Visible SIM card next to Pixel 3aSource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

Best answer: An eSIM integrates the functions of a SIM card into a phone's hardware, making it easier and quicker to change phone service. Using an eSIM can also make it easier to manage multiple phone services on one device.

  • A budget phone with an eSIM: Pixel 3a ($299 at Amazon)
  • Unlocked with pure Android: Pixel 4 ($595 at Amazon)

What is an eSIM?

For most phones sold today and in the past several years, a SIM card is included or provided by your carrier to tell the phone how to connect to the network and what service it gets. These SIM cards look like small memory cards and usually slide into the side of your phone on a small tray. More recently, companies like Google and Apple have started to push an embedded SIM, or eSIM, as a better solution while still keeping a SIM card slot for compatibility.

This eSIM can be activated by a carrier to receive service without the need to get a specific SIM card from the carrier. Your eSIM could either be activated remotely by the carrier and in some cases, could even be done automatically.

Why would I want an eSIM?

One of the biggest reasons someone would want to have an eSIM is for easy access to new phone plans as needed. Some carriers provide phone service in an app and can activate services through your eSIM while you travel. This can allow you to keep your phone active on your standard line without risking massive roaming fees.

Some people may also want to have multiple numbers active on one phone. This can be great for someone that wants to be able to manage a business phone number and a personal number at the same time. It can also be a big help for someone that wants to make sure they have a solid connection in more places thanks to being able to access multiple networks. Google Fi can even use the eSIM in the Pixel 4 to improve coverage on its own service.

Signal Spy Pro PixelSource: Andrew Myrick / Android Central

Having access to an eSIM in other devices such as smartwatches, tablets, or even notebook computers can make it easier to have data on those devices without having to worry about which carrier you will use. To add to that, removing a physical opening in the side of a phone can improve water resistance since current SIM trays rely on a gasket to keep water out. If it doesn't get seated properly or deteriorates, water can get in.

One of the main arguments against eSIMs is that people are afraid carriers will use the technology to lock phones out of activation on other carriers. While there is some plausibility to this, the end user is currently able to erase their eSIM on their own making it possible to activate on another carrier.

Budget Pixel

Google Pixel 3a

Google Pixel 3a

A great camera and pure Android

The Google Pixel 3a is the budget entry to the Pixel lineup featuring Google's fantastic camera software as well as compatibility with nearly any carrier.

Pure Android flagship

Google Pixel 4

Google Pixel 4

High-end performance and pure Android

Google's Pixel 4 series is the most powerful Pixel line yet featuring dual rear cameras and access to the newest Android updates as soon as they drop.

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.