If you’ve used a cell phone for long, you’ve probably had to use a SIM card. The SIM, which stands for subscriber identity module, allows the phone to know which network to use and how to connect. It also stores all the information that’s yours from contacts to encryption keys. It’s everything that makes your phone yours.
Until recently, the SIM has always been a physical card which goes into a slot in the phone. If you want to change the subscriber info on the phone, you just slide out the old card and slide in the new one. If you want to change phones, you take the card out and slip it into the new phone.
eSIM, however, is a chip that is embedded into the core of the phone. Instead of moving physical cards from one phone to the next, the phone company rewrites the eSIM with the new information. This exciting new technology has been included in phones like iPhone X and Google’s Pixel 2. So, the question is: Is eSIM right for you? Let’s take a look.
Benefits of eSIM
eSIM has a lot of advantages compared to old-school SIM cards.
- No Physical Card: You don’t have a card to lose, especially if you switch cards frequently.
- Easy Switching: All it takes to switch your eSIM information is contacting your mobile carrier, and they take care of the rest.
- Phone Security: Since eSIM is embedded inside the phone, criminals can’t pull out a physical SIM card should they steal your phone.
- No Store: You don’t need to go to the store to pick up a physical card. Just contact your mobile carrier to switch.
- Design Options: When a phone model needs a SIM slot, it limits phone design. With no SIM slot, phone design could have more options.
Downsides to eSIM
Just like anything else, new technology will also have downsides.
- Not As Simple: Even though eSIM can easily switch, a physical card can slide out and a new card in within seconds.
- No Disconnection: When the SIM is embedded, you can’t fully disconnect from the network, making it easier to track. If you want to get of the network, you won’t be able to.
- Security: Both eSIM and SIM are very difficult to hack. eSIM, however, is controlled by a server at mobile carrier, which can be hacked.
- Expensive Phones: Currently, only the top-end phones incorporate eSIM tech, so using the tech will cost.
- Support: Only 10 countries support eSIM, and only three mobile carriers do so in the US.
Should You Get eSIM?
Since there are both positives and negatives to eSIM, it can be good for some but not for others. Here are a few examples where eSIM might be good for you.
eSIM is great for people who frequently switch their SIM. That might work great for people who travel to different countries and use different service in each one. With eSIM, you won’t have to keep track of physical cards as you travel. You just need to contact the mobile carrier, and they’ll switch services.
This will work especially well with the phones that have dual SIMS, one is a standard SIM lot and one with eSIM, like the iPhone X. This would work great for the traveller, who could keep the local SIM card while switching to international carriers as they go.
eSIM is also good for people who frequently switch carriers. While many people like to keep the same carrier, since it takes work to find a better contract. With eSIM, you can sign up for a new contract online and the mobile carrier can switch it out for you in just a few minutes. You don’t need to go to your local carrier’s store. Simple. Easy.
eSIM is also good for you if you want to ditch the mobile carrier and sign up for programs like Project FI. Google’s project uses a combination of WIFI and mobile networks, switching to whichever one gives you the best signal. If you’re into this, eSIM makes it easy to switch over.
Why Not eSIM?
While eSIM is cool, new tech, it might not be for everyone.
If you want to use smaller carriers, eSIM isn’t right for you. Many of these smaller carriers offer more flexibility and more options. If you like your smaller carrier, eSIM won’t work for you.
Currently, eSIM isn’t great if you don’t want to spend a ton of money on a high-end phone. The iPhone X costs nearly a thousand dollars. Google’s Pixel 2 can come in nearly as high as the iPhone. If you don’t want the top-end phone, or don’t want to spend the money, wait for eSIM to come to mid-range phones.
For a lot of people, eSIM won’t make a big difference. Most of us don’t switch between carriers on a regular basis. If you’re not planning to use the switching feature often, it won’t really matter whether you get eSIM or not.
eSIM is a pretty cool new technology, and it has a lot of potential, especially for the growing market for the internet of things. For mobile phone users, eSIM will be a big benefit if you expect to regularly switch carriers. If not, the difference between eSIM and SIM might not make a difference in your phone experience.