By Thibault — Posted on March 18, 2019

eSIM: What’s that and what are its advantages?

Mini, micro or nano? When switching mobile phones, users always faced the question of which SIM card size is required for the new smartphone. However, this is nearly out of the question for some customers of different mobile network operators, as the so-called eSIM has been increasingly used for some years now. In today’s blog article, we explain exactly what it is and what it means for the customer.

Nano, micro, and mini: Overview of different SIM card formats

The so-called mini SIM was basically the entry into the world of mobile communication. It was first used in 1996 and measures 2.5 x 1.5 cm. It is also known as a classic or standard SIM. The micro SIM is the slightly smaller brother, measuring only 1.5 x 1.2 cm. The so-called nano SIM is currently the most recent and at the same time the smallest SIM card, as it is only 12.3 x 8.8 mm in size. Since its introduction in 2012, no other format has been launched on the market. Fortunately, it is made relatively easy for the customer these days, as most manufacturers offer the cards as a triple SIM. These are all three card formats in one frame, which can be independently separated by the customer as required.

The new “eSIM” revolutionizes the mobile phone world

The eSIM, on the other hand, is a permanently installed chip in the smartphone that could completely replace classic SIM cards of any kind. The “e” stands for “embedded”. The eSIM stores the respective user data as a profile, so that one profile can be used on several of the fixed chips. This means that other smart devices can also network with each other via the same mobile phone contract. Smartwatches, smart bicycle gadgets or smart car accessories, for example, which are dependent on GPS, already benefit from this fact. All three major German network operators now offer eSIM in Germany, so that users will no longer have to rely on the compatibility of SIM cards with mobile devices in the future. In the future, Deutsche Telekom plans to introduce a further integrated SIM card – the so-called nuSIM, which is specifically designed for IoT devices. But it will probably take a few months or years until then.

What are the advantages of the eSIM?

Thanks to the eSIM, not only are there no longer problems with the different formats, but the complicated exchange of cards is a thing of the past. The user receives a QR code from his respective network operator, for example, which can be used to create his own user profile on the SIM card. It stores the data for the mobile phone provider. From a technical point of view, the integrated chip allows several profiles from different network operators. In addition, the new technology also simplifies the setup of a profile on several mobile devices, which is also referred to as multi SIM. When traveling abroad, the customer does not have to buy various SIM cards for the USA, Germany or another destination country, but can quickly and easily create a new profile on the device. Prepaid SIM cards instead of long-term mobile phone contracts could result in significantly lower costs as well. An eSIM also offers advantages for the manufacturers of smartphones, because not only is there more space inside the devices for other more important components, but the card slot also eliminates a very error-prone component in the mobile phone

eSIM: How does the activation work and which devices are currently equipped?

Unfortunately, there are still relatively few devices that use the integrated chip. On the German market, it is available for the Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2X, Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL. Also, the Apple iPhone models XS, XR, XS Max and iPad Pro are already equipped with it. The activation takes place either via a QR code provided by the operator, an app or by manually entering the data.

Conclusion

Although the eSIM has been available on the German market for some time, it is still comparatively rarely used today. Nevertheless, experts predict that they will completely replace the current formats in the future. The eSIM is expected to quickly replace the current formats, especially if the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to spread so strongly and more and more private individuals network their own homes.

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