Embedded SIM “eSIM” Myths

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As a new technology embedded in recent mobile phones*, tablets, laptops** and a variety of smart devices, embedded SIM (eSIM) is a powerful feature allowing consumers to stay connected in a variety of flexible and affordable ways. The emerging feature has been associated with certain myths that we will debunk in this post.

eSIM versus SIM card

Myth 1: eSIM is not secure

eSIM is not secure because it uses digital activation mechanisms and doesn’t require using a physical element like SIM cards.

eSIM security facts:

  • eSIM is securely stored on a dedicated chip (called “eUICC”) built into cellphones and smart devices to keep eSIMs isolated from the operating system’s vulnerability
  • eSIM utilizes the same AES authentication algorithms as SIM cards
  • eSIM is generated by highly secured, GSMA-certified servers (called “SM-DP+”)
  • eSIM QR code or activation code can be used only once, with one device

Myth 2: eSIM data is not private

Cellular services especially mobile data provided by embedded SIM is not private and is monitored by the service provider.

eSIM privacy facts:

  • eSIM wireless data transmission is encrypted
  • eSIM cellular data traffic is similar to traffic of SIM cards as they both use the same mobile networks including 4G, LTE and 5G
  • eSIM carriers and service providers are bound by local data privacy laws and regulations

Myth 3: eSIM is more expensive than SIM

Because it is a recent technology, eSIM service is more expensive than SIM cards and is only provided by pricey devices.

eSIM economic facts:

  • eSIM service is less expensive to distribute than physical SIM cards and thus is more affordable than SIM-card based service
  • eSIM doesn’t require visiting a shop and can be purchased and activated online, enabling consumers to save time and commute
  • eSIM capable devices are getting more affordable as eSIM becomes a standard feature; most affordable eSIM mobile phone is currently the iPhone SE starting at $399

Myth 4: eSIM allows one plan

Because one SIM card allows one mobile plan, embedded SIM feature is believed to allow only one plan on consumer IoT devices that support it.

eSIM functionality facts:

  • eSIM chip (“eUICC) allows multiple eSIMs with different cellular plans (e.g. primary, secondary, work, personal, or travel) to be added to the same device
  • eSIM can be topped up online, exactly like prepaid SIM cards

Finally it is worth mentioning that unlike SIM cards, eSIM’s cannot be physically swapped and accordingly are less exposed to “SIM cloning”. For further info about the topic you may check “How to pick an eSIM“.

* Mobile phones that support eSIM include: iPhone 11/SE/XR/XSSamsung Galaxy S20 & Galaxy FoldGoogle Pixel 4/3Huawei P40Motorola Razr.

** Laptops & tablets that support eSIM include: Lenovo Yoga 520/C630/720 & Miix 630, iPad Pro, Surface Go 2 and Pro X/5, Samsung Galaxy Book 2, HP Elitebook/Probook G5 and other models, Acer Swift3/7 and Asus NovaGo/VivoBook among other consumer IoT devices.

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