eSIM vs Physical SIM: Which One is Better and Why

Haseeb Awan
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November 22, 2022
Modified On
April 15, 2023

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Modified On
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All of us are aware of Subscriber Identity Modules, more commonly known as SIM cards. They are the tiny cards we put inside our phones which help us connect with our network carriers. Over the years, this SIM card, or the Physical SIM, has gotten smaller and smaller, where now the most common version we have is the nano-SIM, which is around the size of the nail on your pinky finger. 

Of course, manufacturers decided that they needed an even smaller version now and then introduced the eSIM, initiating the debate of the eSIM vs Physical SIM. The main difference between the ESIM and the Physical SIM is that the ESIM is embedded within the phone, and physical SIMs can be added to or removed from phones. Of course, many pros and cons stem from this, and we will take a comprehensive look at them as you read further. 

What Are The Benefits of eSIMs?

Well, an eSIM comes embedded in your device. So, you do not need to go to a physical store or a franchise to purchase it like you do with a Physical SIM. Unlike a Physical SIM, which you must go, register, buy, and then add to your phone, the eSIM comes pre-installed. Moreover, you can register your carrier on the sim online by contacting your network carrier. And yes, you can register more than one carrier on your eSIM, change your number, or add another number to your eSIM without taking something out. Other than that, the eSIM is also very small. It is easily a third of the size of a nano-SIM. 

These are the main features of an eSIM, and quite a few potential benefits arise because of these. For example, you will no longer need a SIM tray in the future, which is a staple in all phones. This means that the SIM card will not be at the very edge of the phone. Instead, it is embedded deeper inside the phone, making it less prone to damage than physical SIMs. 

Water damage is a big concern here, of course. We all want waterproof phones now, and most phones these days are so to a large extent, but water can easily seep into the SIM tray and damage the Physical SIM. At the same time, water will be much harder to reach your phone's insides, protecting it from potential damage. 

With a Physical SIM, every time you have to get a new number, you go to your network carrier, buy a new SIM card, and add it to your phone. With the eSIM, you can do that with the help of a phone call, and possibly without even touching your phone. 

One of the most crucial aspects of why eSIMs could be more beneficial is that there is no SIM tray to worry about! We all know how annoying it is to find a pointy object (because we obviously lost the pin that comes with the phone) like a paperclip or a blunt toothpick whenever we want to take our SIM tray. Imagine that not being a problem altogether!

The absence of a SIM tray also makes room for even slimmer phones or the possibility of newer components in the phone. 

It is also possible to enable the same number of two phones with the help of an eSIM. Many of us have a work phone and a phone for personal use. Many of us would ideally not like to keep the numbers separate on both phones. This is because the reason for phone separation is mainly the data that is available on each device. You can likely do that with eSIMs now. You can enable the same number on two phones and use whichever one you want to utilize. 

The last benefit we will mention is also huge since it involves international travel. You know how when you travel to a different city, you have to buy a new SIM as soon as you land so that you can communicate and use your phone? Yes, that will no longer be a concern with an eSIM since you can enable an international number on your new phone and not have to pay the hefty payments for international roaming on your current SIM. 

How to Install an eSIM?

Another valuable aspect of an eSIM is that you can quickly learn how to install it. It comes pre-embedded in your phone, and you just have to contact your service provider to enable your number(s) or network. 

Many networks lately also have added benefits and offers for enabling their networks on eSIMs. You can get a trial version of a network-enabled for a few months and only pay for it once you know it will work out for you. 

How to Install a Physical SIM Card?

To install a physical SIM card, you must take the Sim tray out by pushing the pin into the slot. Place the SIM card on the tray, and then slide the tray back in. 

How to Remove an eSIM?

Since the phone comes pre-embedded with an eSIM, you may need help to remove it. Not without the help of professional expertise, anyway.

How to Remove a Physical SIM Card?

On the flip side, we all know how to remove physical SIM cards. You simply push the pin in the hole on the SIM tray, pull the tray out, remove the card, and push the tray right back in.  

How Does An eSIM Differ from a Nano-SIM?

There are two main differences between an eSIM and a nano-SIM.

First, an eSIM is much smaller than a nano-SIM. The dimensions of an eSIM are 2.5 mm by 2.3 mm. The thickness is around 0.2 mm. In comparison, the nano-SIM is 12.3mm x 8.8mm with a thickness of 0.67 mm. A significant difference from the eSIM. Also, you must add two of these nano-Sims to your phone if you want multiple numbers or networks enabled. 

Second, the nano-SIM can be removed and added to your phone. The eSIM is already a part of many new phones nowadays, and you do not have to learn how to install or remove it. 

Are There Downsides to eSIMs?

The technology of eSIMs is relatively new. So, there are still a few chinks in the mail, and many people might still prefer the Physical SIM for many reasons. 

Firstly, if you take your phone for repairs or if it is at the service centre for a while, your number goes with it. With Physical SIMs, you can quickly put your SIM card in another phone while your current phone is away and use your network as usual. This will not be possible when you only have an embedded SIM. 

This, of course, also comes into play when switching phones. When switching phones, usually, you can take out your current SIM card and put it in your new phone; there is literally nothing else you have to do. However, when you have an eSIM, you will have to jump through some hoops and get in touch with your service provider. This may irritate some of you, especially since the current method is so convenient. 

Since eSIMs are likely the future, network providers will likely automate the process as the years go by. Getting the necessary services on your phone will be much easier. 

Lastly, this may not be a downside, but the technology is new and may only be available on some phones. Most new models that come out now will likely have the technology-enabled, but eSIMs are rare. 

How Standard Is The Technology?

The technology for eSIMs is not that common at present. The technology has been approved; you can find it in most Flagship phones. The newer phones by Apple and Samsung will carry it too, but many other phones currently do not have the technology. 

Do We Have to Switch to eSIMs Entirely Now?

Sure, most of us are curious about eSIMs now. We want the technology, and we want to use it. But many of us are naturally apprehensive about committing to it, at least right now when it is not that common. So, the good news is that you don't have to! Just because a phone is embedded with an eSIM right now doesn't mean they are immediately letting go of the Physical SIM or the SIM tray. You can efficiently work with both side by side and see which one works out for you. 

As the technology for eSIMs evolves, we will find it much easier to switch to them. The world now demands instant gratification, and some aspects of that are missing with eSIM technology. Of course, instant gratification is exactly what the eSIM aims for, so we can assume it will get there soon. 

What Phones and Devices Are Compatible with An eSIM?

We know the eSIM is compatible with all new models of Apple iPhones, the Apple iPad, Samsung Phones, and Google Pixel Phones. Word is also out that newer models of Huawei phones and Moto Razr will also use eSIM technology. 

Microsoft Surface Duo also has eSIM support at present. Word in the market also suggests that newer laptops will support eSIM technology, making it even easier to stay connected wherever you go. 

Final Words: eSIM vs Physical SIM

Amongst the latest technology, we can find the eSIM, which aims to take over the Physical SIM card and offer even easier connectivity and convenience. The eSIM will come in-built into every phone in the future and will also have Dual-Sim connectivity. The future looks bright for the technology to become ripe soon, and we will no longer have to worry about pushpins and SIM trays. 

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Haseeb Awan
CEO, Efani Secure Mobile

I founded Efani after being Sim Swapped 4 times. I am an experienced CEO with a demonstrated history of working in the crypto and cybersecurity industry. I provide Secure Mobile Service for influential people to protect them against SIM Swaps, eavesdropping, location tracking, and other mobile security threats. I've been covered in New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Hulu, Nasdaq, Netflix, Techcrunch, Coindesk, etc. Contact me at 855-55-EFANI or for a confidential assessment to see if we're the right fit!

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