What is an eSIM?

Your guide to discovering what an eSIM is, how it works, and which phones and devices support it.

Even if you aren’t tech savvy, chances are you’ve at least heard of a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card. They’re the small cards located in your phone that help you connect to your wireless carrier’s network and use your plan.

Now, embedded SIM cards (eSIMs) are in the spotlight. While you may not be sure how they’re different than physical SIM cards, why you might need them, which devices have them, and how to use them, we’re here to help answer those questions.

What's the difference between an eSIM vs a physical SIM card?

An eSIM is a digital version of the physical SIM card—identifying your device virtually to provide network connection. It’s programmable remotely via software and is built into newer smartphones, meaning you wouldn’t have to go purchase a new SIM card if you wanted to swap phones or wireless carriers. eSIMs are used in tablets, smart watches, drones, and even cars. They’re basically space-saving gamechangers for connectivity. 

What can eSIMs do?

Since they’re embedded in devices and are programmable remotely, it can open a whole new world of flexibility when it comes to managing your phone and service plans. You can add plans, add a new number, and even connect to a different carrier. For example, you can test out T-Mobile’s network for FREE before you switch, while still keeping your current phone number and carrier. Additionally, you can easily switch to a prepaid plan on iPhone with our T-Mobile Prepaid eSIM App.

Eligible for users not already on the T-Mobile network; 1 trial per user. Compatible unlocked device req’d.

How can eSIMs benefit me?

Let's say you have one smartphone for work and a second phone for your personal life. If your device is equipped with eSIM, you can have both lines hooked up to the same device, giving you the convenience and control to toggle between those lines straight from your phone. This saves you money because with eSIM, you don’t need two separate devices.

Small, medium, and large businesses can benefit from eSIMs, as they make it possible to change or update wireless service remotely on multiple lines at once—whether you have five employees or five thousand.

If you’re traveling internationally, you no longer need to buy a second physical SIM card when you arrive at your destination. eSIMs let you easily add an international plan to your device that starts working the moment you arrive in another country, giving you hassle-free flexibility. 

When it comes to the Un-Carrier (that’s us!), perhaps the biggest benefit of using eSIM is that you can try our network FREE for three months before you switch. Then, you can easily switch up to five lines within minutes from your phone. Download the T-Mobile app to check your device compatibility and get started today.

Eligible for users not already on the T-Mobile network; 1 trial per user. Compatible unlocked device req’d.

What phones use eSIMs?

All of the major mobile device manufacturers have eSIM phones, but not all models are eSIM compatible since this is newer technology. Apple iPhones including iPhone XS and newer, Google Pixel devices, the Motorola Razr 5G, and Samsung Galaxy devices are all eSIM enabled. 
You can see all eSIM-enabled phones here

How do I activate my eSIM?

There are a few different ways to convert to eSIM, depending on if you have iPhoneSamsung, or Motorola, for example. How you activate it also depends on if you’re new to a network, upgrading/replacing your device, or bringing a prepaid device. Watch the video below to see step-by-step instructions on how to activate your eSIM.

Try our network FREE.

Experience unlimited data on America’s largest and fastest 5G network on your eSIM-compatible phone with Network Pass. Start your three-month free trial today.

Switch to T-Mobile today.

We make it fast, easy, and affordable.

Learn more about eSIM.

What is the difference between and eSIM and Dual SIM Dual Standby (DSDS)?

An eSIM is a digital version of the physical SIM card – identifying your device virtually to provide network connection. Dual SIM, Dual Standby (DSDS) allows customers to have two active lines from the same or different carrier on one device. For example, one number for business and another number for personal calls, or a local data plan or phone number when you travel outside of the country or region. Often devices with DSDS have a slot for a physical SIM and a second for an eSIM.

Where can I find more information setting up an eSIM?

You can visit the SIM card & eSIM | T-Mobile Support page for more info about eSIM, including setting up your new device with an eSIM.

Are there any T-Mobile products or services that require eSIM?

T-Mobile’s Network Pass, which allows you to experience T-Mobile’s 5G network free for 3 months, requires an eSIM capable phone. You can learn more about Network Pass here, and you can shop all eSIM phones from Apple, Google, Samsung, and Motorola here.

What is T-Mobile Network Pass?

T-Mobile Network Pass allows you to try T-Mobile's network for up to three months for free, while keeping your existing service with your current carrier. All you need is an unlocked, eligible eSIM-capable phone, and to download the T-Mobile app from the Apple App Store or Google Play store. Then you can experience unlimited high-speed data on the T-Mobile network, all with your own phone, phone number, and apps. A list of eligible phones can be found here.

What's the cost? What's the catch?

There's no cost to you and no catch. Just download the T-Mobile app and complete the setup on your phone. Then you can try the T-Mobile network for free for up to three months. Use your own phone and keep your existing phone number and service with your current carrier.

Who is eligible for Network Pass?

Non-T-Mobile customers that have not previously participated in Network Pass and meet the following criteria:

  • Have an eligible, unlocked phone with available eSIM and be located in the U.S.; a list of eligible phones can be found here
  • Weren't a T-Mobile customer or customer using the T-Mobile network within the past 90 days
  • Aren't current Metro by T-Mobile and Sprint customers, or customers of T-Mobile partners using the T-Mobile network

Are there any data limits? Will I be charged?

No, Network Pass is a worry-free and cost-free way to try the T-Mobile Network. No credit card information is needed to get started, and once you hit three months of use it will automatically end.

How does T-Mobile Network Pass let me try the network?

T-Mobile Network Pass allows you to try the T-Mobile network on your own phone by activating T-Mobile as a secondary provider on your phone using eSIM technology. Your T-Mobile Network Pass plan is active for up to three months, and includes unlimited high-speed data, including 5G if you have a compatible phone. You'll experience the award-winning T-Mobile network while keeping your current plan and phone number with your primary cellular provider, so you’ll never miss a call or text. Both plans will appear in your phone’s cellular settings, and you'll see two network signal bars on your phone—one for T-Mobile, and one for your current provider.

Will I get 5G access with T-Mobile Network Pass?

5G access is available to any phone that has 5G capabilities. Make sure your 5G phone is operating on the latest operating system to access T-Mobile's 5G network.

Can my business use T-Mobile Network Pass?

Yes, anyone can try Network Pass, including businesses, but you must sign up using your personal information, and we require you to identify as a business customer.

I'm experiencing connection issues with T-Mobile Network Pass. What do I do?

Please refer to our T-Mobile Network Pass support page for answers to any issues you may be experiencing.

When I'm using T-Mobile Network Pass, will my friends and family still see my current number when I call or text?

Yes. With T-Mobile Network Pass, all your calls and texts will continue to come in on your current provider, while all your data uses the T-Mobile network. You will also have the T-Mobile number available as a secondary voice number, so you can try calling and texting on our network as well.

What is Easy Switch?

Easy Switch is T-Mobile's solution for the complexity and pain of switching wireless providers. Just download the T-Mobile app, and when you bring your own phone, you can switch up to 5 lines in just minutes.

I want to switch to T-Mobile using the app, but I don't have an eSIM capable phone. Can I still use Easy Switch?

Yes. When entering your information in Easy Switch, simply indicate which phones on your account will require a physical SIM card, along with their mailing addresses. T-Mobile will ship physical SIM cards free of charge.