We’ve been talking about the difficulties of remaining connected when traveling for for than a decade on this website, and the tale has evolved significantly over that time.
For many years, purchasing local prepaid SIM cards in any nation you were traveling was the most cost-effective alternative, particularly if you consumed a lot of data (and who doesn’t these days?). In most cases, roaming was too costly for anything other than brief trips, and overseas SIM cards, although somewhat less expensive than domestic SIM cards, were still prohibitively expensive.
In recent years, roaming within areas like as North America or the European Union has often become much less expensive, if not completely free. Because it is dependent on where you are traveling and how much connection you need while there, you may not need to do anything other than verify roaming rates with your regular mobile phone provider.
If you’re traveling farther away, though, roaming charges might still be prohibitively expensive. That’s when eSIMs may come in handy. We’ve discussed the advantages of using eSIMs for travel in the past, as well as the disadvantages, such as the fact that most mobile phone carriers do not offer a prepaid eSIM option to tourists or anybody else.
Companies such as Airalo have come in to fill the need that has been identified. A marketplace selling eSIM data packages for practically every nation and area in the globe has been established, intended for visitors who will only be in the country or territory for a few days or weeks.
Many travelers consider it a dream come true to be able to spend a few dollars for a large amount of data that begins working as soon as they arrive in a new location and does not need them to visit a shop or switch out their SIM cards. The question is, how well does it function in practice. It was now time to find out, now that foreign travel was once again on the horizon.
So, what exactly is an eSIM?
Begin by discussing what an eSIM is and how it differs from a traditional SIM card. It is an abbreviation for embedded Subscriber Identity Module, and it is a chip that is incorporated into your phone that replaces the standard piece of plastic that you insert into your phone.
The notion of a “profile” is used instead of a physical replacement chip since eSIMs cannot be physically replaced when you wish to switch to another service provider. These profiles, which are downloaded to your phone or tablet, are essentially simply configuration information for your phone or tablet’s eSIM, which instructs it which service to utilize and which to avoid. They are only triggered when they are required.
The typical scenario is that you may have a number of distinct eSIM profiles downloaded to your device, but only one of them is active at any one moment. It is fully independent of any physical SIM card that you may be using, allowing you to utilize both physical and embedded SIMs at the same time, or simply one of the two at any one moment.
Of course, this is supposing that your gadget is capable of supporting eSIM in the first place. All of Apple’s phones, including the iPhone XR and XS, as well as the most current cellular-enabled iPads, have this capability. In addition, Google’s Pixel line of smartphones, as well as numerous of Samsung’s high-end phones, has included it in recent years. ” Airalo maintains a comprehensive list of Android devices, which includes a scattering of devices from different manufacturers.
It’s important to note that, like regular SIM card slots, your eSIM must be “unlocked” before it can be used. That is, it has not been constrained to be utilized just with a single cell carrier, as has been the case in the past. If you are unsure if your phone is locked or not, just contact the business from where you purchased it.
Getting Things Started
Purchasing, downloading, and setting up your eSIM profile before to traveling to a new country is not required, although it is highly recommended in most situations.
Although the procedure is quick, I personally prefer to do it ahead of time rather than attempting to use the airport’s Wi-Fi while waiting for my baggage to arrive at the airport. As a result, you can just turn on your phone as soon as you arrive, activate the eSIM profile, and you’ll be connected immediately.
Almost usually, the eSIM profile does not become active until the traveler reaches his or her final destination (or more specifically, when your phone is able to connect to whichever carrier Airalo has partnered with in that country). As a result, there’s no harm in having everything set up early on.
Airalo takes a direct approach to his work. A list of over 190 countries and locations where service is accessible can be found on the website; you can either browse through the list or input your search terms into the search box at the top. By default, you’ll be presented with local (i.e., single-country) alternatives, but there are tabs for regional and worldwide packages if you believe they’ll be more appropriate for your needs and circumstances.
The procedure was basic, needing just that I first establish an account and then pay for the data package in question. Later on, the account came in handy since it let me to check in and see how much data I’d used, how much time was left till the pack expired, and other useful information. You may also renew or top up an existing profile, as well as purchase a new one, if you so want.
With each purchase, you’ll also get what the firm refers to as “Airmoney,” which is effectively a 5 percent credit for future purchases. It is unlikely to make a significant difference in whether you choose to use Airalo’s services or not, but if you are a frequent customer, it is a nice small discount.
As soon as you’ve bought your profile, you’ll need to download and install it on your device. So that you can figure out how to accomplish this on your own, Airalo provides extensive instructions for both Android and iOS devices.
It’s not a difficult or time-consuming operation, but there are a few stages that must be completed in the proper sequence, so read the instructions well before you begin. Because you’ll be downloading the profile to your device, you’ll need to make sure you have a solid internet connection while doing this.
Are there any drawbacks?
So, are there any disadvantages to utilizing Airalo’s prepaid travel eSIM service instead of a traditional SIM card? The answer is that it varies, but for the vast majority of individuals, the answer is probably no.
Airalo’s eSIM profiles, like the majority of the packages it provides, do not include a local phone number; instead, they are strictly data-only plans. This does not preclude you from making phone calls. On a daily basis, we can call and text people using WhatsApp, and we can also make calls to ordinary phone numbers using Google Voice, but it does not imply that others can contact you directly from a regular phone.
The extent to which this matters will be determined solely by where and how you will be going. Because email, WhatsApp, or some other internet-based strategy is the favored means of contacting most people in many areas of the globe now, the likelihood that you will get a phone call or text from someone you care about is quite low.
It is possible to get around this by enabling call and SMS roaming (but not data roaming!) on your regular home SIM card and using the eSIM for data access. It is unlikely that you will be charged for roaming unless you send a text message, make or receive a phone call, but you should be reachable by phone if it is absolutely required.
If having a local phone number is essential for your trips, Airalo does provide it in a few places; just look at the specifications of the package you’re interested in purchasing. It will provide you with a phone number to call if it reads “Data and Voice.” If it reads “Data Only,” you will not be able to access it.