Your iPhone has a cool feature you've never used before. See how this "tiny" innovation could change the way we live.

Authored by Nikhil Aggarwal, Growth PM for Nomad

June 8, 2021

Read Time: 8 mins


In late 2018, Apple released the iPhone XS, the first iPhone to receive eSIM technology. Almost 3 years later, we’re willing to bet that you’ve still never tried this incredible technology and that you might not have even heard of it before. We’ve written a few blog posts on how to install your first eSIM as well as 5 reasons why you need to try one, but this article is focused on discussing more of the big picture questions: What is the big deal about eSIM? How will eSIM accelerate innovation? What will eSIM technology enable for us 5-10 years from now? How can I use it?

What is the big deal about eSIM?

The eSIM was originally designed to make it easier to provision networks and parameters in 4G mobile devices. The concept is that instead of using a physical, removable SIM card, a SIM card can be inserted inside the units, allowing for software-based configuration—either manually or over-the-air (OTA). This significantly lowers the barriers to switching between operators, while also lowering the costs of system production and SIM delivery, as the latter will be made obsolete.

The idea was originally designed for the IoT/M2M domain, and the GSMA already released a standard related to eSIMs earlier this year, but it is now migrating to consumer devices as well.

Parallel to the standardization initiative, OTT platform players (such as Apple and Google) and smartphone manufacturers (such as Samsung) are keen on pushing this idea and technology in order to obtain a larger share of the mobile value chain at the cost of Communication Service Providers (CSPs).

How will eSIM accelerate innovation? What will eSIM technology enable us to do 5-10 years from now?

1. They can be connected remotely

Multiple mobile operator profiles can be created and securely downloaded and provisioned over the air onto an eSIM. Along with automotive applications, this has significant implications for consumer device manufacturers (think any product that could benefit from retrieving and sending data over-the-air)

According to a survey provided by Telefonica at the World eSIM Summit 2018, 60% of respondents want easy mobile activation. When a customer purchases a watch, tablet, or smartphone with an eSIM, they can activate connectivity at the point of sale.

2. eSIMs are small

As a result, eSIMs can be embedded into many different types of hardware such as Apple Watches, Rings, or Refrigerators with ease. This increases the scope of devices that can be connected to the internet by several orders of magnitude. 

3. Competition is fierce

Because consumers no longer have to swap a SIM Card in and out of their phone any time they want to switch carriers, eSIMs will dramatically increase the competition among mobile operators. Connectivity will become a commodity - a product that consumers can get on their own terms (instead of being privy to the rules among MNO monopolies across the globe). 

It’s hard to say exactly what eSIM technology will enable us to do in the future, but there are some studies that have been done in recent times that suggest that eSIM will accelerate the web3.0 revolution and enable IoT adoption to scale. The primary reason for this is due to the fact that eSIMs are tied to devices, not carriers. 

Consider this situation: you are a Smart Watch manufacturer and you want to enable your customers to have access to the cloud while they are exercising. Therefore, you want them to be able to get connectivity without having a cell phone nearby, and you want to make it easy for them to get that service. Before eSIM, you had to think about how a customer would purchase the right size SIM card for this device. You had to think about how much this service would cost, and what customers would be able to afford paying monthly for connectivity on a secondary device. You also had to think about partnerships with mobile operators, in order to have them manufacture the right sized SIM cards and create connectivity plans that fit the use case of your customers. With eSIM, you will no longer have to do any of that. You take control of the full end-to-end hardware manufacturing, and connectivity providers must adapt in order to unlock access to your customer base. Connectivity becomes more affordable as a result, as negotiation power falls.  

How can I use eSIM?

Hopefully, we have convinced you why eSim is the biggest innovation in telecommunication in the last decade. With the upcoming innovation of the 5G network it is expected to drastically alter mobile networks and here the eSIM will play a critical role. If you are one who’s looking to buy an eSIM then you can visit Nomad and get your eSIM and enjoy happy surfing!


Nomad is an eSIM marketplace that offers high speed, flexible, and no-contract mobile data that won't break the bank. Download our app on iPhone today and get started with a mobile plan as low as $4.