Should you switch to an eSim when Apple starts phasing out physical SIM cards?

Apple recently announced plans to remove SIM card slots on some new iPhones (Brett Jordan on Unsplash)

Conventional SIM cards inside our smartphones are being replaced by built-in SIMs or eSIMs.

These tiny chips are built into the smartphone and are around 60 times smaller than regular plastic SIM cards.

When you buy an eSIM phone, you can use your phone network app or a QR code to automatically add a phone number to your new phone.

One call to your carrier is presumably enough to switch from an existing hardware SIM to an eSIM.

Will smartphone owners be forced to use an eSIM?

These new types of SIM are found on premium phones. They are typically alongside conventional ones in what’s known as a dual-SIM arrangement, so you have the choice.

Apple has completely removed physical SIMs on iPhone 14 models sold in the US and asks others to adopt the optional eSIM during setup. This is the direction of travel but we have not arrived.

Why are eSIMs better than conventional ones?

A hypothesized advantage is the reduction of plastic waste and pollution, which is no small thing, since there are now more SIMs in circulation than people on the planet.

They also promise convenience by making it easy to move between devices or create phone lines. This technology is also said to benefit smart city infrastructure. Juniper Research analysts believe that smart street lighting sensors will account for 88% of eSIMS by 2025. This is because each of these lights must be connected to a network, and the eSIM makes it easier.

What are the problems with the eSIM?

Not all networks have fully embraced eSIMs. While most of the major UK carriers now offer them, the setup is inconsistent and the network tech support forums are filled with requests for help.

“Confusion still reigns at the retail level,” GlobalData analyst Anisha Bhatia said in September.

Consumers attempting to set up their phones with eSIM tend to report problems, including incompatible QR codes or problems trying to move phone numbers between phones.

Some networks don’t offer in-store eSIM support, and people have reported the farcical situation where their phone number is cut off during a call to do so with tech support.

Which people should be wary of eSIMS?

If you are the type of person who tends to lose, break, or swap phones regularly, you have another challenge. Activation of the eSIM is based on a one-time code, which means that you have to contact your network operator each time you want to re-download the profile for another device.

This is enhanced by Apple’s iOS 16, which allows you to swap eSIM between devices via Bluetooth, or at least it will when carriers support it. Right now it’s a drawback.

How to use an eSIM when you travel

In the past, you would have simply inserted a local SIM card into your phone to make calls at local rates. As international calling costs rise and roaming costs are affected by Brexit, the challenge of going all-in to get an eSIM is that these virtual cards are not yet available everywhere.

It’s okay if you’re British, as we still have SIM card trays on smartphones and can use them instead. However, for US-based iPhone 14 users, it’s a problem.

One solution is to purchase eSIMs for other countries in advance, another is to use international prepaid data providers such as GigSky, Airalo or Truphone. Good smartphones can carry several installed eSIM accounts, with up to two active at any one time, helping you stay connected.

Should you upgrade to eSIM?

There are pros and cons to moving to eSIM. The benefits of reduced waste and near-instant setup (because you don’t have to wait for a physical card) plus the convenience of being able to support multiple lines on one device still don’t balance the challenge of navigating inconsistent network approaches.

What will the future of eSIM be like?

This situation is expected to improve soon, not least because when Apple supports a technology, its adoption accelerates.

The bottom line is that while there are issues that have yet to be resolved to make eSIMs easier to use than conventional cards, the future is coming to us fast and we can only hope these gremlins are resolved before eSIM-only smartphones arrive in the UK. .

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