Why eSIM technology is better than physical SIM?

No more switching SIMs, get connected with eSIM right away!

Authored by Jim Li, Growth PM for Nomad

February 18, 2021

Read Time: 5 mins

You may have heard the word eSIM being bounced around the internet over the past year, but have no idea what it is. Then this article is for you! If you’re already familiar and are looking for how you can take advantage and purchase your first plan, check out our follow-up article!

What does eSIM mean?

Starting from the very basics, eSIM stands for embedded SIM. This means that it is not a physical SIM card that requires insertion or swapping. It can connect to a network or carrier and function identically to a physical SIM card, without any noticeable differences in performance or connectivity.

How does eSIM work?

Phone manufacturers choose during manufacturing whether a phone will be eSIM compatible. If they wish to make a phone eSIM compatible, they need to add a small chip into the phone similar to the chip used in popular payment methods such as Apple Pay. This chip acts like a physical SIM, except you have to install an eSIM mobile plan to it. Unlike physical SIMs, you can install, uninstall, overwrite and add eSIMs onto your phone relatively freely all through the internet and your phone’s settings completely digitally. This process can take as little as 5 minutes.

Phone Models Compatible with eSIM

Apple iPhone: XS, XS Max, XR, SE, 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! 

Comparison to traditional SIM cards

It should be clear now that eSIMs are incredibly advantageous compared to traditional SIM cards. There’s no hassle of managing a tiny physical chip that you might lose, and they are available wherever and whenever you need rather than requiring you to visit a certain store with limited selection. 

In addition, you’re able to switch between carriers, adjust plans, and even hold multiple phone numbers on your phone much more easily. Depending on your use case, this could save hours while traveling. 

Some downsides include that there is a learning curve on how to install the eSIM and activate it compared to switching a physical card, as well as the high entry point as only the higher end phone models support the technology currently. 


If this makes sense to you, and you want to dig deeper into how you can actually get an eSIM data plan, we have the perfect article for you. We outline the steps from choosing to buying and installing a plan directly to your phone. We hope this helped clarify the meaning around eSIM even just a little, and wish you the best on your mobile connectivity journey.