Which operators offer this service, and at what price?
Since June 2019, the operators Orange and SFR have been offering this service to their subscribers who have a compatible device. But as usual, the two telecom behemoths do not do anything for free and charge this new innovative service up to 5€/month. For what reasons will you tell us? Well, nothing really… Bouygues Telecom announces that it is preparing the launch of eSIM in France by the end of 2019. You can discover the list of operators and mobile packages compatible with this service by clicking here.
And for those who had hoped to see the eSim land at Free for free (the operator, Free, has a habit of offering innovations without extra cost), know that it will not be for tomorrow. Indeed, Xavier Niel, head of the Iliad group (Free and Free Mobile), has indicated that he is not a “fan of eSIM”. Why is that? Here again, it’s unclear!
So be patient; everything happens in good time! The sim card revolution is underway, and it will not stop there.
What is the virtual SIM card, or eSIM?
It’s a small revolution that is being prepared in the telecom sector and that is already in place in France (or at least, it’s in its infancy). The virtual sim card is intended to replace the physical sim card that we know, to be inserted into the smartphone each time we change operator or phone. Instead of the traditional physical support (SIM, micro-sim, nano-sim), the eSim is an electronic component embedded in the phone, which allows the same functions as its plastic counterpart: calls, SMS, MMS, and the Internet.
The big advantage of the eSIM is that the user will no longer have to change the sim card when changing operator and/or package, or even order a new sim card model if he changes phones. By being directly integrated into your smartphone, you will just have to activate the virtual sim card by downloading your subscription profile, simply by scanning the QR code provided by the mobile operator. Thus, the phone will be able to authenticate you as a customer of a particular operator and connect to its antennas.
This is a real revolution for connected devices such as smartwatches or connected watches, which have little physical space, had a hard time fitting this plastic sim card into their shells to provide 3G and 4G services to their users.
Most importantly, the virtual sim card allows you to have several different mobile subscriptions with several operators and several call numbers on one phone, without having to insert different sim cards. Today’s phones are often limited to two SIM cards, and this is not always automatic!
Consumers who are used to changing their mobile subscription regularly to switch from one promotion to another will be more than happy, as they will not even have to proceed to the (yet simple) step of changing their sim card every year.
Gone are the fees that operators charge for sending the sim card (often between 5 and 10 euros).
Which smartphones are currently compatible?
Newness means rarity. There are not many manufacturers who have taken the eSIM step yet. For the moment, Apple and its XR, XS, and iPhone 11 have a virtual SIM card embedded in the phone. The same is true for the latest Apple Watch and iPad Pro/Air. Google’s Pixel 3 and Samsung’s Galaxy Watch are also so equipped.
In any case, you can be pretty sure that almost 100% of the phones sold on the market by 2021 will be so. This is the new revolution in telecom, and manufacturers have no choice but to adapt.
The virtual SIM card is also likely to be quickly adopted by car manufacturers who are offering more and more connected models. The arrival of 5G, a precursor to the Internet of Things, will also accelerate things.