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Do I need to remove my physical SIM card to use an eSIM?

You don't have to!

· 3 min read

With traditional SIM cards being a staple for cellular connectivity, the emergence of eSIMs may sound rather intimidating for those who are unfamiliar with this technology. If you are considering using a travel eSIM for your connectivity needs when you travel, you might possibly have some questions regarding the use of an eSIM. In this blog, let's take a look at whether or not you will need to remove your physical SIM card if you wanted to use an eSIM.


What are eSIMs?

An eSIM, short for embedded SIM, is embedded directly into the device's hardware, eliminating the need for a physical SIM card. It operates similarly to a traditional SIM card but offers greater flexibility and convenience. Instead of inserting a physical card, users can install their cellular plan digitally by simply downloading their eSIM profile.

Can I have my physical SIM card in my phone when using an eSIM?

Yes, you can.

Perhaps a reason why you might have this question is because of how physical SIM cards work. In the case of physical SIM cards, you will need to insert the SIM card into your device's SIM tray.

Most iPhones today come with either 0 or 1 SIM slot; and most Android devices have 1 or 2 SIM slots. Given that each device has a limited number of SIM slots, putting in a new SIM card would require you to have at least one free SIM slot, which could mean removing a SIM card from your device.

eSIMs on the other hand, do not require a physical SIM slot. An eSIM is a chip that is embedded in your device, and to use an eSIM, you simply have to download an eSIM profile - similar to downloading a document that contain credentials and necessary information for your device to connect to the network.

Since an eSIM does not require a physical SIM slot to work, it eliminates the need for you to remove your physical SIM card for you to be able to use an eSIM.

Dual-SIM capabilities

One of the significant advantages of eSIM technology is its ability to facilitate dual SIM functionality without the need for a physical second SIM card slot. This feature allows users to maintain two separate cellular plans simultaneously, ideal for those who travel frequently, have work and personal numbers, or require separate data plans for different purposes.

With dual SIM capability, users can switch between plans seamlessly within their device settings, offering enhanced flexibility and convenience without the hassle of physically swapping SIM cards.

So yes, it is definitely possible for you to have a physical SIM as your primary SIM, and have an eSIM as your second SIM.

Most eSIM compatible phones also allow you to have multiple eSIM profiles installed in your device at any one time. While most devices only allow you to have up to 2 active SIM profiles (regardless of physical SIM or eSIM) at any one point in time, you are often able to store more eSIM profiles than that — making it very convenient for you to switch between eSIM profiles.

A very common use case for eSIMs as a secondary SIM is when you are traveling — keep your primary SIM card in your device so that you can continue to receive SMSes in case you need to receive a 2FA, and use your travel eSIM for your data and connectivity needs!

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!