You might be wondering, how is it possible to install a SIM card onto my phone? Moreover, you might also be wondering, Is it really that easy with just a QR-Code? Answer to both: absolutely.

Allow me to first introduce you to the eSIM card. An eSIM is an "embedded" SIM built directly into your device. Many modern phones allow you to directly download a carrier plan and access their network without ever having to install a physical chip. eSIMs give you the exact same functionality as a regular SIM, allowing you to:

  • Use your mobile network for local data
  • Cellular service to call, contact and remain connected to other phones and devices
  • Connect, screen, scan, store, search, activate, and download data to your device
  • Keep your number while still being able to switch your phone line
  • Never have to worry about being hit with roaming charges
  • Download and pay for a plan that makes sense for your data needs
  • Activate your eSIM plan with a QR Code instead of inserting a chip
  • Tap the Airalo app to switch your data plan to a local, continental or international plan
  • Max usage by subscribing to shorter plans all the way to longer plans (based on need)


eSIM technology is revolutionary as a fully digital solution that could give you faster access to the internet, save space on your device while maintaining the exact same compatible phone support while accessing and switching between networks.

To find out if your device supports an eSIM, follow the link bellow:

Related: What devices support eSIM?

The evolution of SIM to eSIM

A physical SIM card is nothing new, in fact, for as long as mobile phones have existed for the past 30 years, SIM cards have acted as the ports to cellular connectivity. SIM stands for subscriber identity module. SIMs have been used as a two-step network verification that firstly identifies the user with a digital license plate, and secondly informs the network if this phone or device is allowed to access the carrier's service.

Customers and the consumer alike have only recently been given more and more options for effective SIM connectivity.

SIM cards started with the mini-SIM, designed with a large plastic casing that had to be inserted into the SIM tray on the side of most phones or devices. As seen in the picture, the large, cumbersome level of plastic meant taking up all that extra space in your bag or pocket. In various iterations, the plastic casing could be taken off, but in the early generations of the mini-SIM, the plastic tray was a part of the insertion process. Chip swapping and the transfer were the most difficult at this time.


As a sign of things to come, physical chip swapping evolved with the introduction of the micro-SIM. The micro-SIM made it a lot easier to store and swap SIMs as the large plastic casing around the card was made redundant. The micro-SIM still had a thin layering of plastic around the edge, but its form and functionality were dramatically improved.


With the introduction of the nano-SIM, SIM cards were now getting even smaller in size. Practically, all excess plastic and non-identifying functions to the SIM were cut from production. On the one hand, this made SIMs the smallest and most efficient, but they still had one major problem, they were external to the phone.


This meant that SIMs had improved upsides with equally increased risks. Nano-SIMs are so small in size that losing them became that much easier. With less protective plastic, these small SIMs are also much easier to accidentally damage or scratch.  Why should you have to worry about losing a card not much bigger than a piece of gum or a coin? Well, you shouldn't, and that's why eSIM came along.


eSIM is the final iteration of the SIM card, and the best part is, the SIM is now embedded into your device from the start. This means, instead of ever having to worry about losing your SIM again, all you need to do is make sure you don't lose your phone. It's really as simple as that.


The natural integration of external ports to phone technology is evident with wireless headphones and the adaption of wireless charging. eSIM is the final step to a fully digital experience.

Related: The eSIM vs. nano-SIM: Which is better?


The evolution of QR-Codes

In the latter half of the 20th century, barcodes were introduced into the market and quickly became the most efficient form to identify packages as well as deliverable and receivable information.


Similar to the SIM card, barcodes were identity modules for consumer and commercial goods. Each item had a corresponding tag and information attached to it. The problem was, at scale, barcodes at most could hold a few dozen numbers of information.


This resulted in large-scale operations having to put multiple barcodes on a shipment to properly order and distinguish them. Much like managing, storing, and inserting SIM cards - bar codes were unsustainable in the long term.

In the mid-1990s, QR-codes were introduced and took the ability to scan to the max. As a square with unique corners and sequenced patterns, QR-codes allow you to store orders more information - now allowing access to storage systems 10x of barcodes and access to website links.


How to install an eSIM with an Airalo QR-Code

One of the options on the Airalo app is you can download your eSIM through a QR-Code. This is a code that, once scanned, prompts you with a window to install the eSIM directly to your device.


The easiest way to install your eSIM via a QR-code is to purchase the eSIM on your laptop or computer, locate the generated QR-code, and then follow the instructions on the Airalo app by scanning the QR-code with your phone's camera.


For more information on installing QR-codes, follow the Airalo help center resources below:

Related: Can I use the same QR code and install the eSIM profile on multiple devices?


What does this mean for connectivity in the future?

It's truly exciting that both QR-code technology and eSIM technology are working together at the same time, but it is certainly no coincidence. They are both critical points of innovation in identification and information accessibility.


At Airalo, we always want to be at the cutting edge of travel connectivity. It is our goal to bring you data that is fast and accessible at every step of the way. Using a camera to activate your eSIM through a QR-code is a given and should be available to everyone.


Airalo has also continued this commitment to travel connectivity by giving you the most diverse payment options possible, so you can either pay with your card or directly from your Paypal account.


At Airalo, we will continue to provide you with the latest and greatest in travel connectivity.

Related: Why You Should Be an Early Adopter of eSIM