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Home / Tips and Tricks / Motorola's new Razr phone grabbed the SIM card for an eSIM. Wait, what is an eSIM?

Motorola's new Razr phone grabbed the SIM card for an eSIM. Wait, what is an eSIM?



  sim card

Plastic SIM cards will soon be a fairy tale.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

iPhone 1

1 Pixel 4 Galaxy Fold and new folding Motorola Razr all have something in common, and no, it's not just that they're all phones. They can all store your telephone number – the essential ingredient in calling and sending text – in something called an eSIM . An eSIM not only makes it easier and faster to set up service with your wireless operator, but you can also have multiple phone numbers on one phone.

Sure, an eSIM is not nearly as exciting as a folding screen or a camera that can take pictures in the dark, but it's an important part of our phones. Without a SIM card our phones cannot connect to our wireless carriers and can also be an iPod . In addition to technological advances in terms of screens, the SIM card is changing – and for the better.

What exactly is an eSIM and why should you care? Glad you asked. Here's everything you need to know about eSIM technology and why it will start playing.





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What is an eSIM?

An eSIM – which stands for "embedded subscriber identity module" – is a small electronic chip in a phone that serves the same function as the small plastic SIM cards we have been using for years. Without a SIM card, your phone does not know which operator you want to connect to or your phone number and your carrier does not know which phone you want to provide services to.

  pixel-4-esim "data-original =" https://cnet1.cbsistatic.com/img/ly2Qz1mQNalzgA3Sl8JCpuwUYNU=/2019/11/26/5540b629-971d-4b39-a1a2-4c6591bd28a5/pixel-4 .jpg

Google's Pixel 4 XL has an eSIM.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

What are the benefits of an eSIM?

Unlike carrier-locked SIM cards that restrict you from switching between carriers, an eSIM can be programmed and reprogrammed as needed, allowing you to jump between carriers or cancel and start the service, but must receive a new SIM card each time.

Without a removable SIM card slot and the precious space it requires, phone manufacturers will be able to squeeze larger batteries into the phone's casing or use the extra space for additional cameras or new features. Of course, no SIM card slot probably means no microSD card slot to add additional storage space, a change that phone manufacturers are also facing.

transporters and telephone manufacturers will need to be rationalized (more on both of these aspects below), but one thing is clear: One day we will soon be able to switch between operators with just a few taps on our phone's display.

  Motorola Razr "data-original =" https://cnet4.cbsistatic.com/img/SDZ93Vi9gjKEq-lWe8FudKdqLp8=/2019/11/15/9786b68d-ed84-49c9-96f6-c0da7facdb6a/00100414840-001

One thing you can't find on the new Razr is a SIM card slot.


Juan Garzon / CNET

What phones are using an eSIM now?

There are not many phones using eSIM right now.

Apple's iPhone XS, XS Max, XR, 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max all have an eSIM, in addition to the usual plastic SIM card (more on why below).

Google's Pixels 2, 3, 3A and 4 also have a standard SIM card slot and eSIM Support.

Samsung Galaxy Fold has an eSIM and a Micro-SIM card slot.

Motorola Razr is the first phone to launch without a physical SIM card slot, which relies solely on eSIM.

  sim-pixel-3-xl "data-original =" https://cnet3.cbsistatic.com/img/wddIQfrz0HbJv6trAr8iEnFwpG8=/2019/04/09/133fa583-3bb6-4dc5-8851-85e5b59d438f/sim-p -3-xl.jpg

When you free up the space that a SIM compartment occupies, phone manufacturers can do many things.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

Why have an eSIM and a physical SIM?

Apple iPhones which has two SIM cards – one eSIM and one physical card – can connect to two different carriers and phone numbers at the same time. So you can have your personal and work number on an iPhone, even if you have T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless as suppliers. This is possible on an iPhone because it is unlocked and supports multiple carriers.

Phones with eSIM are also useful for frequent travelers from the country. You can use eSIM to register for a data plan abroad and save yourself from roaming charges. And if you set up an eSIM via a provider like GigSky before you leave, you have access to the data as soon as you land.

Of course, you do not need to use both SIM cards at the same time, or even at all, and when you buy the phone from your carrier, it usually comes with a standard SIM already installed and ready to connect to your account.

But if you buy a phone that does not come with a SIM card – from select retailers or websites like Swappa, for example – you have to visit your carrier or order a SIM card and wait for it to arrive in the mail and activate it. With an eSIM you don't have to wait – you can activate the phone in just a few minutes.

  apple-iphone-11-10 "data-original =" https://cnet3.cbsistatic.com/img/ypgin7HNtBNnAukOPHN6rXy1rSE=/2019/11/22/4ca6e2b7-055c-40d6-9847-229997f4294f/apple-iphone -11-10.jpg

Did you know that you can have two phone numbers connected to your iPhone?


Angela Lang / CNET

Will all phones start using eSIM cards?

The odds are, yes. It makes sense that phone manufacturers and carriers release plastic SIM cards, both from an extra cost point of view and environmentally friendly when you think of the large plastic card to which a standard SIM card is connected.

Does my carrier need to support eSIM technology to use it?

Yes. Apple has a list of all wireless carriers around the world that support the iPhone's eSIM feature.

As for Google Pixel, the process is a little more confusing. Google Fi which is Google's prepaid wireless carrier, can use an eSIM, and some US carriers like AT&T and Sprint support eSIM on Pixel 4, but not on older Pixel phones.

When I try to add an eSIM mobile plan to my Pixel 4 XL now I get the opportunity to AT&T, Sprint and Google Fi.

It seems to be hit or miss when it comes to which operator supports which device, and it gets even more confusing when you start looking at dual-SIM support.

If you have a Pixel phone and want to use its eSIM functionality, it is a good idea to contact your wireless operator and ask for eSIM support for your specific model.

  iphone-esim "data-original =" https://cnet4.cbsistatic.com/img/3Dq8qG7g5ygVxA8bTHI33BOkis4=/2019/11/26/8340da96-5632-4fa1-a512-20b816146079/iphone-esim.jpg 198719659054] iphone-esim

The iPhone's eSIM feature only takes a few minutes to configure.


Jason Cipriani / CNET

Phones are not the only gadgets that use eSIM

eSIM technology is not only found in telephones. Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch which has a mobile connection use eSIM to connect to your carrier. Some of Apple's iPad models with mobile also have an eSIM. We are also starting to see some laptops, for example Surface Pro which has eSIM capability.

How do I set up an eSIM?

The process varies depending on your operator. AT&T users must obtain an eSIM activation card from the operator. It will have a QR code that you can use to program eSIM with your information. Some operators, such as Verizon Wireless, use their mobile app to program eSIM.

Again, it is a good idea to check with your carrier about its eSIM activation process.

It only takes a few seconds to install an eSIM on your iPhone . If you want to see what life is like with an eSIM phone, the foldable Motorola Razr with its innovative hinges is the way to do it – for just $ 1,500. You can be able to order Razr from December 26 and it will start shipping at some point in January.

  Motorola Razr "data-original =" https: //cnet2.cbsistatic. com / img / ANHM9fzIL7PlMXBqZxSHxMBLo-U = / 2019/11/15 / 2e6df59c-2a99-4aa2-9ec3-129cda3cd1a0 / motorola-razr.jpg

The new Razr looks good?


Juan Garzon / CNET

Originally published last month.


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