide the service to.

  pixel-4-esim "data-original =" https://cnet1.cbsistatic.com/img/ly2Qz1mQNalzgA3Sl8JCpuwUYNU=/2019/11/26/5540b629-971d-4b39-a1a2-4c6591bd28a5/pixel-4-esim .jpg

Google & # 39; s Pixel 4 XL has an eSIM.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

What are the benefits of an eSIM?

Unlike SIM-locked SIM cards that prevent you from switching between providers, an eSIM can be programmed and reprogrammed as needed so that you can switch between providers or cancel and start the service without a new one each time get a SIM card.

Without a removable SIM card drawer and the valuable space that this requires, phone manufacturers can push larger batteries into the housing of a phone or use the extra space for additional cameras & new features. Of course, no sim card slot probably means no microSD card slot for adding extra storage, a change that phone manufacturers are migrating to.

The eSIM is still young, and as such, the process for things like activation and support from providers and telephone producers needs to be streamlined (more on both aspects below), but one thing is clear: soon we will be able to tap with a few taps Switch the display of our telephone directly between providers.

  Motorola Razr "data-original =" https://cnet4.cbsistatic.com/img/SDZ93Vi9gjKEq-lWe8FudKdqLp8=/2019/11/15/9786b68d-ed84-49c9-96f6-c0da7facdb6a/00100trport206204201204201201206201202012020201202015000001201200000120120206206

One thing you won't find on the new Razr is a SIM card slot. Juan Garzon / CNET

Which phones now use an eSIM?

There are not many phones now that use eSIM.

Apple & # 39; s iPhone XS, XS Max, XR, 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max all have an eSIM, in addition to the standard plastic SIM card (more about why below).

Google & # 39; s Pixels 2, 3, 3A and 4 also have a standard SIM card slot and eSIM support.

The Motorola Razr is the first phone that starts without a physical SIM card slot and relies solely on eSIM.

  sim-pixel-3-xl "data-original =" https://cnet3.cbsistatic.com/img/wddIQfrz0HbJv6trAr8iEnFwpG8=/2019/04/09/133fa583-3bb6-4dc5-8851-85e5b59d438f/sim-pix -3-xl.jpg

When you free up the space that a SIM drawer occupies, telephone makers can do many things.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

Why have an eSIM and a physical SIM?

Apple & # 39; s iPhones with two SIM cards – an eSIM and a physical card – can connect to two different providers and phone numbers at the same time. So you can have your personal and business number on one iPhone, even if you have T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless as providers respectively. This is possible on an iPhone because it is unlocked and supports multiple providers.

Phones with eSIM are also useful for frequent travelers abroad. You can use the eSIM to sign up for a data plan abroad and to protect yourself against roaming charges. And if you set up an eSIM via a provider such as GigSky before you leave, you have data access as soon as you land.

Of course you do not have to use both SIM cards at the same time, or even not at all, and when you purchase the phone from your provider, it usually comes with a standard SIM that is already installed and ready to connect to your account. .

However, if you buy a phone that does not have a SIM card – for example from selected stores or websites such as Swappa – you must visit your provider or order a SIM card and wait for it to arrive in the mail, then activate it. With an eSIM you don't have to wait – you can activate the phone in a matter of minutes.

  apple-iphone-11-10 "data-original =" https://cnet3.cbsistatic.com/img/ypgin7HNtBNnAukOPHN6rXy1rSE=/2019/11/22/4ca6e2b7-055c-40d6-9847-229997f4294f/apple-iphone -11-10.jpg

Did you know that you can connect two phone numbers to your iPhone? Angela Lang / CNET

Will all telephones use eSIM cards?

The chance is high, yes. It makes sense for telephone manufacturers and providers to throw away the plastic SIM cards, both from an extra cost point of view and from an environmental point of view when viewing the large plastic card to which a standard SIM card is attached.

Does my provider have to support eSIM technology to use it?

Yes. Apple has a list of all wireless providers around the world that support the iPhone's eSIM function.

As far as Pixel from Google is concerned, the process is a bit more confusing. Google Fi Google's prepaid wireless provider can use an eSIM and some US providers such as AT&T and Sprint support eSIM on the Pixel 4, but not on older Pixel phones.

When I try to add a mobile eSIM subscription to my Pixel 4 XL, I get the AT&T, Sprint and Google Fi option.

It seems that it gets stuck when it comes to which provider supports which device, and it becomes even more confusing when you look for dual-SIM support.

If you have a Pixel phone and want to use the eSIM functionality, it is a good idea to contact your wireless network provider and ask for eSIM support for your specific model.

  iphone-esim "data-original =" https://cnet4.cbsistatic.com/img/3Dq8qG7g5ygVxA8bTHI33BOkis4=/2019/11/26/8340da96-5632-4fa1-a512-20b816146079/iphone-esim.jpg cialis19659053] iphone-esim

Setting the eSIM function of the iPhone takes only a few minutes.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

Phones are not the only gadgets that use eSIM

eSIM technology is not only found in telephones. The Apple Watch and Samsung's Galaxy Watch with mobile connectivity use eSIM to connect to your provider. Some of Apple & # 39; s iPad models with mobile also have an eSIM. We are also starting to see some laptops, such as the Surface Pro that have eSIM capabilities.

How do I set up an eSIM?

The process varies based on your provider. AT&T users must receive an eSIM activation card from the courier. There is a QR code in it that you can use to program the eSIM with your information. Some providers, such as Verizon Wireless, use their mobile app to program the eSIM.

Again, it is a good idea to contact your provider about the eSIM activation process.

Setting up an eSIM on your iPhone takes only a few seconds. If you want to see how life is with an eSIM phone, the foldable Motorola Razr with its innovative hinge is the way to do it – for just $ 1500. You can order the Razr from from December 26 and this will be sent at some point in January.

  Motorola Razr "data-original =" https: //cnet2.cbsistatic. com / img / ANHM9fzIL7PlMXBqZxSHxMBLo-U = / 2019/11/15 / 2e6df59c-2a99-4aa2-9ec3-129cda3cd1a0 / motorola-razr.jpg

The new Razr certainly doesn't look good? Juan Garzon / CNET


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