Truphone eSIM

Cool factor 5/5
Usability 4½/5
Value for money 4/5

An embedded SIM card, also known as an eSIM, has exploded in popularity. It is part of the phone’s hardware: a small chip embedded in the device, thus specific to certain models, and which allows you to connect to another mobile network virtually, without an additional physical SIM card..

eSIM support can be found on the iPhone 11 upwards, Samsung S20 upwards, the Galaxy Z Fold range and the Huawei P40 and Mate 40 range.

Dual SIM phones are useful if you want to take advantage of a cheaper data deal on a supported network, or when you travel. I tested the Truphone service recently on an iPhone 13 Pro when I visited Europe.

I downloaded the Truphone app, available on the App Store and Google Play. The app has a clean interface and allows you to install a new SIM profile instantly.

Both Android and iOS allow for multiple eSIM profiles but only one can be active at a time, which is great if you happen to travel often to a specific region — you activate when you get there.

I also have a prepaid Telkom Mobile eSIM, which I reactivated upon my return to SA. Toggling between networks and choosing a default line is simple on iOS; you can set separate defaults for voice and data.

The app allows you to select a region and find a data plan to buy. Truphone data services are available in 114 countries.

I chose Germany ahead of my trip, and it being in the EU, the eSIM also worked in Austria. Prices were €6 (about R110) for 1GB of data and €22 (about R400) for 10GB; the bigger the bundle, the cheaper it gets. To South Africans, these rates are about standard. Global plans outside the EU are more expensive.

I found the price fair when I considered how onerous it used to be to buy data overseas: find a mobile network store when you land, fill out forms, hand over your passport, wait for activation.

Truphone allows you to buy data ahead of international travel. The convenience of setting it up ahead of flying outweighs buying a physical SIM, even if rates are not as competitive. A must for frequent travellers.

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