As discussed in our previous article, most of the latest smartphones now come with eSIM capabilities. This technology provides a range of benefits, including the ability to easily switch between carriers, have multiple phone numbers on the same phone, and much more. eSIM is particularly convenient for frequent travelers, as many eSIM data plans that are currently available offer global coverage. In addition, devices such as tablets, smartwatches, and even laptops now come with eSIM capabilities.
It is likely that eSIM will be a predominant technology in the future, but because this technology is relatively new (especially for smartphones), many people are unclear about the main benefits of this technology, the eSIM plans that are currently available, and the most popular carriers in the space. The purpose of this article is to discuss these topics and hopefully answer any questions you may have about eSIM data plans.
Traditional Carriers In North America
Traditional carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile currently offer eSIM data plans. If you are using one of these carriers, it is very easy to add a second phone number or create separate data and voice plans.
For AT&T you will need to purchase a new eSIM account via the AT&T website. It is important to note that, while both phone numbers can be active simultaneously, you can only use one data plan at a time. The price of adding an eSIM plan costs the same as their physical SIM plans.
If you're using Verizon, this whole process can be done on the "My Verizon" app. After you have signed up for an eSIM plan via the app, you will be emailed a QR code. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Cellular > and Add Cellular Plan, and then scan the QR code from the email so you can proceed to the final account setup. Verizon does not offer a prepaid price for eSIM, therefore, you'll have to do postpaid to get eSIM. This costs $55 for 5GB and up.
T-Mobile currently offers eSIM on its prepaid plans, and these plans can be set up through their app as well. T-Mobile offers a range of plans in the United States. Depending on your data needs, you can select the "Tourist Plan" which offers 2GB/21 days for $30, the "Simply Prepaid" plan which offers 10GB/30 days for $40, or the "T-Mobile ONE Prepaid" plans which offers unlimited data/30 days for $70.
Other Carriers for eSIM Data Plans
Wificoin has recently launched brand new eSIM plans, which offer 1GB of data in both the U.S. and 45 countries across the globe. You can top up as many times as you need, but if you're mostly using Wifi this is a great option. The domestic plan costs $14.99 for 1GB and the global plan costs $24.99 for 1GB. These plans are currently available on any eSIM enabled device.
Airalo is committed to bringing cheap global plans to travelers. The company offers several local plans, as well as four regional plans and one global plan. Their coverage expands over 100 countries, and you can sign up for their plans on the Airalo app. Local plans with 1GB start at $3, and the most expensive plan costs $40. Airalo is also supported on a wide range of devices, including the latest smartphones, as well as many tablets, smartwatches, and laptops.
Truphone offers a large global plan as well, covering 88 countries worldwide. They also offer their product at a relatively affordable price point, and the price of local data plans does not change by country. The cheapest plans start at $9 for 1GB/1 day and go up to $49 for their 3GB/30 days global plan. Truphone's plans are supported by newer iPhone's, Google's Pixel, and as of February, the Samsung Galaxy S20. However, this list of supported devices is relatively short compared to most other eSIM data providers.
GigSky has been around since 2010, so they are certainly no longer a new player in the space. Their prices are not the cheapest, but their coverage is reliable. They also cover a vast amount of countries around the world. Their prices range $10 for their 800MB/1 day plan to $60 for their 3GB/30 days global plan. Similar to Truphone, GigSky is not compatible with a very wide range of devices. Currently, GigSky is supported on the newer iPhones, iPads, Google Pixels, and devices running on Windows 10.
Flexiroam is one of the most popular providers of global eSIM data plans. They offer a wide variety of plans, including seven global data plans and many other local data plans. Flexiroam currently covers over 150 countries. However, this coverage comes at a premium price. Their 500MB/8 Days plans start at $12, but their global data plans, which offer 11GB for 360 days costs upwards of $220. Most new smartphones support Flexiroam, but at the moment Flexiroam is not available on smartwatches or tablets.
Traditional carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, now offer eSIM plans, however, it is important to keep in mind that your phone needs to be unlocked to switch between these plans, and they are also not ideal for traveling. AT&T and Verizon charge huge fees for using data plans abroad. T-Mobile does offer free international mobile data, but you'll be restricted to incredibly slow 2G speeds.
Thankfully, there are plenty of eSIM carriers that offer strong global coverage. This is very convenient, as you can change plans right when you arrive in a different country with no need to go to a local carrier's store. Also, there is no need to carry around multiple SIM cards, and risk losing them.
The list of devices that support eSIM is getting longer day by day, with most new smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and even laptops possessing this technology. If you are currently looking for a new data plan on one of these devices, we hope this article helps you in your search.