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Local SIMS, International SIMS & eSIMs Explained: Which is Better?

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What is a local SIM card?

A local sim card refers to a SIM card that operates in your local country. For example if you move to the Netherlands and sign up for a sim-only contract, that’s a local SIM that will only work in the Netherlands (however, in this case Dutch sims often work across Europe and the UK too).

Local SIM Benefits

  • Avoid roaming charges when using locally (plus a local SIM may have roaming allowances).
  • Cheaper than international SIM.
  • Ideal if you are moving to another country.
  • You can get a pay-as-you go option very cheaply.
  • Contracts are also extremely cheap if you don’t need a lot of data.

Local SIM drawbacks

  • Doesn’t work around the world like an international SIM does.

What’s an international SIM?

International SIM cards are designed for those travelling to lots of countries and needing to use data and calls throughout. You can often choose which countries you need to travel to.

International SIM Benefits

  • Cheaper than roaming on your own carrier.
  • Easy to set up compared to getting a local SIM in some cases (for example if you need a local address to get a local contract).

International SIM drawbacks

  • More expensive than a local SIM.

What’s an eSIM?

ESIM stands for “embedded subscriber identification module”. An eSIM is a sim card embedded in your phone rather than a seperate card. It is rewritable which means that you can get eSIM deals that work internationally. eSIMs are only compatible with certain devices.

Apple devices

  • iPhone 13/ 13 Pro
  • iPhone 12 / 12 Pro / 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11/ 11 Pro/ 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS / XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone SE (2020, 2021)
  • iPad Air (3rd, 4th Generation)
  • iPad Pro (1st to4th Generation)
  • iPad Mini (5th Generation)
  • iPad (7th, 8th Generation)

Android devices

  • Google Pixel 2/ 3 / 3 XL / 4 / 4 XL/4a/5
  • Samsung Galaxy S21/ S21+ / S21 Ultra 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 / S20+ / S Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
  • Samsung Note  20 /20+/ FE/ Ultra/ Ultra 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold/ Fold2 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
  • Microsoft Surface Pro
  • Windows 10 PCs
  • Huawei P40 and P40 Pro
  • Lenovo Yoga 630
  • Nuu Mobile X5
  • HP Spectre Folio
  • Gemini PDA
  • Motorola Razr 2019
  • Palm Palm

eSIM benefits

  • Versatile option with no need for carrying around and swapping additional SIM cards.

eSIM drawbacks

  • Only works with certain devices.
  • You can only use one eSIM contract at a time unlike a dual sim where you can use two phone numbers /data contracts at once.

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