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5 best eSIM providers for international travel

Best eSIM for international travel
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The eSIM technology offers numerous benefits and has become increasingly popular in recent years. It is a new version of SIM card that is embedded directly into a device. The technology was invented instead of a removable card to connect to a cellular network. The eSIM (embedded SIM) technology was developed by the GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications Association), which makes eSim service safe and proves that eSims are reliable.

With an eSIM, users can switch between different mobile network operators or plans without having to physically change SIM cards. The eSIM options offer greater flexibility and convenience for users, for example, using eSim phone service for traveling.

4 reasons to use eSIM in your next trip

The eSIM technology is becoming increasingly popular for several reasons:

  1. Comfort. This is especially convenient for travelers to use eSim worldwide. eSIM for international travel is a hassle-free way to stay connected. They offer flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and simplicity, making them an excellent choice for those who frequently venture across different countries. There are a lot of providers to choose the best travel eSim.
  2. Space-saving. eSims allows more compact device design, because it frees up space that would otherwise be occupied by a physical SIM card slot.
  3. Across the world. The usage and availability of eSIMs can vary across different regions, including America, Europe, and Asia.
  4. Security. eSIM phone service provides security features, similar to traditional SIM cards to protect user data and identity while using mobile connectivity.

How to start using eSIM?

1. Make sure your device supports eSIM functionality

Here are some popular eSIM compatible smartphones available in 2024 year.

iPhone seriesStarting from iPhone XS, all newer iPhone models (XS, XS Max, XR, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max)
Google Pixel seriesStarting from Pixel 2, all newer Pixel models (2, 2 XL, 3, 3 XL, 3a, 3a XL, 4, 4 XL, 4a, 4a 5G, 5)
Samsung Galaxy seriesStarting from Galaxy S20, many newer Galaxy models (S20, S20+, S20 Ultra, Note20, Note20 Ultra, S21, S21+, S21 Ultra, and more)
Motorola RazrThe newer Motorola Razr

2. Find provider and obtaining eSIM

You can buy an eSIM profile from a provider that offers eSIM services on their website or using an eSIM app.

3. Activate your eSIM

Go to the settings menu on your device. Find the "Mobile Data" section, tap on "Add Cellular Plan" or a similar options eSIM, then follow the on-screen instructions to add the profile.

See the short video that explains how eSIM technology works:

How to choose eSIM

When it comes to eSIMs, there are two main categories to consider: local region eSIMs and global eSIMs. Let's explore the differences between them.

Local Region eSIM

Local region eSIMs are typically tied to a specific country or region, catering to users who reside or spend most of their time in that particular area. These eSIMs are commonly offered by local mobile network operators, granting access to their network services within the designated region. Residents or long-term visitors often opt for local region eSIMs to obtain a local phone number and data plan that aligns with their needs.

Global eSIM

Global eSIMs, as the name suggests, provide coverage across multiple countries and regions. Designed for international travelers or those frequently moving between different countries, global eSIMs are typically offered by specific eSIM service providers or companies with partnerships with various mobile network operators worldwide. With a global eSIM, users can access mobile networks in multiple countries without the need to physically switch SIM cards or purchase local ones. Global eSIMs often offer competitive rates for data, voice, and messaging services, making them cost-effective and convenient for frequent travelers. Let's see the list of regions and countries that support eSIM technology.

Mobile operators in America

Major mobile network operators in the US support eSIM technology, allowing users to activate eSIM profiles on compatible devices. eSIM usage is more common in the United States for specific purposes such as dual-SIM functionality or for specific eSim carriers like smartwatches or tablets.

eSIM carriers in Europe

Many mobile network operators across European countries offer eSIM support, allowing users to easily switch between carriers or activate new plans. European travelers often benefit from the convenience of eSIMs when traveling between different countries, as they can easily access local mobile networks without the need for physical SIM card swapping.

Mobile operators in Asia

Asia, particularly countries like China, Japan, and South Korea, has seen significant eSIM adoption and integration. Some Asian mobile network operators have been early adopters of eSIM technology, providing extensive eSIM support and services.In countries like China, eSIMs are commonly used for dual-SIM functionality and for connecting devices like smartwatches, IoT devices, and wearables.

Comparison table of eSIM providers

There are a lot of providers and it's hard to say which is the best eSIM for Europe, America or Asia. Here are the most popular eSIM providers to find your own cheapest eSIM plan in 2024.

ProviderCoverageCostLink
Airaloover 190 countriesfrom $4,5 for a 1-day plan
Drimsimover 200 countriesfrom 0.01€ per MB
Nomadover 110 countriesfrom around $1,05 for a 1GB data plan
Simifyover 190 countriesfrom around $5 for a 1GB plan
Holaflyover 130 countriesfrom around $19 for 5-days unlimited data

Airalo

Airalo is known as the top global eSIM provider and is used by lots of people all over the world. This provider exactly shows what the international sim means, because it is specifically designed for travelers. There are some data plans to buy in their store: local, regional and global. The company works by partnering with one local network in 190 countries (Orange, Bouygues, SR in France,Verizon, T-Mobile – USA and others).

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Airalo eSIM provider
Airalo fast facts

Every eSIM plan is different, you can choose your options for the amount of data. The company offers local eSIM plans for more than 190 countries and prices for the service are affordable (starting from $4,5).

Their global plan doesn’t cover all 190 countries but has 84 countries, which is a good result. Global eSIM data plans range from 1GB for 7-days, 20 GB for 365-days (starting from $9).

The biggest advantage of Airalo is that it automatically selects the strongest network in your area.

Buying an eSIM is very easy either on the App or via a website. You just have to choose from local, global, and regional plans. They also have the reminder emails some days before expiring and as your data is getting low (less than 25%). Airalo has great support in many languages helping you to understand the service. You can also contact Airalo Customer Service from the Airalo App, that will definitely save you time.

Drimsim

Drimsim allows users to have a single SIM card for international travel. No monthly fees or hidden payments, only pay for the traffic you have spent. If the network connection failed and you could not use the service, the company will refund the cost of the SIM and your balance.

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Drimsim eSIM provider
Drimsim review
The Drimsim international prepaid SIM card can be easily ordered online and provides competitive rates in 197 countries. With prices starting at only 0.01€ per megabyte and 0.03€ per minute, it offers an affordable solution for users.

The offered plans allow for seamless internet usage in the usual routine without worrying about data consumption, in almost all situations, except for prolonged video streaming and streaming audio.

Drimsim has a very handy app. Within the application, you can make internet calls, access the FAQ section, and chat with customer support. The application displays not only the remaining balance in terms of money, but also minutes and megabytes. It allows for real-time expense tracking too.

Nomad

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Nomad eSIM prices
Nomad eSIM prices for internet in America and Europe

Nomad is a global mobile network operator and eSIM service provider that offers connectivity solutions for businesses and travelers and it has global coverage including 110 countries. There are both global and regional plans for Nomad eSIM. Regional plan: Nordic, APAC, and Europe (no regional plans in North or South America).

The cost is quite affordable but they only allow for short-term plans with a max of 30 days, which isn’t comfortable for long traveling.

There are no available local plans for a single country which is just a big pain. What is more, the most amount of global plan data you can get is only 5GB over 30 days which is not enough for most people.

Simify

Simify is an eSIM provider that specializes in providing convenient and affordable data connectivity solutions for international roaming. In terms of download speed, Simify's eSIM performed exceptionally well. It achieved a download speed of 39.80 Mbps, making it one of the fastest options available.

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Simify eSIM plans
Simify eSIM plans

Simify has some international eSIM plans:

  • Asia
  • Europe & UK
  • New Zealand & Fiji
  • North America
  • Middle-East & Africa
  • South America
Simify currently have 4 different packages (starting from $5).

You can choose amongst different length or data plans. But there are some important things to mention here:

  1. Shipping Limitation: Currently, Simify only offers shipping within the United States, restricting their availability to customers outside of the country.
  2. Limited Availability: It's worth noting that certain SIM cards offered by Simify can sell out rapidly, which may lead to occasional availability challenges for customers.
  3. Manual APN Configuration: Unlike many other travel eSIMs that automatically set the Access Point Name (APN) for you, Simify's eSIMs require manual configuration. While this may not be a significant issue, it's important to be aware of this difference to avoid frustration. Simify's comprehensive installation guide provides instructions on how to set up the APN.

Holafly

Holafly is one of the eSIM companies providers that offers global mobile data plans for travelers, providing reliable connectivity solutions for various. They have coverage in over 130 countries and unlimited data eSIM packages to browse all day long.

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Holafly eSIM provider
Holafly eSIM prices

Holafly offers a variety of plans that cater to specific local or regional areas. While they don't provide global plans, their options are designed to meet the connectivity needs of specific locations, which can be advantageous if you primarily travel within a certain region.

Holafly's eSIM solution with Unlimited Data starts from $19.00.

Unfortunately, with Holafly, you cannot utilize the unlimited data packages for hotspot usage. This can be disappointing, especially when you need to travel abroad for work and rely on hotspot connectivity

Setting up Holafly is a breeze and doesn't take much time. Their process is straightforward and efficient, allowing you to quickly get connected without any hassle.

Conclusion

Let's summarize our guide on eSIM solutions for travelers by identifying the best providers worth considering in 2024 - Airalo and Drimsim. eSIM technology provides significant benefits for those needing flexible and convenient connectivity across borders. When choosing an eSIM solution, these two top providers are great options to evaluate.

Best eSIM - Airalo

Airalo offers competitive eSIM plans starting from just $4.50, with both regional and global options covering over 190 countries. A key advantage of Airalo is its ability to automatically switch between the strongest local networks as you travel. This ensures you get the best connectivity without hassle. Airalo also makes it very easy to purchase and manage eSIM plans right from your phone.

Best international SIM card - Drimsim

While not technically an eSIM, Drimsim provides an excellent international SIM card solution. You only pay for the data you use, with rates starting at just 0.01€ per megabyte. Drimsim SIMs cover 197 countries and offer a cost-effective way to stay connected while traveling extensively across regions. Their app allows convenient management and real-time expense tracking.

For travelers seeking maximum flexibility and seamless roaming connectivity, Airalo and Drimsim present two great options. Airalo excels with its vast eSIM coverage and network switching capabilities. Drimsim shines for its pay-as-you-go affordability across nearly 200 countries. Evaluating your specific travel needs and frequency can help determine which provider delivers the right blend of features and value. Both Airalo and Drimsim are excellent options to keep you connected during your international travels in the year 2024, ensuring you stay in touch while exploring the world.

FAQ

What is the concept of an eSIM?

An eSIM refers to a digital SIM card that is embedded directly into a device, eliminating the need for a physical SIM card. It enables users to switch between mobile networks without the hassle of physically changing SIM cards.

How can I activate my eSIM profile?

To activate an eSIM profile, users have the option to either scan a QR code or manually enter the activation details provided by their service provider.

Is eSIM suitable for international roaming?

Absolutely! eSIM is particularly beneficial for international roaming. Instead of purchasing local SIM cards or relying on expensive roaming services, travelers can activate an eSIM profile from a compatible service provider. This enables them to access data services while traveling in different countries.

Which devices are compatible with eSIM?

eSIM is supported by an increasing number of devices, including smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and other IoT devices.

Can I have multiple eSIM profiles on a single device?

Yes, depending on the capabilities of the device, it is possible to have multiple eSIM profiles on a single device.

How to check if eSIM is activated on an iPhone?

To check if eSIM is activated on an iPhone, follow these steps: open the Settings app, scroll down and tap on "Cellular" or "Mobile Data", look for the "Cellular Plans" or "Mobile Data Plans" section. If you don't see the "Cellular Plans" or "Mobile Data Plans" section, it means that eSIM is not currently activated on your iPhone.

How long does eSIM take to activate?

The time it takes to activate an eSIM can vary depending on several factors, including the service provider and the specific activation process they have in place. In some cases, eSIM activation can be almost instantaneous, while in others, it may take several minutes or even a few hours. If you're experiencing delays in eSIM activation, it's recommended to reach out to your eSIM service provider for assistance.

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Josh is our resident content wizard! With his encyclopedic knowledge of travel and visa regulations, Josh shares his expertise on site's pages with travelers around the world.