Everything you need to know about eSIMs
Discover the new technology set to replace physical SIM cards altogether.
Updated . What changed?
We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!
Mobile phones have relied on physical SIM cards since the early 1990s, using them as secure authentication devices for identifying individual users connected to a mobile service. Unique information relating to your mobile network provider and the SIM card itself ensures you receive the service you're paying for and helps prevent ne'er-do-wells from using call and data inclusions that don't belong to them.
Physical SIM cards aren't the only option, though. In recent years, many smartphone manufacturers have integrated embedded SIMs (eSIMs) into their devices, enabling users to switch mobile networks without swapping, removing or replacing any physical hardware.
What is an eSIM?
As the name implies, an embedded SIM (eSIM) is essentially a SIM card built into a device at the time of manufacturing.
Unlike regular SIM cards, an eSIM can be reprogrammed to a new mobile network with minimal effort from the user. Typically, a user need only scan a supplied QR code with their phone and the eSIM will automatically configure itself to the appropriate mobile network. You can repeat this process as often as you like, changing mobile providers without ever needing to open your phone and replace the SIM card.
Which phones support eSIMs?
eSIMs are still relatively rare, with only a small range of the latest smartphones supporting the new technology. You can compare those phones in the table below:
Which providers offer eSIM support?
Having an eSIM-compatible phone is only one half of the equation. To take advantage of eSIM functionality, your mobile provider needs to support it.
In Australia, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone all offer eSIM support for compatible devices.
Can I use a regular SIM and an eSIM at the same time?
Most eSIM-compatible phones also include a regular SIM card slot, a vital move considering that few mobile providers currently offer eSIM support for their services. Depending on the phone, you may be able use both a regular SIM card and an eSIM at the same time, switching between the two at your leisure.
This can be useful if you want to use two numbers on the same phone. You could swap between your work number and your personal number at different times of the day. You could also potentially save money by swapping to a data-only mobile plan when you're using the Internet and swapping back to your regular plan when you need to make a call.
Latest mobile phone headlines
The Samsung Galaxy S21 is now available to pre-order from the major telcos and it doesn't have to cost you a fortune.Read more…
felix Mobile is now offering 20Mbps instead of 5Mbps on its unlimited mobile data plan. But is it actually a good deal?Read more…
SPONSORED: Smart technology doesn't mean you have to race out and buy new gadgets. Try these smart tips instead.Read more…
SPONSORED: Changing phone habits mean time for a change of plan.Read more…
There's never been a better time to switch mobile plans.Read more…
Optus is finally offering “unlimited” data on its SIM-only plans, but how does it compare to “unlimited” data from Telstra & Vodafone?Read more…
More guides on Finder
Finder Daily Deals: The 5 best online deals in Australia today
Enjoy 26% off the Lenovo Duet Chromebook, 69% off the Cabello Silk Smooth Styler and 21% off the Dell G7 17 Gaming Laptop.
Dynabook Portégé X30W-J Review
The Portégé X30W-J is almost ludicrously light and works well as either a notebook or tablet, but it's not the most physically robust 2-in-1.
Oppo Reno4 5G review
Oppo’s latest affordable 5G handset provides an impressive combination of performance, battery life and camera features.
Apple iPad Air 2020 review
Apple has shifted the value proposition of the iPad Air from being the "fancy" basic iPad to the "low cost" iPad Pro, but the regular iPad is still going to be enough for most people.
Nokia 8.3 5G review
The Nokia 8.3 5G has been long delayed in Australia, but the wait was (mostly) worth it.
Data only SIM plans
Data only SIM plans can be easily inserted into your iPad or tablet for wireless Internet on the go.
Best power banks in Australia 2020
We searched through customer and professional reviews to find the best of the best power banks in Australia.
TPG’s new MVNO, Felix, comes with ‘unlimited’ data but at capped speeds. Is it worth it, or are there better plans out there?
Samsung Galaxy S20 FE Review
Samsung's Galaxy S20 FE is, surprisingly, its best phone of 2020.
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Review
The iPhone 12 Pro brings a number of quality of life improvements to Apple's iPhone family
Latest mobile plan deals on Finder
Get no excess data charges on these unlimited data mobile plans.
Avoid bill shock and control your spending with the best-value offers.
Ask an Expert