If you’ve ever changed networks with a mobile phone, you’ll know about SIM cards. These days, they come in a hybrid form designed to fit phones of all sizes. When you want to change networks, it’s as simple as taking the old SIM out and putting in a new one – that is, if your phone is unlocked! However, this is not the only way users can change networks, as Embedded SIM cards (eSIMs) are beginning to gain traction.
What is an Embedded SIM?
An Embedded SIM is just as its name suggests – a SIM card embedded within the device itself. You won’t have a SIM card port on the phone, and you can’t physically take it out of the device. It’s buried within the motherboard and not removable. However, just like a swappable SIM card, you can change the SIM card to a different network if it’s not locked.
Unlike a physical SIM, however, you don’t need to visit a store or use mail order for a new SIM card! Using what’s called “remote SIM provisioning,” network providers can beam details to your eSIM, allowing it to connect to their network. Some devices can only store one profile, so you’ll need to erase and download the network profile to make the change. Other devices, such as those using the Apple SIM, allow you to pick between carriers from the device’s settings on the fly.
At the moment, eSIMs haven’t quite become the standard of all phones. However, interest in them is slowly rising. Apple, Samsung, Google, and Huawei have all adopted eSIMs in some way or another, so it won’t be too long until they become prevalent on the market. Whether or not they’ll totally supersede swappable SIMs is yet to be seen.
Advantages of Embedded SIM Cards
The biggest advantage of the eSIM is that it takes away the need for individual SIM cards. If you want to use multiple plans on your phone, you can swap and change between them as you need them. This makes it perfect for network hoppers who don’t want to be fumbling with physical SIM cards every time they want to change.
Also, by removing the bay required for SIM cards, manufacturers can design their phones to be thinner. If you never have, and never plan to, change the provider for your phone, all you’ll really notice from the change is that your newer phones will lose some width. You don’t have to worry about the SIM change – just enjoy your sleeker device!
Disadvantages of Embedded SIM Cards
Of course, this does not settle well with people who love physical SIMs. The move from a user-replaceable SIM to one fixed inside the device is causing some users to become concerned about their freedom, naming it as another part of the phone they cannot customise. Changing the SIM is now a process that the companies have complete control over, rather than something the users can do themselves.
People share stories of how easy it is to travel to a new country for vacation, grab a physical SIM from a store, and use it for the duration of their stay. How will this work with eSIMs? Will it be as easy for people to grab a “throwaway SIM” as it is now? Or will there be additional hoops, limitations, and language barriers that stop it from being easy? At the moment, it’s tough to say, but user confidence is low in this regard.
Putting Embedded SIMs to Bed
Advances in SIM card technology have removed the need for a physical, replaceable SIM. Now network providers can beam details to an eSIM, allowing you to swap between network providers on the fly. As for whether or not it will fully replace the humble SIM is yet to be seen.
Are eSIMs the way forward? Or are they an aggressive push to get rid of the user’s control over their SIM cards? Tell us your opinions below!