How do I install an eSIM? Is it complicated?

A Step-by-step guide for installing an eSIM

Authored by Elva Fu, Product Designer for Nomad

February 26, 2021

Read Time: 7 mins

There are several steps involved in the eSIM installation process. Here we will break down the steps, and get you connected right away! For a more general introduction to eSIM, check out our other article!

Is my phone compatible with eSIM?

First things first, make sure you have an eSIM-compatible, unlocked phone. The list below covers all the eSIM available devices as of December 2020. 

Apple iPhone: XS, XS Max, XR, SE 2020, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max

Google Pixel: 2, 3, 3A, 4

Samsung Galaxy: Fold, S20, S20 Plus, S20 Ultra, Z Flip 

Motorola: Razr 

Many other phone manufacturers are looking to support eSIM in the coming years as the industry shifts towards digital SIM cards. Even devices like iPads already support eSIM depending on the model you have. In terms of obtaining an eSIM, our very own Nomad app supports all iOS devices listed

Buying an eSIM Data Plan

The best way to purchase an eSIM data plan is to head over to the App Store and download the app “Nomad data plan”. Nomad enables you to buy mobile data ranging from 1GB for 7 Days to 10GB for 30 Days in over 100 destinations. You can find the full list of supported countries and iPhones here.

In the app, you can select the plan that best fits your needs and purchase it in just a few clicks. You now own an eSIM data plan! 

Buy A Plan on Nomad

Installing Your Data Plan

We recommend installing the eSIM soon after purchasing the plan while you have strong internet connection, to make sure you can start using the data when you need it. Installing your eSIM in advance will not start the expiry of the plan, expiry starts only after you activate the plan.

There are a few ways to install your eSIM Data Plan, and Nomad has tried to streamline the process as much as possible. Unfortunately, the installation process is under the sole control of iOS and Apple, so the best way to provide feedback is through Apple's feedback form

1. Install via Manual Input

The easier way to install an eSIM is through manual input, since scanning a QR code requires you to print out the code or display it on another screen.

a. Simply to go iOS Settings > Cellular > Add Cellular Plan and click "Enter Details manually" on the bottom.

b. Enter these information provided in the Nomad in-app instruction and also via email:

  1. SM-DP+ address
  2. Activation Code
  3. Confirmation Code (not required)

c. Follow the remaining iOS instructions:

  1. Name your plan (we recommend using "Nomad")
  2. Keep your Primary line as default for calling and messaging (because Nomad eSIM plans are data-only and cannot receive calls or texts)
  3. Select your Nomad eSIM data plan as default for cellular data if you are ready to start using it; select "Primary" for cellular data if you want to save Nomad data plan for later usage (Note: if you are using data to install and activate eSIM, choose "Primary" here so that you can go back to the app and activate the plan)

2. Install via QR Code

Another way to install your eSIM is thorugh the QR code we provided via in-app instruction and email.

a. Print out the QR code or display it on another screen

b. Go iOS Settings > Cellular > Add Cellular Plan and scan the QR code

c. Follow the same iOS instructions as detailed above

Installing Nomad eSIM by QR Code

Activating Your eSIM Data Plan

For U.S. or Canada plans:

When you are ready to use the plan, simply go to iOS Settings > Cellular and turn the Nomad eSIM line on.

You can activate your plan at any time and start using data.

For other countries:

Go back to the Nomad app, in the eSIM page, click "Activate Data Now." Go into iOS settings, make sure the line is turned on and "Data Roaming" is enabled.

Please note that for these plans, you have 30 days to activate the data plan after purchase. The plan will automatically activate after 30 days.

Troubleshoot for eSIM Installation & Activation

If you have trouble installing eSIM, activating your plan or using the data, please refer to these common solutions:

  1. eSIM only works on an unlocked phone. If you see the message "Cellular Plans from This Carrier Cannot be Added. Your device can only use cellular plans from a different carrier", you probably have a locked phone with a carrier. In this case, please reach out to customer support if you would like a refund.
  2. Make sure the eSIM line is turned on
  3. Check if you have enabled "Data Roaming" for the line
  4. Select the Nomad eSIM for Cellular Data (in iOS Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data)
  5. Turn on Airplane mode on your phone, wait for 15 seconds, then turn off airplane mode. This will reset the network connection and hopefully allow the phone to connect to the eSIM network successfully.
  6. If you have done all of the above, try turning off your phone and restarting it

Adding More Data

If you already have an active eSIM installed, you can seamlessly add more data to it without the hassle of installing another eSIM. Simply go to eSIM page in Nomad app, click "Add more data" and enjoy connectivity without interruption. Please note that this method only works if you data is not used up or expired, so make sure to add more data in advance. The add-on will automatically turn on once data from your current plan is used up or expires.


Hopefully this answers most of your questions regarding Nomad eSIM data plans. Over the next few years as eSIM becomes widely adopted, the process will almost certainly become simpler. Until then, this is the fastest way to get an eSIM data plan configured onto your mobile device. As always, we wish you the best on your mobile connectivity journey.