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What is an eSIM? Everything you need to know

Even the humble SIM card has been caught up in the digital revolution, which has seen the rise of the eSIM.

Nathan Lawrence
Jan 10, 2022
Icon Time To Read2 min read

A lower-case ‘e’ is a powerful prefix. It’s heralded the shift from physical mail to digital email and paperback books to electronic libraries for ereaders. Even the popularity of real-world sports has been matched by the rapid rise of esports. And now the physical SIM card is under threat from the eSIM.

What is an eSIM?


Conceptual graphic of an eSIM in a smartphone

An eSIM is a digital SIM card. In terms of the physical SIM vs eSIM debate, the former is a card that must be correctly inserted into your phone before you can use a smartphone’s cellular capabilities, while the latter doesn’t have a physical component. To configure an eSIM, you usually download an app or scan a QR code.

Outside of not having to physically insert or remove a SIM card, the big benefit of an eSIM is that you can technically shift telcos instantly, as long as the new mobile provider supports eSIMs. This effectively eliminates downtime between plan swaps.

The other benefit of an eSIM is it frees your smartphone’s physical SIM card slot for another SIM, converting your phone into a makeshift dual-SIM handset.

Finally, eSIMs also let you share the same mobile number between a smartphone and compatible smartwatches, including the Apple Watch and certain Samsung smartwatches.

Before we start, here's a quick look at some of the most popular eSIM-compatible mobile plans in Australia. 

Which telcos offer eSIMs in Australia?


Even though eSIM might still seem like such a futuristic concept, more providers have adopted the technology than you might expect. At the time of updating this guide, there are 18 Australian mobile providers who offer eSIM:

  • Telstra
  • Optus
  • Vodafone
  • Amaysim
  • Boost Mobile
  • Circles.Life
  • Everyday Mobile from Woolworths
  • Exetel
  • Felix
  • iiNet
  • Kogan Mobile
  • Lebara
  • More Telecom
  • Spintel
  • Superloop
  • Tangerine
  • Yomojo

It's worth adding that the three big telcos offer different levels of support for eSIMs. For instance, Optus supports eSIMs for compatible smartphones and wearables. Vodafone also supports these devices but adds tablets to the mix, while Telstra supports all three alongside compatible Windows PCs. If you’re eager to travel with an eSIM, you can look into providers like Airalo

eSIM mobile plans


Looking for a cheap deal with an eSIM provider? Here's a small selection of the most popular SIM plans from Australian telcos that offer eSIM connectivity. 

Devices with eSIM support

While there are hundreds of SIM card-compatible smartphones to choose from, that list shrinks considerably when it comes to eSIM-compatible phones and other devices. The table below outlines eSIM-compatible smartphones, tablets, wearables and Windows PCs.

Smartphones

  • Google Pixel: Pixel 3a/3aXL and later
  • Motorola: Motorola Razr (2019) and later
  • Samsung Galaxy: Samsung Galaxy S20 and later
  • iPhone: iPhone XR and later

Tablets

  • Microsoft: Surface Pro 5 and later
  • Samsung Galaxy:Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 and later
  • iPad: iPad (7th gen) / iPad mini (5th gen) and later

Wearables

  • Apple: Watch Series 3 and later
  • Samsung: Galaxy Watch (Gen 1) and later
  • Google: Pixel Watch 
Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence
Nathan Lawrence has been banging out passionate tech and gaming words for more than 11 years. These days, you can find his work on outlets like IGN, STACK, Fandom, Red Bull and AusGamers. Nathan adores PC gaming and the proof of his first-person-shooter prowess is at the top of a Battlefield V scoreboard.

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