Apple iPad eSIM: Device guide and other FAQs

Once, you needed a desktop computer and dial-up to connect to the internet. Then, came mobile phones. Today, certain tablets, including a range of Apple iPads, are now able to connect to mobile services as stand-alone devices. This is made possible by iPad eSIM technology, the same embedded SIM that can be found in Apple’s latest SE series and the Google Pixel 4.

There is no doubt that eSIM is here to stay as it has since extended to cars and other electronics. The demand for this new embedded SIM technology is disrupting the mobile telecommunications industry as it’s introducing consumers to a whole new world of flexibility and connectivity at home and abroad.

Tech giants like Apple were the first to invest in the new technology and it has taken off from there, with most new devices being developed with the revolutionary smart card. Apple first introduced eSIM capability to its smartwatches, then to its mobile phones, and finally, to its iPads.

This guide covers which iPad devices have an eSIM and how to set the eSIM up. It also covers how to choose a data plan, and other frequently asked questions about the iPad eSIM.

woman holding ipad esim device in her hands
A range of Apple iPads support eSIM and can be used to access data services around the world

Do all iPads have eSIMs?

Not all of them. The first iPad was released in 2010 and eSIM was first introduced in 2016, so there are ‘old’ and ‘new’ generations of iPads in terms of eSIM technology. However, the iPad eSIM landscape is more confusing because even some of the newer models don’t support eSIM. Apple seems to be selective about which devices are released with an eSIM and which are not.

Does iPad Pro have eSIM?

The Pro was the first range of iPads to support embedded SIM technology. eSIM is currently supported on the iPad Pro 11‑inch (1st and 2nd generation) and iPad Pro 12.9‑inch (3rd and 4th generation). The iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st and 2nd generation), iPad Pro 9.7-inch, and iPad Pro 10.5-inch do not have an eSIM.

Does iPad 7th Gen. have eSIM?

Yes, eSIM is supported on the 7th generation iPad. It also has a slot for an Apple SIM or micro-SIM card from a dedicated service provider. This means you can switch between the physical SIM and the eSIM, which may be one of the reasons it is the most popular iPad on the market right now. 

Does iPad Air have eSIM?

Only the 3rd Generation iPad Air has an eSIM. It is cellular-enabled so you also have the option of using the Apple SIM that comes with the device, or a third party nano-SIM. If you choose the latter option, you can use the nano-SIM together with the iPad eSIM embedded in the device. Add a data plan to it and it becomes a great tool if you’re always on the go for work and need the flexibility of an eSIM plan.

Does the iPad Mini support eSIM?

The 5th Generation iPad Mini has an eSIM, as well as a slot for an Apple or third-party nano-SIM. The SIM card and iPad eSIM can work in parallel to each other, which is ideal if you use your iPad Mini often, at home, work, or while travelling. The Air’s small size and the option of adding a 5G data plan to your eSIM makes it the perfect travel companion.

How do I activate eSIM on my iPad?

You will need an eSIM mobile plan to use the iPad eSIM. 

Plans are available from eSIM providers like eSIM.net. Customers can choose from global roaming plans, to data-only bundles for specific regions worldwide. It all depends on how much data you want to buy, how long you want the bundle to last, and how much you want to pay. The plan can be purchased online and a QR code will be sent to your email so that you are able to immediately activate data services.

After you have signed up for service you will need to add your new plan. These 3 steps will guide you through the process of adding a new mobile plan to your iPad eSIM:

  • Navigate to Settings > Cellular Data > Add a New Plan
  • Scan QR code provided by your eSIM provider and follow the prompts
  • Tap Confirm

For more advice, visit Apple’s official support site.

Buy your eSIM data plan online through eSIM.net

A range of Apple devices on a table
Apple support eSIM in a range of devices, including select iPad models.

What are the benefits of using an eSIM on a tablet? 

With the option of being able to connect to local networks easily without the need for a physical SIM card, the benefits of the eSIM are undeniable. These are the four major benefits of the iPad eSIM:

  • If you are travelling abroad and your regular SIM doesn’t work, you can use the eSIM to connect to local networks. By doing this you’ll also pay near-local prices and avoid expensive roaming charges. A global plan will allow you to remotely connect to a wide range of local providers wherever you are in the world. You will never be out of touch again, or have to rely on Wi-Fi only. 
  • You can easily switch between networks if you need to for any reason, or even if you just find a better plan that suits your needs. The process is simple and can be done entirely remotely.
  • More telecommunications providers are opening their networks to eSIM technology, which means more coverage whether you’re in Europe, Asia, or North America.
  • If a thief manages to get their hands on your iPad, they will not be able to dispose of the SIM card so it will be possible to trace and retrieve it.

What is the difference between an iPad with WiFi and cellular?

There are two kinds of iPads: WiFi-only and WiFi + cellular. The WiFi-only iPad connects to the internet using wireless access. Because it is the only option for this particular iPad you will only be able to connect to the internet when you are in range of a WiFi hotspot. None of the WiFi-only iPads support eSIM technology.

The cellular iPad has WiFi and cellular access so you can use it whenever, wherever you want. However, it must be activated with a plan in order to access cellular services. Although the cellular iPad cannot make calls and send text messages, it does connects using data. This means it can support apps like WhatsApp, FaceTime, and Skype. Some cellular iPads are eSIM enabled.

How do you know if your iPad has cellular capability?

You can tell if your iPad is cellular by looking at the top of it. Does it have a black or white strip? If it does, it has cellular capabilities. It will also have a SIM slot, like a mobile phone, that you can put a nano-SIM card into. These iPads usually come with an Apple SIM.

If your iPad is eSIM-enabled you can use it without the need for a SIM card. You can also use it anywhere and at any time, taking away the restrictions of a regular SIM.


Is your iPad compatible with eSIM? If so, check out our range of data-only bundles for wherever you are travelling next.