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Travel internationally with eSIM card
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Traveling internationally? Check if your phone takes an eSIM

“SIM” is short for subscriber identity module. It’s a chip that identifies your phone and connects you with SMS, phone services and cellular data. Then, eSIM technology builds upon this concept, allowing you to add a second line of service without disrupting your current plan.

There are many ways to exploit the best of what an eSIM offers. One of those ways is to use an eSIM for internet and phone access when traveling outside your carrier’s domestic zone.

For a crash course on the basics, tap or click to read our guide on staying connected with an international phone plan abroad. Read on to learn everything you need to know about using an eSIM when traveling out of the country.

Can I use an eSIM card with my phone?

The list of eSIM-capable phones is constantly growing. If you have an iPhone, a Google Pixel, or one of several high-end Samsung phones, you’re likely cleared for takeoff.

RELATED: Traveling soon? Five smart tech steps to take before you hit the road

With an eSIM phone, you’ll be able to purchase a foreign data plan to use when overseas. After activating your travel plan, you’ll be able to use your phone just as you did before, anywhere in the world.

Which phones are eSIM-compatible? The list is long. Yours is likely to be on it.

iPhones with eSIM access

Apple provides this quick guide on using dual SIM support for any of the following iPhone models:

  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 mini

If you use any of the following older iPhones, you can also use a physical nano-SIM card to stay connected:

  • All iPhone 12 models
  • All iPhone 11 models
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR

For 5G compatibility, you’ll also need to use iOS 14.5 or later. After following the instructions listed on the linked page above, you’ll be free to use your phone anywhere you buy an eSIM phone plan.

Pixel phones with eSIM access

All Pixel phones 3a and later offer dual SIM support, called dual SIM dual standby, DSDS. For 5G access globally, however, you’ll need at least a Pixel 4a. Here are the Pixel models that offer dual SIM support:

  • Google Pixel 3a
  • Google Pixel 3a XL
  • Google Pixel 4
  • Google Pixel 4a
  • Google Pixel 4 XL
  • Google Pixel 5
  • Google Pixel 5a
  • Google Pixel 6
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro

With Google Fi, you can also use a Google Pixel 2 or 2 XL for eSIM access and an old-school Pixel 3 or 3 XL. The current guide linked above is only for users working off of Android 11 or later. Be sure to make the upgrade before leaving the country.

Samsung phones with eSIM capabilities

Most Samsung Galaxy phones offer eSIM access, except for the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 4G or 5G. Beyond that, any of these Galaxy devices can be used to communicate while traveling:

  • Samsung Galaxy S20
  • Samsung Galaxy S20+
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy S21
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ Ultra 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S22
  • Samsung Galaxy S22+
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G 
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold 3
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G Fold
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
  • Samsung Watch (via Samsung Wearable application)

Which phones aren’t eSIM-compatible?

Those who have phones purchased in or from China, Hong Kong, or elsewhere in Southeast Asia may not be able to use eSIMs. Many models offer dual-SIM support, but neither of these slots is compatible with eSIM cards for travel.

Japanese Pixels are also limited, as they can’t support two different SIM cards simultaneously.

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