eSIM Planet has one of the most comprehensive list of eSIM questions and answers on the web! Every question you ever had regarding eSIMs – eSIM data , international travel, phone compatiablithy, eSIM gotchas, and more is answered below.
Click each question below to see the corresponding answer.
An eSIM is an electronic SIM card – a tiny circuit board inside your phone that acts like a regular physical SIM card. This virtual SIM card can actually hold multiple SIM cards. The beauty of this is that in addition to your traditional SIM card your carrier supplies you (like ATT, Verizon, T-Mobile) you can now add additional “phone lines” via eSIMs to your cellphone from OTHER carriers. So when it’s time to go and travel overseas just add another carrier who has a far cheaper data rate!
See a video we made on what is an eSIM at this link.
Cost! eSIM plans are a lot cheaper than buying data from your existing cell phone provider. See how much other carriers charge for data here. You’ll be shocked to see what they charge. See this page that shows a list of all US carriers and how much they charge for overseas data.
1. Make sure you have a compatible phone you can check if your phone compatible here
that is carrier unlocked – you can check if your phone is unlocked here This is also a good article to find out if you phone is unlocked — Find my iPhone’s IMEI number – is my phone unlocked
2. Sign up for an account at an eSIM provider (see our list of providers here) and based on your destination and data requirement (in GB) choose an appropriate data plan.
3. Install the eSIM on your phone and you’re all sets.
There is not a lot you can do. Your only option is to buy a used iPhone or Android phone that supports eSIM like the iPhone SE a used one can be had for about $130 at backmarket.com Some iPads and tablets, are eSIM compatible so you could purchase an iPad or tablet too.
If you don’t arrange for a special international or travel plan with your carrier before you leave you will be in for a nasty surprise. This family got dinged with a $13,470 bill! Without a plan for internal data usage, rates of $2000 per Gigabyte are not uncommon. Even if you do arrange a plan beforehand, the savings with an eSIM can be significant. Verizon has a travel pass for $10 a day so that’s $70 a week. If you’re on vacation for a month that’s $210. A 30 day eSIM can be had for $27. Add other family members into the equation and things get expensive fast! You can see how much carriers charge for overseas data here.
The first is travel destination. Certain eSIM plans are just for a single country while others can include multiple countries / a region eg all of Europe or N.America. Some are even world plans.
The second characteristic is duration such as 5 days, 10 days or 30 days. A few plans run for a year. Then data from 1Gb to 20Gb with a few being unlimited plans. Also look out for whether the plan support 5G speeds as some have only 4G speeds.
If you don’t arrange a data plan with your carrier and use data when overseas you could rack up thousands of dollars in roaming fees!! This family got a surprise bill of $13,470 after a trip!
How about $2000 per gigabyte for international data roaming (without a plan from your carrier) vs $3 per gigabyte for an eSIM! If you don’t have an international data plan set up with your carrier before you leave it could be as high as $2000 per gigabyte! Even with a plan, you could be charged $10 a Gb vs $3-$5 per Gb with an eSIM.
Sure, as long as the phone is unlocked and eSIM compatible. You can check if your phone compatible here. Find out if you phone is unlocked at this link Find my iPhone’s IMEI number – is my phone unlocked
Yes! The two can be thought of as two separate telephone lines. We strongly recommend turning off your existing line completely and just using an eSIM when going overseas.
Sure, although if you are going to 3 European countries, we suggest buying a single regional / European eSIM.
Many phones have space for multiple eSIMs. The iPhone supports 8! However, you can only use two at a time.
You normally scan a QR code with your cell phone’s camera to install an eSIM plan. Some eSIM carriers have iOS / Android apps that will install eSIM plans too. You can check out this video on how to install a Maya Mobile eSIM.
Nothing. You still need to pay the bill every month. You can run the two in parallel although you will be asked what line handles data and what line is used for telephone calls.
Even if you are not traveling internationally, an eSIM plan may be useful. For example: you are a pre-paid T-Mobile customer who only gets 1Gb of data a month and you are about to embark on a two-month road trip around the US and need more data. Just buy a US eSIM and get 20Gb of data for $29 per month just for the months you are traveling. This would save you switching plans at T-Mobile and probably incurring greater costs.
Here are some negatives when using an eSIM. We have also provided workarounds to these issues.
1. You won’t be able to make calls to landlines or other cellphones as an eSIM plan is just a data and doesn’t (normally) include a phone number . Workaround – use Skype or Google Voice instead to make calls and send SMS messages.
2. People won’t be able to call you on your regular cell phone number. Workaround – they can leave you a voicemail instead and you can check your voicemail remotely. You can also instruct friends and family to use alternative ways to contact you like FaceTime, WhatsAPP or Facebook messenger.
eSIMs can only be installed on cell phones and each QR code for activation works just once. If you switch phones, you’ll need to request a new code.
Digital eSIM technology is a target for hackers. For instance, in China, hackers have managed to install eSIM profiles on iPhones without carrier support. But they are 100 times more secure than regular SIM cards.
If your phone becomes inoperable, the eSIM is inaccessible. Unlike physical SIM cards that can be transferred to another phone immediately, eSIMs require internet access to contact your carrier and download a new eSIM, which can be time-consuming.
eSIMs cannot be removed for phone repairs. Without a MultiSIM service from your carrier, you’ll lose access to your minutes and data when your phone is being repaired, especially in cases of screen damage or power issues.
This is a little tricky as most eSIM plans are data only and don’t come with a physical phone number. You can use software like Skype or Google Voice to call phone numbers / land lines.
Your main line will just go to voicemail and you can then receive voicemails remotely by dialing a special number provided by you carrier. To dial this number you will need an app like Skype or google voice.
We recommend that folks tell their friends and family to contact them using other means than their phone number. Eg by using iMessage or WhatsAPP.
Check out our video on how to turn off your main line to avoid expensive roaming charges here.
Simple, just turn it off!!! Yes just turn off your main line!
Check out our video on how to turn off your main line to avoid expensive roaming charges here.
No, they have no way of knowing you are using an eSIM. Of course if your phone is locked by your carrier they won’t allow you to install an eSIM or any other SIM card until it’s unlocked.
Similar eSIM plans (eg same length, data amount and country / region) will differ by price, what international carriers they use and network speed eg some only support 4G vs others that support 5G. Some may use T-Mobile in Germany while others may use Orange in Germany. One carrier may be better than the other in that specific county. Some may be $37 for 10GB of data while others may offer an identical plan for $27!
This is tricky as some folks need to send texts. Apps like Skype and Google Voice can send texts to regular cellphone lines. These are pay apps and you will pay per text – but are generally cheap like 2c per text.
eSIM is data only so if you really must text their cell number you must use Skype or Google Voice but it would be easier and cheaper to use an app that is cross platform like WhatsApp, Signal or Telegram that is data only.
Their laptop has no idea they are connected to a cell phone via an eSIM plan, that may have a very limited amount of data (eg 1Gb) . The laptop may try to do a software update or sync files up to the iCloud and this typically could use a lot of data. This of course will come out of the eSIM balance of data. We suggest a program on the laptop to limit data usage, we recommend TripMode on the Mac
1. On your iPhone make sure to turn off mobile data usage for apps that are data hungry (iCloud, Photos app) or apps you are not using when traveling.
2. If you’re using your phone as a data hotspot then make sure the devices that connect to is are not using lots of data especially laptops. You can use an app on MacOS called TripMode on the Mac to lock down the laptops data usage.
If they didn’t lock down apps under the cellular data setting section of the point then an app like iCloud could easily use up a huge amount of data by syncing large files. They could have perhaps used the phone as a hotspot and connected their laptop to the eSIM data account. If the laptop was not running a special program to limit data usage then it too could have done a data sync eg cloud or photos app and used up a ton of data.
eSIM data plans ARE NOT like cellphone contracts. They just run the length of the eSIM plan, typically 5days, 10 days or 30 days. Then they expire.
Plans vary from a few days to 30 days. Some world plans last 365 days.
When you sign up for the plan you will choose how long it will be valid for.
Nothing happens, you just don’t have data anymore. Some plans can be specified to renew. This is a nice feature as most plans max out at 30 days and if you’re going to Europe for 2-3 months you will need to renew the plan manually – perhaps you forget and then you’re out of data for a while.
NO! An eSIM plan a one off payment for data for a set period of time in a particular country or region. You just buy a bucket of data and when the period ends you don’t have access to the data. It’s a single charge on your credit card that’s NON recurring. No data overages or $1000 bills. You get the amount of data for the amount of time listed in the plan, that’s it. Once the data is over that’s the end of the service.