Getting Mobile Data When You Need It

Everything you need to know about eSIM to get you started

Authored by Nikhil Aggarwal, Growth PM for Nomad

December 8, 2020

Read Time: 7 mins

If you’re reading this, you probably already know what an eSIM is. You might be just curious as to how it works, or maybe you’re actually interested in buying an eSIM and testing it out. In any case, we hope this short guide will help you navigate how to choose, buy, install, and use an eSIM so that you are empowered to get connectivity anywhere in the world at affordable rates, using your iPhone.

Choosing the Right eSIM Data Plan

The first question to ask yourself is: “how much data will I need?” The average American uses around 5GB of data every month (Statista), so if you are totally unsure about how much data you use, the safe bet is that you use about 5GB every 30 days. However, if you want a more accurate and personalized estimate of your data needs, there are a few things you can do. First, download your home carrier’s app and under the “My Account” tab, you can typically find the amount of data you use for this month and on average. Using this method, I found that I personally use between 7-10GB every 30 days. Since COVID-19, quarantines, and lockdowns, I use a lot less data than I did before - typically around 3-4GB per month. 

Once you find out how much data you typically use, consider what you need your eSIM for. Are you trying to save money on your existing mobile phone plan and want the flexibility to just buy data when you need it? Maybe a short term, 1GB plan would be best. Do you need it for high-speed hotspotting to other devices? Consider a 10GB data plan. Are you traveling? If so, how long are you traveling? When I’m traveling, I usually use a lot more data than when I’m at home, because I am sharing to social media frequently, streaming music or video during transit, Facetiming friends and family, and don’t usually have access to public wifi. For me, the perfect plan has around 3-5GB of data for 7-14 days.

Checking How Much Data You Use

Buying an eSIM Data Plan

Once you’ve decided how much data you’ll need and for how long you’ll need it, the best way to purchase an eSIM data plan is to head over to the App Store and download the “Nomad” app. As long as you have an eSIM-enabled iPhone, Nomad enables you to buy mobile data for any use case, with options ranging from 1GB for 7 Days to 10GB for 30 Days. Nomad offers plans for over 100 countries.

Once you download the app, you’ll have to create an account (takes less than a minute) so that you can store your eSIM, get a receipt, keep track of your remaining data, and get access to the new customer discount! After creating an account, you can select your desired destination and select the plan that best fits your needs. Checking out is super simple and extremely secure - in just a few clicks, your eSIM plan will be ready to be installed. The entire process just takes a few minutes, and can be completed anywhere in the world. Instead of waiting for the local shops or expensive airport kiosks to get a SIM card when you’re traveling, you can get the Nomad app and buy your data plan ahead of time so that you aren’t scrambling to find connectivity in your final destination. If you’re getting a data plan for domestic use instead, you can forget about paying expensive overage fees and immediately begin using your Nomad plan to save you money. 

the Nomad App - a World-leading eSIM Store

Installing Your Data Plan

After purchasing your Nomad plan, it’s time to install it. Nomad will present you with a few different installation instructions, but I’ve found that it’s easiest to install your plan using the QR code provided via email. Immediately after your payment has gone through to Nomad, you should receive an email that contains a QR code that can be scanned for easy installation of your eSIM plan. You can either print this out, or pull it up on another device so that you can scan it easily with your iPhone. 

Installing Nomad eSIM by QR Code

1. Open Settings on your iPhone and click on “Cellular”.

2. Select “Add Cellular Plan” and scan your QR code.

3. You can choose to label your eSIM - I usually just leave it as “Secondary.”

4. Your default line for calling and messaging should be your “Primary” line, and your new eSIM data plan should be your default line for cellular data if you are ready to use it.

Note: Installing your eSIM will not start the expiry of the plan - it will not start until you actually tell Nomad to “Activate Now”.

Using Your Data Plan

This is by far the easiest part of using Nomad and eSIM data plans: you simply activate your plan by selecting “Activate Now” in Nomad and you should be able to start using your mobile data in just a moment. Additionally, Nomad enables you to track your data use, top up, and get Customer Support directly within the app. 

And that’s it! Enjoy hassle free roaming with Nomad. I hope that this guide was helpful to you. If you have any feedback on Nomad, please feel free to email me directly at We truly appreciate your consideration to use Nomad for your data plan - you help us achieve our mission: connectivity anywhere, for anyone.