Some eSIM plans are data-only, but that doesn't mean you have to forgo calls and texts. You can still stay connected with friends and family while you travel, regardless of whether your eSIM has a call-and-text feature. In this article, we'll cover the basics of eSIM data plans and how you can make a phone call with a data-only eSIM.
Let's start with the basics: What is an eSIM? An eSIM is an embedded SIM card. It's a reprogrammable chip that's built into your device's hardware during manufacturing. Like a traditional SIM card, it identifies you as a mobile subscriber and connects you to a carrier's network. But it does it all digitally.
Most devices manufactured since 2018 support eSIM technology. However, this can vary depending on where you purchased your device and the carrier you use for your mobile service. If you want to be sure, take a look at our list of eSIM-compatible devices!
With an eSIM, you can download a digital plan, install it on your device, and connect to a mobile network in minutes. The best way to get an eSIM plan is from your carrier or an eSIM provider (like Airalo!). One of the benefits of choosing an eSIM provider is that you aren't tied to a carrier and can switch up your plan as you travel.
Airalo eSIM plans are prepaid and come with preloaded data (e.g., 1GB, 3GB, 5GB) that you can use for a set time (e.g., 7 days, 15 days, 30 days). If you run low on data or your eSIM is close to expiring, many plans come with a top-up option so you can top up on the go. Some Airalo plans are data-only, while others have a call-and-text feature.
If your eSIM is data-only, don't worry — you can still stay in touch with friends and family. Here are three ways to make a phone call with a data-only eSIM.
1. Use an Internet-Based Calling App
The easiest way to make a phone call with a data-only eSIM is with an internet-based calling app like Whatsapp, FaceTime, or Skype. These free services use VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) to place and receive calls over the internet. You don't need to worry about roaming because they'll use your eSIM data to connect.
Most will automatically sync your contacts, making it easy to stay connected. The only catch is that the person you're trying to reach must also have the calling app downloaded. We recommend choosing and downloading an app before you leave for your destination and sharing it with your friends and family so they know how best to reach you.
Internet-based calling apps can also come in handy for placing local calls at your destination. Depending on where you travel, some businesses will have a Whatsapp number available to communicate with their customers.
2. Call via Social Media
You can also use your eSIM data to make calls over social media. Facebook's Messenger app and Instagram DMs both have calling features. Once again, you'll be limited by your contacts who also use the app, but this is an easy way to stay connected.
As with internet-based calling apps, you'll want to be sure that data roaming is switched off for your primary SIM line to avoid roaming charges while you chat.
3. Use Your Primary Number
You can also use your primary SIM line for voice and text when you travel. However, this will use your home plan (not your eSIM data plan), and roaming fees may apply. It's a good idea to first check in with your carrier about their roaming rates.
To use your primary line to place calls, you'll need to turn it on and enable it for calls and/or texts (you can do this in your phone settings). Your phone will continue to use your eSIM to access data and switch to your home line when you want to place a call.
Whether you're placing a call, scrolling social media, or booking a ride, an eSIM makes it easy to stay connected when you travel. Visit the Airalo store to find an eSIM plan for your next trip.