What is an Apple eSIM?

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Last update: March 3, 2023
Roams UK
Author: Roams UK
In a nutshell

Apple eSIM is a service that allows you to have a mobile data plan in your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch without having to use a physical SIM. Find out how to set up an eSIM, which iPhones are compatible and which companies sell eSIM in UK.

What is an Apple eSIM?

An Apple eSIM is an embedded SIM card that replaces the familiar SIM card. There is a chip on the iPhone and you can install eigth or more eSIMs with differents data plans, and use two phone numbers at the same time. This way, you can turn your iPhone into a dual-SIM device.

Apple eSIM is also available for the Apple Watch, but not for all models, so be sure to check when you buy yours to take advantage of this service.

More information about eSIM

There are many advantages to using an Apple eSIM, you will receive your new embedded SIM immediately in your mail, so you don't have to wait to use it. An eSIM it is easy to activate and you can have different data plans to change as needed

Our favourite use is the international eSIM, if you are preparing a trip or are a digital nomad, we recommend that you buy an eSIM with an international data plan. Some companies, such as Holafly, sell special fares for travel.

Activating eSIM on Apple Watch

If you have an Apple Watch and want it to be independent from your smartphone, the best solution is to activate an eSIM that shares, or not, the phone number you have already contracted. This way, even if you leave your iPhone at home, you won't miss any calls or messages. It's a good solution for those times when you don't want your phone to be in danger or you don't have a place to take it.

First of all, you need to know which Apple Watch models are compatible with eSIM:

  • Apple Watch Serie 3
  • Apple Watch Serie 4
  • Apple Watch Serie 5
  • Apple Watch Serie 6
  • Apple Watch Serie 7
  • Apple Watch Serie 8
  • Apple Watch SE
  • Apple Watch Ultra

All Apple Watch models have a GPS and GPS + Cellular version, so you'll need to be careful when shopping to choose the right one. Once you have your eSIM compatible Apple Watch model, follow these steps to set up your embedded SIM card:

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on iPhone
  2. Click on My Watch and access Cellular
  3. Go to Set Up Cellular or Add a New Plan
  4. Follow your provider's instructions

You can add up to five cellular plans to your Apple Watch, but you only can use one at the same time. You can change your plan in your Apple Watch, go to Settings > Cellular or Settings > Mobile Date. At this point you have to choose the plan you want to use at the moment, although you will be able to change to another plan later.

Apple eSIM setup: step by step

To setup an Apple eSIM you need to have an iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR or later. Thanks to the virtual card you can turn your smartphone into a dual SIM, so you can have your personal number and an eSIM number for work or travel.

Please note that if you have bought an iPhone 14 in the United States, you will only have the option to set up an eSIM, you will not be able to use a regular SIM. Ask your carrier if you have this option before you buy your smartphone.

You have two options for setting up your new eSIM, depending on the carrier. Some network providers will assign a new eSIM when you set up your new phone and others will allow you to transfer the old eSIM to the new iPhone.

In the first case, follow this four steps for activating eSIM on your new iPhone:

  1. In the Settings app, tap Provider Mobile Data Plan Ready to Be Installed
  2. Click on Continue
  3. Make a call to check if the mobile data works
  4. Remove your old SIM and restart the iPhone

Apple eSIM transfer is the second method of activating a mobile data plan on your iPhone. In this case the steps to follow are a little different, but it is still a very simple process to do.

  1. Open Settings > Mobile Data > Add data plan (on the new iPhone)
  2. Choose a mobile data deal to transfer from another iPhone
  3. Follow instructions on your previous iPhone to confirm
  4. Wait for the eSIM to be activated on your new iPhone

Most commonly, your carrier will send you the Apple eSIM via a QR code that you will need to scan with your phone's camera. In other cases, you can install your new embedded SIM by entering the data by hand or using the carrier's own app.

Apple eSIM providers

Some of the most important carriers in the UK already offer the possibility of having an eSIM when you sign up for one of their plans. These are some of the companies with which you can start using an Apple eSIM and take advantage of the benefits of this service:

However, these are not the only companies that offer an eSIM; there are carriers specialised in offering travel eSIM. Some of the advantages of buying an international data plan in embedded SIM format for Apple is that you can buy a card anywhere in the world and start using it immediately.

One of the best options for connecting to the internet from anywhere in the world is Holafly, which offers unlimited international data plans. Thanks to Holafly's international eSIM you will be connected from the moment you arrive. There are more than 160 destinations available and many tariff options.

If Holafly's fees don't convince you, there are other companies with which you can also sign up for an international data plan for your iPhone.

eSIM Apple Frequently Asked Questions

How to remove eSIM from Apple Watch?

To remove eSIM from Apple Watch you have to go Settings, tap Cellular or Mobile Data and choose the plan you want to erase. Now, you only have to click "Delete eSIM".

Can i use same eSIM on iPhone and Apple Watch?

You cannot use the same Apple eSIM on both devices, but you can share the plan, so if you leave your iPhone at home you won't miss any calls.

Our methodology
Roams offers a free information and comparison service, which tries to help anyone find the product that best suits their needs. To ensure that the data presented is correct, extensive market research and product analysis is carried out. Our database of mobile phone and internet rates is updated every day. The content is frequently reviewed by a team of writers with previous experience and/or specific training in telephony.

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Laura Burón
Edited and revised por Laura Burón