2degrees launches eSIM capabilities so Kiwis can say goodbye to SIM cards

An illustration of an eSIM
The company is the second major player after Spark to launch eSIMs in Aotearoa. Photo credit: Getty Images

Mobile company 2degrees launched its eSIM functionality in Aotearoa at the end of last week, becoming the second major player in the market to introduce it after Spark.

But what are eSIMs and why should Kiwis be looking to take advantage of the new functionality?

eSIMs enable services on newer handsets, like the latest Samsung, Apple and Oppo phones, as well as devices such as the Apple Watch without the need for a physical SIM card.

Essentially it means you no longer have to try and find the metal dongle that came with your phone or a paperclip to eject your SIM card holder as the eSIM is built into the device.

"The real benefit to users is that they can have two SIMs active on a single handset," said Zac Summers, 2degrees chief marketing and strategy officer.

"This is ideal for those who currently juggle a work and personal mobile, want to use a local SIM while roaming overseas, or have a backup service on their phone. Now they can use a single device and virtually switch between SIMs.

"Another huge bonus for 2degrees is that it allows people to trial our network without porting away from their current provider."

eSIMs are currently available to business customers with everyone getting access to it later in August, with wearables being added afterwards.

Spark was the first major player to launch eSIMS in Aotearoa, supporting some iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and Huawei mobile devices as well as tablets and wearables.

The service is available to everyone and can be set up by going to any Spark store with valid photo identification.

When the order has been completed, customers receive an email with a QR code that needs to be scanned on the phone - and that's the setup complete.

Meanwhile competitors Vodafone have indicated it will introduce eSIMs sometime this year, although haven't provided a timeline.

Customers are currently able to register their interest in receiving one but the website currently simply states the company expects "to have eSIM functionality available with our Pay Monthly plans in 2022".

Vodafone said there had been delays from its originally expected timelines due to a result of COVID-19 and project reprioritisation.

Summers said there was massive demand for eSIMs from 2degrees' users.

"5G and eSIMs are game changers, and we are committed to increasing our capabilities in both areas month by month," he said.

"Modern handsets are amazing – and the manufacturers have made it painless to set up an eSIM. You simply need to scan a QR code and follow the prompts – bingo, all set up."