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What is an eSIM? A Complete Guide to eSIMs

A Complete Guide to eSIMs [2023]

What is an eSIM?

If you’re not familiar with this relatively new technology, you might be wondering what an eSIM is, and whether or not you need to make them a part of your travel plans. An eSIM, also known as an embedded SIM or electronic SIM, is a component that can likely already be found in your smartphone or tablet. It’s an integrated component that functions in the same way as a physical SIM card, but without the hassle of needing to manually swap it out and replace it whenever you need to connect to a new carrier.

Hailed as a game-changer for avid travellers, it’s predicted that by 2025, 98% of carriers will be offering eSIM cards, and that every device will be designed and produced with these components in place. They may well go on to make the process of buying physical SIM cards for travel obsolete, as in many ways eSIMs cut out the middleman, making travel simple and flexible – which is exactly how it should be.

How does an eSIM work?

While the technology to enable you to use an embedded SIM is already in place in your phone or tablet, it needs to be activated and used with a data and credit plan. This is where eSIM providers like TravelSim come in. Once you’ve purchased an eSIM and selected your plan, you’re emailed a unique QR code – scanning this code allows you to activate your eSIM and start roaming.

Up to 10 eSIMs can be installed on one phone, allowing you to connect to different service providers while on the go, without needing to worry about keeping track of several physical SIM cards. You may be surprised by just how useful eSIMs can be – whether you’re an avid backpacker, busy business traveller, or occasional sunbather, chances are that using an eSIM can save you time, money, and worry.

What are the benefits of an eSIM when traveling?

When it comes to buying gadgets to help you on your travels, an eSIM may not find itself at the top of your list. It’s understandable – especially because many mobile carriers have been resistant to promoting eSIMs. This is because eSIMs make it easy to change provider, and use multiple providers from one device. While this isn’t necessarily great for operators, it’s incredibly useful for regular travellers looking to make their lives easier and more cost-effective. Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of eSIMs, and exactly how and why they’re such an attractive alternative to traditional SIM cards.

Save on Data Roaming Charges

What is an eSIM’s greatest benefit? Maybe the fact that they can save you up to 85% on international roaming charges. Physical SIM cards are connected to one operator, whose rates may vary greatly depending on where you are in the world. Using eSIMs allows you to connect to cheaper service providers whatever country you’re in, which is far cost- friendly than sticking with one carrier. This means you don’t need to worry about coming home to an expensive phone bill, all because you wanted to keep your friends and family up to date with your travels.

Greater Convenience

Traditionally people have managed to avoid steep international roaming charges with prepaid physical SIM cards. Often this means ordering a SIM card and hoping it arrives before you fly (not ideal for last-minute trips), or trying to purchase a SIM card on arrival at your destination. Neither of these options are 100% reliable, and the last thing you want is to find yourself without connectivity in a new country, unsure of how to find the nearest SIM vendor. An eSIM can be activated in minutes over the internet, and you can toggle between data plans and providers via your phone or tablet. Not only that, but top-ups can also be made online at your convenience.

Instant Internet Access Globally

Being able to get online is important for so many reasons – you may need access to your social media to keep in touch with people back home, or a reliable connection in order to carry out work from any location. Even when traveling for leisure, you might want to check the reviews of a restaurant before you choose to eat there, or see what recommendations fellow travellers have been sharing online. While going off-grid is the goal for lots of people when they travel abroad, it’s no fun when it’s out of your control. Using an eSIM gives you a reliable source of data and an internet connection no matter where you are.

More Flexibility for Travellers

Traveling with a bundle of electronics can be annoying and anxiety-inducing. Using an eSIM removes the need to have both a work and personal phone, by allowing you to maintain multiple profiles on a single device. It’s easy to swap between plans and networks.

Another way in which an eSIM card can give travellers flexibility is in how quick they are to purchase and activate. There’s no need to wait for a SIM card to be delivered – you can act on your impulses and book that last-minute flight, without worrying about being hard to contact. Or, alternatively, if you only travel once or twice a year, you can rest easy knowing that your eSIM will remain active for up to 12 months after its last top-up.

Reduced Risks

Accidents happen. Physical SIM cards can be lost, broken, faulty, or forgotten. It’s impossible to lose technology already built into your phone, making eSIMs a far more reliable choice. They also reduce the risk of running down your battery, as they use less energy than SIM cards. This means less chance of finding yourself stranded with no way of getting help.

Use Multiple Numbers

Being able to be reached through multiple phone numbers on one device is great when traveling for work. With an eSIM you can limit the amount of electronics you bring with you on your trips, meaning less insurance to pay for, less things to worry about being stolen or damaged, and more peace of mind.

This also means that you’re still able to access number-authenticated social media such as Whatsapp, Facebook and Facebook Messenger, and Viber through your device while abroad. So you’ve got no excuse for not staying in touch while you’re away.

Save Physical Space on Devices

The majority of smartphones and tablets are now eSIM compatible, and it’s likely that in the future all devices will be. This is partly due to one of the key benefits of eSIMs – they take up less space than physical SIM cards. From a production perspective this is fantastic, because the space inside our modern, ultra-slim and streamlined technology is a valuable commodity. eSIMs are also great news for the burgeoning IoT (Internet of Things), which will likely capitalize on this technology to manage the connectivity between various devices.

Environmentally Friendly

SIM cards, at a base level, are little slips of plastic and metal. When upgrading to a new phone, it’s always advised that you should remove your SIM card, either to use in your new device or to damage and discard it, to prevent fraud. Think of the number of SIM cards being discarded around the world on a yearly basis. While research is being carried out into ways to reuse the precious metals in SIM cards, to prevent more needing to be mined, SIM cards are not particularly environmentally friendly. One eSIM can do the work of a handful of SIM cards, helping to reduce this waste.

Greater Security for Travellers

Another benefit of eSIMs is how secure they are to use. Having a reliable source of data and an internet connection on hand means there’s no need to risk using public Wi-Fi, which can leave you vulnerable to viruses and hackers. As well as this, eSIMs are impossible to clone or duplicate in the same way that physical SIM cards are, meaning there’s one less way for someone to gain access to your phone through a cyber attack. The advanced levels of encryption on an eSIM mean you can rest assured that your phone, contacts and data are safe and sound.

Worldwide Compatibility

Nowadays eSIMs are widely accepted by hundreds of operators around the world, a number that is only expected to grow as they gain momentum and popularity. We have both International eSIM and Asia eSIM packages, currently covering more than 200 destinations; more than enough for even the most ambitious globetrotter.

Installing and activating eSIMs

Installing and activating your eSIM can be done in just a few quick steps, whether you have an iOs or Android device.



Cellular/Mobile Data

Add plan



Network & Internet


To finish installing your eSIM, you will then need to scan the QR code we have sent to you by email and follow the instructions. You will also need to select TravelSIM as your service provider. After installing your eSIM and activating your chosen plan, you can add any necessary top-ups to your data or credit online through the My Account section of the TravelSIM website.

It’s important to remember that your smartphone must be unlocked in order to use an eSIM. If your device is not unlocked, you will be unable to switch between multiple networks.

We also recommend that you switch off “Mobile Data Switching” so that there’s no chance of running up high prices by accidentally roaming with your local carrier.


Difference between physical SIMs vs eSIM cards

SIM Cards


Physical purchase Bought and activated online
Tied to one carrier Multiple eSIMś can be at the same phone
Can be used in different devices Cannot be transferred between devices
Disposable Reusable
Useful with forward planning Helpful for last-minute trips


What devices are eSIM compatible?

Apple devices

iPhone 14/mini/ Pro/Pro Max

iPhone 13/mini/Pro/Pro Max

iPhone 12 /mini/ Pro / Pro Max

iPhone 11/ Pro/Pro Max

iPhone XS / XS Max

iPhone XR

iPhone SE (2020, 2021)

iPad Air (3rd, 4th Generation)

iPad Pro (1st to4th Generation)

iPad Mini (5th Generation)

iPad (7th, 8th Generation)

Android devices

Google Pixel 2/ 3 / 3 XL / 4 / 4 XL/4a/5/6/6Pro

Samsung Galaxy S22/ S22+ / S22 Ultra 5G

Samsung Galaxy S21/ S21+ / S21 Ultra 5G

Samsung Galaxy S20 / S20+ / S Ultra

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

Samsung Note  20 /20+/ FE/ Ultra/ Ultra 5G

Samsung Galaxy Fold/ Fold2 5G

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

Microsoft Surface Pro

Windows 10 PCs

Huawei P40 and P40 Pro

Lenovo Yoga 630

Nuu Mobile X5

HP Spectre Folio

Gemini PDA

Motorola Razr 2019

Palm Palm


What networks and carriers support eSIM?

See our full coverage and network breakdown here.

Using eSIMs across multiple devices

If you delete an eSIM in one device, you are then able to scan your QR code again on a different device and transfer it. Unfortunately, if your phone is lost or damaged before you get a chance to delete the active eSIM, it won’t be transferable.

Compare eSIM providers

If you’re going abroad and want to use an eSIM to help you in your travels and save you money, you need to make sure you’re looking for the best deals. We think TravelSim is the best option, but we don’t think you should have to just take our word for it. That’s why we’ve taken the time to write some detailed comparisons for you between TravelSim eSIMs and our main competitors.

Vodafone Australia vs TravelSim

AT&T vs TravelSim

eSIM Plus vs TravelSim

Holafly vs TravelSim

WorldSIM vs TravelSim

Telstra vs TravelSim

Ready to order your eSIM? Configure your eSIM here.

See the combos that travellers around the world are loving based on destination.