Put that paperclip away - this is why swapping SIM cards could be a thing of the past.
Vodafone UK now supports eSIMs in smartphones on its Pay Monthly plans, a convenient new technology supported by few other mobile network operators in the UK.
eSIMs aren’t just the next generation of SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card technology, they do away with the need for a physical card entirely.
SIM cards contain unique identifying information enabling a mobile phone or other device to connect securely to a mobile network. With eSIMs, that data is contained in a few lines of code which is stored on a dedicated chip inside your phone rather than on a removable card.
Using Vodafone’s accompanying online interface to load your eSIM on to your phone, you can be online in just a few minutes rather than waiting a day or two for a physical SIM card to arrive in the post. This also eliminates the need to manufacture and ship the associated plastic, thereby reducing carbon emissions.
As most of the smartphones that currently support eSIMs also retain their physical SIM card slots, eSIMs can complement physical SIM cards in a number of ways. For example, you could have both your personal and work mobile numbers on a single device, with one of those lines provided seamlessly by eSIM.
As eSIMs are a relatively new technology, only certain devices have the hardware necessary to use it. Vodafone UK supports eSIMs in the Apple iPhone XS or newer, the Google Pixel 3 or newer, as well as in certain Samsung Galaxy phones and iPads. The Vodafone UK support website has the full list of compatible phones and tablets.
As for the future of eSIMs, Vodafone has been working with Qualcomm on a version of the technology called iSIM. With iSIM, the necessary code is stored inside a smartphone’s processor rather than on a separate, dedicated chip. This frees up valuable space, which can make it easier to bring mobile data connections to an ever-wider variety of devices besides phones, such as VR/AR headsets and specialist industrial equipment.
While handset support is new, Vodafone has long supported eSIMs in smartwatches, such as the Apple Watch. Learn more about the range of smartwatches available from Vodafone UK.
Article originally published September 2020; last updated May 2022.