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What Is eSIM? Is it the future of Simcards?



 I’m sure that in the last few months you’ve heard people talking about eSIM cards. This new term has become increasingly associated with tech devices, but why? And the most important thing, how are they different than the standard SIM cards that we already use in our smartphones?

What is an eSIM?

The term "eSIM" relates to a new standard being promoted by the GSMA - the association that represents network operators worldwide. It will come in the form of an integrated SIM chip, one that cannot and need not be removed from a device - something that consumer electronics manufacturers are also keen to adopt for connecting items around the house as part of the Internet of Things, and something that's been used by some car manufacturers too.

The eSIM gives us an improved and more secure customer experience, better designed devices, opens up new market opportunities for operators and enables entire new categories of connected devices. Let's explore this baby in a little more detail. The information on it will be compliant or rewritable by all operators, meaning a user can decide to change operator with a simple phone call. A new SIM will not be required, nor should there be any time delay in switching the eSIM to its new purpose. There will also be no physical swapping over required by the user.

History:

SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) cards, store network-specific information used to authenticate and identify subscribers on a cellular network and for the last 27 years have consisted of a physical card containing the chip which has to be inserted into the phone.
You may or may not remember, but in 1991, the SIM card that you inserted into your phone was the size of a credit card! In the intervening years the size of the humble SIM card has dramatically reduced.

The Future Of eSIM

The future of eSIM is still unclear at might have significant implications. Deploying an eSIM-based device could be costly, complex and will probably include some initial growing pains. In the long run, however, it should optimize cost and also extend the life and usage of a device. Since you don’t have to worry about compatibility, there is no need to switch a device just because you want to change operator.

Why eSIM?

The eSIM is positive for environmental reasons as it would minimize the discard of SIM cards.
It would also increase consumer freedom, and lower cost, when it comes to:

Using a local operator when traveling or relocating to another country.

Switching to a carrier with a better deal and/or coverage.

Changing phone without the hassle of cutting a SIM card.

Using the same SIM for different types of devices, not having to decide in advance if you want it for your smartphone, watch or alarm system.

Pros:

The number of contacts and how it works are the same as a regular SIM card, but you won’t have to worry about any foldable slots to support it. This chip is also much more reliable and less likely to cause mechanical failures. Plus, since it is smaller than a normal SIM and you don’t have to use a poker to eject it, it can be used in smaller devices, such as smartwatches

The new Google Pixel 2 is the first smartphone with an eSIM (at least in the US) which allows users to choose their service provider and can instantly be activated if you switch carriers. Plus, it enables remote provisioning, which means, you don’t have to wait for your old card to be deactivated and the new one activated when you change SIM. eSIMs let Google activate its smartphones from within its Project Fi network during the initial device set up without having to wait for a SIM card.

cons:

These benefits of eSIM cards are great, but there are also a few disadvantages from a user’s perspective. If you’re a user like me who changes their smartphone regularly or if you have multiple devices at home with different SIM cards, this eSIM situation may make your life a bit more complicated. 

Every time you want to use a new device you’ll have to activate the SIM card through the software of that device. You can’t just pull out the SIM and put it into another device and be ready to go.

This could also be a problem if your phone’s running out of battery and you want to slip your SIM card into a friend’s phone to check on something or make a call. With eSIMs, this won't be fast or easy.

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