May 16

Asaf Gigi

eSIM vs iSIM: The Touchless SIM

This image shows a virtual circuit board.

In my last blog, I set the scene of explaining the differences in eSIM vs iSIM by giving details on the development of eUICC technology and how it began as a brand new technology and how it’s developing in the market. 

iSIM is not tremendously different from eUICC. It is more of an iteration of the technology, which is to have a multi-profile approach to connectivity within the SIM. iSIM (integrated SIM) is a form factor, where the secure element is already embedded in the cellular module itself as part of the silicon. It leverages System-on-Chip (SoC) technology to entirely eliminate the SIM from a separate chip.

The SoC with iSIM requires a SIM or eSIM operating system (OS) implemented on a Secure Enclave (SE) using the devices’ non-volatile memory, which is semiconductor technology that allows information to be retained even after power is lost. 

This is to meet the demand of lowering device size and improving power consumption in IoT because the need for additional SIM footprint has been removed. According to Kigen, iSIM is 98 percent smaller than eSIM (the form factor, not the eUICC technology). It also uses up to 70 percent less power. 

Ideal iSIM Use Cases

Lower power consumption and reduced device size can be beneficial to many use cases with IoT. A few include:

  • Wearables: Wearable devices such as smartwatches, fitness trackers, and healthcare monitors benefit from iSIM technology. These devices often have limited space for components, making traditional SIM cards impractical. iSIMs allow manufacturers to integrate cellular connectivity seamlessly into wearable devices.
  • Connected Cars: iSIM technology can be used in connected car applications for vehicle tracking, telematics, and remote diagnostics. iSIMs enable cars to connect to cellular networks without the need for physical SIM cards, simplifying the manufacturing process and reducing hardware costs.
  • Smart Home Devices: Smart home devices like security cameras, door locks, and thermostats can leverage iSIM technology for remote monitoring and control. iSIMs enable these devices to connect to cellular networks without requiring users to insert SIM cards manually, enhancing convenience and ease of use.
  • Enterprise Solutions: iSIMs can be used in enterprise solutions such as asset tracking, fleet management, and industrial automation. These applications often require devices to connect to cellular networks reliably and securely, which iSIM technology facilitates.
  • Consumer Electronics: iSIMs can be integrated into various consumer electronics products, including tablets, laptops, and portable hotspots, to provide seamless cellular connectivity without the need for external SIM cards. This integration simplifies the user experience and enhances the portability of these devices.

eSIM vs iSIM: Minimal Differences 

When it comes to the technology itself, eSIM and iSIM both support a multi-profile approach to global connectivity. The true differences lie in the physical SIM itself and how that impacts the use cases for which eSIM and iSIM are being considered. 

A few factors to examine as you’re determining which form factor:

The size of a regular UICC SIM is smaller than an eUICC SIM, since the eUICC SIM must contain multiple profiless inside of it, each with its own operating system. 

Downloading a full eUICC profile over the air demands a lot of bandwidth since profiles are large. This drains the battery, making it not always ideal for low-power applications. 

Because an eUICC SIM requires a larger footprint, thus more silicone, the cost will be higher. Data costs are also greater with an eUICC because of the usage needed for the OTA download. 

That does not mean that eUICC isn’t a powerful technology that is extremely useful in navigating the complexities of global connectivity. 

iSIM isn’t perfect either. While iSIM can support various connectivity technologies, such as GSM, LTE, and potentially 5G, its compatibility ultimately depends on the capabilities of the chipset and the software stack that implements iSIM functionality. So, while iSIM has the potential to support a wide range of connectivity technologies, its specific compatibility may vary depending on the device and its implementation. iSIM happens to be a strong iteration on eUICC that serves certain applications really well. Check out this webinar floLIVE did with Sony and Kigen to get more detail. 

Partnering for eSIM vs iSIM Success

The technology and chipset options are broad and how they function is dependent on the use case and its requirements. That’s why it’s important that – no matter what technology you choose – you partner with an industry expert that offers SIM flexibility and global connectivity designed in a way that works best for your business case. 

This graphic shows the image of a SIM card and allows the user to click a button to watch a webinar about iSIM.

May 16

Asaf Gigi

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