eSIM by Airtel, Jio and Vi: Which smartphone gets the support and the cost in India?

  • Bharti Airtel, Jio, and Vi are the only telcos to offer eSIM support on smartphones in India.
  • It eliminates the hassle of getting a physical SIM for smartphones.
  • eSIM works on both iPhones and Android phones.

eSIM technology has been around for a while, but many don’t know about its existence. That’s because not all smartphones promote this connectivity option, and it’s an expensive tech to add as it directly involves creating a dedicated space on the motherboard. Apple is one of those brands to offer the option on most of its smartphones. Samsung and Motorola do it too, but it is limited to their most expensive smartphones. Google provides eSIM support as well.

But the pertinent question remains; how does the eSIM tech work? Which smartphone gets the support and the cost in India? We will cover all that in today’s article.

What is eSIM: Let’s start with the basics — what is this eSIM technology? If you are wondering, no, it is not an electronic SIM. It’s known as embedded SIM and that is because the eSIM tech is embedded or soldered on the motherboard of the phone. This option is also supported on smartwatches and drones, as it eliminates the hassle of creating an extra SIM card slot on the device.

In simple words, this embedded or digital SIM allows users to activate a cellular plan from their carrier without having to use a physical nano-SIM. Bharti Airtel, Jio, and Vi are the only telcos to offer eSIM support on smartphones in India — both Android and iOS.

Compatible phones: As mentioned, most iPhones support the option. eSIM is supported on iPhone 6 and above. Samsung phones that support this option include the Galaxy S20 series, S21 series, all Z Fold smartphones, and Z Flip devices. Other Android smartphones include Motorola Razr and Google Pixel 2 and above.

But the biggest challenge here is that smartphones need to be compatible with this tech. Now, to see which phones support this, you will see a bunch of names on your screen.

How to enable eSIM: The process to activate or enable an eSIM is pretty simple but it varies from operator to operator. Telcos don’t charge separately for an eSIM and your regular plan gets forwarded on the same number as well. Moreover, Airtel and Jio support eSIM on both prepaid and postpaid plans. Vi only offers the eSIM option on postpaid plans.

-Airtel: SMS eSIM registered email ID to 121.
-Vi: SMS eSIM registered email ID to 199.
-Jio: GETESIM to 199.

Users can find IMEI and EID numbers in the Settings app.

Following this, users will get an SMS from each carrier and follow the steps. Eventually, users will receive a QR code on the registered email ID, which needs to be scanned. Also, remember to ensure the email ID is correct. You can check or update the email ID by downloading the carrier’s respective app — Airtel Thanks app, Vi app, and MyJio app.

The scanning process varies across smartphones.

-Samsung: “Settings” > Select “Connections” > Click on “SIM Card Manager” > Click on “Add Mobile Plan” > Click on “Add Using QR Code.

-Apple: Go to “Settings” > Select “Mobile Data” > Click on “Add Data Plan”.

-Pixel: Click on “Settings” > Select “Network & Internet” > Click on “Mobile Network” > Click on “Download a SIM instead” > Click on “Next” > Scan QR code received by email.

Advantages and disadvantages of eSIM: There’s no guarantee that eSIM provides better connectivity, but it saves the hassle of going to stores to get a new SIM card. The biggest downside to an eSIM is that if you switch between devices frequently, you can’t just take out the SIM card and put it inside the new phone. The activation process forces you to go through the whole process again.

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