What is an eSIM or virtual SIM and how does it work?

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You may have heard of eSIM cards, but you may not be clear about what this concept refers to. Do not worry because throughout this article we are going to explain to you what an eSIM is and how it works, so that you do not have any doubts, and you are aware of the many advantages it has.

The eSIM card is also known as a virtual SIM and is nothing more than the evolution of the traditional SIM card. It emerged in 2016 and assumes that the SIM is integrated into the device itself -that is, in the mobile phone, tablet, smartwatch… etc- so it is not necessary to have a traditional physical SIM, those that we all know and that have been varying in size becoming smaller over time (from the SIM that emerged in 1991 to the mini SIM and later the nano SIM).

Well, the eSIM card is gradually replacing physical SIM cards, because its use is much more comfortable, since you do not depend on having something physical in your mobile. Being integrated into your device, you can forget about it, having to remove it, change it… and you can even have several on the same mobile to give them different uses. Do not worry that we are going to delve into all of this throughout this article.

What is an eSIM or virtual SIM?

As we told you, an eSIM or virtual SIM card is nothing more than the digital version of the classic SIM cards, which contain the necessary data for the telephone operator to identify the device. As it is integrated into the mobile phone -or any other device- you do not need a physical card and that has many benefits.

The eSIM card works thanks to the microchip that is already installed in the device. They are located in it “virtually” and thanks to this you can have different “eSIM card profiles” on your mobile. In other words, it will be as if you were using different physical SIM cards without having to exchange them between them. What’s better, each eSIM card profile can be used with a different data plan, and you can use it instantly. No more waiting for the SIM card to arrive or changing one and another!

For example, this will come in handy if you want to buy a data plan to always be connected when you travel to another country and thus avoid paying roaming. In this sense, there are providers of “travel eSIM” cards such as Holafly, which has eSIM cards for more than 120 different destinations around the world. When you purchase your eSIM card, you can choose the amount of data you want to enjoy and the number of days you will have a connection. This way you will know what you pay for being connected, avoiding surprises on your bill, and being online at all times during your vacations or work trip.

Evolution of SIM cards

The first plastic SIM cards hit the market in 1991, they were the size of a credit card, and became popular during the decade, when mobile phones began to be marketed among the general public.

Made of plastic, over the years they were reduced in size. This is how microSIM cards appeared in 1996, almost twice as small as traditional SIMs, and then nanoSIMs arrived, even more compact, perfect to be included in mobile phones and smaller devices. They have almost no plastic edge and are made up of the microchip.

Despite being smaller and smaller, SIM cards were also evolving in terms of data storage capacity, housing the necessary information so that the telephone operator could identify the device and offer its telephone and Internet services.

But today mobile phones already have an integrated chip, smaller than a nanoSIM, which is compatible with eSIM cards. This allows them to have up to 20 different phone numbers and data plans using different virtual SIM cards, without the need to have a physical card or to exchange them.

What are the benefits of an eSIM?

As you may have already realized, eSIM technology transforms the way in which we communicate by phone and connect to the Internet, adding new uses to connected devices (mobile phones, tablets, smartwatches, etc…) facilitating the connection and that the user can enjoy different mobile communications services digitally and immediately. And all this, taking up less space in the gadget, which also allows them to be smaller in size.

Its advantages are many. For example, you won’t have to wait for the physical SIM card to arrive when you change carriers or want to sign up for a new data plan, as the eSIM card will be immediately available in your device as soon as you activate it (we’ll show you how more later in this article). This allows you to switch between one plan and another -or company- quickly and easily, just by clicking and without having to change one card for another.

Also, when you travel, they allow you to stay connected at all times, since you can purchase an eSIM card to travel with a data plan that allows you to forget about roaming completely. As we have explained, with Holafly you can purchase your virtual SIM card for more than 120 different destinations, knowing the amount of data you will have and the days you will have to spend it. You can choose the option that best suits your needs and know at all times what you pay to be connected, without surprises!

But in addition, when you purchase the Holafly eSIM card you also enjoy additional services, such as personalized customer service in case you need help when activating your card or during its operation, advice to purchase the best plan that suits your needs of communication during your trip and much more. You can always contact Holafly through the chat available on their website or by WhatsApp, the number is +16613848482, they attend you every day, including weekends and holidays at any time.

And of course, another benefit of eSIMs is the fact that they help reduce the use of plastics and CO2 emissions, so by having your virtual SIM card you will also be contributing to environmental conservation.

How to set up and activate an eSIM on your cell phone

Setting up and activating an eSIM is such a simple process that you can do it yourself at home in a matter of seconds. For example, the Holafly eSIM is activated with these three simple steps that we are going to explain to you.

Check that your mobile is compatible

Not all mobile phones are compatible with eSIM technology, so before purchasing your virtual SIM card you need to check that your device supports it. We discuss the list of supported devices later.

Buy the eSIM card to travel abroad

Once you have confirmed that your mobile phone is compatible with eSIM technology, go to the Holafly website to purchase your eSIM card to travel. You will see that there are more than 120 destinations available and you will be able to choose the amount of data and the time to use it among different options, so that you can select the one that best suits you according to your communication needs during the trip. You will know at all times what you pay to be connected and you will forget about roaming and surprises on the bill.

Set up and activate the card

When you make the purchase of the virtual SIM card, you will receive by email a QR code with which you can install the eSIM before leaving on your trip. Print the QR code or put it on the computer screen and, on your mobile device, go to “Settings” / “Mobile data” / “Add mobile data plan”

The camera will open and you will be able to take a photo of the QR code (it is important that you do it from this menu). Thus, your mobile will recognize the data plan. Give it a name to distinguish it from the plan you have with your current operator, so you can choose the one you want to use when you are abroad at any time.

When you arrive at your vacation spot, activate data roaming and activate the Holafly data plan, so you will start connecting to the Internet with the data from your Holafly eSIM.

eSIM prices: how much do you have to pay?

Depending on the destination to which you are going to travel, you will have at your disposal different data packages and duration with a fixed price. This way you will know at all times what you will pay to be connected during your trip, forgetting about roaming and surprises on your bill.

For example, these are the prices that Holafly has for its eSIMs. In Europe it has data packages to be connected from 29 euros. For that price, it provides 3 GB of connection to spend in 7 days, but keep in mind that you can also buy packages for more time or more data, depending on what you need. In countries outside the European Union, such as Switzerland, 6 GB of mobile data to use for 15 days costs 44 euros, while in Turkey 3 GB of connection for 30 days costs 34 euros.

In South America, the Holafly eSIM can be used in Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Chile and the rest of the Latin American countries for 47 euros, which gives you 6 GB of data to use for 15 days. In Mexico, for example, for 49 euros, they offer you 5 GB of connection for 15 days.

If you travel to Morocco you can enjoy 2.5 GB of data to consume in 5 days for 29 euros, among other options. In any destination in Asia for 49 euros you will have 8 GB to connect for 30 days. In Australia for 34 euros you will receive 10 GB for 30 days… You have many other price plans on their website, so they will undoubtedly have the one that best suits your needs.

eSIM Compatible Devices:

As we mentioned, in order to use an eSIM card you must first make sure that your device is compatible with this technology. The good thing is that most of the latest generation phones already are.

Among others, you can use an eSIM on Apple iPhone SE, XR, XS, XS Max and all iPhone 11, iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models. On Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, S20 Ultra, Note 20, Note 20 Ultra 5G phones , S21, S21 +5G, S21 + Ultra 5G Fold, Z Fold 5G and Z Flip.

And you can also use your Holafly eSIM in devices from other brands such as the Huawei P40, P40 Pro and Mate 40 Pro; the Google Pixel 2, 3, 4 and 5; the Motorola Razr, Motorola Razr 2019 Nuu Mobile X5, the Gemini PDA, the Rakuten Mini and the Oppo Find X3 Pro and Reno 5a, among others. In addition, new models that are compatible with eSIM technology are added every day.

eSIM card: final comments

In short, as you can see, using an eSIM is very simple and you can be connected always and everywhere during your trip. Virtual SIM cards have numerous advantages, they allow you to forget about plastic and use different data plans on your mobile device, switching between one and the other with just a click. No more waiting for a physical SIM card to arrive and having to swap one and another.

In addition, the steps to activate and configure an eSIM card like Holafly’s on your cell phone are very simple. You just have to:

-Check that your mobile is compatible with eSIM technology.

-Buy the eSIM on the Holafly website.

-Scan the QR code that will arrive by email and install it before traveling.

-Upon arrival at the destination, activate the data plan associated with the Holafly eSIM card

With this, you will be able to start surfing the Internet during your holidays without worrying about the price of roaming and enjoying the convenience of eSIM technology, which is revolutionizing communications thanks to its simplicity of use and all the advantages that we have discussed in this report .


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Brian Adam
Professional Blogger, V logger, traveler and explorer of new horizons.