With Apple's recently released iPhones, the world is revving up for its first broad taste of eSIMs, or “virtual SIMs.” While an iPhone isn’t the first consumer device to utilize eSIM technology (Google already beat them to the punch with the Pixel 2), the sheer number of iPhone users that will be taking on an eSIM device legitimizes it as the next technology toward which the masses must scramble.
Before I get into what eSIMs means in wireless, here’s a quick explanation of what the technology is all about. eSIMs have been around for some time. They’re in any smart car, many smart home devices, the Apple Watch and other smart watches, and, as I mentioned, the Google Pixel 2.
The “e” in eSIM stands for “embedded.” And, well, we all know what a SIM card is by now, right? Hold on, because it’s changed.
With an embedded SIM in a phone, things get more confusing, because it’s a rewritable part of the phone’s mainboard. That means it can do a lot more than a regular old SIM. It’s compatible with any major carrier, for one. If you’re traveling abroad, for example, and you need access to a local carrier, you don’t need to buy a dedicated SIM or even a dedicated device from that carrier. You simply call them up and get your existing device set up with them.
eSIMs won’t be taking over the whole of smartphones tomorrow, though, and there are some less-than-perfect aspects of eSIM that will put into question for some the overall value. For example, not all global carriers are ready to support eSIM, and you can only use one eSIM at a time.
Manufacturers will all take some time to get fully onboard with a new eSIM phone technology standard, then redesign product to accommodate it. It will surely cause initial confusion among users, who will have to figure out how to work with multiple carriers using one device “hub” instead of simply utilizing multiple devices or juggling a few different physical SIM cards.
This extends to the enterprise, which will have to do some analysis on the benefits of bringing eSIM phones into the mix for their employees’ use. Could an eSIM device be the perfect fit for use as both personal and business phone, with the capability of having a single device with two different phone numbers?
Sounds enticing. But as with every shift in technology, there’s the question of cost in addition to security, complexity/ease of transition, and training considerations for the new approach to wireless.
Questions about what eSIM means for your company? Contact us and we’ll help you figure it out now.