Since the announcement of eSIM in early 2017, it has sparked the interest of many Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), as well as the smartphone industry.
ESIM was first implemented on smartwatches in 2017. Shortly after, few smartphone companies started to adopt this technology on their devices.
We have published a list of mobile phones that support the eSIM technology here. http://www.roamingbuzz.com/what-mobile-devices-that-support-esim-flexiroam/
In addition to the list of phones that support eSIM, it was reported that the number of smartphones with eSIM compatibility had increased.
Below is the updated list of phone devices that support eSIM (as of 15th January 2019).
Flexiroam has contacted a number of companies to inquire about eSIM speculations, planning, and actions taken by some of these companies, we are able to produce this EXCLUSIVE report! Along with the opinion toward eSIM implementation.
Apple XR, Apple XS, Apple XS Max
As speculated by Phil Healy, principal analyst at ABI Research, “eSIM will be incorporated into Samsung devices starting from its S and Note range first, then its A and C range later.”
Flexiroam contacted a Samsung representative in Malaysia and we have confirmed that eSIM is now available on
Samsung S9, Samsung S9+
Samsung Galaxy Note 9
Samsung A7- A9
Samsung C9 Pro
There’s also a rumor that their new product, Samsung S10 that is estimated to be launched on 7th March 2019 would come with eSIM. However, in an attempt to ask for clarification, the Samsung representative was unable to disclose details related to that matter. It is unclear why that is.
Xiaomi mentioned the following phones as compatible with eSIM:
Pre-installed eSIM is as below:
Xiaomi Mi 8
Xiaomi MIX 2S
Redmi Note 6 Pro
Xiaomi Mi MAX 3
Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro, Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite
However, older versions of Xiaomi products are also compatible with the eSIM feature, you will need to download a third party app from Google Play Store. The eSIM feature can be supported on:
- Redmi Note 4X,
- Redmi 4A,
- Redmi Note 5A Prime,
- Redmi Note 5A,
- Redmi 5A,
- Redmi 4X,
- Redmi 5,
- Redmi Note 5,
- Redmi 5 Plus and
- Redmi Note 4
as long as the devices are updated to MIUI 9.6 or later
However, through our email communications with Xiaomi, a representative wrote to us the following:
“As of now, there is no Xiaomi device available with this feature” and [Xiaomi] does not have any further information available for the public.
We have also contacted OPPO regarding the eSIM features on their phones. Similar to Xiaomi, OPPO is currently collaborating with a third party app to provide an eSIM feature on OPPO phones.
It’s important to note that unlike Xiaomi, there are only two OPPO phone models that support eSIM at the moment: OPPO F9 and OPPO R17 Pro.
Through the discussion we had over the phone, we were informed that OPPO did not make the decision on which models to be supported with eSIM, rather, it was up to the third party app to select the phone models that can be supported with eSIM. Hence, this suggests that there will be more OPPO phones with eSIM compatibility in the near future.
After the phone call, Flexiroam wrote an email to OPPO to seek permission before adding the two OPPO phone models unto this article. However, unlike what we were informed through the phone discussion, their reply was as follows:
“We are sorry to inform you but currently, OPPO devices do not support the e-SIM features at the moment.”
Shortly after the attempt to make further clarification and to get permission, we received a second reply from OPPO as following:
“We are sorry to inform that OPPO does not have any official information regards on this matter and we have escalated this to the relevant department to get back to us once again. Kindly allow some time for them to get back to us with a response.”
They contacted us again a week after they got the update from the relevant department. Their reply was as follows:
“Based on the update from our relevant department OPPO devices do not support for the third party app E-SIM functions. Therefore the service is unavailable for OPPO phones.”
Lenovo and Motorola
According to the representative, all Lenovo and Motorola phones that were released in the market of Asia Pacific are not eSIM compatible. It was also mentioned that the phones that will be released this year will not support eSIM.
In the opinion of the representative, it is believed that eSIM is unnecessary in the Asia Pacific at the moment since there are still many fierce competitions among physical SIM card providers. This suggests that Lenovo and Motorola are unlikely to integrate eSIM into their phones in the near future.
This, however, may change as soon as network operators began to provide wider service ranges on phones with eSIM support.
LG G7 ThinQ & LG v35 ThinQ were set to feature eSIM as those were devices launched by Google. However, LG representative disclosed that these two models have yet to be released in certain parts of the world (Malaysia included) and they refuse to disclose further details due to the unavailability of an official statement.
Currently, LG is still waiting for confirmation from the local telecommunication companies regarding the eSIM feature.
A representative from ZTE disclosed to us that all released ZTE phones are not compatible with eSIM and ZTE has no plans to adopt eSIM in the near future. However, ZTE would most likely adopt eSIM when competition expands further and demand grows.
We have also contacted Sony Malaysia to inquire about phone models which support eSIM.
In the conversation, we were informed that there is no Sony smartphone which can support eSIM at the moment. When asked “how likely would Sony adopt eSIM in the near future?”, the Sony representative answered “unlikely” for the coming years.
Industry direction towards implementing eSIM
What is the likelihood of eSIM implementation on smartphones?
In a survey done by ROCCO (2018), 81% of 107 Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) actually showed a positive attitude towards eSIM.
Positive comments such as, “eSIM help the company to extend their sales channel through the digital marketplace to reach more audience.”
/Since the majority holds a positive view on eSIM, this suggests that eSIM would soon be adopted by many MNOs and other participants in the telecommunication industry. In addition, most MNOs have faith that the expansion of eSIM would lead to more business opportunities.
When and where will eSIM be adopted?
Several analysts expected the growth of eSIM to be 6 to 8 times higher in the coming five years.
In addition, the development and deployment of eSIM, it is expected to be the fastest and broadest in Asia and Europe.
With Asia being 38% and Europe being 31% of all the markets, these two regions will be the core markets for eSIM implementation and development.
Provision of eSIM (IoT VS Consumer)?
When asked which application (IoT Versus Consumer) was eSIM most likely provided to, 78% of the MNOs chose to allocate 100% of their eSIM provision in the Internet of Things (IoT). Only a small amount of MNOs actually applied eSIM for Consumer. As of now, most of the MNOs have yet to plan the adoption of eSIM in various devices, such as smartphones and wearable devices for the Consumer.
This suggests that we can expect to see rapid growth in IoT eSIM compared to Consumer eSIM in the next few years. However, it’s expected to see a shift in the next following years as the demand for Consumer eSIM increases.
When Consumer eSIM evolves and becomes more popular in the next 5 years, consumers can easily switch between mobile network carrier when overseas. This prevents devices from being charged exceedingly due to the international roaming service as it switches to a local carrier during the trip.
In a nutshell, eSIM will be the next big thing in the telecommunication industry. For consumers, the expansion of eSIM will allow a more secure carrier switching experience and cheaper roaming options. ESIM is the reality that everyone should be aware of.
Disclaimer: the content in this article is the direct reporting of phone conversations with respective representatives of the companies mentioned above. This is not an opinion piece.
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