How e-SIM works

Lately you have heard a lot about eSIM , the new digital SIM cards that allow you to associate a data plan with your smartphone without having to physically insert the card inside it: you find it very interesting, as you think it can be particularly useful. and comfortable with respect to your usage habits.

However, at this point, you would like to better understand how e-SIM works and try to deepen the main features of this recent technology, as well as the ways in which it is possible to proceed with its installation on the various types of compatible devices, such as Android smartphones, iPhones. and Apple Watch.

Well, today is your lucky day! In fact, I have prepared this article specifically to allow you to take a general look at the various aspects relating to the functioning of an eSIM, explaining in particular the various advantages that can derive from its use. I will also show you the solutions proposed by some of the most important mobile phone operators: I am sure they will be of help if you are considering the possible activation of an eSIM, or the replacement of your traditional one. – Current SIM card. So, have I convinced you? Perfect, in this case all I have to do is wish you good continuation and good reading!


  • How e-SIM works
    • How eSIM works on Android
    • How eSIM works on iPhone
    • How eSIM works on Apple Watch
  • How eSIM works: mobile operators
    • How eSIM Vodafone works
    • How eSIM TIM works
    • How eSIM Very Mobile works

How e-SIM works

As I anticipated in the introduction of this guide, an eSIM (acronym for embedded Subscriber Identity Module ) is basically a SIM in virtual format , which can be easily installed on a compatible smartphone through a simple procedure that involves the framing of a specific QR code issued by the mobile telephone operator with which a data plan has been subscribed.

The operation in question is feasible both in the case of activation of a new subscription and, for operators who foresee this opportunity, of conversion from the physical SIM card associated with an existing plan. Before proceeding to the practical explanation of how to install an eSIM, however, I think it is appropriate to spend a few words in general on how e-SIM works , with particular reference to compatible devices and the advantages that can derive from its use.

The possibility of using this technology, in fact, is currently limited only to some types of latest generation mobile devices predisposed to this effect, which, in essence, are equipped with a special microchip of extremely small dimensions but capable, at the same way as for a physical SIM, to contain all the information necessary for the unique identification of the subscription .

As for Android devices, Samsung is certainly one of the most active companies in the creation of smartphones equipped with the aforementioned microchip, with several models of the Galaxy series (S20, S21, Z Fold, Z Flip, Note 20, just to name) some), but it is also possible to refer to some very valid products of other brands such as the HUAWEI P40 , the Motorola Razr and the Google Pixel 3 .

If you have an iPhone , you should know that Apple has been integrating the possibility of inserting eSIMs for some years already, starting with the production of the iPhone XS and XR .

Furthermore, the possibility of installing digital SIMs has also been extended to various smartwatch models , such as the Apple Watch GPS + Cellular and some recent products of the Samsung Galaxy Watch line . However, it must be said that, as a general rule (but above all with regard to the smart watch segment), it is advisable to check in advance the compatibility indications provided by the mobile telephone operator to which you intend to contact.

The use of an eSIM, as can be easily imagined, involves various benefits in terms of practicality : the adoption of this system, in fact, greatly reduces the migration times from one operator to another, as it is no longer necessary to replace manually the plastic card and, consequently, it is no longer even necessary to verify that the format of the latter is adaptable to the specifications of the smartphone you have.

This particular flexibility can also be advantageous for those who often travel abroad, as it is easier to switch to an operator in the country of destination , and then return to the previous one at the end of the trip.

Furthermore, it is also easier to transfer the eSIM from one device to another (obviously, it is not allowed to use it simultaneously on multiple devices) always through the QR code delivered by the telephone operator, which, therefore, must be jealously kept.

Some operators, however, for this specific occurrence provide for the release of a new QR code (usually free of charge, but check the relevant contractual conditions in advance): in this case it is necessary to contact the respective customer service to obtain it.

To move the virtual SIM from one phone to another, it is necessary in advance to remove the old eSIM profile on the current smartphone using the appropriate function in the phone settings, and then carry out the convenient installation procedure (which I will explain in detail later) on the new one.

To conclude, there is another aspect which, although not directly associated with the end user’s experience, it is absolutely not to be overlooked: it is, in fact, a highly ecological solution , as it does not involve the production of physical elements. nor packaging of any kind.

How eSIM works on Android

As you will see shortly, it is not absolutely difficult to realize how eSIM works on Android , far from it: it is, in fact, a quick configuration that can be performed independently using the specific functionality provided by compatible devices. Note, however, that the instructions and reference menus may vary depending on the characteristics of the phone in your possession.

First of all, make sure you have an active connection available ( Wi-Fi or mobile data relating to a physical card already present on the device), then go to the Device Settings by pressing the icon with the gear symbol on the Home Screen or in the notification curtain.

At this point, if, for example, you are using a compatible Samsung smartphone , tap on the Connections item and, on the next screen, press the SIM card management option : you will find the Add tariff plan feature , which you must press to proceed when installing the eSIM profile.

Next, select the Add item with the QR code , an operation that will involve opening the camera of your device, then frame the QR code that was given to you when the subscription was activated (or when requesting the replacement of a physical SIM ): if you have performed it online, this will be shown in the confirmation email sent by the chosen mobile operator, while if you have performed it in person at the store you can find it in the printout that was given to you by the assistant.

After recognition of the eSIM profile, an activation code may be required , which is also contained in the receipt issued by the manager (in other cases, however, the need to send it via SMS to a dedicated number may be specified ).

To conclude, then, press the confirm button on the notification that appears on the screen to download it , then select the Add to the next step option (at this stage you can also view the associated ICCID code ). At the end, press on the OK item to proceed with the immediate activation of the data plan.

How eSIM works on iPhone

Apple was one of the main promoters of the transition to eSIM: many of its iPhone models produced starting from 2018, in fact, are prepared for the use of the new digital cards thanks to the integration of the appropriate microchip. So if you want to know how eSIM works on iPhone and, in particular, you want to learn how to configure the virtual card on your iOS device, just follow the few simple steps I’m about to export.

Again, you need to make sure your phone is connected to Wi-Fi or cellular data . Once this is done, first access your phone’s Settings by pressing the gear symbol on the Home Screen , then select the phone item on the following screen.

In the next step, press the Add phone plan function present in the Phone plans section , then directly scan the QR code that was delivered to you via email (if the activation took place online) or via paper receipt (if it was performed in a physical store).

As soon as the new phone plan is recognized, press the Continue button to allow it to be installed and wait for the notification of completion of the operation. At this stage, you may be asked to enter an activation code , which was provided to you by the operator together with the QR code. In other cases, however, it may be necessary, at the end of the procedure, to send an SMS containing the code in question to a number dedicated to this service.

If the device already has another subscription associated with a physical SIM, later you will also be prompted to select the profile you want to use by default for calls and messages: you just need to indicate whether you want to use it as Primary or as Secondary by clicking on the relevant option.

How eSIM works on Apple Watch

If you are looking for more information on how eSIM works on Apple Watch , you should know that, at the time of writing, only the digital cards provided by the Vodafone operator are compatible with the smart watches produced by the Cupertino company, starting from Series 3 Cellular .

In essence, it is a question of pairing the Vodafone SIM already present on your iPhone , thus sharing the same number and the same offer, so that it is possible to use Apple Watch regardless of the distance between the latter and the smartphone: following this operation, therefore, it will be possible to leave the phone at home, still being able to call, receive notifications and remain connected to the data network through the smartwatch.

To do this, you need to activate the Vodafone One Number service , which provides for a fee of 5 euros per month (without activation costs) by accessing the Do-It-Yourself area of the Vodafone website or from the My Vodafone app : if you need it. You can also have a customer service agent contact you at this stage .

Subsequently, it will be possible to add a phone plan to the Apple Watch: first you need to check that the wacthOS operating system of the smartwatch is updated to the latest version , then you need to open the Watch app on your iPhone, press the Apple Watch panel and tap the phone option .

Then press the Configure phone data plan function , then read the information screen that presents the service in question and confirm the intention with a further tap on the Configure phone data plan button . Wait for a short preparatory phase, then, as soon as requested, enter your Vodafone credentials and press the Confirm button .

You will then see a screen that will notify you of the presence of the active Vodafone One Number service. At this point, press the Complete configuration button : you will be sent back to the phone settings screen, in which you only need to wait for the technical pairing times of the eSIM on the Apple Watch.

How eSIM works: mobile operators

Now that you have learned what a virtual SIM is, which devices are compatible with this technology and how to install it, I am sure you will want to know more about how eSIM works with regard to the mobile operators that currently allow you to activate it. . In the next chapters, therefore, I will show you the possibilities made available by the main telephony operators able to offer this solution.

How eSIM Vodafone works

I have already talked to you about Vodafone in the Apple Watch section regarding the activation of the very convenient Vodafone One Number service , which allows you to extend an existing data plan to your smartwatch with the logo of the bitten apple. If, therefore, you are interested in this possibility, I strongly recommend that you read the dedicated chapter .

If, on the other hand, you want to know more in general about how eSIM Vodafone works , you should know that the operator in question allows you to choose this option both in the portability phase and in the activation of a new number . For new customers, therefore, the cost of activating an eSIM amounts to 1 euro .

In any case, the request can only be made in the store where, moreover, it is also possible to ask the merchant to replace your current physical SIM with a new eSIM: in the latter case, the operation involves a cost. of 10 euros . Upon release, therefore, you will be given a special card containing the QR code to be used for activation on your mobile device.

The rechargeable Vodafone eSIMs expire after 11 renewals from activation or from the last top-up operation, after which it is only possible to receive calls for the following month. At the end of the 12th renewal, the virtual card is deactivated, making any remaining credit unusable. However, it is possible to reactivate it within 12 months of the expiry date, as I will explain in detail in this guide .

The expiry date can be checked at any time by accessing your personal DIY area on the Vodafone website, or by calling 42070 . On the other hand, subscription eSIMs do not have an expiration date. Finally, you will be pleased to know that it is possible to transfer the eSIM to a new device , by deleting it in advance from the old device and by framing the same original QR code (which is also made available on your DIY area).

How eSIM TIM works

If you are particularly curious to know how eSIM TIM works , you should know that it can be optionally requested when activating a new subscription only at a point of sale at a cost of 10 euros : however, you will be given a physical card, also called voucher , in the which is stamped the QR code useful for its activation.

The replacement of an existing physical SIM with a virtual one (even in cases of theft or loss ), which can always be carried out in person in a store, on the other hand, requires the payment of a fee of 15 euros . Furthermore, it is possible to reuse the same QR code when changing the device but, even in this case, it is essential to delete the existing profile from the old device in advance .

How eSIM Very Mobile works

Lately you have heard a lot about this new mobile operator that relies on the WINDTRE network and, therefore, you would like to have some clarification on how eSIM Very Mobile works . Well, even with the aforementioned operator it is possible to opt for the digital version of the SIM both during the activation phase of a new mobile line and when migrating from a different operator, again at no additional cost . The operation is feasible both online , proceeding from the reference site, and in the store .

It is also possible to switch from a physical SIM to a virtual one: to do this, you need to contact the Very Mobile Customer Service by accessing the Offer section > Info SIM and PUK from the Very app and expressly request a free replacement eSIM using the specific Write to us functionality there. here I’m.

It is also good to know that the QR Code issued by this manager can be used only once : even if it is necessary to switch to a new device, for example due to a failure on the old one, it is necessary to request an eSIM free replacement to customer service, specifying the reason. The operation is allowed up to a maximum of 3 eSIMs , after which a cost of 10 euros will be applied .

In all cases, an email will be delivered containing a link to perform the video identification : once this is successful, you will receive a further communication with the QR code to be used for installing the virtual card and registering the data plan. on the network.

by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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