Phone Plans

The Ultimate Guide to Which eSIM is Best in 2023

Kyle Reyes
June 27, 2023

There are a lot of eSIM cell phone plans on the market, and deciding which one is best for you in 2023 is a worthy challenge. Are you: 

  • Overpaying for your cell phone plan, receiving extra features and add-ons that you don’t use? 
  • Underpaying for your cell phone plan, saving money but annoyed at data cut-offs and poor coverage? 

This article aims to determine which eSIM plan gets you exactly what you need. We use cell phones every day, and it’s nice to find a plan that lets you use high-speed mobile data when you need to without breaking the bank. Let’s delve into the question; Which eSIM is best? 

Which eSIM is Best?

There is, alas, no single answer to this question. There are a lot of factors that influence which eSIM is best for you, but it is important to understand what an eSIM does before tackling that question. The hardware used to make eSIMs, (and the physical SIMs that came before them) is uniform among cell phones and carriers, and their recent rise in popularity makes it a great time to consider converting from SIM to eSIM on your mobile device either with your current carrier or a new one. There are a lot of exciting opportunities for eSIM use now and in the future. 

What is an eSIM? 

eSIM cards are embedded into the hardware of your phone that complete the tasks of the physical SIM card. In your phone, SIM cards connect your device to a carrier’s mobile network and let that device transfer data on the network. While cell phones often come to mind when thinking of SIM cards, many other devices, such as “smart devices,” use this technology as well. Without an active SIM card, a smartphone has the same functionality (in general) as a tablet or a laptop. On a WiFi network, it has full internet access but lacks the mobile connectivity that turns it into a smartphone. 

Keeping this in mind, eSIM cards do not particularly affect your phone's performance. The tech remains the same. When looking for which eSIM is best, you may be interested in the best eSIM cell phone plan to save money on your monthly phone bill or one of the best eSIM cell phones to take advantage of this awesome technology. 

What does an eSIM do? 

eSIM cards connect your cell phone to mobile networks. Outside of that, eSIMs allow phones to house multiple accounts on the same device. While the average person does not need multiple numbers, it opens up lots of possibilities for travelers, and it is very cool to have dual SIM active on your device. Dual SIM users can switch between numbers with a few taps on the screen, designate which contacts receive messages and calls from which number, and what account’s data is used at any given time. 

While eSIMs in smartphones get a lot of attention, eSIM applications stretch far beyond that. eSIM technology spearheaded smartwatches with mobile connection, as physical SIMs never fit into their housing. The saved space makes a lot of technology viable. 

Alongside smartphones, eSIM cards are utilized to power devices on the Internet of Things and in various industries and manufacturing capacities. 

  • eSIM cards connect small devices to the Internet of Things. Integrating eSIMs into smart devices instead of physical SIMs opened many doors for product designers to find better models for their electronic devices. 
  • eSIMs are used in industry and manufacturing to connect devices in bulk to a single network. With the remote programmability of eSIM devices, it is now much easier to change service providers. All devices can switch at once rather than waiting on the bulk shipment of physical SIMs.

Best eSIMs in the USA

Finding which eSIM is best in the USA is a complicated question. Most eSIM manufacturing is done with the same chipset, so hardware malfunctions should be limited. If you have cell phone trouble and think it is hardware related, we recommend opening up a dialogue with your carrier’s customer service or taking your phone to a repair place for assistance. 

If you are searching for the best eSIM to save money on your phone bill, consider switching carriers. Unfortunately, saving money on cell phone bills often comes down to finding ways to use less data each month. As long as you are not tied to your carrier in any way (contracts on plan or cell phone), using an eSIM makes switching carriers easy. 

You can start the process once you find a new carrier and plan that fits well. Since eSIMs are all digital, your new carrier sends over an email containing instructions on how to activate your new account, be it through a QR code or an app on your phone. Barring unexpected difficulties, most carrier switches are over in less than an hour. 

Finding the best eSIM helps you travel the globe and keep high-speed data wherever you go. 

Airalo: A Global eSIM Provider

Airalo is a new company that utilizes eSIM cell phone plans to provide global connectivity to travelers. They work to provide cheap and reliable connections in many countries, letting frequent travelers purchase eSIMs wherever they end up. It works excellently with the rise in eSIM devices, as many phones can hold at least two active accounts. That lets you keep your primary line active on your device while purchasing a data eSIM for your destination. 

Activating dual SIM on your device is a great use of eSIM in cell phones, and an eSIM from Airalo will not let you down. Purchasing an Airalo eSIM is an easy process that you can complete from the comfort of your own home. To purchase an eSIM, follow these steps:

  • Navigate to Airalo’s website (or download the app) and create an account.
  • Find a plan for the country to which you travel
  • Purchase the plan
  • Install the Airalo eSIM on your phone 
  • Activate

The ease of activating an Airalo eSIM makes it a great way to travel. Living in the United States limits options for international roaming, and they are often more expensive than global alternatives like local plans and Airalo. Here are the options you have when living in the United States. 

International Cell Phone Plans

Many US carriers have international options, but many of them are rather expensive. There are three main international plans, which are: 

  • Pay-as-you-go add-ons charge you a flat fee for every text, call, and megabyte you use.
  • There are international day passes that, for a daily fee, give you access to a set number of texts, minutes, and data on your time abroad. 
  • There are monthly international plans that, for a monthly fee, add a lot of data, talk, and text to your international plan

These plans are easy to add to your current account and keep you covered on your trip, but they will give you a serious bill when you return. The main benefit of these plans is that you don’t need to create another account. Sometimes they are your only option. If your cell phone is locked to your current carrier, you cannot add another account, which takes Airalo out of the picture. 

Checking your phone’s status is easy. The wording is different between iPhones and Androids, but you can navigate to settings and cellular to see if your phone is unlocked. In the cellular menu, you will see something similar to “add new plan” to start a dual-SIM device. If your cell phone is locked you will not see that option. Cell phones are locked until: 

  • They are paid off
  • A few months have passed (varies by carrier)
  • Your account is in good standing
  • It is not marked as stolen

With the increase in popularity of cell phone payment plans, many users lock themselves into contracts for years, keeping them locked to that carrier. This, primarily, is to make sure people don’t jump from carrier to carrier ad nauseum, but it also keeps you from starting dual-SIM on your device, which means you cannot use Airalo or any other local service provider abroad. 

People use their phones every day. How do you use your phone? The amount of time you spend using mobile data each day is a big factor to find out which eSIM is best for you. 

How Do You Use Your Phone? 

The way you use your phone day-to-day is the primary factor that defines which eSIM is best for you. For the purpose of this, we will focus on how much you use your phone on mobile data. Phone usage in WiFi zones does not affect which eSIM is best. Low-data users have a lot more flexibility to decide if they want a more affordable limited data plan or stick with an unlimited data one. High-data users, unless they are willing to make some changes in their day-to-day activities, are locked in the high-tier cell phone plans. This section will cover the cell phone plans on the market and how to choose between a major wireless carrier and an MVNO.

What’s the Best eSIM Cell Phone Plan for You? 

Living in the United States, you can access plans from major wireless networks and Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs). The three major wireless networks all provide similar plans with unlimited high-speed data, among various other perks, while the MVNOs offer cheaper plans with fewer data and perks. If you are able, track your data usage for a few months. This gives you a good gauge of how much data you need in a cell phone plan. As you do, think about what times of the day you see your highest data usage. Do you travel to work and use your mobile data while on the way? Do you spend a lot of time in restaurants and public places without a strong WiFi zone? Whatever it is, any serious phone usage outside of WiFi will go through data. 

A big question: are you interested in limiting your data usage during the day? If you want to use less data during the week, there are a lot of great options to download audio and video on your device and, mainly, wait until you are connected to WiFi. This is a great way to save money if you want, but there’s nothing wrong with paying for a major wireless cell phone plan. 

Pros of Major Wireless Carriers

Major wireless carriers are more expensive, but they come with great perks. One big difference between major wireless carriers and MVNOs is that major wireless carriers have greater priority on the data list. People use a lot of data in the United States. The three major networks all have tremendous 4G LTE and 5G coverage, but even the titanic networks they have created are strained on occasion, especially during big events. When a network is almost maxed out the company starts slowing down people’s data. When it happens, all of their MVNO customers are slowed down first. If that doesn’t do it, the network’s users with regular high-speed data are slowed next, leaving those with premium high-speed data as the top tier of data users.

Each major wireless network has its strengths and weaknesses, but one of our favorite plans overall is T-Mobile Essentials. Let’s take a look. 

T-Mobile Essentials 

Quick Facts: 

  • $60/45/30/25 a month
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • 50 GB premium data, unlimited high-speed data
  • No contract 

Our pick for a major wireless company’s data plan is T-Mobile Essentials. Right off the bat, the multi-line savings are fantastic. Halving the cost with a three-line plan is a great deal and has many advantages. It has no contract, which is always good, and it comes with unlimited high-speed data and 50 GB of premium data as well. This is their entry-level unlimited data plan, and the 50 GB of premium data is a nice bonus to joining their network. 

The other unlimited plans at T-Mobile have more bells and whistles attached, like additional premium data, high-speed hotspot allocation, and other incentives like a free Netflix account. If the price hike is worthwhile for you, you can switch to one of those. 

Pros of MVNOs

MVNOs are companies that rent bandwidth from major wireless networks. Their plans are priced much more affordably than major networks for two main reasons. One is because they are renting the bandwidth rather than owning it. The other is that many plans do not offer unlimited high-speed data. It is always important to look into the fine print when an MVNO plan says “unlimited data.” Most of them offer unlimited low-speed data and a small allocation of high-speed data that’s usually between 20 and 50 GB throughout the month. This means that MVNOs are best for people who can really watch their data usage throughout the month and are sure they won’t go over the allocated amount.

If you are a low-data user, you have a lot of control over which cell phone plan fits best for you. Unfortunately, as your data consumption increases, the number of available plans decreases. Now, remember how we said most MVNOs don’t offer unlimited data? That is true, but our favorite plan among them offers unlimited high-speed data for only $30 a month. Let’s check out Visible Wireless. 

Visible Wireless Unlimited Plan

Quick Facts: 

  • $30 or $45 a month
  • Unlimited talk and text
  • 25 MB high-speed data
  • No contract 
  • Runs on Verizon’s network

Visible has two plans, each with unlimited talk, text, and data. The two Visible Wireless phone plans offer fantastic services for their price. They are as follows:

  • $30 per month for Unlimited
  • $45 per month for Unlimited plus

Getting unlimited data for a price as low as $30 a month is a fantastic deal. People often use more data than they think because so many smartphone processes chew through data. A lot of stuff is already going on in the background, and then loading webpages, social media, and streaming audio and video use a lot as well. Limited data plans are always dangerous, and Visible makes sure you don’t have to worry about your data consumption. Running on Verizon’s network just about guarantees high-speed coverage wherever you are in the country. 

You’ll want an eSIM plan that keeps you connected even when traveling off the beaten path. 

Key Takeaways

Many factors impact which eSIM is best. We hope that this article has helped you answer any questions you have about eSIMs, what they do on your phone, and what options you have available to you. Remember: you need to have an unlocked phone to take advantage of all the eSIM plans out there. 

There are a lot of carriers in the United States, and a bit of research is all you need to find the best eSIM cell phone plan.

Kyle Reyes
Kyles Reyes is a journalist from Pittsburgh, PA that specializes in the wireless industry, phone plan comparisons & advice.
Select your area of interest

your questions,

Does this phone service work everywhere?

Yep, we offer premium wireless service on the T-Mobile® 5G Network, the nation’s largest and fastest 5G network. If you are in our dewi coverage areas, you’ll also get access to our decentralized phone network powered by the people which will give you even faster speeds and better coverage.

Is there a contract?

Nope, it’s pay as you go.

Is this prepaid?

Yeah! You put your card on file and prepay each month so that you never experience any disruption.

Does my phone need to be unlocked?

Yep, but it’s super easy to unlock your device as long as it’s paid off. Chat with us and a real human can help you here.

What if I want a new phone?

We have some recommendations on what we think you should get, from iPhones to Droids. Check out our list here which includes affordable places online to get a good deal.

What does decentralized wireless (DeWi) mean?

It means we are building a phone network that is powered by the people. Your neighbors put small radios on their roof and help extend the phone network to cover deadzones™ and get even faster speeds. Right now our DeWi network is available in Austin, but we’ll be expanding to other cities REALLY soon. Learn more about DeWi here.

How many SIMs will I be installing?

Great question. If you’re in Austin, TX, you’ll install 2 new SIMs. The REALLY nationwide SIM as your first SIM, which will give you voice / text & data on the nation’s largest and fastest 5G network powered by T-Mobile®. Your 2nd SIM will give you access to the REALLY DeWi network in Austin, TX, which you’ll prioritize when available so that you get even faster speeds and better coverage. Depending on your device, you may be able to install eSIMs via a QR code.

Can I keep my phone number?

Yep, we are powered by T-Mobile®, the nation’s largest and fastest 5G network. If you are in Austin, TX you’ll also get access to our decentralized phone network powered by the people which will give you even faster speeds and better coverage.

How much data do you get on the unlimited plan?

The plan is unlimited, but once you reach 20GB you may experience slower speeds depending on network usage.

How much hotspot data do you get on the unlimited plan?

You get 10GB of hotspot data per month, but can add more if you need to.

How do I add more data to my plan?

You can chat with us, text us, or login to your account to top off. It only takes a few seconds.

start building a new era of connectivity

join REALLY DeWi