Dubai: eSIMs are now a reality in the UAE, or they will be as soon as the owners of the new Apple iPhones (Xs, Xs MAX, and the Xr) download iOS 12.1, which is being rolled out across the world today.

Etisalat becomes the first Middle East telecom to offer the eSIM services for smartphones. They first introduced eSIM technology in May this year for the Apple Watch.

An eSIM allows users to conntect their smartphones to a telecom’s network without having to purchase a physical card, although the eSIM phones announced so far can also use physical SIMs, essentially making them dual-sim phones.

eSIM services are also being rolled out in Austria, Canada. Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, UK, Hungary, India, Spain, and the US. In the UAE, the only phones that are eSIM compatible are the three latest iPhones. Two Google Android phones (Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2XL), which have not been released in the UAE, are also eSIM compatible.

Tariffs for the eSIM packages have not been announced yet.

 What is an e-SIM?

e-SIM is Embedded SIM Card. “e” is for embedded,  not electronic. That means there is no physical SIM Card like before. Instead,  the e-SIM is already installed in the mobile device by the manufacturer.

In e-SIM you can switch from network to another network easily. For example, from du to Etisalat and the other way around

It is good for travellers as they won’t need to buy the SIM card of the country they are vising, but just dial the local network or use an app. The e-SIM needs to be supported by the respective network so that you can switch from one to the other.

One disadvantage: If you want to get a new phone you have to arrange it with the network to transfer your number to your new phone’s eSIM

Another temporary disadvantage is that it is not currently widespread so you could travel to a country and find no network that supports eSIM

That’s why iPhone XS and family have a slot for the normal SIM

However, Apple Watch Series 3 & 4 have  only eSIMs