What is eSIM?

Learn what eSIM is, how it works, and what it means for smartphone and cell phone users.

What is an eSIM and how does it work? 

If you’ve recently spent time shopping for the latest smartphones or devices, you’ve probably heard the term eSIM. And if you’re the type of person who prefers a virtual experience over a manual one (at least when it comes to connecting to your wireless network), you’ll want to know why eSIM could be right for you.   


Most of us are familiar with Subscriber Identity Module, or SIM cards. They’re the tiny removable chips you can swap in and out of smartphones to get service. A SIM stores the information your phone needs to connect to your carrier network so you can send texts, make calls and more. While many of today’s phones and devices still rely on physical SIM cards for network connectivity, newer devices are increasingly turning to a newer technology called eSIM.  


eSIM is short for Embedded SIM and is a digital version of a SIM card. eSIM allows you to connect to your network without having to deal with a physical chip. Instead of storing all that necessary information on a SIM card, you can download that data to your device via the internet, activate your eSIM, and connect to your network in a completely virtual way. To learn more about how eSIM works and how to connect an eSIM-compatible device with AT&T, head over to Get to Know eSIM or watch this helpful video so you're good to go when the time is right. 

What are the benefits of eSIM? 

You might be thinking, okay, so I don’t have to swap a chip in and out of my phone to connect to my network. That’s nice and all, but are there any other advantages to using eSIM? Actually… yes! eSIM offers several other benefits aside from saving a bit of manual work.


  • eSIM simplifies the connectivity process, giving you more control over your digital experience.  

  • Unlike a SIM card, eSIM is embedded into your phone and can’t be removed. This means that if your eSIM device is ever stolen you can disable it remotely, adding an additional layer of security than you might get with a physical SIM.  

  • For many eSIM-compatible devices, you don’t have to order a SIM card or go into a store to get one. It’s simple to download eSIM over Wi-Fi®, then activate it so you can start using your device quickly and securely on AT&T’s network. (For some eSIM-capable devices, you’ll need a Wi-Fi connection on your phone and an eSIM activation card with a QR code from AT&T. To download your eSIM, open your camera app, point the camera at the QR code, and follow the prompts.)  

  • Some eSIM-compatible devices can support more than one phone number, so you can set up both a work and personal profile on a single phone. 

  • If you are traveling internationally, you may be able to activate an eSIM for the country you’re visiting. (Note: We also offer AT&T International Day Pass®, which is a great option for traveling abroad with your phone and devices.)