Meet eSIM – an electronic SIM or embedded SIM

Meet eSIM – an electronic SIM or embedded SIM

It is a rewritable SIM card built into a cellular device like a smartphone or smartwatch. You don’t need to open a slot or tray to put in a SIM as an eSIM never leaves your phone. You just need to simply download a “software SIM” from the provider of your choice.While eSIMs can help manufacturers pack more components into smaller spaces, the biggest winners are consumers. If and when eSIM goes mainstream, you will essentially have the option to instantly change phone provider at any (assuming you haven’t locked yourself into a contract). You wouldn’t even need to pick up a SIM card from a store or place an order online to port; you’d make the request from your device.

If adopted widely, eSIM would almost certainly increase the ease of jumping from provider to provider. This would in turn increase competition, and could also help increase the visibility of smaller providers without a retail presence.

In Australia, the Apple Watch Series 3 was the first eSIM device you could buy, and as such, every telco’s eSIM offering have predominantly been focused around wearable technology and the ability to share a single between multiple devices. Telstra and Optus both have limited eSIM support for other devices, however.

The iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR all use an eSIM in order to achieve dual SIM support in all markets other than China (where they’ll get two physical SIM slots). If Australian telcos come to the party (Optus already has), or if you’re travelling in another country with eSIM enabled carriers, you can simple add another plan to your iPhone by installing an app or scanning a QR code provided by your telco of choice. You can store multiple eSIMs in your iPhone, but you can one eSIM plan at a time.

At present, these are eSIM enabled devices you can get in Australia:
Apple Watch Series 4
Apple Watch Series 3
iPhone XS & iPhone XS Max
iPhone XR
Samsung Galaxy Watch
Surface Pro LTE
HP Spectre Folio 4G
HP Spectre X360 4G

The Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 3 also feature an eSIM, but this currently only works with Google’s Project Fi network in the United States.

At present, the following Australian telcos have eSIM support:
Telstra: Wearables and PCs
Optus: Wearables and 2018 iPhones
Vodafone: Wearables

Travel SIM provider also supports eSIM for the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. These plans can be added to your phone through the app, but they’re designed for travel, rather local use.

eSIM on Telstra: Telstra has two eSIM products: One Number for wearables, and a second offering for Windows 10 PCs. One Number allows Telstra postpaid customers to share their plan with their 4G Apple Watch Series 3, Apple Watch Series 4, or Samsung Galaxy Watch. Telstra will bill you an extra $5 per month to use One Number. Telstra MVNOs are currently unable to make use of One Number; you need to have a plan with Telstra directly.

Telstra also has eSIM plans available for 4G-enabled Windows 10 PCs. These plans are the same as Telstra’s SIM-only postpaid and prepaid tablet plans, but are purchased directly through your device without the need for a physical SIM card. Until December 31, anyone with a compatible Windows 10 eSIM device can sign-up for a free 30-day trail than includes 30GB of data to use within Australia.

eSIM on Optus: Optus also has two eSIM products: Number Share for wearables, as well as eSIM plans for the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max. Optus Number Share will work the Apple Watch Series 3, Apple Watch Series 4, and Samsung Galaxy Watch. As with Telstra, it’s only available on postpaid plans.

If you’d prefer to pay your smartwatch off over 24 months, Optus also has Apple Watch Series 4 and Samsung Galaxy Watch plans available. These include bonus data that is added to your monthly allowance, and include Number Share at no extra cost.

Number Share currently isn’t available via any other Optus-powered providers or on prepaid, but a spokesperson told us the telco is “committed to developing new technologies and is exploring how the Number Share capability could be extended to services offered by MVNO partners and Optus prepaid”.

If you have an iPhone XR, iPhone XS, or iPhone XS Max, Optus now offers eSIM postpaid plans for the trio of devices. To get one of these plans, you’ll need visit an Optus store to get an eSIM QR code. You’ll then scan this code with your phone to activate your plan.

eSIM on Vodafone: Vodafone’s Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch eSIM product is called NumberSync. As is standard, you’re only able to setup NumberSync if you’re on a postpaid Vodafone plan. NumberSync is billed at $5 per month. Apple Watch owners can get their first three months of NumberSync three if they sign up before December 31. At present, Vodafone has no plans to offer NumberSync to prepaid customers or through Vodafone-powered MVNOs.

Setting up an Apple Watch eSIM: When you first pair a 4G Apple Watch Series 3 or Series 4 with your phone you’ll be asked if you want to activate its eSIM (provided you’re on a compatible plan). If you choose yes, you’ll need to sign in with your username and for your provider, and confirm you want to add One Number (Telstra), Number Share (Optus), or NumberSync (Vodafone) to your plan. It’s that simple.

If you’ve already set up your Apple Watch and didn’t enable the eSIM, you can do so by opening the Watch app on your iPhone. Scroll down to “Mobile”, and then tap “Set Up Mobile”. Your telco will send you a text to confirm that your eSIM is active. Your 4G Apple Watch will only work on the same network as your iPhone.

  1. Install and open the Galaxy Wearable app
  2. Select Start the Journey and choose Galaxy Watch
  3. Your phone and the watch will attempt to pair. Confirm the prompts on both
  4. Sign in or create a Samsung account
  5. Restore your Galaxy Watch from a previous backup if need be
  6. The Galaxy Watch will now attempt to connect to a mobile network. If you have a compatible plan, you’ll be given the option to activate the Galaxy Watch’s eSIM functionality.

Your 4G Galaxy Watch will only work on the same network as your smartphone. While the Galaxy Watch works with both Android and iOS devices, 4G connectivity will only work with Android smartphones.

Roaming with an eSIM: No Australian eSIM providers currently support international roaming when it comes to wearables. Optus’ eSIM plans for iPhones and Telstra’s eSIM plans for Windows PC roam at standard plan rates.


Meet eSIM - an electronic SIM or embedded SIM
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Meet eSIM - an electronic SIM or embedded SIM
It is a rewritable SIM card built into a cellular device like a smartphone or smartwatch. You don't need to open a slot or tray to put in a SIM as an eSIM never leaves your phone. You just need to simply download a "software SIM" from the provider of your choice.
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