What are eSIM cards for?

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Samsung recently introduced its Gear S2 Classic 3G smartwatch, which is the first device to support eSIM cards. Although this is only a pilot program, the technology has already sparked a serious discussion. ESim cards are to be used in the expected iPhone 7, which is not surprising as Apple has always been at the forefront of adopting and spreading new technologies and standards in mobile technology.

As you know, it was the Cupertino giant who called on everyone – from the largest telecommunications companies to Chinese unknown manufacturers – to use cards first in the microSIM standard, and then nanoSIM. Are we going to enter the next standard of miniaturization?

It’s not about squeezing even smaller chips into SIM cards (according to some, to make SIM cards as small as possible, you can carve a chip from a nanoSIM card, attach it to an SD card and use it in slots that support both sizes). Meanwhile, eSIMs – or embedded SIM cards – do not assume the existence of an external chip at all. Instead, all subscriber data is first downloaded remotely and then stored on the device itself.

Real-time monitors of the world of mobility might say, “Wait a minute, aren’t there already virtual SIM cards? After all, there is Apple SIM, Project Fi and VSCA Alliance. Isn’t that the same? ” No, eSIM is a step – even a leap – forward. In the original solutions, the SIM card profile is downloaded remotely, but at the device level it is stored on a „dummy” SIM card that could be used again in another device. In the case of eSIM cards there are no removable „dummy” cards and the chip itself is embedded in the camera.

The GSM standard will not change due to the new SIM technology. It works the same way, except you don’t need to replace your SIM cards – just switch between the different profiles.

What is an eSIM?

An eSIM card is a virtual SIM card that is integrated into a mobile device and can connect you to the network of any mobile operator offering the eSIM service.

An eSIM works the same as a traditional SIM card, but you no longer need a physical SIM card. The eSIM card is soldered into the device and activated remotely (over-the-air).

More and more smartphones, tablets and laptops are equipped with an eSIM. For example, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, iPhone SE 2 (2020), iPad Pro 11 „(1st and 2nd Gen), iPad Pro 12.9” and iPad Air (3rd and 4th Gen), iPad (7th and 8th Gen), iPad mini (5th Gen), Surface Microsoft Pro X…

With an eSIM-enabled mobile device, you can easily purchase a mobile data plan when you need it, wherever you are in the world. You can even take out several packages from different operators and use them according to your needs: traveling, working from home or on the go.
For example: Ubigi allows savings of up to 90% on roaming costs compared to a standard mobile operator, and Ubigi is present in more than 170 countries! We also offer daily or recurring plans to replace poor quality and insecure Wi-Fi at home or on the go.

The eSIM is sometimes referred to by its technical name, eUICC (Embedded Universal Circuit Card).

What is an eSIM? It’s the future ! ESIM will play a major role in the Internet of Things (IoT). ESIM technology is also already integrated in many connected vehicles, wearables, household appliances, industrial machines…

What is the point of such cards?

Well, thanks to eSIM solutions, the cameras will be thinner, because there will be no need to insert SIM card slots.

This is good news for device manufacturers, because in such a situation it is easier to create a dust and water resistant housing, and also to „slim down” the device. Going further, the adoption of eSIM cards could pave the way for many electronics manufacturers who design smartwatches or fitness bands: these devices could become phone or Wi-Fi independent and connect to the Web without interruption.

In addition, the makers of telephones will have an easier start in the fight against mobile operators who control the device market. Producers would not have to negotiate shelf placement with them; they could use eSIM cards to directly influence the retail market.

Manufacturers could sell their devices in branded online stores, offering users a choice of subscription (in the case of eSIM cards, manufacturers can remotely turn on and off the operator) or, even better, the operator’s default subscription. This is why some of the largest operators strongly oppose the advent of eSIMs: they play a large role in operator-subscriber interaction and will not be replaced so easily.

This is where safety is also important (after all, this topic is discussed in our blog :)). If your device is lost or stolen, you can easily remove a regular SIM card. Then the new owner of the phone can turn off all restrictions (if it is not an iPhone), and then insert a different SIM card into the device or resell it.

This trick does not work with eSIM cards: you cannot download a new profile without having the right owner’s password. What’s more, after each restart, the phone downloads the previous profile, allowing it to locate a forgotten device.

ESIM cards have already been standardized by the GSM Alliance group, and many major telecommunications providers such as AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchison Whampoa, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone have expressed their support for them. However, leaving aside all the benefits of eSIM technology, migration won’t happen overnight. Smart Insights forecasts predict that by 2020 sales of cameras that support eSIM cards will be around 346-864 million units. Of course, this is a fairly conservative forecast, and industry support is not the same as adopting technology. Conversely, regular SIM cards are doing well: sales are projected to decline by only 16% by the end of this decade.