People gathered around a smartphone with HolaFly on the screen

Traveling abroad can leave you struggling to connect your smartphone or tablet to a mobile network, rendering it effectively useless until you find a wireless signal. The core issue lies in your SIM card, which stores the carrier, location, and personal information needed to essentially turn your mobile device into a network-connected phone. In recent years, the advent of the eSIM, or digital SIM card, has been aimed at simplifying international travel by circumventing the need to activate and pay for international roaming.

If you travel abroad frequently and need access to international Internet, you’ll want to take advantage of an eSIM. Being a relatively new concept, it helps to understand what an eSIM is, how it differs from the physical card in your phone, and how services like Holafly international eSIM can keep you connected even when you’re well beyond your carrier’s range.

What is an eSIM Card?

If you’ve ever upgraded your smartphone, chances are you or a carrier rep have swapped out a tiny card tucked behind a near-invisible compartment. That Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card serves as your phone’s identity, linking you with a designated mobile network. The removable component follows you from phone to phone and is always tied to that information, so if it’s lost or damaged, you’ll need to find a replacement.

Wherever there’s a pain point, a potential solution will follow; and for the points of failure of a physical SIM card, an eSIM card solves many of them. First introduced to network-connected devices in 2016, the eSIM has slowly become a standard in flagship devices like Samsung’s Galaxy line of smartphones and Apple’s iPhone.

Though the “e” prefix typically denotes “electronic,” in this case, an eSIM card is embedded into the phone’s motherboard. The digital SIM card is more convenient, taking up less space in the device, but there’s more to this tiny card that makes it a more suitable option than its physical counterpart.

Digital SIM Card vs. Physical SIM Card

There are a few things separating an eSIM from a physical SIM card. Chief among them is that, unlike a physical card, an eSIMS’s data is completely virtual. If you misplace your phone, you don’t have to go through the headache of deactivating the SIM and waiting for a replacement.

It doesn’t matter if you lose your Samsung Galaxy S22 in Belgium and buy an iPhone 13 in Malta. All of your information can be stored in a cloud, making it possible to restore what would otherwise be lost with a physical SIM card. It’s because of this that the eSIM never has to be removed from the phone.

For some, the loss of the physical SIM card also represents a step toward sustainability. A typical SIM card is considered “mixed waste” because it’s made of different materials, each of which has its own recycling methods. With billions of SIM cards disposed of annually, switching to eSIMS can help reduce the amount of global plastic waste.

What Phones are Compatible with an eSIM?

While eSIMs are growing in popularity, they still aren’t supported by every smartphone manufacturer; be sure to verify if your device is included in the list of eSIM-supported devices. In fact, even the leading players like Apple and Samsung didn’t introduce eSIMs into their flagship phones until 2018 and 2020 respectively.

Every iPhone from the XR is equipped with an eSIM, including the third-generation SE. Every iPhone 12 mini, 13 mini, SE 2020, and XS from China, Hong Kong, and Macao do not support eSIMs. Most iPads with 4G connectivity released after 2019 support eSIM data.

For Samsung, the Galaxy line starting with S20, the Galaxy Note 20, and the Galaxy Z Fold2 and beyond are compatible with a tourist eSIM. Only the Galaxy S20 FE, the U.S. version of the Z Flip 5G, and the U.S. and Hong Kong versions of the Note 20 Ultra and Z Fold 2 do not support eSIM.

Finally, most of the Google Pixel line from the 2 XL, save for the Pixel 3 from Australia, Japan, and Taiwan, and the 3A from South East Asia will work with a Holafly eSIM. Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, and other, smaller manufacturers do support an eSIM data plan.

You can tell if your phone features an embedded SIM by going through the steps to try and add one. To make your life a little easier, the basic steps are outlined below:


  • Settings → Mobile Data → Add Mobile Data Plan
  • If you’re given the option to scan a QR code, the phone is eSIM compatible


  • Settings → Connections → SIM Card Manager → Add Mobile Plan
  • If you’re able to add a mobile plan, your phone is eSIM compatible


  • Settings → Networks and Internet → Advanced → Add Operator
  • If you’re prompted to use your phone’s camera for a QR code, your phone works with eSIMs


  • Settings → Mobile Networks → SIM Management
  • If prompted to add an activation code, your phone should be eSIM ready


  • Settings → Internet & Networks → Mobile Network → Advanced → Carrier → Add Carrier
  • If the QR code scanner appears, your phone will work with eSIM cards


  • Settings → About → Status
  • If you see a unique identification number (EID), your phone will work with eSIM data plans

Always refer to your device’s manual should you have any questions about whether the phone will work with an eSIM plan.

Activating Your Embedded SIM Card

With a travel eSIM from Holafly, the activation and setup processes are relatively easy, regardless of the device you’re using. Upon purchasing your Holafly eSIM, you’ll receive a QR code in your email. Once you have that, it’s a matter of downloading the eSIM card data via the code, naming your plan, setting the new eSIM to “Data Only,” and ensuring your Mobile Data and Data Roaming are active.

Once active, your eSIM will be ready to feed international Internet directly to your phone. But before you even get to this step, you need to decide on the best eSIM data plan.

The Best Holafly eSIM Data Plans for Travelers

For your eSIM to be active, you do need to purchase the data plan it will run off of. There are several different plans available, with Holafly offering options based on how long you plan to travel.

One of the most important things to look for is unlimited data. You don’t want to be traveling Europe and suddenly lose access to your eSIM because you ran out of data. Plans can start with as low as 500MB of data per day to anywhere around 20GB for 30 days. You can gauge how much you’d need based on your average consumption of data, which you can find on your phone. However, with an unlimited data eSIM, it’s not something you even need to think about.

For example, with unlimited data USA eSIM, Holafly has you covered for the entire duration of your trip. With it, you can use WhatsApp and other data-driven messaging services if your cell service cuts out or you don’t have a second physical SIM card.

Holafly travel page on top of an image of kids taking a selfie

Buying Your International eSIM Data Plan

There is one location where you’ll find options to purchase your new Holafly eSIM plan—the official website. From there, you can choose your destination and the number of days you expect to be traveling. Holafly’s European eSIM plan, for example, is available for anywhere from five to 90 days.

The checkout process is rather quick and easy, with options for PayPal, Google Pay, and all major credit cards. After you’ve processed your payment, you’ll receive the QR code in your email inbox, at which point you can follow the steps above to activate your card.

Using the Holafly Mobile App

Though the website is where you’ll purchase your international eSIM, the Holafly app (available exclusively on iPhone) is going to be your companion during your entire trip. Once downloaded, you’ll have access to a guide on activating your eSIM with or without your QR code, a thorough and updated help center, an ongoing list of supported phones, troubleshooting tips, and the ability to monitor both active and expired SIMs.

Though not necessary to run your Holafly eSIM, the app simplifies the process and keeps you in direct control no matter which of the supported European countries you’re adventuring across.


Is There an eSIM Card That Works in All Countries?

All of Holafly’s eSIM cards are designated to a specific region. There are regional plans for Europe, Asia, North America, South America, and the United Kingdom, so you’ll need to select the plan that fits your travel schedule.

Will an eSIM Work on a Locked iPhone?

For a digital SIM card to work, a phone must be unlocked. Unlocked means that it can connect to any mobile carrier. A locked phone would be specifically assigned to major carriers in the U.S. including Verizon and T-Mobile. You can check if your iPhone is locked by going to:

  • Settings → General → About → Carrier Lock / Network Provided Lock

In that field, an unlocked phone will say “No SIM restrictions.”

Can an eSIM Work Without a SIM Card?

The eSIM and SIM card are two separate components that work independently from one another. You do not need a physical SIM card for your eSIM data plan to work. In fact, newer phones, like the iPhone 14, are more likely to only have an eSIM card.

Does eSIM Drain the Battery?

While an eSIM will not drain your battery, having two SIM cards active can reduce your battery’s efficiency. The dual-SIM configuration doubles the power usage because your phone is running on two networks, but the increase in power consumption is negligible and will ultimately not hinder the use of your phone.

Do You Pay Monthly for eSIM Data Plans?

eSIM plans through Holafly are based on a specific period. If you purchase a 5-day plan, you will need to repurchase on the 6th day should you need to extend it. eSIM purchases are prepaid data plans and are not automatically recurring.

Simplifying Your Trip Around the World

Preparing your mobile devices for a trip abroad is likely not the first thought that comes to mind when traveling, but it could wind up being one of the more important steps in finalizing your travel plans. Having access to international Internet could be a lifesaver, which is why you’ll want to put your trust in a reliable and cost-efficient Holafly eSIM data plan.

Holafly’s data plans will keep you connected at a low cost, providing you with up to unlimited data for the duration of your trip. Also you can get plans for entire regions, including an eSIM Europe plan, you will get coverage in more than 30 countries, like Spain, France UK, Germany, Turkey. This is very handy in case you are planning a tour through Europe and the  best of all by just one payment. For full control over your plan, check the eSIM app (only for iPhone) to install your eSIM and monitor your usage.

Put the finishing touches on your international travel and head to the Holafly website to purchase your eSIM travel plan today. Remember to check the compatibility of your phone before finalizing your purchase.

Holafly eSim

Holafly is an international eSim card provider that offers 4G service in more than 160 destinations worldwide.