Switching To eSIM in Slight Distress

I’ve been following the development of the eSIM on this blog for 6 years now and in recent years, I’ve been downloading and testing eSIMs to see how the process actually works. However, all of that was for learning and educational purposes only. But now, finally, I’ve used an eSIM ‘for real’ to get me out of a slightly disconcerting situation.

So here’s the story: A member of our household uses two SIM cards in her smartphone, as she wants to be reachable via national phone numbers from people in two different counties. Yes, it is the day and age of messengers with voice and video calling capabilities, but there are traditionalists. When she recently dropped her smartphone, it decided to quit for good and I had to prepare a new device in a hurry, as she was leaving for a business trip the next day. For just such a thing happening to her or me, I had bought a Google Pixel 6 a few months ago which I then put to good use. What I didn’t realize was that there is only a single SIM card slot in the Pixel 6. Honestly, I didn’t even look for the feature, as pretty much all devices these days come along with the functionality. But not the Pixel 6. A stupid mistake and I was baffled for a minute.

But wait, the Pixel 6 is eSIM capable, so perhaps that would be the solution? So I checked if the network operator of the Austrian SIM card would replace the physical SIM with an eSIM on the fly. Unfortunately, it is a prepaid SIM and they didn’t. So I checked our German network operator of choice, and despite the SIM being from a lower cost subsidiary, they offered an almost instant online SIM to eSIM replacement.

Me being me, I was a bit distressed because once having started the process, there would probably be no way back, and there was no time to fix things before departure. But I didn’t see another viable option. So I started the process on the Web portal on my notebook. This immediately deactivated the physical SIM card and the smartphone was detached and started a network search. OK, I thought, this has to work now or I’m in trouble.

A few minutes later, I got an eMail that the eSIM was ready and that I could scan a 2D bar code or type in a URL on the smartphone presented on the operator’s customer portal. So on my notebook, I went back to the customer portal, displayed the barcode and then went into the eSIM menu of the smartphone. Here, there was an option to scan the barcode, which I did after connecting to Wi-Fi. Internet connectivity on the smartphone is required, as the barcode only contains a URL and the required credentials to download the eSIM. Once scanned, it took perhaps 5-10 seconds before the smartphone showed a success message and another few seconds for the phone to register to the network again.

Wow, changing a physical SIM to an eSIM at home in just a few minutes, that was really neat. I’m a happy customer!