Google Pixel eSIM: What is it and how does it work?

Google unveiled the Pixel 2 with eSIM-support back in 2017 and have since introduced the technology to the rest of the Pixel range. Each device has an eSIM, but they may work differently depending on where in the world you are and which device you have.

This guide explores the compatibility differences of the Pixel eSIM with each device in the Pixel range, and whether they work with an eSIM plan from eSIM.net. It also answers some major questions about the setup of the eSIM and dual-SIM capabilities.

Google Pixel eSIM Device Smaller
There are a range of Google Pixel devices which support eSIM.

Google Pixel eSIM: Which devices are compatible?

Is there an eSIM in the Pixel 2?

The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2XL were the first phones to use embedded SIM (eSIM) technology. However, the eSIM feature for the 2 and 2 XL devices is only available to Fi subscribers in the US. It needs to be activated in the US but is enabled for global usage through Google’s partner networks.

Does the Pixel 3 have an eSIM?

All the Pixel 3 devices (Pixel 3, Pixel 3XL, Pixel 3A, Pixel 3A XL) have an eSIM and are globally enabled, meaning they work with plans from eSIM.net. They have a single slot for a nano-SIM card and the eSIM is embedded inside them. This gives them dual functionality—a convenient option if you want to switch between carriers for any reason. 

The Pixel 3 and 3XL let you have two separate numbers and network connections that you can manage through your phone’s settings. You will only be able to use one SIM at a time, whereas after a recent Android update, the Google Pixel 3A and 3A XL can now be operated simultaneously. These new capabilities mean you can assign texts and calls to one number and data to the other.

Update: As of July 2020, the Pixel 3A and 3A XL have been discontinued.

Does the Pixel 4 support eSIM?

The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL have an eSIM and offer dual-SIM functionality. The eSIM is unlocked to numerous mobile networks around the world and the SIM cards (eSIM and nano) can be operated at the same time without the need to manually switch between SIM cards.

A recent Android update gives the Pixel 4 and 4XL Dual-SIM Dual Standby (DSDS) functionality, which means both networks are active simultaneously—you can assign different functions to each SIM. You will be able to set one network for internet data and the other for calls and texts.

eSIM.net’s Global Pay As You Go plan or data-only bundles will work with the Google Pixel 3 or 4 models.

How do I set up and manage Google’s Pixel eSIM?

settings on an eSIM enabled device
Setting up an eSIM on a Google Pixel device is easy.

You will need an eSIM service plan to use the Pixel eSIM. Plans are available in many countries across the world and are easily activated by simply scanning a QR code from your chosen eSIM provider. 

eSIM.net is a leading eSIM provider for globally-enabled eSIM plans and specialises in data-only eSIM bundles, or voice, SMS, and data packages. 

Global plans make staying connected easy wherever you are, and will help you avoid expensive roaming charges applied by your domestic operator while overseas. 

eSIM deals to buy online from eSIM.net:

What is dual SIM?

Dual SIM is a feature that allows you to connect to two different networks using two SIM cards. All the Pixel devices have the dual SIM feature, with one normal SIM and one eSIM. 

If you have a Pixel 3 or Pixel 4 and Android 10 you will have the Dual-SIM Dual Standby (DSDS) functionality that keeps both networks in a “standby” state so you can switch between them without having to manually change SIM cards. This is possible because the eSIM acts as the second SIM.

DSDS is handy if you need a more streamlined way to manage your work life and personal life or you travel often and don’t want to worry about getting a new SIM. It also helps provide you with better coverage.

How to use the dual-SIM feature with the Pixel eSIM

Setting up dual-SIM functionality with the Pixel eSIM is simple.

If you want to set up the eSIM line as your second number, these 6 steps will guide you through it:

  1. Go to ‘Settings’, followed by ‘Network & Internet’, and choose ‘Mobile Network’
  2. Select ‘Carrier’ and click on on ‘Add carrier’
  3. Select ‘Don’t have a SIM card?’ and press ‘Next’
  4. When asked “Use two numbers?”, tap on ‘Continue’ and then ‘Restart’
  5. Go back to ‘Settings’, ‘Network & Internet’ and then ‘Mobile Network’
  6. Tap on the added networks to set call and text preferences

Should you want to set up the normal SIM card as your second number (having already installed the eSIM plan as your default number), follow these steps:

  1. Eject the tray from the SIM port
  2. Insert the SIM card and slide the port tray back in place
  3. Tap ‘Continue’ when the prompt asks if you want to use two numbers
  4. Restart your phone
  5. Open your ‘Settings’ and navigate to ‘Network Settings’
  6. Go to ‘Mobile Network’ and set your preferences

What is eSIM technology?

An eSIM stores data that your device needs to access cellular networks. However, unlike a plastic SIM card, an eSIM is a tiny chip embedded into the hardware of your phone. It can’t be removed. Its technology allows it to access various networks interchangeably, at any time.

An eSIM can do this because of remote provisioning. The chip itself stores multiple profiles, unlike a traditional SIM card which needs to be changed when a user decides to move to a new network provider. 

This means flexibility to move to different networks whenever you want. As a result, you’ll always benefit from the best deal. The appeal is easy to see if you want flexibility and seamless connectivity at home or when you travel.