How to activate eSIM on iPhones and Android
In this comprehensive guide, we will explain what an eSIM is, how to set it up on your smartphone, and even how to transfer your existing physical SIM to an eSIM. Let's dive in!
Although the Apple iPhone 14 is eSIM exclusive, it is important to note that it is not exclusive to Apple devices. Several Android smartphones, including the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, as well as Samsung's Galaxy S23 range and other flagship-level smartphones, now offer eSIM connectivity.
In this guide, we will walk you through the process of setting up and activating eSIM on your smartphone device, ensuring a seamless transition to the simplified eSIM lifestyle.
An eSIM, short for embedded SIM, is an industry-standard digital SIM that eliminates the need for a physical SIM card. With eSIM, you can activate a cellular plan directly from your carrier without the hassle of inserting or swapping out SIM cards. The beauty of an eSIM lies in its flexibility, as it allows you to install and activate multiple eSIMs on your iPhone, enabling the use of two phone numbers simultaneously.
How to set up eSIM on iPhone
Before you embark on the journey of setting up eSIM on your iPhone, there are a few prerequisites to keep in mind:
Ensure that you have an iPhone model that supports eSIM functionality. This includes iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, iPhone 14 or any later models.
Verify that your wireless carrier or worldwide service provider supports eSIM technology. It's crucial to check with your carrier if they offer eSIM services.
Make sure that your new iPhone is connected to a Wi-Fi network during the initial setup process. This is essential to facilitate the activation of your eSIM.
However, the latest iPhone 14 models that are eSIM only do not require a Wi-Fi network for activation, simplifying the setup process even further.
iPhone eSIM activation
Setting up your eSIM is usually a straightforward process that can be done during the initial iPhone setup or later at your convenience. Let's explore the different methods available:
eSIM activation during the initial setup
When setting up your new iPhone, follow the onscreen instructions and choose the option for eSIM activation if available. Depending on your carrier, you may encounter options such as eSIM Carrier Activation or eSIM Quick Transfer.
If your carrier supports eSIM Carrier Activation, they will assign an eSIM to your iPhone when you purchase it. Simply turn on your iPhone and follow the instructions provided to activate your eSIM.
Alternatively, if your carrier supports eSIM Quick Transfer, you can transfer the SIM from your previous iPhone to your new iPhone without contacting your carrier. Follow the onscreen instructions during setup, turn on your iPhone, and proceed as directed to activate your eSIM.
Installing your Holiday eSIM does not need you to contact your carrier or follow any extra steps. Just scan the QR code and you are good to go!
In case the above options are not available during the initial setup, don't worry. You can always reach out to your carrier for alternative methods of activating your eSIM, such as using a QR code or your carrier's dedicated iPhone app.
If you have purchased an iPhone 14 model in the United States, your device automatically activates with an eSIM. Follow the provided instructions during the setup process to ensure proper activation.
eSIM activation after initial setup
If you didn't activate your eSIM during the initial setup or if you want to add or transfer an eSIM at a later stage, the following methods can be employed:
eSIM carrier activation
If your carrier supports eSIM carrier activation, you can easily assign a new eSIM to your iPhone. This is typically applicable when you purchase a carrier-connected iPhone from Apple in the US or from a carrier directly, and you provide your cellular-plan details.
In the event that you contacted your carrier for an eSIM activation after setting up your iPhone, and they set up eSIM Carrier Activation for you, follow these steps:
- When a notification appears indicating "Carrier Cellular Plan Ready to Be Installed," tap on it.
- Open the Settings app, locate "Carrier Cellular Plan Ready to Be Installed," and tap on it.
- Tap "Continue" at the bottom of the screen to proceed.
- To ensure proper cellular connectivity, make a test call on your iPhone. If you encounter any issues, contact your carrier for assistance.
- If the activated plan replaces the one on your physical SIM, remove the physical SIM and restart your iPhone for the changes to take effect.
If an eSIM was assigned to your iPhone at the time of purchase, turn on your iPhone and follow the provided instructions to activate your eSIM.
eSIM quick transfer
Certain carriers support SIM transfers from your previous iPhone to your new iPhone without requiring any direct contact with them. This method allows you to seamlessly transfer your existing physical SIM or eSIM to your new iPhone.
During the initial setup of your new iPhone, if you are prompted to transfer your SIM, follow the onscreen instructions to transfer your physical SIM or eSIM. If you have multiple SIMs to transfer, please follow the steps outlined below.
Transfer eSIM from old iPhone
To transfer a physical SIM or eSIM from your previous iPhone to an eSIM on your new iPhone after completing the setup process, follow these steps:
On your new iPhone, go to
Settings > Cellular > Add Cellular Plan.
Choose the cellular plan you wish to transfer from another iPhone. If you don't see a list of numbers, tap "Transfer From Another iPhone." Note that both devices must be running iOS 16 or a later version for this transfer method to work.
Check your previous iPhone for any instructions related to the transfer process. Once you're ready to proceed, tap "Transfer" or enter the verification code displayed on your new iPhone if prompted.
Wait for the cellular plan to activate on your new iPhone. The previous SIM will be deactivated automatically upon successful activation of the eSIM on your new device.
If you encounter a banner on your new iPhone stating "Finish Setting Up Your Carrier's Cellular Plan," tap on it. You will be redirected to your carrier's webpage for further instructions on transferring your eSIM. If you require assistance, don't hesitate to contact your carrier.
Turn physical SIM to eSIM on the same iPhone
If your carrier supports this option, you can convert your existing physical SIM to an eSIM on the same iPhone. Follow the steps below.
- On your iPhone, open the Settings app and navigate to "Cellular."
- Look for the option "Convert to eSIM." If you don't see this option, it means your carrier doesn't currently support this feature. In such cases, we recommend reaching out to your carrier to inquire about alternative methods for transferring your phone number from a physical SIM to an eSIM, which may involve eSIM Carrier Activation or scanning a QR code.
- Tap "Convert Cellular Plan" and then "Convert to eSIM."
- Allow some time for the eSIM activation process to complete. Once the cellular plan is activated on your iPhone, your previous physical SIM card will be deactivated automatically.
- Remove the physical SIM card from your iPhone and restart the device to finalize the transition to eSIM.
Activate eSIM with QR code
Activation during the initial setup
- When you reach the "Set Up Cellular" screen on your new iPhone, tap "Use QR Code."
- Follow the onscreen instructions to scan the QR code using your iPhone's camera.
Activation after setup
1. Contact your carrier and request a QR code for eSIM activation.
2. Once you have the QR code, open the Camera app on your iPhone and scan the QR code.
3. When the "Cellular Plan Detected" notification appears, tap on it.
4. Tap "Continue" at the bottom of the screen.
5. Finally, tap "Add Cellular Plan" to initiate the eSIM activation process.
Carrier app activation
If your carrier offers an app for activating eSIM, you can download the app from the App Store and follow the instructions provided by your carrier to activate your eSIM.
How to enter eSIM information manually
In cases where necessary, you can manually enter the eSIM details. Here's how:
1. Go to Settings on your iPhone.
2. Tap either "Cellular" or "Mobile Data," depending on your device settings.
3. Locate and tap "Add Cellular Plan."
4. Scroll down and tap "Enter Details Manually" at the bottom of the screen.
5. Enter the eSIM information as provided by your carrier.
If you encounter any difficulties during the eSIM setup process or if you need additional assistance, don't hesitate to contact your carrier's customer support.
Setting up eSIM on Android
Step 1: Open the Settings App
To begin the setup process, locate and open the Settings app on your Android smartphone. The Settings app is typically represented by a mechanical cog wheel icon, although the exact appearance may vary depending on your device's manufacturer.
Step 2: Access Network & Internet Settings
Within the Settings app, navigate to the "Network & Internet" section. This option is usually located at the top of the app menu.
Step 3: Enter SIM Settings
Once you are in the "Network & Internet" section, look for the "SIMs" menu. Tapping on this option will grant you access to various SIM-related settings.
Step 4: Download eSIM Profile
If you currently have a physical SIM card inserted in your smartphone, you will see options related to that SIM's connectivity. However, since our objective is to activate the eSIM, we need to focus on the eSIM setup. If you have a physical SIM card in your phone, remove it using the SIM ejection tool provided. Afterward, return to the "SIMs" menu and tap on "Download eSIM instead," which is located at the bottom of the page. Tap "Next" on the following page to proceed.
Scan the eSIM QR Code
This step requires you to scan the eSIM QR code provided by your network carrier. If you have already obtained the QR code, position your phone's camera so that the entire QR code is visible on the screen. Ensure that the camera successfully scans and authenticates the QR code. Once authenticated, tap "Activate" in the bottom right corner to initiate the use of your new eSIM.