Surfing abroad: discovering tourist eSIMs. More comfortable and cheaper

If you intend to plan a holiday abroad and don’t want to stay on the coolest without Giga on your phone, or risk inadvertently paying an extra fee to your operator, eSIMs can be a more convenient solution than the classic SIM to change.

This applies to every destination, whether it is a European destination or any country in the world: in Europe roaming is free, but for some data plans the GB offered by the operator may not be sufficient, especially for a long vacation,

To be able to take advantage of a “tourist” eSIM, you just need to have a dual SIM smartphone enabled for the service and choose online, among the many available offers, the plan you like most depending on the GB offered and the price. The eSIM can be purchased a few hours before departure without providing documents of any kind and can be activated immediatelythrough a simple QR code, so as to take advantage of all the advantages on arrival.

In this guide we will try to clarify some doubts about eSIM technology and explaining how to use it best.

Devices with eSIM

The first device with an eSIM on board was the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch, launched in early 2016 when the concept of virtual SIM was still in its infancy. In fact, it will be necessary to wait about two years for some manufacturers to decide to release the first smartphone models enabled for the use of real eSIMs on the market.

iPhone XS was among the first devices to support eSIMs

In Italy the service officially started at the end of 2019, with the debut of a series of dedicated offers by the main operators. Today, however, even virtual operators are gradually approaching the world of eSIMs, a sign that the demand from users is constantly growing.

In the same way, the devices that allow the use of eSIM have increased, even if there are not many yet. Today the only phones that support eSIMs are the following:


– iPhone 13 Mini
– iPhone 13
– iPhone 13 Pro
– iPhone 13 Pro Max
– iPhone 12 Mini
– iPhone 12
– iPhone 12 Pro
– iPhone 12 Pro Max
– iPhone 11
– iPhone 11 Max
– iPhone 11 Pro Max
– iPhone XS
– iPhone XS Max
– iPhone XR
– iPhone SE


– Samsung Galaxy S20
– Samsung Galaxy S20 5G
– Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus
– Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus 5G
– Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
– Samsung Galaxy S21
– Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
– Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
– Samsung Galaxy S22
– Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus
– Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
– Samsung Galaxy Note 20
– Samsung Galaxy Note 20 5G
– Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G
– Samsung Galaxy Fold
– Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
– Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
– Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

– Google Pixel 5
– Google Pixel 4a 5G
– Google Pixel 4a
– Google Pixel 4
– Google Pixel 3a
– Google Pixel 3*

– Motorola Razr

– Find X5 Pro

How a virtual SIM works

The technology behind the eSIM – embedded subscriber identity module – is all in all simple: the chip that manages a normal SIM is integrated into the motherboard of the smartphone
in the production phase.

The eSIM behaves exactly like a classic SIM, identifying the device on the network and allowing the activation of any tariff plan among those made available by the telephone companies.

The offer it is activated by framing the QR Code provided by the operatorthis means that plastic modules are eliminated, waiting times for activation and the operations of inserting and replacing the chip every time you change number, telephone or telephone company.

An eSIM can indeed be replaced directly from the phone menu by deactivating one plan and activating another, or transferred in a few steps between two devices without having to resort to physically moving the SIM itself.

In addition, eSIMs provide an opportunity for manufacturers who can design devices without the classic trolley, using the space in another way.

The advantages of using an eSIM abroad

For some years now, the EU has established that operators in the Member States must guarantee their customers the possibility of taking advantage of a part of the GB provided for in the offer subscribed if they travel within the European territory.

The amount of usable Giga is currently calculated on the basis of monthly expenditure, this means that those who have a low cost offer will have a minimum amount of data available.

To give an example: by spending 7 euros a month you have 4.6 GB available that can be used within one of the countries of the union. In this way the risk of going beyond the threshold is particularly high if you intend to use the phone regularly.

the use of an Italian SIM abroad may not guarantee the same network speed as you are used toin fact, everything depends on the agreements made by the company they belong to in each state.

Even more complex is the discourse to be made when going to extra-European territory; here the operators offer, more often than not, packages to be purchased separately or the activation of a “subsidized” pay-as-you-go rate, in which, however, finding the convenience is often difficult.

Until recently, the only solution was therefore to buy a local SIM once you arrive at your destination. This meant having to go to a local shop, choose the most convenient offer, bear the costs of the SIM and any activation – in addition to the share relating to the subscribed plan – and wait the time necessary for the validation of the SIM on the network.

The eSIM has swept all this away, allowing you to choose the operator and data plan from the comfort of your hometo carry out the identification and activation directly online and to to receive the eSIM immediately via QR Code.

No unknowns, no surprises regarding the expense to be incurred and above all no waste of time. As soon as you arrive at the designated place, you can use the online services to communicate with friends, post on social networks, find useful information for getting around, consult maps, without having to wait for a free WiFi or waste precious time for the purchase of a foreign SIM.

eSIM + SIM: perfect combo

Currently all smartphones used for the use of an eSIM
they also have a slot for a classic SIM on board. This therefore allows you to take advantage of both options while traveling and to more easily choose the plan to activate abroad.

In other words, our suggestion is to select a data-only offer in the destination country, that is, which provides a sufficient number of GB for navigation and online operations, while for the telephone part you will continue to use your number. Just associate the specific functions to each SIM via the dedicated menu, once the eSIM is activated.

This will allow friends and family to continue calling and texting, even on messaging services like WhatsApp, at their usual number. Access to the network will instead be the prerogative of the eSIMwhich will work as a real data SIM, allowing the user to use the smartphone without worries.

How to activate an eSIM plan

The online services that offer the activation of an international eSIM are more and more numerous. There is certainly one of the best known Air it, reachable via web or app on Android and iOS. The service provides data packages for over 190 different destinations and features intuitive graphics.

The user will have to choose the destination and the data plan, proceed with the payment and then activate the eSIM. The offer, which can last from 7 to 30 days, will start at the first connection with the eSIM.

For example, a plan from 10GB for the US lasting 30 days is priced at $ 26, around 24 euros at the current exchange rate. The rate is affordable when compared to the average price of 1GB on American soil, which according to the report by an average cost of $ 3.33, and already includes activation costs.

If you travel to the UK, the 10GB package costs $ 22.50 with Airalo, equal to about 21 euros. Considering the average cost, highlighted by, of € 1.42 per GB, it is clear that here is the convenience of obtaining a timed eSIM, ready to use and with activation costs included.

Among the eSIM platforms we also point out UPeSIM which offers packages divided by countries with a predefined amount of GB, also in this case reachable via the web or via the app.

For example, for Spain the plan is available with 5GB to be used in 30 days at 11.99 euros. For the United States 6GB are offered at € 14.99, while if you want to visit Korea there is the 6GB package valid for 12 days at € 10.99.

Another tip is Mobimatter, also very fast: during the recent trip to Jordan to try the S22 Ultra we bought an eSIM with Mobimatter at $ 10 for 10 GB. Roaming in Jordan would have cost a lot.

The services indicated are obviously only suggestions. Many others are available on the App Store and Google Play, with increasingly affordable offers.

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