An embedded-SIM (eSIM) or embedded universal integrated circuit card (eUICC) is a form of programmable SIM card that is embedded directly into a device. The surface mount format provides the same electrical interface as the full size, 2FF and 3FF SIM cards, but is soldered to a circuit board as part of the manufacturing process. In machine to machine (M2M) applications where there is no requirement to change the SIM card, this avoids the requirement for a connector, improving reliability and security. An eSIM can be provisioned remotely; end-users can add or remove operators without the need to physically swap a SIM from the device.
eSIM is a global specification by the GSMA which enables remote SIM provisioning of any mobile device, and GSMA defines eSIM as the SIM for the next generation of connected consumer device, and networking solution using eSIM technology can be widely applicable to various Internet of things (IoT) scenarios, including connected cars (smart rearview mirror, on-board diagnostics (OBD), vehicle hotspot), artificial intelligence translator, MiFi device, smart earphone, smart metering, car tracker, DTU, bike-sharing, advertising player, and video surveillance devices, etc.
The GSMA had been discussing the possibilities of a software-based SIM card since 2010. While Motorola noted that eUICC is geared at industrial devices, Apple "disagreed that there is any statement forbidding the use of an embedded UICC in a consumer product." In 2012, The European Commission has selected the Embedded UICC format for its in-vehicle emergency call service known as eCall. All new car models in the EU must have one by 2018 to instantly connect the car to the emergency services in case of an accident. Russia has a similar plan with the GLONASS (national satellite positioning system) called ERA-GLONASS. Singapore is seeking public opinions on introducing eSIM as a new standard as more compatible devices enter the market.
Apple implemented eSIM support in its Apple Watch series 3 and second generation iPad Pro devices. In October 2017, Google unveiled the Pixel 2, which added eSIM support for use with its Google Fi service. One year later in September 2018, Apple released the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and in October 2018 the iPhone XR with eSIM support. eSIM support on iPhone requires iOS 12.1 or later. In 2018 Google released the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, and subsequently in May 2019 the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL with eSIM support for carriers other than Google Fi.
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