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What is eSIM technology?

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Introduction

One of the most important things with technology is size. When it comes to the gadgets, it’s nothing surprising; from bulky computer set to slim portable laptops and wired landline to pocket-sized mobiles. Now we have something similar treat for us that is an eSIM or virtual SIM card. No doubt, this technology is going to replace the traditional SIM card which will add more values to the smart devices. So, I am going to articulate all the fundamentals you must know about the eSIM technology

eSIM Technology

Sim cards used to be pretty large at one point. They tend to get smaller and smaller as the technology gets better. An eSIM technology was officially introduced by GSMA Mobile World Congress, Barcelona in February 2016. However, the game commenced after Telenor (Norwegian telecom company) got certified in December 2017 to launch eSIM service. Interesting thing is that Google launched Pixel 2, the first-ever smartphone with eSIM the same year in October.

eSIM abbreviated as Embedded SIM is nothing more than a chip that mounts on a plastic SIM card. The hardware is directly soldered onto the device’s motherboard which is non-replaceable. After enabling the eSIM feature from phone’s setting, you’ll no further require physical SIM card. That means no more clipping.

The basic functioning of this brand new technology is nothing different from the normal SIM card.

  1. It stores IMSI number
  2. It requires authentication keys
  3. Carries Contacts and some messages

All it needs is authorization by your preferred telecom operator. Another great thing is that eSIM is rewritable. While switching from one operator to another, it erases the previously stored data. This makes space for the new telecom operator to add new information.

Working of eSIM technology:

Let’s consider you already have an eSIM enabled phone. Simply open an eSIM app and enter the credentials. Sooner you’ll connect to your registered operator. It’s as simple as it sounds.

Migration too is as easy as the initial registration process.

  1. All you require is to upload your valid documents to your newly preferred operator.
  2. Wait for the verification process from their end.
  3. You’ll receive a new set of credentials.
  4. Login to their portal and get started with your new operator.

Why eSIM technology over traditional SIM card?

There is no one reason that the telecom and mobile brands are embracing this newer version of SIM. The biggest factor companies went from micro to nano-SIM and then nano to eSIM is to save space. eSIM is just 15% of the size of a nano SIM. It’s a highly compromising factor when it comes to manufacturing. Remember that every inch counts here. Just a little more space on the motherboard can add a premium feature to the phone. This is the reason that the display size is going up while the internal components are shrinking. Additionally, eSIM technology also opened the doors for IoT devices and wearables like smartwatch and fitness band.

How does this matter?

  • A nano-SIM takes a lot of space. It’s not only about the SIM alone, rather the tray, assembly, and ejector spring along with it. So an eSIM is much tinier and saves space.
  • eSIM helps gadgets like a smartwatch to stay connected without having to be tethered to a phone.
  • Switching from one carrier to another is now as easy as downloading the career’s app and buying a monthly plan.
  • If you are traveling abroad and you want to avoid hefty roaming charges, it could be as easy as going to the country, downloading the app and buying a plan.
  • There will be low risk to physical damages as M2M SIM is more durable than the traditional SIM.

Size analysis:

In the mid-90s, we had 2FF- Mini SIM. This SIM with 25mm length, 15mm width and 0.76mm thickness perfectly suited for a heavy mobile device topped by an antenna.

Now after 20 years, everything shrunk in size and weight. Then why should SIM card be left behind? As compared to 2FF-Mini-SIM, eSIM is 7 times smaller in size.

Size of a standard MFF2- M2M Form factor eSIM:

  • Height: 6.0mm
  • Width: 5.0mm
  • Thickness: 0.67mm (same as 4FF nano-SIM)

This is a huge benefit for the manufacturers as they can make the devices thinner, dustproof, waterproof and add other durable features. Also, note that many smartphone companies are replacing 3.5mm audio jack with wireless efficient features.

Is there any cost of using eSIM technology?

Currently, in India, operators like Airtel and Jio are providing free service for the use of eSIM. However, in other countries, the telecom operators are charging the eSIM users up to $10 on monthly basis.

Features of eSIM:

eSIM utilizes Machine to Machine form factor which is a winning factor over the traditional SIM. It’s not limited to only mobile or smartwatch, but also in the field of Internet of Things. Due to following features, many consumer electronics companies are now interested to adopt this technology.

  • It has longer lifetime and durability
  • Up to 8 million of read-write cycle
  • Can operate in harsh environmental conditions
  • High resistance against corrosion and vibration
  • About 10+ years of data-retention life

Conclusion

eSIM technology is definitely going to dominate the telecom market. However, we cannot deny the fact over the existence of traditional SIM card. There are millions of smartphones using nano-SIM and even micro SIM. In my view, they will probably stay longer in the smartphones. With that said, I don’t think eSIM will abruptly replace the traditional SIM. There is also a concern about how many brands are ready to accept this new technology. This is going to be a debatable phenomenon in the future of the developing market. It will be quite interesting to see how existing SIM technology runs parallel with the newer version of SIM.

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