eSIM, short for embedded (not electronic) SIM, is supposed to be the SIM technology of the future. More convenient than popping out SIM card trays or physically interacting with carriers, the technology has been ironically but unsurprisingly hampered by carriers who aren’t that keen on making it too easy for users to switch networks. Unfortunately, that also hampered even those phones with both physical and embedded SIMs so it’s actually a pleasant surprise to hear that T-Mobile is finally enabling it for last year’s Galaxy Note 20.
Almost like data storage, eSIM can be written to in order to change what network it connects to and this can even be done without the carrier physically touching the phone. While it is ironically more open that way, it is even more reliant on carriers enabling support for the technology compared to the older physical SIM standard. That is why even some phones with eSIM hardware don’t actually support it, particularly those sold by network operators.
eSIM hasn’t been around for years but its adoption in the US hasn’t exactly been fast nor consistent. Apple’s adoption of the technology may finally be turning things around but, as it stands only the iPhone and Google Pixel phones enjoy that support in North America.
That’s what makes this T-Mobile update for the Galaxy Note 21 Ultra an important chapter in Samsung’s history in that market, being the first of its phones to get eSIM support in the continent. Of course, since the phone also has a physical SIM slot, the update also adds Dual SIM Dual Standby to the phone to make the best use of the new feature.
The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra isn’t the only eSIM-capable phone Samsung has now. The Galaxy S21 series also has the hardware but also didn’t launch with it enabled in the US. Hopefully, this update marks the beginning of carriers adding support for more Galaxy phones, including the early 2021 flagships.