If you’ve ever had to port out your mobile number or change providers, the relatively simple act of inserting a SIM card and getting your new plan to work can be easily messed up. Similarly, if you need two numbers, for business purposes or just for convenience, there have previously not been many dual SIM phones out there. If you’re a smart watch enthusiast, linking it up with your phone could also be problematic. In comes the ‘eSIM’ feature, and it’s the latest in technology made most popular in part by the newest iPhones.
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Postpaid plans you might like
If you’re on the market for a postpaid plan, there are some current postpaid offers below that may suit your needs.
The following table shows a selection of sponsored SIM Only plans on Canstar Blue’s database with links to referral partners.
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What is an eSIM?
eSIM stands for ‘embedded SIM’ and simply removes the need for a physical SIM to be inserted into your phone. This is especially handy for those who like to change providers, or for those who simply can’t be bothered with the physical SIM card process.
- eSIMs also allow two numbers to be stored on the same phone.
- Unlike some dual SIM phones, both profiles can have numbers that are active at the same time, meaning you don’t need to switch between the two.
- eSIM also allows the connection between wearables (e.g. the Apple Watch) with the user’s smartphone. Previously, Bluetooth had to be used.
- eSIMs mean you don’t even need to change SIM cards when you’re overseas – simply find a compatible eSIM provider and off you go.
eSIMs have been in existence in Australia since about 2015, with the Samsung Galaxy 2 smart watch being one of the first devices to have the feature. As with many other technological advances, Apple made the eSIM term a headline in 2017 with its Apple Watch 3, and with its release of iPhones in 2018, which introduced the feature. eSIMs may also eliminate the need for SIM card slots, which can aid with water resistance and stop dirt from getting in the precious internals of your new $1,000+ device.
So, how do you get your hands on this latest step towards the mobile tech future? You first need a compatible phone or watch, and then find a compatible provider that enables the feature. Below we’ve narrowed down some of the providers and phones to make the hunt a bit easier.
eSIM phone plans and providers
Currently there are only a select few providers that offer the eSIM feature, but more telcos have started to roll out the feature. The ‘Big 3’ in Telstra, Vodafone and Optus primarily use the service to promote synchronisation between wearables and smartphones, rather than dual SIM capabilities and other purported features. All three providers offer eSIM use with compatible phones.
Vodafone’s eSIM is called ‘Number Sync’ and is available on a range of Apple and Samsung watches and phones. Most Vodafone postpaid plans are compatible with eSIM.
- Number sync is priced at $5 per month for your smart watch eSIM in addition to your phone plan.
The following table shows a selection of published Vodafone postpaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, smallest to largest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
One of the earliest MVNOs to offer eSIM was Felix Mobile. The telco operates on the Vodafone mobile network and offers a simple range of prepaid phone plans, including one plan for $40 per month with unlimited data at the capped speed of 20Mbps. When you sign up to a plan with Felix is you’ll have the choice to get a physical SIM card sent to you, or opt for an eSIM instead. Felix is focused on sustainability, so the option to reduce eWaste by choosing an eSIM might be a plus for customers looking for a more sustainable telco.
The following table shows all published Felix mobile plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This selection of plans includes links to referral partners.
Smaller telco Tangerine offers a simple range of postpaid plans available as 4G or 5G plans, operating on the Telstra wholesale network. You’ll get data banking on all plans (with the amount of data you can bank depending on the plan) and it also offers the option to get an eSIM for faster plan activation.
The following table shows a selection of published Tangerine phone plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This selection of plans includes links to referral partners.
More, a sister company of Tangerine’s, also offers a range of simple postpaid phone plans with 4G and 5G plans available, and using the Telstra wholesale network. You can choose to have your phone plan setup with an eSIM and if you’re a CommBank customer, you may be able to score some special offers on your service.
The following table shows a selection of published More phone plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This selection of plans includes links to referral partners.
Telstra offers two types of eSIM plans. There is the regular eSIM plan, which is essentially the equivalent to a regular phone plan but with an eSIM rather than a physical SIM card.
The second type of plan is called ‘One Number’ and is currently only available syncing with an Apple Watch and iPhone (running iOS 11 or higher), as well as Samsung Galaxy watches and phones. At present, only postpaid plans are available with the technology.
- Telstra charges an extra $5 a month for the privilege of using One Number, which is in addition to your phone plan.
The My Telstra App makes it simple to purchase and set up your eSIM, given that you have an eSIM capable phone and a Telstra mobile plan. All you need to do is install the app on your phone, log in and select Transfer eSIM. Then, just follow the steps to set up your eSIM, which will include a confirmation code that will be texted to you, and the choice to set it up either on that smartphone or alternate device.
This way, switching plans is easy: you don’t have to visit a store or wait for an eSIM activation card to be sent out to you!
So, what plans can you currently get with Telstra? The following table shows a selection of published Telstra postpaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, smallest to largest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
Similar to Telstra, Optus also offers two kinds of eSIM plans. The eSIM prepaid Flex and postpaid plans for eSIM compatible devices and its eSIM service ‘Number Share’ which is much the same as Number Sync and One Number. Compatible devices include the Apple Watch GPS+ Cellular and Samsung Galaxy Watch (Cellular), and iPhones running iOS 11 or higher.
- This service is a month-to-month add-on, and priced at $5 per month. However, selected Optus customers can access Number Share free when purchased with an eligible Apple Watch.
There’s good news if you happen to have, or have been considering an iPhone 14, Samsung Galaxy S23 or Google Pixel 7 — the eSIM function on these devices is supported by Optus through its postpaid plans. If you’re looking to buy one of these devices on a 12, 24, or 36-month plan from Optus and would prefer for your Optus SIM to be an eSIM, you can install the service via the MyOptus app or head to an Optus store.
The following table shows a selection of published Optus postpaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, smallest to largest. Use our phone plan comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers.
Everyday Mobile eSIM
Everyday Mobile from Woolworths also offers eSIMs on its range of prepaid 30 day, prepaid Long Expiry and its postpaid SIM-only plans. Existing customers can switch from a physical SIM to an eSIM using the Woolworths app.
The following table shows all published Everyday Mobile postpaid plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This selection of plans includes links to referral partners.
Lebara has entered the eSIM game as well, with the service that runs through Vodafone’s mobile network also allowing users to get digital with their SIMs. Unlike many other telcos, Lebara offers a five-day trial of its eSIM plans.
Kogan is also offering eSIM plans as a part of its Kogan Mobile network. Customers can switch over to Kogan Mobile and download an eSIM at no extra cost. As long as your device is eSIM compatible, you can join the Kogan Mobile network.
What is the difference between an eSIM and regular SIM cards?
The main difference between an eSIM and a regular SIM card is that eSIMs aren’t physical, while you can physically hold a SIM card in your hand. eSIMs tie your smartphone to the plan you’ve signed up to via a chip in the motherboard, so an eSIM and traditional SIM card still work in the same fashion, but you don’t have to worry about inserting a SIM card when you get a new phone or plan.
The only other main difference is that eSIMs require more tech to run on a smartphone, hence why not every modern smartphone is eSIM compatible.
What are the pros and cons of eSIMs?
With eSIM technology still relatively new in the scheme of smartphones, and not as common as traditional SIM cards, what exactly are the pros and cons of an eSIM? Find out below.
Pros of eSIMs
- Don’t have to physically worry about your SIM, it’s in your phone ready to go.
- Can have multiple SIMs and numbers on the one device.
- It’s easier to switch networks, as you don’t have to wait for your SIM card to arrive.
Cons of eSIMs
- Lack of providers and eSIM compatible devices currently available.
- eSIM compatible phones are traditionally more expensive to purchase.
What devices are eSIM compatible?
Below you’ll find a list of devices that are eSIM compatible. Keep in mind that this is not a complete list of eSIM compatible phones, just a snapshot of phones and devices that are.
Selected phones with eSIM Compatibility
- Google: Pixel 3a and newer
- Samsung: Galaxy S20 and newer, Galaxy Fold and newer, Galaxy Z Flip and newer
- Apple: iPhone 11 and newer
- OPPO: Find X3 Pro and newer, Find Xs and newer
- Huawei: Huawei P40 series
- Motorola: A range of older and newer devices including Razr 2019, Razr 5G, Edge 40, Moto G54 5G, Razr 40 and Razr 40 Ultra
Selected watches with eSIM Compatibility
- Huawei: Watch 2 Pro and newer
- Apple: Series 3 and newer
- Samsung: Gear S2 and newer, Galaxy Watch 4, Galaxy Watch Active 2
What can eSIM do?
Here are some uses for an eSIM:
- Travel overseas: There’s no need to hunt around for a SIM card if you’re travelling overseas; simply contact a provider either before you leave or while overseas, or download the telco’s app, and get setup with your eSIM. Keep your Australian plan as well; there’s no need to remove your SIM card.
- Link your smartwatch: Previously you had to link your smartwatch to your phone via Bluetooth. Now you can accept calls on your watch when you’re out jogging or when out and about – leave the phone at home.
- Keep business separate: The dual SIM feature means you can keep two numbers on the same SIM and potentially turn off one number outside business hours, or choose to ignore that call.
- Get more bang for buck: eSIM allows you to potentially get a cheap data-only plan and pair it with a cheap unlimited plan. This could work out to be better value than if you just got calls, texts and data in one plan.
These four reasons suit a variety of different users. From jet-setters to corporate types and penny pinchers, eSIM can be useful for various walks of life; it all comes down to how you can find a use for it.
Should I get an eSIM?
eSIM is certainly an exciting idea in theory, but its execution in Australia may leave a bit to be desired. Currently, only a few providers have enabled the feature, which narrows your choice of plans; they also could charge a price premium for the service.
Further to that, some telcos seem to promote the linking of smart watches to smartphones, as opposed to all the other benefits eSIM can offer. However, eSIM’s future in Australia is bright. We might see more phone manufacturers rolling this function out with newer devices and therefore, more telcos supporting it.
As the technology is still somewhat in its infancy, the devices enabled with it – coupled with the providers offering it – limit eSIM’s accessibility right now. Currently, only premium smartwatches and smartphones come enabled with the feature – you may not find the prices of these devices palatable; it’s more than $1,500 for the newest iPhones for example. Overall, however, eSIM is a promising technology, but it remains to be seen how it will play out in the telco world in Australia.
eSIM in Australia FAQs
If you have a device that supports hybrid dual SIM capability, then yes you could have both an eSIM and a physical SIM card in your phone at the same time.
If your device is on the list above, you should be good to go! Otherwise, there will be a section in your phone’s settings that will tell you. This differs from brand to brand so your best bet to find out is to go to the manufacturer’s website directly.
While iPhone 14 models and newer bought in the US no longer have the physical SIM card slots, you are still able to use a physical SIM in iPhones bought in Australia.
If you’re just switching from a regular SIM to an eSIM then it won’t cost you extra, the only times that you might run into additional fees is when sharing the number with a watch or tablet.
This will vary from provider to provider but is generally in the form of a QR code or online app registration. The best way to find out information regarding your specific provider is to check their website or contact them and ask.