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SIM City

Why eSIMs are the future of mobile data

Walter White eSIMS image

Minimalism is in, excess is out – just ask Apple.  

Macs have fewer ports than a landlocked country, the iPhone headphone jack is a distant memory, and now your new smartphone can say goodbye to that chunky SIM card slot. Apple’s streamlining has continued with the release of the iPhone 14 which, in the US at least, is eSIM only. 


A computer chip off the old block 

The sim card slot is a 31-year hangover from the origin of the mobile phone – an element that has barely changed (except for getting smaller) since the inception of the technology. Apple’s announcement may well have kickstarted the process to put physical SIM cards out to pasture. 

So, what is an eSIM?  

Simply put, it does all the work of a regular SIM card but is embedded. That means you won’t need to waggle a paperclip inside your phone to swap those finicky and easily lost plastic SIMs anymore. eSIMs allow you to change network, service provider and number easily within your settings. 


Service providers: No longer holding all the cards 

While eSIMs have been around for over five years, integration has been slow. Service providers (SPs) and smartphone manufacturers have yet to commit to the new technology. Only 14% of Telcos have released eSIM offerings worldwide. 

Yet, global service providers have not committed to the promotion of eSIMs. Right now, there is little public awareness despite the array of consumer consumer.  


Why eSIMs are the right call 

eSIMs represent a massive change in the telecoms industry, shifting power to the consumer. This is perhaps one of the reasons that service providers have been hesitant to promote them.  

The ease of switching eSIMs could disrupt the mobile telecoms industry. The functionality to switch between virtual SIM cards within your phone means that you can switch networks in seconds. If you lose signal on one, you can just switch to a different network. And if you want to use two different numbers, one for work and one for personal, then you no longer need two phones like you’re Walter White; now you can simply switch within your phone settings. 

Speaking of master criminals, eSIMs are a hindrance to phone thieves as well. The inability to remove a physical SIM card means that there’s no escape from Big Brother when you’ve got an eSIM. A stolen phone is traceable, so your phone is safer. The scene in crime thrillers where a fugitive swallows their SIM card will become a thing of the past – they’ll have to swallow the whole phone now. 


The internet of everything 

The biggest impact that eSIMs could have may lie elsewhere, in the Internet of Things (IoT). As eSIMs don’t require a port there’s scope to download them directly onto any device. Without the need to house a physical SIM card, IoT manufacturers can better refine their design.  

Thanks to eSIMs, work laptops can also be 5G optimised. This increases device security for IT departments by reducing the need to join public wi-fi networks. So what does this mean for you? Well, you’re free to be anywhere during the working day. Why not work in the garden or visit your favourite coffee shop without having to worry about connection quality or data security? 


SIMply wasteful 

While plastic SIMs take up very little space in phones, the environmental impact adds up. ABI Research expected 4.33 billion SIM cards to be shipped in 2022. Even though some providers now use recycled eco-SIMs, the cost of producing and then transporting them globally is significant. So why would we not just simply cut the card out altogether?  


It’s worth a slot 

The benefits of the eSIM and the fact that Apple (with their unquestionable influence) have got the ball rolling means that the eSIM uprising has already begun. On our ClientSide podcast, Hamish White, CEO of Mobilise, remarked: “I see the next evolution of Mobilise around eSIM, and being an enabler of a new way of connectivity for consumers and for IoT.” 

As Hamish implies, embracing the blossoming technology could be huge. We’ve already been helping our client BreatheSIM to harness the power of eSIM to unlock the future of mobile data. More specifically, they’re disrupting the travel data marketplace through cost-effective, hassle-free data across the globe.