12 December 2018
In good old times, mobile SIM cards were available were as big as the size of a business card. Thanks to the ongoing innovation, these days we use Nano SIM cards which are cards are so tiny that people often tend to lose them. However, if you’ve been following the news around the latest technology than you’d have heard a relatively new term “eSIM” especially in growing economies like India and others. Now if wondering what on earth an eSIM is and how is an eSIM different to your existing SIM card? Fret not, let us explain the concept of eSIM and how it is going to change the way you buy and use mobile sim cards.
Embedded SIM cards or eSIM card is basically a built-in chip in the smartphone just like any other component. It allows you to digitally configure your mobile connection with the service provider without having a need to buy a physical SIM card and inserting it in your phone. Even in case of changing the service provider, all you need to do is to contact your compatible service provider, download their app or scan a QR code, select a plan, pay and you’re set. The entire process is very easy and quick.
IDC Mobile Phone Tracker says that in the second quarter of 2018, 98% of the phones in India were dual sim phones and the number in China was almost 90% closely followed by the Philippines at 92% and over 77% in Indonesia. This is a huge number of potential users whom any brand would not like to miss and hence an eSIM offers a win-win situation for both the users and the brands like Apple of Google.
% of smartphones that are dual-SIM in selected countries, 3Q17-2Q18— Bryan Ma (@bryanbma) September 11, 2018
Source: IDC Mobile Phone Tracker, 2Q18
eSIM not only offers users a flexibility to easily switch their service providers it is very helpful to the manufacturers as it lets them save the space to make the device more compact. Users who are regular travelers and simply add a roaming eSIM to avoid any extra roaming charges, whenever they visit a new country. This process lets you keep your “home” number active however as of now you cannot access both the numbers at the same time.
Thanks to eSIM phones can become compact, offer improved water and dust resistance and lets the manufacturer improve other specs thanks to the extra space available. On the other hand, users will not have to worry much about the wear and tear of the sim card and the sim trays.
An eSIM can be embedded in any portable device by the manufacturers during the manufacturing process itself. Be it a smartphone, a tablet, a portable gaming device or even a laptop allowing seamless data connectivity on the go. Since it’s a very small chip, it can be added to the different type of wearables like fitness trackers and eyewear ( Google Glass for an example) etc.
These eSIMs works like any normal SIM, just without a physical form factor. In case you have a phone that supports one regular SIM and another eSIM, you can receive calls and messages on both the numbers simultaneously.
You can select a “default” number that you want to use to make outgoing calls. Like any other dual sim phone, you can customize the usage as per your choice. In other words, there is basically no difference between an eSIM and a regular SIM and they work like any regular SIM would so.
While eSIM is a fairly new concept it is only available in ten countries globally with only select carries. These countries are Austria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, India, Spain, the UK, and the US. Only China mobile offers eSIM in China, that too in a few cities only as of now hence the Chinese version of new iPhone includes a dual physical sim option. In a comparison, India’s major Telco’s Jio and Airtel offer eSIM and the third one, Vodafone is slated to join the bandwagon soon.