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Buying an eSIM: Is an eSIM linked to the device I use to purchase it?

No, but it is linked to the device that you install it on.

· 3 min read

In today's digital age, our smartphones have become an indispensable part of our lives. They store our contacts, keep us connected, and provide us with countless forms of entertainment. If you are new to the concept of eSIMs (or embedded SIMs), you might have some questions around its purchase and usage. Since an eSIM is embedded within your device, you might be wondering if your eSIM would be linked to the device that you use to purchase it.

buying esim on phone

Understanding the Basics of eSIM Technology

Let's start by understanding what exactly an eSIM is. An eSIM, short for embedded SIM, is a small chip built directly into a device, eliminating the need for a physical SIM card. Unlike a traditional SIM card that needs to be physically inserted and removed from a phone, an eSIM can be programmed remotely.

Unlike traditional SIM cards that are permanently locked to a particular carrier, eSIMs provide the flexibility to switch carriers easily. By downloading carrier profiles onto the eSIM, you can activate a new mobile network without needing to physically replace the SIM card. This process is typically done through an app or the device's settings menu, where you can select the desired carrier profile and initiate the activation process.

Once the new carrier profile is downloaded and activated, your device seamlessly switches to the new network, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of a different mobile provider. This flexibility empowers users to choose the best network for their needs, whether it's based on coverage, pricing, or special features.

Is an eSIM linked to the device that you use to purchase it?

In short, it isn't. An eSIM profile is not linked to the device that you use to purchase the eSIM — that is to say that you can purchase an eSIM using one device, but have the eSIM installed on a second device. This essentially also means that you can purchase multiple eSIMs using a single device, but have it installed in different devices.

The linking of an eSIM to a device happens only when you install it, and not at the point of purchase. When installing an eSIM, the eSIM profile is downloaded and added to your device. This is similar to the act of putting a physical SIM card into your device. However, with a physical SIM card, you will be able to remove it and move it to another device any time; but with an eSIM, once it is installed in your device, it is not always straightforward to move it to another device.

More often than not, eSIM profiles are a one-time installation. That is to say that once you have installed it, the profile is linked to that device. If there is a need to change devices, you will need to contact your carrier to either provide you with a new profile that you can download to your new device, or they will remotely facilitate the transfer for you. You might need to provide your carrier with details such as your EID number for them to complete the transfer.

Note: Nomad's eSIMs are non-transferrable.

Well, you can't exactly 'unlink' an eSIM — if your idea of unlinking is to remove the eSIM and move it to another device. Instead, what you can do is to delete an eSIM from your device. Simply head to your device settings, select the eSIM that you want to delete, and remove it from your device.

However, if you are planning to delete an eSIM, you should note that it is not the most straightforward to recover your eSIM after you have deleted it. Since most eSIMs are for a one-time installation, you wouldn't be able to just reinstall the eSIM. Instead, you would likely need to contact your carrier to recover it for you, subject to their policy allowing for it.

How to buy a Nomad eSIM?

Getting a Nomad eSIM is very easy. Simply create an account with Nomad, select the plan that you want, and check out! Or, download the iOS or Android app and you can easily purchase and manage your data on the go.

After you purchase your eSIM, you will receive an email containing information on how to install and activate your eSIM. This typically involves the scanning of a QR code for the installation process — remember that you can purchase the eSIM on any device, but scan the QR code using only the device that you want to use the eSIM on!

You will need a stable internet connection to install your eSIM, but activation starts only upon use. It is recommended to install your eSIM when you are at home so that you can start using your data once you arrive at your destination.

And in the event that you run out of data, don't worry! Some of Nomad's plans come with the option to purchase add-ons. The purchase of add-ons will add more data to your existing eSIM, so you won't need to install a brand-new eSIM.