What is an eSIM: Debunking 5 Common Myths

A data-driven debunking of top 5 common eSIM myths


Shern, Growth PM

May 20 · 5 min read

First things first - what’s an eSIM?

Surprisingly, many people still don’t know what an eSIM is, even though they’ve been around for years. If you don’t, fear not, we can give you the ELI5 here: eSIM stands for embedded SIM and allows you to get connected anywhere, anytime, on (most) flagship devices, without ever having to visit a shop or buy a physical SIM card. As long as your phone is compatible, you’re good to go.

eSIMs have been around since 2016, but started gaining serious traction in 2018. It’s been around so long, in fact, that a number of myths have sprung up around it. As staunch believers in the incredible flexibility and convenience of eSIM technology, we’re here to debunk the top 5 most common myths about eSIMs.

Myth 1 - eSIM is not available on my device

This is one of the most commonly held beliefs about eSIM: “My phone can’t support it”. Actually, we ran the numbers and it turns out that there’s a pretty decent chance that it can. If you own a 2020 or later flagship phone from any one of the big smartphone makers (Apple, Samsung, Google, Huawei), you’re almost guaranteed to have eSIM compatibility

In fact the list of models is too long to include (click here for the full list of eSIM compatible smartphones), but as an example: iPhone XR or later, Samsung Galaxy S20 or later, and Google Pixel 3 or later all support eSIM.

Another common variant of the myth is that eSIM is widely available only on iPhones, but not Android. That’s simply not true - check out the GSMA’s 2018 prediction that Samsung would actually have more eSIM-compatible models than Apple in 2020 - and you’ll see Android has just as much a place.

But don’t take our word for it. Based on smartphone volume shipments, we estimate that Android models make up at least 27% of all eSIM-compatible models sold in the last 2 years. Total global shipments of eSIM-compatible phones last year was at least 260 M based on Apple, Samsung, Google, and Huawei figures alone. The same GSMA report estimated at least 43 eSIM compatible smartphone models were released by the end of 2020.

Myth 2 - Not many telco operators offer eSIM / I need to wait for my provider to offer eSIM

Sure, this is partly true - many local telcos still do not offer an eSIM data plan. But waiting for your provider to offer eSIM is also irrelevant - the standard is operator-agnostic and location-agnostic. The biggest consumer use case today is international travel (though of course, there’s nothing stopping you from using an affordable eSIM domestically) - this is precisely what Nomad is capitalizing on.

Nomad is the world’s first truly global eSIM provider, covering 100+ countries with plans of all sizes at amazing rates. All you have to do is download the app, browse for a plan, click purchase, and you’re connected in 5 minutes. It does not matter which provider or plan you are currently on. An eSIM-compatible phone is capable of holding multiple eSIMs and switching back and forth is a breeze.

One of our bolder predictions is that in the near future it will not matter who your telecom provider is, everyone will just buy an eSIM off one of many marketplaces like Nomad. If you’re curious to hear more about how eSIM will change the way consumers use data, check out our other blog on What does the future hold for eSIM technology?

Myth 3 - eSIMs are a hassle to install

Nothing could be simpler than installing an eSIM. On the Nomad app at least, there are typically just 5 steps (once you’ve downloaded and installed the app for the first time): Browse plans -> Select -> Purchase -> One-click to install the eSIM -> Activate the plan. The whole process takes less than 5 minutes.

How to get an eSIM on Nomad
How to get an eSIM on Nomad

This is the case for pretty much any eSIM app on the market today. You can do this from anywhere your phone has Wifi or data connectivity (you can even purchase an eSIM from your desktop/laptop if you visit our web store). You can buy a plan you like before you travel, install the eSIM, and activate it only when you land in your destination 1 week later.

No more fumbling for change at a foreign airport, trying to figure out which plan is the cheapest. No more digging through your packed luggage for that plastic pin to pop out your SIM card tray. No more losing your current SIM card in the back of a taxi seat! You’ve settled all of that before you even boarded the plane, in the comfort of your own home.

The beauty of it is how flexible the eSIM is. Maybe you’re a completely different type of traveler - you forgot to research or buy a local plan ahead of time and you’ve just landed at 3.00 AM in some airport, all the SIM card vendors are closed and you’re stranded without the ability to call anyone. Just open up the app, choose a plan on the spot, and you’re connected.

For step-by-step instructions on how to install your Nomad eSIM, refer to this blog post.

Myth 4 - eSIMs are expensive

eSIM is the digital revolution for connectivity - it’s meant to be cheaper, not more expensive. At Nomad our objective is to get you connected as fast as possible, anywhere in the world, for as cheaply as possible. Because our distribution is digital, the major cost to the consumer is the back-end infrastructure of our global telecom partners. Keeping it simple helps to keep it low cost.

It’s not just us - most eSIM providers are able to offer really good deals on data plans in many countries. Here’s an example for Mexico:

Cheap eSIM plans in Mexico (source: esimdb.com)
Cheap eSIM plans in Mexico (source: esimdb.com)

Getting an eSIM is at least as cheap as, and sometimes cheaper than, buying a local SIM - but at a fraction of the hassle. Which brings us to our next point:

Myth 5 - eSIM isn’t going to take off in B2C, it’s mainly for B2B / IoT / connected everything

Those of us who are more familiar with the technicality of eSIM may believe that the big use case is in B2B, not B2C. This is partly true - there are a ton of interesting use cases in B2B. We believe eSIM will enable the nearly 30 billion IoT devices in 2025.

Operators are indeed focusing on exciting new applications for eSIM in connected vehicles, drones, smart appliances, smart cities and so on. But at the same time, there’s no reason why eSIM won’t take off in the consumer space, and as our rebuttal of Myth #1 shows, that’s already happening.

Don’t wait - join the eSIM revolution today!

We hope you found this article useful in bringing you a clearer picture of just how flexible and easy using eSIMs can be. Join us in revolutionizing connectivity and travel and try out your first eSIM on the Nomad app or Nomad web store.