How to Activate an eSIM on iPhone & Android

How to activate eSIM on iPhone and Android

Many of us will be familiar with the SIM card or ‘subscriber identity module’ that sits inside our phones, connecting us to a mobile data network for Internet access and messaging on-the-go. The SIM has played a vital role in the mobile phone industry since its invention in 1991, and in 2016 the eSIM was introduced as an alternative standard to the physical card.

In this guide, we’ll explain the role of the eSIM and how to activate it on iPhone and Android devices. If you’re looking to pick up an eSIM-compatible handset, our collection of contract deals contains many supported devices to choose from.

What is an eSIM?

An eSIM functions in much the same way as a standard SIM card, providing a connection to a mobile network. However, instead of a physical card that can be removed and swapped around, an eSIM is embedded within your phone and can be digitally updated when changing to a different network carrier.

The benefit of an eSIM is that you don’t need to manually change SIM cards when moving to a different network; all you need to do is make a phone call. However, the downside to this is you can’t move the eSIM across when switching devices.

What you need

To activate an eSIM on your iPhone or Android handset, you will need:

• Your phone
• Connection to a stable Wi-Fi network

How to set up an eSIM on iPhone

There are several ways you can activate an eSIM on iPhone, depending on the methods supported by your network carrier.

eSIM Carrier Activation

Some network providers can assign an eSIM to your iPhone when you buy it; all you need to do is turn on your device and follow the instructions to activate it.

When moving to iPhone from an Android handset, you’ll need to contact your network carrier to move your old number across via the eSIM Carrier Activation process.

Setup eSIM on iPhone

You can also use eSIM Carrier Activation if you requested an eSIM after setting up your iPhone:

  1. Enable Bluetooth on your old and new iPhones, ensuring they are positioned next to each other (both must be running iOS 16 or later)
  2. Sign in with the same Apple ID on both devices
  3. You should see a notification stating ‘Provider Mobile Data Plan Ready’; tap it to continue
  4. Open the Settings app and select ‘Provider Mobile Data Plan Ready
  5. Tap Continue and make a call to test if the network connection is working

If your eSIM plan replaces a physical SIM, remove it and restart your iPhone.

eSIM Quick Transfer

eSIM Quick Transfer enables you to move across a physical SIM or eSIM from an older iPhone. Your network carrier should be contacted if you don’t have your previous iPhone on-hand.

Transferring a physical SIM or eSIM from an older iPhone

  1. Make sure you have both iPhones unlocked and next to each other
  2. On the new iPhone, head to Settings > Mobile Data > Add Data Plan
  3. Select a data plan, or tap ‘Transfer From Another iPhone
  4. Open your previous iPhone and follow the instructions. Select ‘Transfer’ or enter the verification code on the new iPhone if requested
  5. If a message pops up on your new iPhone saying ‘Finish Setting Up Your Network Provider's Data Plan’, select it and follow the final steps on the network carrier’s web page

Converting a physical SIM to an eSIM

Some network providers support the conversion of physical SIMs to eSIM:

Convert to eSIM on iPhone
  1. Go to Settings > Mobile Data on your iPhone
  2. Select ‘Convert to eSIM
  3. On the next screen, tap ‘Convert Mobile Data Plan
  4. From here, select ‘Convert to eSIM
  5. Your physical SIM card will now be deactivated. Remove it from the SIM tray and restart your iPhone

Scanning a QR code

You can activate an eSIM on your iPhone with a QR code; useful if your network carrier doesn’t support the previous methods.

During iPhone set-up

  1. On the ‘Set Up Mobile Data’ screen, select ‘Use QR Code
  2. Follow the instructions when prompted
Scan QR code to activate eSIM

After iPhone set-up

  1. If your new iPhone is already set up, contact your network carrier to get a QR code
  2. Open the Camera app and scan the QR code
  3. Tap the ‘Mobile Data Plan Detected’ notification when it appears
  4. Select Continue and then ‘Add Mobile Data Plan
  5. Enter the confirmation code your carrier provided you, download the carrier’s app if they have one to continue

Entering eSIM information manually

The details of your eSIM can be added manually; contact your network provider to get these details before continuing:

  1. Once you have your eSIM information, go to Settings
  2. Select either ‘Cellular Data’ or ‘Mobile Data’ depending on your iPhone model
  3. Tap ‘Add Mobile Data Plan
  4. Select ‘Enter Details Manually’ and input the information you obtained from your network provider

How to set up an eSIM on Android

Android phones support eSIMs much like iPhones do, and you can activate an eSIM with a few simple steps.

Before continuing, ask your network carrier for a QR code; this will be scanned during the process:

Activate eSIM on Android
  1. Open the Settings menu
  2. Select ‘Network & Internet
  3. Tap ‘SIMs’, and then ‘Download eSIM
  4. Select ‘Next’ and scan the QR code you got from your network carrier
  5. Tap ‘Activate

After following any of the above methods, your eSIM will now be activated. Before you start downloading apps or browsing online, it’s important to know how far your mobile data can go based on your preferences. Our helpful guide breaks down the data requirements for different activities such as watching YouTube videos, so you can efficiently follow your data plan.

Adding your network to your phone using eSIM


Which phones support eSIM?

Any iPhone released between the iPhone XR and the iPhone 15 Pro Max support an eSIM.

Android handsets such as the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, Google Pixel 8 Pro, Xiaomi 13T and Motorola Razr 40 Ultra are also compatible with eSIMs.