Devices > Emerging Devices Blog

eSIM is here - but where?

by Ken Hyers | Jan 20, 2022

The eSIM as a technology has been around now for around half a decade. Yet many smartphones do not have the technology and most consumers are not even aware of it.

Apple first introduced a pre-eSIM in 2014, the so called "Apple SIM" for iPads.  Not really an eSIM, it was a physical SIM that allowed consumers, via an on-device UI, to provision cellular service for their tablets.

In 2017 Google, with its Pixel 2 series smartphones, was the first mainstream vendor to introduce a true embedded SIM in a commercial smartphone.

Apple followed, in 2018, with its own eSIM enabled iPhone, the XS, XS Max and XR. 

These devices used an eSIM + 1 configuration which allowed use of an eSIM or a physical SIM.

simcard-vs-esim

Samsung has introduced eSIM enabled smartphones across many models, primarily in its premium tier offerings like the Galaxy S, Galaxy Z and Note series smartphones.

A handful of other Android vendors have taken a stab at eSIM devices, such as OPPO's Find X3 Pro, Huawei's P40 and Motorola's RAZR 5G foldable.  Few others have followed their lead.

Reasons for eSIM's limited adoption by smartphone vendors are varied. Perhaps the biggest reason is that eSIM smartphones are not available in China, meaning vendors there have little reason to support the technology. Operators globally remain wary of eSIM given its potential to exacerbate churn. And budget smartphone vendors see little reason to add a technology that would increase (even marginally) the cost of their devices.  And most consumers are not aware of eSIM and its potential advantages for them.

To date eSIM remains mostly a technology found in iPhones and premium smartphones from Android.

Strategy Analytics tracks and forecasts the eSIM and dual-eSIM smartphone market. Clients of our Device Technologies (EDT) research service can learn more here.
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