With the recent announcement that the new iPhone 11 models will include eSIM support, it only seems a matter of time before this technology will become commonplace. But what are eSIMs and how will their introduction impact you and your smartphone?

An eSIM, or embedded SIM card, is an electronic version of the SIM card. This provides advantages to both the network operator and yourself. In the iPhone 11 (and presumably other phones when it is introduced) there will still be a physical SIM card slot as well as the eSIM. But, over time we could see the dying out of physical SIMS, like we are doing now with the headphone socket.

What are the benefits of eSIMS?

For the phone manufacturer eSIMS will mean that ultimately there will be no need to allow for the space that the current SIM card holder takes up in the phone. This will allow phones to be either smaller or will allow this space to be used for other functionality. Whilst for the mobile network operator they will not need to print and distribute the many millions of SIM cards they now do.

The information held on the eSIM can be quickly rewritten to enable you to easily change network providers, making life much easier. You can also quickly add a new short-term contract, say you are in an area where your current network has no or a very poor signal.

It will also expand the capability of other devices like laptops and tablets as manufacturers add eSIM support to them. Also, as they don’t require as much room inside the device it is likely to spark an increase in the number of connected devices as things like glasses or fitness trackers can now accommodate connectivity.

Who supports eSIMs in the UK?

As regards mobile manufacturers, Apple is for once leading the way, with the Google Pixel 3 set to follow. In the UK currently only EE and Vodafone support eSIMS (although Vodafone is only for the Apple Watch Series 3-5). O2 is saying it will be available this year.

All you need to do to activate an eSIM is call customer services or visit your local store to get the necessary activation code, enter or QR scan the code, and that’s it!