MoneySavingPro independently researches the products & services to bring you our recommendations. We may earn money when you click our links - disclosure policy.

As a money-saving enthusiast, I'm here to walk you through what an iPhone eSIM is and how eSIMs work. So whether you're a tech expert or new to eSIMs, you're in the right place.

If you're on a quest to cut down your iPhone expenses without compromising on connectivity, say hello to eSIM plans with low-cost carriers. A revolutionary solution that can help you save money while staying effortlessly connected. But how exactly does it work?

What is an eSIM on iPhone?

An eSIM, short for "embedded Subscriber Identity Module," is a digital SIM card built directly into your device.

Unlike the traditional physical SIM card, which you have to swap out when switching carriers or phones, the eSIM is a pre-installed virtual SIM that can be activated and reprogrammed remotely.

So there's no more fiddling around with a paper clip to open the SIM card tray or figuring out which way that tiny nano-SIM chip should face! The great news is that if you have an iPhone XS or newer, an eSIM is not only more convenient, but it can also help you save big bucks when pairing it with an MVNO. And in fact, the iPhone 14 series supports eSIM only.


How does an eSIM on an iPhone work?

An eSIM works in exactly the same way as a traditional SIM card by connecting your iPhone to your network provider. Your provider mobile data plan will connect after eSIM carrier activation is complete.

So, when you want to switch carriers or plans, there are a few things that happen behind the scenes with your network provider:

  • The carrier assigns an eSIM activation code, which is sent to you via a QR code or SMS or can be set up in the provider's app.
  • Your device then processes this information and activates your eSIM.

Each low-cost carrier has different steps, so make sure to check out your specific carrier for details.


Benefits of an iPhone eSIM

  1. Cost efficiency: MVNOs offer cheap plans on the major networks without compromising on quality. With the added bonus of eSIMs, you'll find plenty of savings because you can change plans to fit your budget.
  2. Flexibility: If you're traveling abroad or want to test a new carrier, you don't have to hunt for a place to buy SIM cards. eSIM carrier activation allows you to effortlessly switch to a different carrier or temporary data package with a few clicks directly from your device.
  3. Device freedom: Planning to upgrade your phone? Say goodbye to the delicate dance of transferring SIM cards between devices. Most new devices support eSIM. So, all your eSIM data can migrate quickly, making the transition smoother than ever.

Drawbacks of an iPhone eSIM

  1. Limited compatibility: While eSIMs are making waves, not all carriers and devices support eSIM just yet. So, make sure that your network provider and phone are eSIM compatible.
  2. Dependency on technology: If your device encounters technical glitches, you might be left without a connection until the issue is resolved. On the other hand, prepaid SIM cards are a bit more resilient as you can remove them and pop into another phone until the issues are resolved.

How to get an eSIM on iPhone

A growing number of MVNOs provide eSIM support. These low-cost carriers are powered by the three major networks, so you'll get the same 4G LTE and 5G wireless coverage while saving up to $700 a year on your bill.

When you're comparing plans, you can request an eSIM while signing up for your new cellular plan, or if you're happy with your plan, you can contact your current provider and convert your existing one to an eSIM.

Keep in mind that not all mobile data plans offer eSIM support, so make sure to double-check with your carrier.

How to activate your iPhone eSIM

  1. Activation code: Once you've chosen a plan, your carrier will provide you with the necessary activation details, usually a QR code, a verification code, or a link.
  2. eSIM settings: On your iPhone, go to "Settings," tap "Cellular," and finally tap "Add Cellular Plan."
  3. Scan the QR code: If provided with a QR code, use your phone's camera to scan it. If you were given a confirmation number or link, enter the details manually as directed.
  4. Complete setup: Follow the prompts to complete the setup. Once your eSIM is activated, you should be able to send and receive messages and calls.

Dual SIM capability on iPhone

Some iPhones offer a dual SIM feature that combines eSIM and physical SIM card capabilities. This means you can have two active phone numbers on a single device.

Dual SIM can come in handy when you want to have more than one number on one device. For example, a business and personal number or if you're a frequent traveler who needs a local number while retaining your home country's connection.

You can also use more than one network with your multiple lines, eliminating any poor coverage areas.

However, one thing to note is that the new iPhone is actually eSIM-only, just proving this is the future of phone technology.


eSIM on iPhone FAQs


Recap

An iPhone eSIM is the same as a traditional eSIM but much more flexible and easy to activate. However, as a growing technology, not all low-cost carriers currently support eSIMs, so you'll need to check the specific carriers when shopping for your iPhone eSIM plan.

Whether you've got a dual SIM iPhone or an iPhone 14 model that's eSIM only, your eSIM plan is quick to set up, and your new line will be activated within minutes.

iPhone eSIM FAQs

Related Content

Phone plans guides
10 best 5G eSIM plans: Same coverage 3x cheaper!
15 min read
Jun 14, 2024
Best eSIM carriers in 2024
14 min read
Apr 24, 2024
Best eSIM plans in 2024
14 min read
Apr 25, 2024
10 best eSIM plans for Apple Watch: Same coverage 3x cheaper!
4 min read
Jun 17, 2024
Best eSIM Plans for iPads for 2024
8 min read
Jan 06, 2024
Best free eSIM: Same coverage 3x cheaper!
12 min read
Jun 13, 2024
Best prepaid eSIM plans for iPhone in 2024
13 min read
Apr 27, 2024
Best value AT&T eSIM plans in 2024
9 min read
Jan 14, 2024
How much could you save?
Calculate your savings now
Same coverage - cut your bill by up to $600/yr
Meditating monkey
Find a cheaper plan in seconds
Switch in minutes