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What’s an eSIM Card and Should You Use It For Business?
Today’s mobile phones are more powerful than ever. Casually lying on your table is a device with 100,000+ times the processing power of Apollo 11’s computer, the machine that landed man on the moon. In addition to all that superpower, your phone may also house a tiny but mighty eSIM card. More versatile than a nano-SIM, it’s the latest word in mobile tech you’ll be hearing a lot about in the coming years.
Despite their growing impact on mobile technology since 2017, eSIM cards are still easy to miss with all those other cool phone features vying for your attention. Already adopted on new Apple, Google, Samsung, and Motorola phones, tablets, and smartwatch models, electronic SIM cards (or eSIMs) boast special convenience for frequent travelers and busy entrepreneurs. They are also the first steps in the transition to an eSIM future and further facilitation of the Internet of Things (IoT).
Here’s everything you need to know about eSIM cards plus important information about using an eSIM as a second phone number for business purposes.
How does an eSIM card work?
eSIM stands for ‘Embedded Subscriber Identity Module card’. It is the electronic equivalent of the regular SIM card in use since the 1990s. In contrast to the physical SIM which you can replace at will, an eSIM is embedded into your phone and cannot be removed. It can only be reprogrammed to adapt to the services of different providers. Just like a regular SIM, an eSIM must be activated by the service provider in order to work for making and receiving calls, texts, connecting to the network, etc.
eSIM cards are easy to overlook since they’re not physical pieces of plastic that you can add or remove from your phone. To add to the confusion, a phone with an eSIM still qualifies as a single-SIM phone, since there’s only one ‘physical’ SIM card.
Though eSIMs are still new, they’re already viewed as the future of mobile tech. Many phone users appreciate the chance to digitally switch wireless providers based on preference and location while tech companies are talking about removing the old SIM card slot for good, extending battery life, and making devices less prone to damage.
What devices already come with an eSIM card?
If you upgraded your iPhone in 2018 or later, you already have an eSIM installed by default, even if you don’t know about it yet! In addition to smartphones, a growing number of devices now come with eSIM cards – and the list is only set to grow.
Smartphones with both eSIM and regular SIM cards:
- Apple’s iPhone XS, XS Max, XR, 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max.
- Samsung’s Galaxy Fold LTE
- Google’s Pixel 2, 3, 3A and 4
Smartphones with eSIM only:
- Motorola Razr
- Nuu Mobile X5
Tablet computers with eSIM:
- 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro tablets
- Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7
Smartwatches with eSIM:
- Apple’s 2017 Apple Watch Series 3 and 2018 Apple Watch Series 4
- Samsung’s Gear S2 and Gear S3
- Huawei’s Watch 2 Pro
eSIM pros and cons
✓ Ability to have dual SIM functionality on a single-SIM iPhone — with an eSIM, you can have two wireless plans on a single-SIM iPhone. Use the eSIM for a specific purpose — such as a second phone number, during travel, or for business (see “Can I use an eSIM for business calls?” below).
✓ eSIMs are reprogrammable —if you want to change wireless providers, there’s no need to switch plastic cards on your phone as long as you’ve got an unlocked phone (see below). To activate an eSIM card, all you need is a QR code or the provider’s mobile app that automatically (re)programs the eSIM on your device.
✓ Convenient for travelers —international travelers can use the eSIM to communicate without buying (and losing) local SIM cards. eSIMs are now supported by wireless providers in 45 world countries. Get an unlocked phone to enjoy these benefits.
✗ Not all phones switch to/from eSIM automatically — Apple’s 2018 and 2019 iPhones will automatically switch between your regular and eSIM cards, making it really easy to use both. Google’s Pixel phones demand a manual switch.
✗ You need an unlocked phone for real benefits— when you get a phone from a carrier like T-Mobile, etc., the eSIM card will be carrier-locked, just like the regular SIM card. If you travel frequently or want the flexibility to change between networks, get an unlocked phone. This will ensure that the eSIM is unlocked as well.
✗ eSIMs are supported by major carriers only — U.S. wireless carriers that support eSIM cards are AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Truphone. On an unlocked phone, you may choose two different phone plans for your regular SIM and eSIM cards.
Can I use an eSIM for business calls?
Currently, some of the most advertised uses for eSIM cards are travel flexibility and business purposes. With an eSIM, you can get a second phone number on your iPhone, attaching that number to specific purposes, like making and receiving business calls.
While an eSIM may be used for business calls and gives the convenience of a second phone number, keep in mind that it does not provide professional-level business presence or privacy.
An eSIM card can be used for business communication if you’re:
- A freelancer
- Get a small number of business calls
- Won’t be upgrading your phone too often
For home-based practices and small businesses, an eSIM isn’t any different from using a dual-SIM phone. Differentiating business and personal calls can get confusing, and except for the convenience of an extra number and voicemail, your clients won’t get the same kind of service that a business phone system implies.
While charging you for the additional wireless service, an eSIM card will NOT provide any essential business features like these:
- A toll-free or local number
- Ability to make and receive calls on multiple devices
- The privacy of instantly knowing whether a call is personal or business
- Robocall protection with call screening (read more)
- Customer service features like call recording, call menus, after-hours call routing, etc.
- Team features like several business phone numbers, extensions, CRM, and more.
Since an eSIM is embedded into the phone, if anything happens to your phone, such as it gets lost or damaged, the eSIM cannot just be taken out and put into another device. When you replace or upgrade the phone, you will not be able to just backup and restore from iCloud, you’ll have to reinstall the eSIM from your carrier like you did the first time.
The final word is that while you may use an eSIM as a second phone line, it will not give your business any added convenience and cost-effectiveness.
An eSIM card is a good way to save on communications/network costs during international travel and switch plans effortlessly on carrier-neutral/unlocked phones. However, if you’re looking for a professional, cost-effective wireless service for business purposes, you’ll definitely want to look into a VoIP (Voice over IP) virtual phone system.
With a virtual phone system like MightyCall, you can attach one or several business phone numbers to your primary SIM card and set up a professional business phone system. From just $19.99/month, this includes local and toll-free numbers, mini-CRM, and several dozen free business features for your clients and team.
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If you already have a virtual phone number, we can port it in for free so you can keep using it.
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