What is an eSIM and How it works

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What is an eSIM and How it works

In this post i will try to explain What is an eSIM and how it works, so if you want to know about eSIM you can read in this artical it totally about eSIM and it’s functionality. In recent 2017 Google and Apple brought the eSIM into the spotlight by including it within their latest product launches.

The eSIM gives us an improved and more secure customer experience, better designed devices, opens up new market opportunities for operators and enables entire new categories of connected devices. Let’s explore it in a little more detail.

Please bear with us for the next few paragraphs, as we look back in time.

SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) cards store network-specific information used to authenticate and identify subscribers on a cellular network and for the last 30 years have consisted of a physical card containing the chip which has to be inserted into the phone.

You may know or not, but in 1991, the SIM card that you inserted into your phone was the equal in size of a credit card! In the intervening years the size of the humble SIM card has dramatically reduced.

What is an eSIM and How it works

SIM Card sizes from last 29 years

Mobile phone manufacturers continuously strive to make smaller, slimmer and lighter devices with more features, space is at an absolute premium. Even the humble headphone jack is starting to disappear to save precious millimetres, though the cynics among us may say that is to up-sell wireless headphones.

Surely the Nano-SIM, which at 12.30 mm in length and 8.80 mm wide is small enough? Yet, as an industrial designer, you have to remember that it’s not only the size of the SIM card itself but also the space taken up by the associated internal hardware (SIM Card Socket) and circuitry that needs to be accommodated. From many years, manufactures have had to design and accommodate the physical SIM card via SIM card trays or other internal slots. In the quest for more durable and waterproof phones, the more ingress points that can be removed the better.

More important, if you want to change network operator either after your contract has ended or you are traveling on holidays, you have to go and avail a new SIM Card. In certain parts of the world, that’s easier said than done.

It’s all changing though. In the last few years Apple introduced the Apple SIM for use in iPad and as we led with, Google and Apple has included an eSIM as part of its new product launches.

What is the eSIM?

The eSIM/Embedded SIM, or as it’s more formally known, embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card (eUICC), is smaller again at 6 mm in length and 5 mm in width and is soldered onto a device motherboard at the point of manufacturing while having the same functionality as a removable SIM. It has M2M (Machine to Machine) and Remote Provisioning capabilities. Now a GSMA standard, it wont be long before we see the eSIM become standard in other top tier handsets from Apple and Samsung, quickly followed by the others.

Remote Provisioning capabilities within the eSIM standard provide us with an enhanced customer experience of phone management and activation. From phone settings we can select operator and plan we want and that’s it.

An additional consumer benefit that we’ve heard discussed is that the eSIM should ensure future devices are cheaper to manufacture. Passing the cost saving to consumers, of course is a whole different story and it may not happen at all.

For more information please watch GSMA official video about eSIM.

Consumer benefits:

  • Simpler device setup without the need to insert or replace a SIM card;
  • Devices that can operate independently of a tethered smartphone, with their own subscriptions;
  • A range of new, enhanced mobile-connected devices.

The future of eSIM

The eSIM is the future but it will not happen overnight, look at your phone now it’s still got a physical SIM Card, and will still need one when you pass it to your kids, other family members or sell it. Google used eSIM In the Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL only used for Google Project Fi and thus it has a physical Nano-SIM card tray for all the other operators currently.

What is certain though, given the time it will take manufacturers to include eSIM’s as standard, operator adoption and the life-cycle of current devices, it wont take another 29 years before we’ll see the physical SIM card consigned to history once and for all.

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