Phone SIM cards have undergone a profound evolution in recent years — from cards of enormous size, they have gradually become smaller and smaller, favouring the spread of devices equipped with two.
The latest evolution in terms of SIM is the eSIM, a technology that brings the user’s data, the integrated address book and the number directly into the phone without the need to place a physical SIM card.
In the guide below, you can find everything about an eSIM.
What is eSIM
eSIM (an acronym for embedded Subscriber Identity Module) is the acronym that identifies the SIM in virtual format. These SIMs are not physical chips inserted into the phone (as we are used to until now) but appear as chips integrated into the smartphone.
By taking advantage of eSIM, we can subscribe to any subscription with any operator without inserting a card inside the phone. The eSIM allows you to do the same things we were used to with classic SIMs — we can make phone calls, send SMS, receive calls and messages and connect to the mobile data network using the line enabled by the operator’s SIM.
What is the difference between SIM and eSIM?
The SIM is a physical card with a chip that is very common in consumer devices such as smartphones. Although traditional SIM cards are everywhere, their design hinders their transition to the future of smartphones.
The dimensions represent the main problem — a SIM is a physical object that takes up space, undoubtedly small, but certainly superior to other components — for example, a nano SIM measures 12.3 mm x 8.8 mm while an eSIM measures just 6 mm x 5 mm, which saves more than half of the space. Furthermore, a SIM can be easily damaged and stolen.
An eSIM, on the other hand, supports the role that the traditional physical SIM card has, such as service authentication control for mobile devices but with one crucial difference — the eSIM can be programmed remotely.
Furthermore, since it consists of a chip permanently soldered to the board in the device, it cannot be removed except with a desoldering, which will probably prevent its subsequent operation. This means that an eSIM offers more protection from theft or tampering.
What are the advantages of the eSIM
- The first and most obvious advantage is the impossibility of losing the SIM card or damaging it by mistake.
- There is no longer a need to physically purchase a new card for data plan portability. You can virtually enable it on your smartphone. Transferring your phone number from one operator to another is also faster.
- They can be configured quickly and safely.
- Users may save many eSIM profiles on a device simultaneously and easily switch between them.
- Manufacturers can make smartphones with larger batteries or use the SIM space for other technologies.
- They improve the device’s strength and solidity by avoiding using a removable slot that can cause damage or infiltration.
- They are also particularly convenient for IoT-based devices, like wearable devices.
What are the disadvantages of eSIM?
- The main drawback of eSIM is that it is less convenient when changing phones. You can’t just remove the SIM card from one device and insert it into another. It is also more difficult to check for problems with the device.
- In case of a connection problem, the simplest way to check is by inserting the SIM into another phone to see if the problem is with the network or device. You can’t do that with an eSIM.
- The eSIM’s compatibility and availability are currently restricted, but with backing from Apple, Samsung, and Google, that is sure to improve.
- If the smartphone breaks or its battery runs out, it will not be possible to move the information connected to the telephone line as with a classic SIM, which can be extracted and moved at will in almost all circumstances.
Phones compatible with eSIM
To take advantage of eSIM, you need a phone compatible with this technology. There are few phones with eSIM technology compatibility at the moment, but we are sure that eSIM support will grow to cover every market segment over the years.
Today’s phones that support eSIM provide a hybrid mode so that any need can be met — being dual SIM phones, we will find the eSIM as SIM 1 and the traditional SIM 2 slot, where you can connect an old SIM.
How to activate eSIM
The eSIM can be easily activated on a compatible phone by a simple procedure — the phone’s owner must scan a special QR code issued by the telephone operator chosen for the subscription.
The same process can activate new subscriptions and convert the physical SIM already in possession to not lose the phone number, the remaining credit and the data subscription already in use.
Why are eSIMs not yet available for all devices and in all countries?
eSIMs revolutionize the very concept of the telephone operator and the relationship between it and the customer. Once eSIMs are introduced, everything will be even more virtual. For operators, this switch has many advantages and commercial disadvantages, including the ease with which a user can abandon one operator to switch to another with a more competitive offer.
Furthermore, virtualizing user profiles involves some potential cybersecurity risks. For all these reasons — and others that the phone companies do not explain — eSIM is still being perfected.
Are eSIMs safe?
With eSIMs, all data will be saved on a chip built into the phone and in an online profile hosted by the operators’ servers. The question is, will it be easier or harder for hackers to breach users’ privacy and access their profiles?
On the one hand, an online profile guarantees more security (the data cannot be lost along with the physical component). On the other hand, it means the presence of another access point for cybercriminals.
To understand if eSIMs will be more or less secure than traditional SIMs, we will have to wait for the final implementation and see which security protocols will establish themselves and how effective they will prove.
For example, we’ll need to see how telecom operators will protect users from eSIM cloning, virtual profiles, and account hacking. One thing is certain, the future of communications is increasingly mobile, and the world of cybersecurity will have to invent even more powerful and flexible solutions to adapt to the wide variety of mobile and smart devices that await us in the near future.