Back in the day, circa 1979, when the Cellular Era began transforming the way we connected, nobody could have imagined we would one day think up something as innovative as a 5G eSIM.
When the first SIM card emerged in 1991 the world was dazzled by the possibilities it promised and progress it would bring. But as it goes in the tech industry, there is seemingly no limit to what human ingenuity can achieve and there are always more glass ceilings to smash.
It is because of this tenacity and desire to turn bold, sometimes outlandish, ideas into reality that gave birth to technologies such as embedded SIM (eSIM) and 5G.
In this post, we explore the 5G eSIM in detail – from how it works and where it works to how you can get your hands on it and which phones it works on.
So, what exactly is a 5G eSIM?
An eSIM enabled with 5G offers mobile users unparalleled freedom and flexibility. It transcends traditional connectivity and lets you step into a world where internet speeds are faster, connections are more stable, and network latency is pretty much non-existent.
Cool, but what is it?
A 5G eSIM is an embedded SIM (eSIM) that can also connect to 5G networks.
Since the SIM card made its debut back in 1991 there have been five different formats (or generations) of them – the Full SIM, Mini-SIM, Micro-SIM, Nano-SIM, and eSIM.
An eSIM is simply the next generation of SIM cards.
However, unlike its predecessors, it is not a separate, removable entity. It is soldered to the internal hardware of devices and uses something called remote provisioning to jump between cellular networks – including 5G – without restrictions or limitations.
What is remote provisioning?
5G eSIM technology is only possible because of remote SIM provisioning. It is a specification developed and realized by the GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications) that uses Over the Air (or wireless) programming to remotely activate an embedded SIM.
This means you don’t need a contract with a specific network to use an eSIM.
Remote provisioning allows users to store multiple network profiles on one eSIM and assign a separate subscription to each of them. You can use one for data and another for calls.
What are the benefits of using a 5G eSIM?
An eSIM with 5G support is a dream product for mobile users.
Along with more expansive coverage, lower latency, and faster speeds, it also offers more freedom while travelling and greater flexibility in terms of which providers you can use.
The biggest drawcard of using a 5G enabled eSIM is that it gives you complete control over how you communicate. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, traveller, or just over the restrictions of traditional mobile plans, a 5G eSIM offers everything you could ever want from a cellular service.
Which phones have a 5G eSIM?
All the major brands have launched phones with eSIM and 5G capabilities.
Samsung is dominating the market with the most options available (they were the first to introduce eSIM to devices – the Gear S2 smartwatch in 2016). Huawei and Motorola have also released devices with eSIM and 5G functionalities. Apple and Google released its first 5G phones in October.
These are the latest 5G eSIM enabled smartphones:
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2
- Samsung Galaxy Flip
- Samsung Galaxy S20 series
- Samsung Galaxy Note20 / Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra
- Huawei P40 / Huawei P40 Pro
- Motorola Razr 5G
- Apple iPhone 12 / Apple iPhone 12 Mini / Apple iPhone 12 Pro / Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
- Google Pixel 4a 5G
- Google Pixel 5
How do you get a 5G eSIM?
There are two options for getting a 5G eSIM: through a network operator or eSIM provider.
Different operators have different ways of doing things, so you will need to check out their website or get in contact with a customer service agent if you have a specific provider in mind. Some have eSIM apps while others require you to buy an eSIM plan and have an activation card delivered.
If you go for an eSIM provider it is as simple as going to their website, buying a plan that suits your needs, scanning a QR code, and following a few on-screen prompts.
They can be activated immediately and usually also come with a second phone number, which is ideal if you need it for work or travel.
Keep in mind that not all carriers offer 5G connectivity and can be restrictive in terms of where you can activate it and where you can roam with it while traveling.
You can get around this by opting for a globally enabled 5G eSIM plan. It gives you access to 5G networks worldwide as well as 4G and 3G networks in over 200 countries around the world.
Where can you use a 5G eSIM?
The 5G eSIM service works in countries where 5G networks are deployed.
Currently, these countries are:
- Saudi Arabia
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates
- Hong Kong
When you aren’t in a 5G hotspot you can still connect to 4G and 3G networks. This essentially means you have access to all cellular networks, so you’re pretty much guaranteed coverage.
5G is an emerging technology, so this list will expand as more countries roll out 5G networks.