eSIM UK: How To Get One For Your Phone

Are you frustrated by the rigidity and one size fits all design of UK mobile plans? Perhaps you’re already sold on a O2 UK eSIM but not too sure how to get it set up on your smartphone? Or maybe you’re just unsure about which plan would be best for you?

This guide covers everything you need to know about getting and using an eSIM in the UK – from how to set an eSIM up and its benefits to what eSIM plans are available for British citizens and which networks support it.

This guide gives you all the information you need to decide if an eSIM for the UK is right for you, so let’s dive in so you can join the embedded SIM revolution.

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What is an eSIM?

An eSIM (Embedded Subscriber Identification Module) is a programmable chip that is soldered to the internal hardware of certain smartphones. It is less than half the size of a traditional SIM card and can be programmed to any mobile network worldwide.

This is possible because of something called remote SIM provisioning. It is a specification realised by the GSMA that allows users to remotely activate the eSIM in a portable device such as a smartphone, smartwatch, tablet, or computer.

Unlike its plastic counterpart, an eSIM is not restricted to a single network or plan. This is what makes it such a ground-breaking product. Mobile users are no longer locked to one mobile carrier and can now enjoy complete freedom over their mobile plan.

Related | eUICC and eSIM – what are they?

Phone hardware with embedded SIM

Is eSIM Available in the UK?

Yes, eSIM services are widely available in the UK through a number of mobile networks and independent MVNOs like eSIM.net.

eSIM plans can be purchased in the United Kingdom or online anywhere in the world.

Which UK Mobile Networks Support eSIM?

All the major mobile networks in the UK support eSIM. A number of specialist roaming providers and independent MVNOs, like eSIM.net, also support the technology.

Does EE UK Support eSIM?

EE offer monthly eSIM plans but no pay as you go options. To switch from a SIM card to an eSIM you need to order an eSIM pack through their website or from one of their retail stores. This requires a bit of waiting as it is delivered in the mail.

Does O2 UK Support eSIM?

O2 offers monthly eSIM plans but no prepaid eSIM options. As with EE, you will need to order an O2 eSIM pack if you want to switch from a physical SIM card to an eSIM. This is done by visiting an O2 store or calling their customer services team.

Does Vodafone UK Support eSIM?

Vodafone offers eSIM plans on a monthly subscription. Vodafone also requires you to order a SIM card from one of their stores or through their website, which can then be changed into an eSIM. You will have to wait for this to arrive in the mail.

Does Three Support eSIM?

Three offers monthly eSIM plans but no options for a pay as you go eSIM. To get an eSIM on the Three network you have to call their customer services team and order an eSIM pack. This is delivered in the mail.

Three’s eSIM service was put on pause as of December 2020.

Hand holding eSIM phone

Which Phones Support eSIM in the UK?

The Motorola Razr is an eSIM only phone, while the vast majority of eSIM enabled phones have an eSIM and a slot for a physical SIM card. You can usually check if a phone has an eSIM by looking at the ‘Dual-SIM’ specification on the spec list or box.

Most new iPhone and Android phones are eSIM enabled.

Check out our list of eSIM compatible devices to see if your phone has an eSIM.

Where Can I Buy a UK eSIM?

There are two options for getting an eSIM service in the United Kingdom: order an eSIM pack from a network and wait for it to arrive in the mail or buy an eSIM online.

Buying an eSIM online is a wildly popular option because it doesn’t require any admin or waiting. All you have to do is scan a QR code and your eSIM plan will be activated within minutes. No admin or waiting around required.

Person using UK eSIM phone

Why is it Worth Using an eSIM in the UK?

Embedded SIMs, in general, are worth using but an eSIM designed especially for use in the UK has an array of excellent features that Brits will appreciate and benefit from.

Here are 4 reasons why a UK eSIM is worthwhile:

1. 5G Connectivity

All our eSIM plans support 5G. This means faster speeds and more network coverage.

Whether you are using the UK eSIM for your business line or as your primary mobile plan, the benefits of being able to connect to 5G are undeniable.

Find out more about our 5G eSIM feature.

2. Dual-SIM Functionality

If you have a phone that supports a physical SIM and an eSIM, you get to experience all the flexibility and conveniences that dual-SIM offers.

You could choose to have an eSIM for the UK on the embedded SIM and another plan, perhaps your business mobile plan, on the physical SIM card.

Related | Why get a second number and eSIM on your smartphone?

3. Wi-Fi Calling

Ever needed to make a phone call or send a text message but didn’t have a mobile signal? That will never have to be an issue again thanks to WiFi Calling.

WiFi Calling is a native functionality (i.e. built into the device) that allows a phone to make or receive calls and texts over the internet instead of cellular networks.

You will need a WiFi Calling enabled phone to make use of this feature.

4. Cheap Roaming Rates Abroad

Using the dual-SIM functionality with an eSIM means you can easily add a global roaming eSIM plan to your phone when you go on holiday or a work trip.

Roaming while using an eSIM is known for being more affordable because you can use a local network without having to buy a new SIM or pay international roaming rates.

UK eSIM phone with 5G icon

Are There Pay as You Go eSIM Plans in the UK?

Yes. eSIM.net offers a prepaid eSIM for the UK with full mobile services, including data, voice, and SMS. The initial cost is about £7, after which you can top up with any amount.

What Other UK eSIM Plans are Available?

Along with a standard UK eSIM, there is also a global UK eSIM.  

The O2 eSIM was designed to offer UK residents lower tariffs on the O2 network and all the benefits of an eSIM. It has been carefully crafted to include all the features you need for better connectivity in the United Kingdom.

It is an excellent business phone plan alternative but is a great option for anyone who appreciates high-end mobile features and O2’s network reliability.

Read more about the O2 eSIM.

People in Underground using phones

Can I Port My Number to eSIM in the UK?

Yes. All you need to do is request a PAC number from your current network and send it to your new network or provider along with the number you want to port.

Mobile networks are obliged to give you a PAC number if you want to port your number to another network or provider.

eSIM.net fully support mobile number portability with the 4 major mobile network operators in the United Kingdom (Vodafone, O2, EE, and Three) and all MVNOs (e.g. giffgaff and Lebara) except Lycamobile, Sky Mobile, and Virgin Media.

We are the only MVNO to offer a port to prepaid option.

You can find FAQs about this service in our porting guide.  

How to Set Up a UK eSIM

To buy a UK eSIM online, follow these steps:

  1. Visit our website
  2. Sign in to your account or create a new one
  3. Select the UK eSIM plan
  4. Complete the purchase online
  5. Scan the QR code sent to your inbox
  6. Follow a few on-screen prompts
  7. Your eSIM plan is now live!

Also see: Different Kinds of eSIMs

eSIM.net home page screenshot

About eSIM.net

eSIM.net is a registered MVNO and leading online eSIM store.  We pioneered the world’s first globally enabled Pay As You Go eSIM with 5G and have launched a number of destination-specific and data only eSIM plans.

Our goal is to make embedded SIM technology more accessible and give Brits bespoke mobile plans that suit their unique needs and lifestyle and offer greater flexibility and better rates at home and while travelling abroad.