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Sim Card vs eSIM: What’s the Difference?

Sim Card vs eSIM, Sim Card vs eSIM: What's the Difference?, Sim Card vs eSIM: Differences, Sim Card vs eSIM Pros and cons

Sim Card vs eSIM – With the growth and changes technology bring to our lives, physical sim cards are not immune to these technological changes. I guess you are asking about sim card vs eSIM what’s the difference?

If you’ve heard about eSIMs or are trying to learn more about them, read more here and find out about what eSIMs are, Sim Card vs eSIM – what are their differences and whether one is better than the other, and more information about these two.

READ MORE HERE: best eSIM for Europe travel, Holafly vs Ubigi: What is the Best eSIM For Travel, Nomad eSIM Review – Nomad Discount Code GAMINOMAD (An Affordable Travel eSIM), Airalo vs Gigsky, Ubigi vs Airalo – Choose the Best eSIM for your Trip, Airalo eSIM Review: Airalo Discount Code Inside

Let’s look at how eSIMs started and how they can change the way we connect with people, and connect to the internet, and if there’s a possibility for eSIMs to completely replace physical sim cards in the future.

What is an eSIM and How did eSIMs Begin: Sim Card vs eSIM

The easiest way to understand eSIMs is that they are virtual sim cards, or an embedded SIM (hence the name), that allows a smart device to connect to data (internet) signal, without the use of a physical sim card.

The first eSIM started in 2016 and a lot of devices since then have started to use the eSIM capability and added the feature to their devices.

In 2016, the eSIM was first used in a consumer device with Samsung’s Samsung Gear S2 Classic Smartwatch 3G. Apple, one of the world’s most popular tech companies first introduced eSIM in 2017 with their Apple Watch Series 3.

Sim Card vs eSIM - What are their differences and advantages of each , Sim Card vs eSIM: Differences, Sim Card vs eSIM Pros and cons

Complete List of eSIM-Supported Devices – Sim Card vs eSIM

Here is a complete list of devices – mobile phones, smartwatches and wearables, and ultrabooks and tablets that support eSIM capability right now:

iPhones with eSIM

  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone SE 2 (2020)
  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 Mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 Mini
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone SE 3 (2022)

Samsung with eSIM

  • Samsung Galaxy S20
  • Samsung Galaxy S20+
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy S21
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ Ultra 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S22
  • Samsung Galaxy S22+
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G 
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold 3
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G Fold
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
  • Samsung Watch (via Samsung Wearable application)

Google Pixel Esim Phones

Have a Google Pixel phone, check this guide on how to activate eSIM. Below are the Google Pixel Phones that support eSIM:

Google Pixel 2 (only phones bought with Google Fi service), Google Pixel 2 XLGoogle Pixel 3, Google Pixel 3 XL, Google Pixel 3a, Google Pixel 3a XL, Google Pixel 4, Google Pixel 4a, Google Pixel 4 XL, Google Pixel 5, Google Pixel 5a, Google Pixel 6, Google Pixel 6 Pro.

Other Android Handsets that Support the eSIM functionality:

Huawei P40, Huawei P40 Pro, Huawei Mate 40 Pro

Oppo Find X3 Pro, Oppo Reno 5A, Oppo Reno6 Pro 5G, Oppo Find X5, Oppo Find X5 Pro, Oppo A55s

Motorola Razr 2019, Motorola Razr 5G, Nuu Mobile X5, Gemini PDA, Rakuten Mini, Rakuten Big-S, Rakuten Big and Sony Xperia 10 III Lite.

Tablets that support eSIM capability: Sim Card vs eSIM

Apple

  • Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2021)
  • Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2020)
  • Apple iPad Pro 11 (2020)
  • Apple iPad Pro 11 (2018)
  • Apple iPad Pro 10.5 (2017)
  • Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2015)
  • Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)
  • Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2017)
  • Apple iPad Pro 9.7 (2016)
  • Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2015)
  • Apple iPad Air (2022)
  • Apple iPad Air (2020)
  • Apple iPad Air 2
  • Apple iPad Air (2019)
  • Apple iPad 10.2 (2021)
  • Apple iPad 10.2 (2020)
  • Apple iPad 10.2 (2019)
  • Apple iPad 9.7 (2018)
  • Apple iPad 9.7 (2017)
  • Apple iPad mini (2021)
  • Apple iPad mini (2019)
  • Apple iPad mini 4 (2015)
  • Apple iPad mini 3

Planet Computers

  • Gemini PDA

There are also Ultrabooks that have the eSIM functionality in them.

So check the following ultrabooks and laptops:

  • Microsoft Surface Pro X, Microsoft Surface Go 2, Microsoft Surface Pro LTE Advanced
  • Acer Swift 3, Acer Swift 7, Asus Mini Transformer
  • Asus NovaGo, Asus VivoBook Flip 14, HP Elitebook G5
  • HP Probook G5, HP Zbook G5, HP Specter Folio 13, Lenovo Yoga C630, Lenovo Miix 630
  • Lenovo Yoga 520, Lenovo Flex 5G and Samsung Galaxy Book 2

Smartwatches and Wearables – Sim Card vs eSIM

Apple

  • Apple Watch Series 7
  • Apple Watch SE
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch Series 5
  • Apple Watch Series 4
  • Apple Watch Series 3

Samsung

  • Samsung Galaxy Watch4 LTE
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch4 Classic LTE
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 3
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch Active2
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch
  • Samsung Gear S3 Frontier LTE
  • Samsung Gear S3 Classic LTE
  • Samsung Gear S2 3G
  • Samsung Gear S2 Classic 3G

Huawei

  • Huawei Watch 3 Pro
  • Huawei Watch 3
  • Huawei Watch 2 Pro
  • Huawei Watch 2

Oppo

  • Oppo Watch 2
  • Oppo Watch

Mobvoi

  • Ticwatch Pro X
  • TicWatch Pro 4G/LTE
  • TicWatch Pro 3 LTE

Xiaomi

  • Mi Watch
  • Xiaomi Wear 3100

ZTE

  • Nubia Alpha

Montblanc

  • Montblanc Summit 2+

Garmin

  • Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE

Meizu

  • Meizu Watch

Fossil

  • Fossil Gen 5 LTE Smartwatch (Verizon only)

Huami

  • Amazfit Nexo
  • Amazfit GTR 2 LTE

Mymanu

  • TITAN 4G Earbuds

Xplora

  • Xplora X5 Play eSIM

Sim Card vs eSIM: Differences

Sim Card vs eSIM - What are their differences and advantages of each 2, Sim Card vs eSIM: Differences, Sim Card vs eSIM Pros and cons

The biggest difference between Sim Cards vs eSIMs is that with an eSIM, you are technically not inserting an additional sim card to your mobile device. That means eSIMs do not provide you with a mobile phone number that people can use to contact you – call you and text you.

eSIMs are virtual cards and most new devices in the last couple of years have the capability/feature added to their devices.

If you have an eSIM feature available on your device, you can use a physical sim card while also using the eSIM feature (this is popular for most of the mobile phone devices that run the eSIM feature).

Biggest use of eSIM Right Now – eSIM Pros

At the moment, the biggest market that uses eSIMs are people who love to travel or travel long for pleasure or business and want an alternative to their local sim card to avoid hefty local sim card roaming charges.

For example, if you are from the US and you’re traveling to Europe for 3 weeks, instead of turning on roaming for your US sim card, you can just get a data plan for your eSIM and get a much more affordable way of connecting to the internet while you’re traveling. This is the biggest advantage of having an eSIM.

Another advantage of having an eSIM is that you’ll still be able to use your main phone number for messaging apps like Whatsapp, Viber, and Line (and others), without the need to insert new sim cards for each country you are visiting. This will help avoid confusion, losing your contacts by mistake, or losing sim cards in the process.

Disadvantages of an eSIM – eSIM Cons

Frankly, we don’t see any disadvantage to the eSIM capability at the moment. The only CON we see is if you want to use an eSIM and you have a device that is not currently supporting eSIMs. Please see the list above for the complete list of eSIM-capable devices.

In our opinion, if you have an older mobile device, and it still doesn’t support eSIMs (an eSIM cannot technically be added to your phone as a software update, as it needs to manufacture with the device), you’ll have to make the decision whether it’s really worth it to purchase a new device to get the eSIM feature.

If you are already planning to upgrade your mobile device, then it’s worth considering getting a newer model which supports eSIMS. Most of the newer phone models have this feature. However, if you’re not planning to upgrade, then you’ll have to think hard if upgrading just for this feature is worth it. It can make your device future-proof, but in most cases, we think it’s not necessary to upgrade for the sole purpose of having an eSIM.

If you are a traveler or planning to use data while you’re traveling (whether for leisure or work), then here are a few options you can do to have alternative data options, without using an eSIM:

FAQs: Sim Card vs eSIM

Let’s answer the most common questions about Sim Cards and eSIMs:

Do I really need an eSIM right now?

It’s not really a NEED. Although eSIMs are one of the newest features of newer phones and other devices at the moment, we ourselves believe that you don’t need to upgrade to a new gadget yearly. If your phone is not supporting the eSIM feature at the moment (we do own phones that have no eSIMs), check if you really have a lot of reasons to upgrade your device. We think it’s not useful to upgrade solely for the eSIM feature, however, it is totally up to you. We wrote this article, and a lot more inside our blog to help you make this decision.

Is an eSIM better than regular Sim Cards?

No, it’s not. They have very different purposes. If you want to use eSIMs with ultrabooks and smartwatches or your mobile phones, then you can do that, however, local and physical sim cards are still important for having SMS features and for signing up for a lot of services, both offline and online. For example, if your bank or social media accounts need to send you a verification code, eSIMs cannot be used for this feature. You are NOT GETTING a phone number with an eSIM.

Regular physical sim cards are still very important right now, and most especially, this is usually needed for you to have as it is the main way of contact.

Can I use an eSIM and Sim Card at the same time?

Yes, you can. If you’re using a mobile phone that supports the eSIM feature, you can use the sim card and an eSIM at the same time. Basically, once you activated your eSIM profile, your phone has the capability to connect to another network. At the moment, a lot of eSIM companies offer affordable ways to connect to the internet, and you can activate these online without ever going to physical stores. This is most efficient when you’re on the road traveling, and in another country and want to take advantage of affordable data plans.

Which one is better, Sim Cards or an eSIM?

Depending on your purpose, we’ll have to say that neither is better. They each have their own use. Sim Cards are used as your main point of contact, and eSIMs you can use it as an alternative way to connect to the internet through a new data plan.

Do I get a phone number with an eSIM?

No, you don’t. eSIMs are virtual cards. When you get an eSIM data plan, you usually get a code, link, or a QR code to activate that plan, but no phone number is included.

My phone doesn’t support an eSIM, can I download an app to get an eSIM?

No, you can’t. This feature needs to be manufactured with your phone. Please see the complete list of devices that support eSIMs above.

What are the most popular eSIM brands right now?

eSIM brands we are loving at the moment: Holafly, Ubigi, Nomad, and more. We wrote various articles comparing all these!

Will eSIMs replace Sim Cards eSIM better than physical SIM

This we never know. But for now, we think that Sim Cards will still be very important in the next coming years. You never know!

Sim Card vs eSIM Pros and cons

Best Things about a Sim Card

Sim Cards are still very important right now. It’s how you get a mobile number, which is one of the most important forms of contact right now. With sim cards, you can also use them as a way to save phone numbers and even some other addresses and notes that can be moved from one device to the other.

Sim cards are also very important when you need to connect a mobile number to certain services. A lot of services online right now, like bank institutions, credit, and debit cards, and even social media and other accounts will need you to have a phone number to receive special codes (like an OTP), to prove your identity.

Local sim card data plans are also some of the cheapest when it comes to getting a local data connection.

Worst Things about a Sim Card

The only con we see right now is that it can be a nuisance to always get a physical sim card. When you’re traveling to a new country, and need data, there are times it’s hard to get to a physical store to get a local sim card. Sometimes, the process is so hard to get a local sim card (some countries require identification and legal forms, so getting a local sim card takes time).

Also, physical sim cards, especially prepaid sim cards expire. You always have to remember to reload them or else you can lose the signal of these prepaid cards, which makes it difficult to access a lot of the services connected to the card.

Best Things about an eSIM

eSIMs is the new technology that can help you connect to various data networks, and take advantage of cheaper data alternatives when traveling outside your country, so you don’t have to worry about data roaming charges from your local sim company.

eSIMs are also easier to purchase and activate, as they only need to be done online, without the need for a physical card, removing the tedious process of having to travel just to get a sim. Once you get it online, you can activate it anytime, anywhere.

Worst Things about an eSIM

eSIMs right now can’t still be used on their own, so if you need a mobile number, you’ll need to have a local sim card, while having an eSIM, as eSIMs don’t provide you with a local number. eSIMs are only part of the newer phones and devices right now, so if you have an older phone or device from a few years ago, there’s a chance that you don’t have the eSIM capability.

Final Thoughts

Hope we gave you a clear picture of Sim Card vs eSIM – their specific uses, and whether you need to get an eSIM right now or not.

Let us know if you have questions about eSIM vs sim card or what you think in the comments below!

Ruben Arribas is a Spanish traveler who has traveled more than 70+ countries around the world. Now based in the Philippines!