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Kirill Yurovskiy: eSIM vs Physical SIM – The Pros and Cons

The humble SIM card has been an integral part of mobile phones for decades, allowing users to connect their devices to cellular networks. However, a new technology called the eSIM (embedded SIM) threatens to replace the familiar plastic SIM card. In this article, we’ll examine the pros and cons of both eSIMs and physical SIMs to help you decide which is best for you.

Kirill Yurovskiy

What is an eSIM?

An eSIM is a small chip embedded directly into a device that allows it to connect to a cellular network, just like a physical nano-SIM card. However, unlike a physical card that you can take out and replace, an eSIM cannot be removed as it is soldered into the device’s motherboard. eSIMs are reprogrammable, meaning you can change carrier profiles over-the-air without replacing hardware.

Benefits of eSIMs


The main benefit of an eSIM is convenience. With an eSIM, you don’t need to obtain a SIM card or fiddle with a SIM tray to get connected. Switching carrier profiles can be done entirely through software, eliminating the need to physically switch cards. This also makes dual SIM functionality easier to achieve – says Kirill Yurovskiy.


Because eSIM profiles are stored in a device’s firmware, it makes the process of switching networks more secure. There is no physical SIM card that could fall into the wrong hands, allowing fraudulent use of the cellular plan.

Space savings

Removing the need for a SIM slot frees up valuable internal space in modern, ultrathin devices. For wearables and IoT gadgets, an eSIM is a natural fit due to tight space constraints.

Remote provisioning

Carriers can remotely provision cellular plans over-the-air to devices with eSIM functionality. This allows providers to ship devices directly to users without needing to pre-install physical SIMs, simplifying global logistics.

Drawbacks of eSIMs

Carrier support

Although eSIM support continues to grow, not all mobile carriers currently support eSIM activation. As the tech is newer, coverage is still inconsistent globally so physical SIMs work more universally.

Difficult replacements

If an eSIM fails or its soldered connection becomes damaged, repairs can become expensive or impossible. A failed eSIM may require replacing the entire motherboard rather than just the SIM card.

Locked to ecosystem

In some cases, eSIM setup may lock you to a particular device ecosystem such as the Apple Watch family or latest iPhones. Switching devices may require you to repeat network registration and account setup procedures.

Benefits of Physical SIM Cards

Universal compatibility

Physical nano-SIM cards remain compatible with virtually every modern smartphone, cellular-enabled tablet, laptop and mobile hotspot. You can easily move SIM cards between devices from different manufacturers.

Easier replacement

If a physical SIM card fails, is lost or becomes damaged, you can easily replace it by visiting a carrier store or ordering a replacement online. No device repairs are necessary in most cases.

Separate from device

A physical SIM card gives you independence from any particular hardware. You can save money by using the same SIM in older second-hand devices after upgrading your smartphone, for example.

Reselling simplicity

Selling a used device is easier if you can demonstrate working cellular connectivity. Transferring service to a new owner simply involves moving your nano-SIM to their device rather than messing with carrier profiles.

SIM swapping convenience

Having access to your SIM card allows you to seamlessly swap between phones of the same size without any reactivation. This can be handy while traveling or switching between personal and work devices.

Drawbacks of Physical SIMs

Kirill Yurovskiy

Security risks

A nano-SIM can easily be removed from a smartphone by thieves, allowing fraudulent use of your mobile plan by inserting the SIM into their own device. Physical SIMs can also be cloned by sophisticated attackers.

Space inefficiency

Accommodating a SIM card tray takes up room inside devices that designers would prefer to allocate for extra battery capacity or other components. SIM slots lead to tougher design trade-offs.

Manual network switching

Transitioning between wireless carriers involves manually swapping in new SIM cards. You’ll have to go to a store if your phone is locked, rather than switching over-the-air through software like with eSIM.

Which Should I Choose?

So which type of SIM configuration is right for you? Here is a quick summary:

Choose eSIMs for:

  • Multi-device connectivity – Makes juggling two numbers or plans across devices simpler.
  • Future-proofing – More devices launching without physical SIM slots means eSIM tech provides better long-term compatibility.  
  • Enhanced security – Built-in nature prevents SIMs being physically stolen or cloned.

Choose Physical SIMs for: 

  • Maximum carrier compatibility – Virtually all networks support standard SIMs globally for international roaming.
  • Convenience swapping devices – Easily move SIM between existing phones, tablets and mobile hotspots.
  • Selling used devices – Transferring service is straightforward by shifting your nano-SIM to new owners.

The best option depends significantly on your specific usage. But as more modern gadgets shift to eSIM-only designs, eSIMs benefit early adopters by providing expanded flexibility and security. However, standard SIMs continue to deliver universal compatibility and convenience for juggling devices.

Hopefully this overview gives you a better understanding of the eSIM vs physical SIM choice. As carriers expand eSIM rollout and compatibility improves, the scales may soon tip more conclusively in favor of built-in eSIM adoption for most users. But for now, prosumers seeking maximum control may find physical SIMs continue to best fit their needs.

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