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How important is it for my phone to be eSIM-compatible?

You can survive without it, but it's definitely useful.

· 4 min read

Whether it is for travel or for your primary line, the adoption of eSIMs have been increasing and many are opting to use eSIMs in place of physical SIMs. If you are using an iPhone, or planning to get a new one, your phone is almost definitely going to be equipped with eSIM capability. On Android, while most of the newer flagship devices are eSIM compatible, there is still a majority of devices that are not. So, the question beckons - when choosing your next phone, how important is it for your device to be eSIM compatible?


What are eSIMs?

eSIM, or embedded SIM, is a technology that replaces the physical, removable SIM card with a virtual, programmable SIM card. This means that instead of physically swapping SIM cards when switching between carriers or traveling abroad, users can simply install and activate a new carrier profile over the air.

How important is it to have a phone with eSIM support?

If you are planning to buy a new phone and are currently comparing the specs between the different choices, perhaps you might also be wondering how important it is for your device to be eSIM-compatible.

Well, it really depends on what is important to you - let's take a look at what it means if your device is eSIM compatible.

Alternative options

An eSIM-compatible device opens up options for you. An eSIM-compatible device means that you have the option of using an eSIM for your primary line if your carrier supports it. There have been opposing views on whether eSIMs are a good option for your primary line given it might not be easy to quickly switch devices, but keeping that option open might not be a bad thing at all.

With an eSIM-compatible phone, it also opens up more options for you when you are traveling. You can now consider getting a travel eSIM for your data needs when you travel — an option which is typically much cheaper than if you were to activate data roaming, and more convenient than if you were to order a physical SIM or to buy one at the airport.

Have more (e)SIM profiles and easily switch between them

If you have an eSIM-compatible device, it also means you are no longer constraint by the number of physical SIM card slots on your device. While there is a limit to the number of active (e)SIM cards at any one time, and there is a limit to the number of eSIM profiles you can have installed, you are now able to store more (e)SIM profiles than your physical SIM card slot allows. This means that if you have multiple lines, it will make it much easier for you to switch between lines.

This is especially useful if you are traveling, and you want to keep your primary line active while using a second line for data needs when you are traveling.

Most Android devices today come with dual-SIM capability with two physical SIM card slots, so you technically can still have your primary line active while using a second physical SIM for your data. But, if you are already using two SIM cards normally, simply relying on dual-SIM means that you will have to give up one SIM card slot for your travel SIM.

With an eSIM-compatible device, you can still keep both SIM cards in your device while using an eSIM for your data needs. While you are likely still only going to be able to have two active (e)SIM profiles, but with the eSIM option, it makes it much easier for you to switch between lines in case you need to.

What if my phone is not eSIM-compatible?

Android users who are probably already used to the idea of using dual SIMs might not see an immediate need to change to an eSIM-compatible device. After all, with dual-SIM capability, you are still able to keep your primary line active while using another travel SIM for your data needs - which is likely to be the primary use case for most people.

And the truth is, you can definitely get by without an eSIM-compatible phone. However, you will likely be missing out on the convenience that eSIMs offer, especially if you are a frequent traveler.

Of course, there are other options that you can explore to get connectivity when traveling, but the convenience and affordable costs that travel eSIMs offer often make it one of the best choices for staying connected when traveling.

Not much needs to be said for iPhone users, since all iPhone models starting from iPhone XR will come equipped with eSIM capability. Do note that eSIM compatibility will not be available for iPhones in certain regions such as China.

Get a Nomad travel eSIM for your next trip

Nomad offers data plans in over 170 countries, and you can be sure to find one that is suitable for your travel needs. And if you will be traveling across multiple countries, there are also regional plans available so you can stay seamlessly connected as you hop between countries. Data plans are available from as low as $1.10/GB.

The networks that Nomad's eSIMs use for each plan are stated on the plan details on the web store and apps, so you can check which networks are supported before buying your plan. Data sharing and tethering is also supported on Nomad's eSIM plans.

And, if you are unsure about how much data you need for your trip, Nomad also has a Data Calculator that can help you find the plan that is most suitable for you. Also check out our blog post on data-saving tips when traveling to keep your data usage in check when traveling.

Nomad also has a 24-hour customer support team. So, in the event where you face difficulties while using your eSIM, rest assured there will be someone available to help you resolve your issues!