eSIM and SIM: what are the differences?

Estimated read time 5 min read

eSIM and SIM: what are the differences?

Starting with the iPhone 14 (2022), Apple has completed the nano SIM card slot with the eSIM technology. And the iPhone 15 takes this same path. What does this evolution mean? What is the difference between an eSIM card and a physical SIM card? And why is this important?

SIM stands for Subscriber Identity Module, the technology that allows a mobile operator to associate your device with your account so that you can communicate on its network. When a mobile operator provides you with a physical SIM card, it registers its unique identifier on its network.

The integrated SIM card (eSIM) is a technology that uses the features present in a physical SIM card, but permanently virtualized in a mobile device. An installation routine (often involving a QR code from the operator) therefore allows a mobile device to connect to an operator’s network without the need for a physical SIM card.

The advantage of an eSIM is that it
no need to go to a store, or wait for her to arrive by the

The first device equipped with an eSIM appeared in 2015. But the technology did not begin to impose itself until about 2019, after the launch of the iPhone XR (released in 2018). It was the first iPhone that offered support for two sims, a physical nano-SIM and an eSIM.

On the Android side, all Google Pixel devices since the Pixel 2 integrate dual SIM card support, as do most recent Samsung Galaxy models and a handful of smartphones from other brands. And since the iPhone 14 range, in the United States, Apple proposes to have two active eSIM profiles at the same time, completely abandoning the physical location.

The most obvious advantage of using an eSIM is that it is not necessary to go to a telco operator’s store to pick up a physical SIM card, or to wait for it to arrive by mail. You can subscribe to a mobile plan and activate it immediately by scanning a QR code, using the operator’s application or even manually creating an operator profile. Your phone must be unlocked, of course. If you try to set up an eSIM for another operator on a locked device, you will get an error message.

You can use one SIM card for a business line and the other for a personal line

But the fact of having two SIM cards makes it possible to consider other very useful scenarios. For example, you can use one SIM card for a business line and the other for a personal line. In this configuration, you can make and receive calls and use SMS messaging on either number. For cellular data (the “data”), you must designate a line, although you can change the line by flicking a switch in the settings. You can even configure several eSIM profiles and switch from one to the other in the settings.

It is especially important to have a dual SIM card when traveling abroad. You can use a local operator’s subscription for data coverage without losing calls and SMS messages to your original number.

Today, all major operators support the eSIM card. It took a while for small operators and MVNOs (virtual operators) to get started. But most established MVNOs have eSIM support in place, especially for Apple-branded devices. If you are planning to upgrade to a new iPhone and are currently using a physical SIM card, it is worth checking with your carrier to see if they can support the new technology.

The question of low-cost operators

This is where the lack of a physical SIM card slot becomes annoying. If you are used to changing devices by simply removing the SIM card from one device and inserting it into another, you will be frustrated by the design of the eSIM card. You may be able to use an operator’s app or web page to make the change, but that adds a hurdle.

The lack of a physical SIM card slot will be particularly problematic if you want to use a low-cost operator or if you are used to taking a physical SIM card provided by a prepaid mobile operator to use it in another country when traveling. These physical cards will not be able to be used on the latest iPhones.

Eventually, Apple’s design decision will probably force the market to switch to eSIM technology, whether it wants to or not. But this process could take years. In the meantime, older Apple devices (or even Android devices) will be preferred by people who need to be able to use physical SIM cards.

To find out how to set up an eSIM card on an iPhone, consult these two guides from Apple Support: “About iPhone eSIM” and “Using dual SIM with an eSIM card” For Google Pixel devices, see “Use two sims on your Google Pixel phone”.

Source: “ “

You May Also Like

More From Author