You will recall my BLOG earlier this year regarding the concept of ESIM and how it will change the way we think about mobile phones and plans. Link to that BLOG

 The report below from Whistle Out highlights where Australia is currently with the use and concept of ESIM which isn’t necessarily new to us but at the present time, we as Consumers have a choice to either have the old style Physical SIM or move to an ESIM if we have the right phone and the provider supports it.

Given the news below after the IPHONE 14 launch in the USA, the new phone DOES NOT HAVE A SIM CARD SLOT, so you no longer have a choice and by stealth, you will need to use ESIM. This only applies to the USA for now but just like fashion and pop culture, whatever trends appear overseas will hit our shores shortly after.

My prediction is so it is that Apple will release the Iphone 15 to all markets with ESIM only and other phone maunfacturers will follow.

The iPhone 14 went on sale last week, but Australians are missing out on the new device’s biggest change. In the US, the iPhone 14 no longer has a physical SIM slot. Instead, it connects to mobile networks via eSIM. This upends a convention that has existed for as long as mobile phones have, and has a raft of flow-on effects. While iPhone 14 devices sold in Australia still have a physical SIM slot, it feels inevitable that Apple will make this change locally in the coming years. And as it stands, it won’t be seamless for consumers.

For those not familiar with the concept, eSIM – an electronic SIM or embedded SIM – is a rewritable SIM card that’s built into a cellular device like a smartphone or smartwatch. Unlike a physical SIM, there’s no need to pop open a slot or pry off a case to put it in; an eSIM never leaves your phone. Instead, you simply download a “software SIM” from your provider of choice.

eSIM has been available in Australia since 2017, when Apple launched the first cellular Apple Watch – the Series 3. The first eSIM phones available in Australia, however, were the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, a full year later. Since then, we’ve slowly seen eSIM introduced into Android devices. eSIM isn’t common in more affordable handsets, but it’s all but standard in the high-end space.

While we’ve seen eSIM-capable handsets for a few years now, telco adoption has lagged behind devices. Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone all support eSIM, and have now all started offering it to their MNVO partners, but implementations are different across the board. Even changing to a new phone becomes a bit more complex than just finding the trusty ol’ SIM tool.

Vodafone has the most sophisticated eSIM setup out of the Big Three. Customers with an eSIM-ready iPhone can use the iPhone operating system to request their physical SIM become an eSIM, and can also transfer an eSIM wirelessly from iPhone to iPhone. If you want to move it to an Android phone, you can do so with the My Vodafone app.

Telstra has offered eSIM for a while, but its current Upfront mobile plans don’t support it. As such, the tech is only available to customers on older postpaid plans or on prepaid, which means anyone buying a phone on a plan right now misses out. Customers wanting to move an eSIM from one device to another need to use the Telstra app to do so.

New Optus customers can get an eSIM online, but existing customers who want to swap to eSIM currently need to do so over the phone or in-store, which is counterintuitive given eSIMs are digital. You can do so using Optus’ online portal to move your eSIM from one device to another, however.

This situation becomes more egregious when it comes to MVNOs. Kogan Mobile, for example, requires you to buy a new eSIM, and then call customer care to move your service to your new SIM. That’s a much worse experience than simply removing your card and putting it in a new phone.

eSIM should be simple, but this is objectively far more complicated than a physical SIM, especially when you consider how different the experience can be from one provider to another.. No spam, that’s a promise. View Privacy Policy.

At the least, more and more MVNOs are now offering eSIM. On the Vodafone network, Kogan and felix support eSIM. On the Optus network, amaysim and gomo do too. And on the Telstra front, Woolworths Mobile is currently the only provider to offer eSIM.

While there’s a whole lot more MVNO eSIM support than there was a year ago, there are still plenty of absences. Budget-centric brands like ALDI Mobile, Circles.Life, and iiNet still don’t offer eSIM. Most of us may not be pairing an expensive new iPhone with a dirt cheap SIM-only plan, but we should still have the option.

Forced migration to eSIM could create headaches in the short term, but there are wider consumer benefits. If adopted widely, eSIM would increase the ease of jumping from provider to provider. You’d essentially have the option to change your mobile provider at any time, without the need to pick up a SIM card from a store or wait for a delivery. It’s easy to see this increasing competition and consumers reaping the benefits.

I’ve found eSIM very handy when travelling. It’s great to be able to download a new SIM as soon as you hit airport WiFi, rather than having to look for a physical SIM.

eSIM is also good for the environment. Switching to eSIM could save thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions each year by removing manufacturing, materials, and transport from the equation.

It’s clear that Australian telcos still have some work to do when it comes to eSIM. In its current stage, it feels scattershot, a little bit beta. If Apple were to launch an eSIM-only iPhone in Australia tomorrow, it would work, but there’d be teething pains.

And even if we’re not quite getting an eSIM-only iPhone yet, it’s easy to imagine the same happening in Australia when the iPhone 15 or iPhone 16 comes around. And if Apple is doing it, other manufacturers will follow suit. Once shocking changes like removing the headphone jack and bundled chargers quickly rippled through the industry.

It’s in the interest of our local telcos to be ready for when this happens, to make the customer experience as painless as possible. After all, eSIM means that there’s nothing stopping a customer from simply downloading a different provider’s SIM if they’re not happy.



Patrick Larobina