The Heck Is: eSIM

Apple recently refreshed their iPhone line by unveiling the iPhone 14 series. Among the changes made was that the company would remove the physical SIM tray in favour of eSIM support. While they’ve announced that this will only apply to the US versions of the phone, it is a big indicator that Apple has plans to go all in with eSIM and are likely to make this change the standard worldwide for future iPhones.

But what the heck is eSIM anyway? The concept might seem entirely foreign, given how long SIM cards have been used and how prevalent they still are. I’ll be going through what exactly it is, and which telcos in Singapore offer eSIM services, should you be eager to try it yourself.

What is an eSIM?

Officially it stands for embedded SIM, which means that your phone has this tiny chip inside its motherboard that can double as a SIM card. It performs virtually the same way a physical SIM card does, the only difference being that you don’t have to slot in the card to call or text — there’s no need to save those SIM ejector tools anymore!

So, why would you want to switch to eSIM if you already use a physical SIM card for your phone? Well, while the effort of physically putting in a SIM card might seem trivial, it actually makes things more convenient than it shows. 

eSIM is a no-brainer for people who make use of multiple phone lines. For example, those with two phone plans can switch between them whenever they want. So you can have one for business and easily switch to your personal line once the work day ends. 

Likewise, you can have one less worry when travelling with an international line as you can keep your main line as an eSIM and use a physical SIM card for overseas — erasing the hassle of constantly switching between them. 

That all sounds great, but there are a few things to take into account before making the switch to using eSIM. 

Firstly, you’ll have to check whether your phone supports eSIM. While the iPhone 14 might be committing fully to eSIM (for the US at least), it isn’t the first iPhone to support it. So if you have an iPhone XR/XS or newer, you’ll be able to use eSIM on your phone. On the Samsung side, owning any phone from the Samsung Galaxy S20 line and newer also lets you use eSIM.

Circles.Life has an exhaustive, up-to-date list of all the phones compatible with eSIM, and you can check it out here.

Secondly, while eSIM presents the convenience of having two numbers in one phone, some apps might play poorly with that. Whatsapp, for example, only allows you to use one number in its app for iPhone, meaning your second line misses out. However, the Telegram app does let you have two accounts for each number, so at least there is something to fall back on.

Telcos in Singapore with eSIM plans

While there is tons of support for eSIM overseas, Singapore is still taking baby steps. Among the telcos operating in Singapore, only three offer services regarding eSIM — Circles.Life, MyRepublic, and M1.

For M1 in particular, they only offer conversions to eSIM if you are an existing M1 user for a cost of S$37.45. Currently, there are no mobile plans with eSIM that new users can take up besides their CORI SIM-only plan, which is an individual corporate plan that requires their company to be signed up with M1’s Corporate Individual Scheme (CIS). 

Both Circles.Life and MyRepublic are much more accessible for users wanting to adopt eSIM. All of MyRepublic’s available mobile plans offer the option of eSIM, so you can pick between their five offerings to see which is suitable for you. Circles.Life does it similarly, with three different plans for consumers. But they also offer the Data Share SIM option, allowing you to show one plan on two SIMs. 

You can find the complete list of offerings for both telcos below:

Circles.Life (Number transfers)

  • Basic plan – S$18 for 20GB of data
  • Value plan – S$20* for 50GB data (*Promo price, originally S$25)
  • Limitless data plan – S$38 for 100GB of data


  • Life plan – S$10 for 8GB of data
  • Core plan – S$17 for 60GB of data
  • Pro plan – S$24 for 80GB data
  • Unlimited data plan – S$39 for unlimited data* (5GB/day at full speed, managed speeds afterwards)

*As of writing, MyRepublic is currently running a promo with discounted pricing to the above plans for new numbers and non-M1 port-ins. 

This should give you some insight into the eSIM and how it works. The landscape of eSIM is still very young in Singapore, and it remains to be seen whether it will be more widely adopted in the future. But right now, if you are keen on starting early, you’ll be able to find some telcos that do provide the service.

Cover image courtesy of Brett Jordan via Unsplash.

Russell Matthew Loh

Watcher of films and player of games. Dabble with writing in between.

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