Go back

What are data-only eSIMs?

What you can and can't do with data-only eSIMs?

· 3 min read

You might have heard of how eSIMs are a convenient option for travel, and perhaps that is why you are researching and learning more about eSIMs. While doing your research for eSIMs - especially in the context of travel - it is likely that you have come across this term 'data-only eSIMs'. Wondering what 'data-only eSIMs' mean and what it entails? Let's take a look.


What are Data Only eSIMs?

As its name suggests, data-only eSIMs are eSIMs that are designed specifically for data connectivity. This means that the data-only eSIMs provide you only with access to mobile data and connectivity, but they do not come with access to voice or messaging capabilities.

Most data-only eSIMs do not come with a phone number - since there is no need for one - and even if they do have a phone number, you are not able to call or send messages with that eSIM. So, if you have installed a data-only eSIM on your device and you see that it is indicated as 'No number' on your device settings page, this is no cause of worry as it is by design that there is no number included with the eSIM. And yes, if you do see the eSIM on your device settings page, you have successfully installed your eSIM!

Travel eSIMs are mostly data-only, not unlike international travel SIM cards. That said, there are some travel eSIMs (and SIMs) that also provide a phone number and minutes — do check your plan details and fine prints for more information of what it includes.

What can I do with data-only eSIMs?

Well, you can access the internet.

In the simplest sense, a data-only eSIM is nothing more than a source of data, and you can use your data-only eSIM to help you connect to the internet. If your plan permits, you can also use the data from your data-only eSIM as a hotspot for other devices to connect to — but that is where it stops.

You wouldn't be able to make calls or send messages via cell. But, you will still be able to use messaging and social apps to make calls and send messages over the internet. And in case you were concerned, making calls and sending messages over the internet will make use of data from your data-only eSIM, and will not incur any roaming charges.

But, while data-only eSIMs do not allow you to make calls or send messages via cell, it remains a very popular option for people traveling. This is no surprise given the heavy reliance on data and connectivity in today's society, and while you will almost definitely require data and connectivity when you travel, you might not necessarily require a number for you to make calls and send messages via cell.

Travel eSIMs offer travelers with the option to stay connected at much cheaper rates than international roaming. In addition, travel eSIMs are also much more convenient than to get a local tourist SIM card, which often requires you to queue at the counters at the airports, and to submit identity documents. They provide a good balance between convenience and cost, and it is no wonder it is becoming increasingly popular with international travelers.

And in the rare case that you need to make calls and send messages, there is always the option of falling back to international calls — which while not the cheapest, is much more affordable than international data roaming.

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!