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eSIM card vs WhatsApp

Has anyone used and eSIM card in their US iPhone while traveling in Europe3 of recent date. We'll be in Spain and Italy in April and each have an iPhone, mine in an IPhone SE 2nd gen, hers is an iPhone 11. We need phone service while abroad, to call/text to the US and to talk/text to confirm travel logistics within Spain and Italy. We've considered WhatsApp, but concerned about unknown WiFi. That is why we're looking at the eSIM card.

First, I suppose I should ask if our devices will even accept an eSIM [and, of course, will it function]? I done some research and get differing information about our phones abilty to access the eSIM.

Second, if the devices will work, what experiences as anyone had on their US iPhone while in Europe? By the way, we're on a Consumer Cellular plan and they don't, as of now, offer a "travel plan". My wife has been considering getting a later generation iPhone, maybe an 11 Pro, Would this accept the eSIM and would it be worth the upgrade,

Oh yes, permit me to note we still use or phone for talking and texting both to the US and within Europe, and for some, but not a lot, of pictures.

We've not used whats app

Posted by
2267 posts

Heya- on a Spanish Vodafone eSIM as I type.

Years ago there was a setting issue with iPhones on Europe’s SIMs, long since resolved. As long as your phones are unlocked. They MUST be unlocked. Her 11 will be dual-sim, allowing the US number to run in parallel with another. One of those will be eSIM. Not sure about your SE.

Without some sort of data source, WhatsApp will only work when you’re on wifi. And if you do that, you’ll quickly learn how accustomed we’ve become to constant connectivity. (And data really can be useful when traveling.)

Phone service here is ridiculously cheap. I just paid €15 for 100gigs of data and 800 minutes of calls to/from anywhere—with a 28 day expiration. That’s less than two days on my ATT interna plan. And 100G is A LOT. Like, FaceTime calls, stream Netflix on a train, and never worry about it. Do note that my (many) plans don’t have a function to sent SMS text messages. All of Europe is on WhatsApp, rendering SMS obsolete.

Posted by
6820 posts

First, I would check with Apple Support online - they have lots of information on eSIMs. This site - https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT2127800 - gives you an idea of what iPhones have eSIM capability. And this site - https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT209096 - gives you a huge number of providers (with countries) that will supply eSIMs.

Scudder was correct in saying your phones MUST be unlocked. If you bought them through a carrier and are still paying it off, they may not be. If you're not sure, this tells you how: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201328#:~:text=You%20can%20find%20out%20if,Lock%2C%20your%20iPhone%20is%20unlocked.

I used Airalo to get an eSIM in Germany last year - total cost was around $20 and I think I had 10G of data (not as much as Scudder, but I use data a LOT and never came close to the max). I had no problems using it or being able to access data. Most people tend to use wifi for as much as possible to save on data. If you are worried about unknown wifi, you might want to consider getting a VPN for your phone. There are a number of posts here that have gone into that.

If you like to talk, keep in mind that eSIMs usually do not come with phone calling - just data. There are exceptions but if you're calling people back in the states, I found it was easier to use FaceTime audio or WhatsApp. WhatsApp is a messaging service with phone capabilities so if you call people without iPhones (I used FaceTime audio for friends with iPhones), have them download the app before you leave so that you can message them and talk. WhatsApp is actually more secure than iPhone's messaging system as everything is encrypted. If you do want phone calls, then check Orange or the one Scudder mentioned above.

I'm not sure if your iPhone SE will accept eSIM - look at the Apple support links above and it should let you know how to check.

Posted by
169 posts

If you’re phone is capaavle of it I’d say this isn’t even a valid comparison, WhatsApp VS an e-sim

I used an “orange travel e-sim” for 3 months this past September in Europe and the only places it did not work were Bosnia and I believe Slovenia.

It’s dirt cheap to get an e-sim with data and ecen calling if you want, I believe it was somthing like $30 USD for 30GB of data and 100 minutes of calling.

Having this is the difference between effectively using your phone to assist in your travels and struggling to find wifi imo. It’s 1000000% worth it.

Posted by
545 posts

I installed WhatsApp in EU just to deal with Italian and Turkish hotels who seem to prefer it.

In past years, I bought a SIM card on Amazon for 50-60 but then those same cards stopped working well later, so I decided to just use my regular service in roaming mode - which ran about $70 a month.

I have had some significant problems with service using an iPhone 11 PM and now a 13 PM. Mostly 1.25 years ago in Italy, France and Spain - I would go days or weeks with no cell internet service. I took the phone into apple stores over and over - in those countries. this created such havoc ... for example arriving in Sicily and getting no map, then finding a hotel where the owner is to meet you and he does not show up for an hour and no way to contact him. Finally Apple just replaced the phone - and that meant our rail passes were all invalid for a day or so before we could get them to re-initialize it from the office. The internet problems continued sporadically even with the new phone.

It's possible it was a VPN problem - but I turned if off, and later even deleted it, and the problems persisted mainly on my phone but not another iPhone 12 PM at the same time.

Posted by
5687 posts

Sign up for Google Voice before you leave the states. This will give you an additional US phone you can use for texting and calling using the Google Voice app. Anyone with this phone number can text your Google Voice phone number, even a flip phone. (I have relatives who still use flip phones, so WhatsApp is not an option for everyone.) You can make free Google Voice calls to US phones (even landlines) using the Google Voice app. But you do need internet service - WiFi or mobile data.. I use Google Voice as my primary phone number, and I receive calls on that number when I'm in Europe using a Vodafone SIM.

I still use WiFi in Europe. All web traffic is encrypted these days - wasn't the case even 15 years ago so everything you did was open for anyone with the right equipment to see. Not anymore. Be careful when opening LINKS in text messages and email messages!!! Don't click/tap on any link you weren't expecting to get.

Posted by
3289 posts

I strongly urge you not to connect to unsecured wifi. I have always regretted doing this upon my return home, absolutely inundated with junk mail. Never again!

Posted by
169 posts

If you’re going to get a sim/esim dont know why you wouldn’t just spend the extra $5-10 for the voice portion as opposed to using google voice.

Then you also have a local EU number and the ease that unlocks.

I know I’m repeating this but using my 13 pro max and the orange holiday sim, it was virtually as smooth as it could possibly be. And I work for a telecom giant in Canada so I know how finicky SIM cards etc. can be

The only annoyance I found with the orange sim was that it didn’t let you know when you were close to using all your data, so it’s a good idea to reset the timer/counter for that specific sim in the settings of the phone. That only happened once over a 3.5 month euro trip however and I simply went back to the Airbnb, topped up the sim and it started working again instantly.

One thing, if you’re using it for more than a month you need to provide orange a scan or your passport for registration. But this just involves emailing them a photo of it and a brief registration page

Posted by
5687 posts

I strongly urge you not to connect to unsecured wifi. I have always regretted doing this upon my return home, absolutely inundated with junk mail. Never again!

If you are getting junk email, it's because you gave your email address to someone, not because you were using unsecured WiFi. Sometimes other people who have emailed you get hacked and their address book stolen...if you are in their address book, then you get added to more spam lists.

Posted by
17 posts

I have an unlocked iPhone 11 my carrier is Xfinity
I have an iPad how do I get SIM card what is the difference between sim and esim?
Thanks for your time to answer
Carol

Posted by
6820 posts

Carol, you will get more responses if you start another topic with your question. I can’t tell you that the difference between an eSIM and a regular Sim is that an eSIM is digital only. You do not need to physically transfer a card into your phone like you do with a regular Sim card.