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Everything you need to know about eSIMs
Discover the new technology set to replace physical SIM cards altogether.
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.
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