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To eSIM or Not to eSIM: Which Phone to Pick

Many online magazines have recently released in-depth comparisons of different smartphones to help consumers better pick phones that suit their needs. To cite a couple, PC Magazine and TechRadar comparisons are among the most thorough.

While some phones got 5G capability, many others are still on LTE and LTE Advanced (LTE-A) which should be good enough for the coming couple years as 5G networks are still behind. Even 5G consumer applications are still not yet there; today you can widely get 4K or ultra HD video streaming on LTE, not to mention LTE-A that practically can be as fast as 5G.(For further info about 5G, check our blog post 5G - Hype vs. Reality).

But the big elephant in the room is eSIM, which is being missed by most smartphone comparisons. So what is eSIM? For a quick intro, eSIM is an embedded SIM chip built into recent phones, enabling consumers to get mobile services digitally (e.g. through QR codes) without visiting a carrier shop.

What's the big deal here? For consumers who rarely travel, this is not a big deal as it might not be solving a big problem, but for those who travel internationally eSIM can be a game-changer. To illustrate with numbers, if you travel twice a year you might be paying U$100 per trip (U$200/yr) for LTE data roaming (or not!); over a typical 3-year phone lifetime, this can add-up to U$600. eSIM can help you save up-to 70% (i.e. U$420) of such roaming expenditure by giving you the option to get affordable cellular data.

Now that can change the decision making process of which phone to pick, and in case you travel you may want to eSIM. N.B. eSIM enabled phones currently include iPhone SE, 11, XR, XS, Google Pixel 4 or 3, Samsung Galaxy S20 or Fold, Huawei P40 and Motorola Razr. eSIM is also available in laptops and pads, including Lenovo laptops, iPad Pro and Microsoft Surface among others.

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