eSIM for International Roaming

I need cellular service (mostly for data) for just a few days on an unlocked iPhone that supports eSIM during an upcoming trip to Guadalajara Mexico.

This recent Wall Street Journal article mentions eSIM providers Airalo, Nomad, and Ubigi:

Can anyone share their experience with, or recommendation for, an eSIM-based cellular service they used in during a trip abroad?

Ideally I’d like to hear about experiences for Mexico in general or Guadalajara in particular. But any experience with eSIM is helpful since I’ve used only physical SIMs.

Thank you.

1 Like

I’ve used Airalo for data on both an iPhone and a cellular iPad in the Caribbean and in UK and Ireland and it worked great there. I could install and set up everything on the device itself. I can’t say anything about Mexico, though.

Also, it’s data only where ever I tried it; I used my Verizon SIM roaming for calls and SMS (though I don’t use SMS all that much.)

You should also check your existing calling plan.

I don’t remember what country you’re coming from, but I know that many US carriers (including Verizon) include Mexico and Canada as a part of their normal unlimited plans.

So maybe you don’t need to do anything on your trip to Mexico.

1 Like

For Airalo, I agree with the data only.

I used Airalo on the Canadian (long distance train in Canada). It was almost useless, but I think that’s a commentary on cell towers in the Canadian boonies more than Airalo. The eSIM did work at the endpoints. I do recall being disconcerted that the carrier was (I think) Rogers when the Airalo web page had said it was someone else, but I believe that caused no problems. Also, I understand from a discussion on FlyerTalk that Airalo (and other eSIM providers) route all traffic through their home country, which can lead to some latency and throughput issues; again, I do not believe that detail (if accurate) caused me any problems.

I would use Airalo again, but I would also jump to another provider if I perceived any advantage. Not to derail this thread, but I would be interested in comments about an eSIM provider for travel in England and the Netherlands.

I use Page Plus Cellular (PPC), a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) which uses Verizon’s network.

My PPC plan includes a $10/month allowance for international calls (from the United States) but no international roaming so it isn’t going to work at all once I arrive in Mexico.

Apparently PPC does not offer any international roaming options.

Haven’t been to Mexico but Gigsky has worked well for me in Europe, USA, Canada, India and Japan.

I used Airalo in Italy in late April and it worked fairly well even in more remote areas, such as in the train between Venice and Udine… well enough to recommend but I’d love suggestions for alternatives.

Any suggestions for roaming in Australia and New Zealand? Ideally one SIM for both.

Tried both Airalo and Giffgaff for our recent trip to UK. Got the sim from Giffgff nd tried to activate it…their website refused to work from iPhone, iPad, or macOS even trying multiple browsers. Airalo…once I had paid for an eSIM told me halfway through the installation routine that my unlocked and up to date iPhone XS Max would not use an eSIM…so we just gave up and used wifi instead.

1 Like

I live in Sydney and have used Gigsky here and in New Zealand as well as Japan - all on the same regional plan. My only reason for using it in Australia (where I have a local phone plan) is using up the left-over data after a trip to Japan.
An advantage of this roaming service is that I can test it before leaving on a trip. A disadvantage is that it doesn’t include a voice plan (but the data service gives access to other options such as Skype).

1 Like

If you live in the UK (which I think you do?), your easiest and cheapest might be to get a Three Pay-As-You-Go SIM. All their data packs include ‘Go Roam’ which allows you to use up to 12GB of your data allowance in any of the 71 Go Roam countries. Australia and New Zealand are both included. You can also make and receive normal calls to/from the UK for free. I don’t know if they offer this as an eSIM yet, so if you need that it might not work. But I’ve used a Three PAYG SIM for travelling a few times and it’s been much less expensive than the travel SIM providers.

I am in the UK, yes. Thanks for the suggestion. I’ve looked at 3’s GoRoam but it doesn’t seem to be quite as simple outside Europe as might at first sight appear. While calls to the UK (which may or may not include UK mobiles in Australia, such as those owned by members of my family) are included, calls and texts to local numbers are expensive. I shall investigate further.

1 Like

As I understand the web pages of Three, it is at least £2 per day to use Go Roam. Am I misunderstanding, or I am simply too price-conscious? (I would buy the 10 GB data pack for £10, and the five nights in Amsterdam would cost more than the data pack, since there would be a partial day at the start and end.)

Only if you’re on a monthly (contract) plan. If you get a pay-as-you-go SIM, the data packs include Go Roam for no additional cost. This is the important bit:

Many thanks for that correction. I had seen that but misread it.

1 Like

Follow up. I bought data-only eSIMs from Airalo. 3GB valid for 30 days in Australia cost USD9 and 1GB valid for 14 days in New Zealand cost USD8.5. Both installed easily. Given the excellent availability of free wifi, I find I’ve not approached the allowance. I’ve not tried streaming, but for maps, email and WhatsApp calls (voice only), both have worked just fine.

1 Like

I tried that for UK…and they sold me one for my unlocked and eSIM ready #s Max. Downloaded the eSIM using their app…all was fine, tried to install and it stopped part way through telling me that this iPhone does not support eSIM. Rebooted (again, also did it before the initial attempt), disabled the physical SIM lock…rebooted again, ran the installer and 8t told this eSIM has already been installed and cannot be reused.

Thank you to everyone who shared their experience and recommendations regarding eSIM providers for international roaming.

Ultimately I switched my cellular provider from Page Plus to a T-Mobile plan that includes free talk, text, and data in Mexico via Telcel.

It worked perfectly.

1 Like

If you are in the UK and travel regularly then O2 would be my recommendation, they have inclusive data roaming in 27 international destinations including Australia, New Zealand, Europe, USA and much of South America (O2 | O2 Travel in our Inclusive Zone). Just make sure your package includes this bolt on.

As for my question, we will be travelling to countries outside of the O2 included countries this year and have an iPhone 12 Pro. I use an eSIM with O2 and understand with this iPhone you can only have one eSIM active at a time (not the case with later iPhones I understand). Has anyone used two eSIMs with an iPhone and does switching eSIMs work seamlessly? I ask as I have had a few issues with eSIMs in the past…

ps. in the UK the iPhone 12 Pro has one physical SIM, unlike the US where I understand there is no longer a physical SIM in iPhones. As an aside, does this not cause issues when travelling?

Antony, I traveled to Portugal from the USA with a T-Mobile eSim as my primary and an Airalo eSim as data account on an iPhone 12 Pro. I was able to switch between them with a small amount of effort. You are correct that only one eSim can be active at a time on the iPhone 12 Pro. I had no issues in switching back a forth but it was a manual process.