The big eSIM Comparison: A Test of 10 Global Data Plan Providers

Smartphone London

For many travelers, it is essential to stay online even when they are abroad. Whether it’s talking to friends and family or catching up with work – many of us are looking for cheap ways to connect on our trips. Luckily several providers offer international data plans at low (or at least affordable) rates.

But very often, you will have to use a different physical SIM card or opt for another solution, like SIM card stickers. This means you will either need a smartphone will dual-SIM functionality. Or you’ll be forced to exchange the card every time you want to use your travel data plan. While this is better than paying a lot of money for roaming, it still isn’t the ideal solution. Newer smartphones offer a feature called eSIM (short for embedded-SIM). It allows you to add a SIM card without actually doing so. And it works like a charm.

Since this solution is so convenient, we decided to put together a list of providers who will offer global data plans that are distributed via eSIM — making it both affordable and comfortable to use your phone while traveling.

Pros and cons of an eSIM

  • No waiting time: While you have to plan ahead when using a physical SIM card or a SIM card sticker (both will be sent to you via snail-mail) you are ready to go right away when using an eSIM.
  • No shipping costs: Since there is nothing that has to be shipped, there are no costs here. And that can make a huge difference, especially if you’re ordering a SIM card that has to be sent to you from the USA or Asia (which is the case most of the time).
  • Free or cheap eSIM: Again, an eSIM is a virtual product, and therefore, the provider does not have to pay for it being produced. And many companies will pass on this benefit to you. The majority of the providers we promote here will not charge for setting up your eSIM profile (at least if you purchase a starter pack).
  • Easy switching between providers: This might not be something you need all the time. But let’s say you’re traveling in two different countries and found a cheap provider for each one of your destinations. No need to carry around two SIM cards. Just change your eSIM profile, and you should be good to go.
  • Not all mobile phones support eSIM: While many phones do support eSIMs, there are still some phones out there that do not support eSIMs. Please check if your phone supports eSIM before buying any plans.
  • Not as flexible: eSIMs usually cannot be used on several devices. IF you are travelling with a mobile phone and a tablet, you may have to purchase several eSIMs with the the same or a different provider.

Which Devices Will Support eSIM?

This list will become longer and longer, basically by the day. But we still want to provide you with an overview of all devices (at least that we know of) that support eSIM. Please note that not all providers support all devices! So first, you will have to find out if you can use yours to stay online with an eSIM.

Hint

If your Android mobile phone doesn’t support eSIM, there may be a solution for you: eSIM.me! This is a physical card that can make your phone host several eSIM profiles via their own app even though your phone doesn’t support eSIM natively.

  • Mobile phones:
    • Apple iPhone XR, XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro & 11 Pro Max, 12 Mini, 12, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, SE 2020, 13 Mini, 13, 13 Pro
    • Huawei P40 and P40 Pro
    • Nuu Mobile X5
    • Google Pixel 2/2 XL, 3/3 XL, 3A/3A XL, 4/4 XL, 5/5 XL
    • Samsung Galaxy Fold and Fold 2, Galaxy Z Flip
    • Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, S20 Ultra, S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra
    • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra
    • Motorola Razr from 2019
  • Tablets/Laptops:
    • Apple iPad Modelle from 2018 (cellular models)
    • Gemini PDA
    • HP Spectre Folio, X360
    • Lenovo Yoga C630
    • Microsoft Surface (with Windows 10), Pro, Pro X
  • Smartwatches:
    • Apple Watch Series 1-3, 5, 6
    • Huawei Watch 2 Pro
    • Samsung Gear S2 + S3
    • Samsung Galaxy Watch, Watch3
Info

Do you know of any other devices that are not listed here? Or you want to share your experience with eSIM providers? Then feel free to leave a comment!

Price Comparison

We compared the rates of 10 different providers for you for 10 different countries. We had a look at the price per GB (smallest plan with at least 7 days validity):

CountryAiraloFlexiroamNomadGigskySIM2FlyHolaflyeSIM.netSimtexSurfroamKnowRoaming
Argentina

€6

€26

€14

€3
3 GB = €11
€6
6 GB = €35
€8
6 GB = €47
€12

€14
5 GB = €72
€10

€25

Australia

€5

€10

€7

€9
3 GB = €26
€3
6 GB = €18
€3
10 GB = €34
€26

€5
3 GB = €16
€40

€6

Brazil

€9

€26

€14

€5
3 GB = €16
€6
6 GB = €35
€9
5 GB = €47
€31

€14
5 GB = €72
€40

€20

Egypt



€6



€27

€6
6 GB = €35
€10
6 GB = €57
€17







Japan

€6

€15

€14

€4
3 GB = €12
€3
6 GB = €18
€6
8 GB = €49
€16

€10
5 GB = €48
€30

€29

South Africa

€5

€10

€14

€12
2 GB = €24
€6
6 GB = €35
8€
6 GB = 47€
€10

€7
3 GB = €20
€20

€13

Thailand

€9
unlimitiert
€5

€14

€11

€0.8
15 GB = €11
€34
unlimitiert
€9

€5
3 GB = €16
€20

€10

Turkey

€4

€13

€14

€11



€34
unlimitiert
€3

€7
3 GB = €20
€10

€5

UAE

€14

€28

€14

€96

€6
6 GB = €35
€9
6 GB = €54
€60







USA

€4

€18

€7

€8
3 GB = €24
€6
6 GB = €35
€34
unlimitiert
€7

€4
3 GB = €13
€10

€8

Preisvergleich von eSIM-Anbietern für jeweils 1 GB Datenvolumen in verschiedenen Ländern

Legende:

  • Price in italic = Price per GB, but only as part of bigger packages (package price underneath)
  • Marked price = Best price per GB (package prices excluded)

Providers in Detail

In the following paragraphs we will describe each provider in detail. The concepts of these providers can vary widely. Some only offer pay as you go subscriptions, whereas others only offer bigger data packages for example.

Airalo – Cheapest Global Plan

Airalo seems to be somewhat shy since the company doesn’t really take pride in its history or any other details, for that matter. We know that they are based in Singapore. But that’s about it. They are committed to bringing cheap global data plans to travelers. And it seems as if this is their only field of operation.

The company offers several local, four regional, and one global plan to its customers. Validity will range from 7 days up to 90 days, although most of them end after 30 days.

Facts

  • Supported devices:
  • Top-up and Ordering: Only online or via the app.
  • Coverage: Over 100 countries worldwide.
  • Price range: Local plans with 1GB start at only US$3 (~€3). The most expensive plan will cost you around US$40 (~€38).
  • Initial cost of eSIM: Comes with a data plan.
  • Example rate: 20GB of global data, valid for 90 days, will cost you US$40 (~€38).

Verdict

Airalo doesn’t seem like the most reliable company for the simple reason that they will give you a hard time finding out more about them. Sure, if you do some more research, you will get to know them better.

On the plus side, there’s definitely the long list of supported devices and well as the super cheap global data plan. 20GB for only US$40 (~€38) is hard to beat.

Flexiroam – Greatest Variety of Validity

Flexiroam is probably one of the more popular providers of global data plans. We here at Travel-Dealz like it very much and even dedicated a whole article to the service. Founded in 2011, it is a reliable partner for travelers. The company is even listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

The reason why we like Flexiroam so much is the excellent variety of plans they offer. There are seven global data passes, and as many local data plans, you can choose from.

These are the available countries through Flexiroam as of January 2022:

Available Flexiroam countries (as of January 2022)

Facts

Compatible devices (taken from website on March 10, 2022):

iOS

– iPhone XR

– iPhone XS, XS Max, XS Max Global

– iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max

– iPhone SE 2020

– iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max

– iPhone 13, 13 Mini, 13 Pro, 13 Pro Max

– iPad Pro 12.9‑inch (3rd, 4th generation)

– iPad Pro 11‑inch (1st, 2nd generation)

– iPad Air (3rd, 4th generation)

– iPad (7th, 8th generation)

– iPad mini (5th generation)

Android

– Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 4, Pixel 4a, Pixel 4 XL, Pixel 5, Pixel 5a, Pixel 6 Pro

– Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+, S20 Ultra, S21, S21+ 5G, and S21 Ultra 5G(Single SIM Nano-SIM and/or eSIM models)

– Samsung Galaxy Fold LTE (SM-F900F model), Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G

– Samsung Galaxy Z Flip

– Samsung Galaxy Note 20, Note 20 Ultra 5g

– Huawei P40, P40 Pro, P50 Pro, Mate 40 Pro

– Motorola Razr 2019

– Oppo Find X3 Pro

– Oppo Reno 5A, Reno6 Pro 5G

Exceptions: The following devices are not supported

  • Carrier locked phones
  • Apple watches
  • iPhone XR, XS and 11 models purchased in Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China
  • iPhone with 2 physical SIM cards slots
  • Pixel devices purchased in Australia
  • Devices on Android Q Beta versions
  • Top-up and Ordering:
    • Only online or via the app.
  • Coverage:
    • Over 200 countries worldwide.
  • Price range:
    • Local plans start at only US$3 (~€3). The most expensive plan can cost you up to US$320 (~€306).
  • Initial cost of eSIM:

Verdict

We’ve already mentioned that we are big fans of Flexiroam. And that because the company offers the widest variety when it comes to validity. While others limit their plans to 30 or 90 days, Flexiraom is selling passes that will keep you going for up to 360 days!

Sure, that comes at a price. US$320 (~€306) for the most expensive, year-long plan, is not exactly a bargain. But the company offers discount codes from time to time, making those long-lasting plans more affordable.

Nomad – Cheap in over 100 Countries

Nomad from California supports over 100 countries with their eSIM and suitable plans can be purchased via the online shop or the iOS app.

Hint

Get $ 3 off a plan with the Nomad Promo Code TRAVELDEALZ!

Facts

  • Compatible devices:
  • Top-up and Ordering:
    • Online in the shop or via the iOS app (there is no Android app)
  • Coverage:
    • Over 100 countries worldwide.
  • Price range:
    • Depending on the country. Usually there are 1 GB tariffs for 7 – 60 days. There is also a global plan for all supported countries.
  • Initial cost of eSIM:
    • None. The eSIM is included in all data packages.
  • Example rate:
    • 1 GB of global data, valid for 30 days, will cost you US$18 (~€17).

Verdict

In our comparison, Nomad is not the cheapest provider, but is at the forefront when it comes to country plans and is usually only beaten by Airalo. The iOS app makes it very convenient on the iPhone, only for Android, there is currently no equivalent app.

GigSky – Great Provider of Regional Plans

GigSky is a US-based provider that specializes in global mobile data. The company was founded in 2010 and therefore is not a rookie on the market anymore. You can expect reliable service. Next to offers for private consumers, GigSky also provides mobile data access to businesses.

You can choose between a regional plan, a global plan, and several country plans. The validity of these plans ranges from 1 day up to 30 days.

Facts

  • Compatible devices:
  • Top-up and ordering:
    • Only via the app.
  • Coverage:
    • Over 190 countries worldwide.
  • Price range:
    • The cheapest plan comes at US$10 (~€10) for 1 day and goes up to US$60 (~€57) for 30 days. The amount of data varies depending on the country/region you choose.
  • Initial cost of eSIM:
    • Free when purchasing a data plan.

Verdict

GigSky is one of the best providers if you’re looking for regional plans. The company offers 7 of those. Unfortunately, the validity is limited to 30 days. But on the other hand, this should be enough for most vacations or business trips. Pricing is not the lowest, but still, what can be considered as fair.

Also, the list of officially supported devices is only average. But with all newer iPhones being covered, that’s no reason to complain.

SIM2Fly – An Option From Thailand

SIM2Fly is based in Chiang Mai, Thailand and offers a very interesting (& a bit of a different) concept: There’s a global plan, a regional plan (Asia) and a local plan (Thailand). All plans come along with at least 6 GB of data and are valid for at least 8 days (sometimes even 15 days).

Facts

  • Compatible devices:
  • Top-up and ordering:
    • Only works online and via phone. There doesn’t seem to be an app.
  • Coverage:
    • About 120 countries worldwide.
  • Price range:
    • There are only three plans: 15 GB in Thailand for 8 days at US$12 (~€11), 6 GB in Asia for 8 days at US$19 (~€18) and 6 GB for 15 days globally for US$37 (~€35).
  • Initial cost of eSIM:
    • Free when purchasing a data plan.

Verdict

SIM2Fly offers an interesting concept and if Asia is your preferred travel region, then this provider is definitely one you could consider for your travels.

Holafly – Unlimited Data in Some Countries

Holafly is a Madrid-based company that specializes in the Latin American and Spanish markets, but now also offers all information in English. The special feature of Holafly is that they offer unlimited data in some countries, e.g. USA, Turkey, Switzerland, Southeast Asia… (soon there will be 45 countries).

Facts

  • Compatible devices:
    • iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and newer
    • Google Pixel 3 and newer
    • Samsung S20, Galaxy Z Flip, Note 20 Ultra, Fold LTE
    • Huawei P40, P40 Pro
    • Google Pixel 3, 3a,4, 4a
    • Motorola Razr 2019
  • Top-up and ordering:
    • Only works online. There doesn’t seem to be an app.
  • Coverage:
    • In over 70 countries worldwide.
  • Price range:
    • There are almost no 1 GB plans. Usually, plans start with at least 5 GB, but the price per GB is very competitive, even for unlimited data.
  • Initial cost of eSIM:
    • Free when purchasing a data plan.

Verdict

Holafly is a great option if you tend to use more data with your device. Most data packages start at 3 GB, but the prices per GB are very competitive. With 70 countries, the selection at Holafly is rather small.

eSIM.net – The better SurfRoam

eSIM.net has a similar concept than Surfroam. Both providers offer their service in a pay as you go way. In our price comparison, eSIM.net was almost always cheaper than Surfroam (except in one case). eSIM.net also offers plans in Egypt and UAE.

However, there is a slight problem with SurfRoam: In most cases there are several providers per country that you can use and those differ quite a lot in most cases. Therefore, you would always manually need to search for the cheapest provider, which could become annoying after a while.

Facts

  • Compatible devices:
  • Top-up and ordering:
    • Only works online. There doesn’t seem to be an app.
  • Coverage:
    • In over 230 countries worldwide.
  • Price range:
    • Pay-as-you-go. Prices are calculated by MB usage. Prices are starting at €0.22 per MB (for Turkey). The highest price was €5.1 per MB in the United Arab Emirates.
  • Initial cost of eSIM:
    • Free when purchasing a data plan. However, there’s a minimum amount of US$10 (~€10) per top-up.

Verdict

If you are surfing very little while being on holidays, eSIM.net may be a good option for you. But if you at least use 1 GB of data during your holidays, rather look for other providers as it will become very costly. There is just one exception: In Turkey eSIM.net was really the absolute cheapest option from all tested providers.

Simtex – An Excellent Option

Simtex offers eSIMs of various providers via a marketplace, similarly to Airalo. The prices aren’t as good as with Airalo but also aren’t that much worse. Additionally, you can only purchase data packages for the duration of 3 or 30 days. Data plans bigger than 1 GB are only possible with the latter duration.

The prices for the higher data plans are definitely competitive and better than average. Another downside is that you can only register with a Facebook or Google account.

Facts

  • Compatible devices:
  • Top-up and ordering:
    • Only works online. There doesn’t seem to be an app.
  • Coverage:
    • In 100 countries worldwide.
  • Price range:
    • 1 GB data plans are only valid for 3 days. Bigger data plans from 3 GB are valid for 30 days.
  • Initial cost of eSIM:
    • Free when purchasing a data plan.

Verdict

Simtex offers good prices. A huge let-down is that it’s only possible to register via Facebook or Google.

Surfroam – The Maverick

Surfroam is a rather new player on the market. The company registered in 2016. It is based in Estonia and opened offices in other European countries recently.

Two things separate Surfroam from its competitors: the number of officially supported devices. And the fact that there are no plans. You can only pay as you go. This can be a benefit for some while it can be a showstopper for others.

Facts

  • Compatible devices:
  • Top-up and Ordering:
    • Only online. There is no app.
  • Coverage:
    • Over 200 countries worldwide
  • Price range:
    • Surfroam provides pay-as-you-go internet access only. Meaning, you will pay per MB you used. Rates are usually between €0,01 and €0,08 per MB.
  • Initial cost of eSIM:
    • €20. But this fee includes €20 in top-up credit. So it’s basically free.

Verdict

Surfroam is the outsider in our comparison. While most providers will sell you pams, including a certain amount of data, the company from Estonia took a different approach. You pay as you go for the exact amount of data that you’ve used.

This could be a great deal for people traveling to many different places and only need a small amount of data. They support a nice variety of devices, and 200+ countries are what we call a great coverage.

KnowRoaming – Not So Known

KnowRoaming is relatively unknown but don’t be fooled. The company is well-experienced and has lots of know-how. Especially, because its mother company Telna Inc. already operates in the market for over 20 years.

The company basically offers the same service as the other companies in this comparison. However, it didn’t offer service in 2 of the 10 countries that we looked at, and it wasn’t the cheapest in at least one of the countries.

Fakten

  • Compatible devices:
  • Top-up and Ordering:
    • Online or via app.
  • Coverage:
    • In over 200 countries worldwide.
  • Pricing:
    • Prices start at US$5 (~€5) for single country plans (often 1 GB of data for 30 days). The most expensive plan costs US$120 (~€115).
  • Initial cost of eSIM:
    • Free when purchasing a data plan.

Verdict

KnowRoaming offers 82 different eSIM data plan options. Most of these are plans for single countries. The pricing is not bad, but unfortunately the provider wasn’t the cheapest in at least one of the 10 countries that we looked at.

The pricing can be a little bit confusing, for example: If you get a plan for Mexico that you can use for 30 days, the price is US$24 (~€23). The pricing increases to US$112 (~€107) if you need 5 GB of data. But for USD 1 less you can also buy the same amount of data with a worldwide plan that is valid for 30 days. Doesn’t really make sense in our opinion.

Conclusion

More and more eSIM-providers are entering the market, which helps to push prices down. More competition means that providers really have to be on top of their game. Therefore, many apps have been developed in the last couple of years.

If you are travelling a lot and don’t want to change the eSIM-provider all the time, I would recommend using Airalo or Flexiroam. Both providers offer great coverage and very competitive prices.

If you want to save as much money as possible, have a look at our price comparison and chose the cheapest provider for each country you are travelling to.

Cover Picture: CC0-Lizenz von Pixabay-User Jacob-Medien

Write a comment

Comments (17)

  1. Philippe 10 says:

    You forgot UBIGI , strange …

  2. VP Singh says:

    There is another player in market – Airhub App eSIM ( http://www.airhubapp.com) seems to have wide variety of eSIMs and price seems comparatively cheaper. It worked well for me in USA

  3. Shashank Lal says:

    Hi Guys

    Thank you for this super useful and helpful insight.
    I am a pilot and my Three Sim in UK covers me for quite a lot of countries.
    But not South Africa, India, Pakistan, Caribbean, China.
    If you ever update this article any chance you can include them as well?
    Would be useful for me to share with the thousands of pilots and cabin crew around world on various Facebook groups.
    Thanks

  4. Martin says:

    Oppo Find X3 & Pro is missing

  5. Michael says:

    Been using Airalo for a while now and it’s the best esim I’ve found . Travel a lot for work , places like the Caribbean can be quite expensive normally for roaming but nice data packages on Airalo. Use MICHAE741 for $3 off.

  6. Christian says:

    The Hong Kong branch of known provider “three” offers an esim for 268 HKD (~30 Euros) which offers 8+5(social) GB to be used worldwide within 365 days. Also there is no cutoff but reduced speed. There are lots of countries covered which DENT ist missing. So for me this is the perfect addition to cover short stays in countries that aren’t covered by DENT (South+Central America, UAE, …).
    I think this plan is definitely worth mentioning as the website can be switched to English and you only need an Email address and a credit card.

  7. Ken says:

    Airalo for me in Germany works great! So far and the cheapest. 10gig 30days $22.

  8. Hannes says:

    You forgot DENT. The 365 mobile data is amazing. No monthly fees. Was good to go in 10minutes.
    Internet connection was far superior than my old provider.

  9. Bruce says:

    I have been searching for multiple eSIM providers, and I found one called DENT. Their plans are also for 365 days, and the prices seem to be the cheapest for “worldwide” coverage. I have tried it while traveling in Europe and it worked great. However, it is mentioned that they cover around 70 countries. As an example, I paid $ 12 USD for a 3 GB worldwide data.

  10. Danyway says:

    Honestly I tried Airalo in Colombia and China and it works like EDGE
    Speed is very bad just enought to do whatsapp text and in China I was blocked to Alibaba services

    The good tips is to use MySIM I try them 2 times and last time in China I bought an eSIM with MySIM and speed was arround 22mbps !
    Facebook, Google, Instagram and Whatsapp was working without VPN in China was great to have access to Google MAP in Beijing

  11. Chris says:

    So none of these options support Gear S3?

    • Peer says:

      All of the providers publish a certain list for compatibility. As far as I am informed this list isn’t exhaustive however, so your Gear S3 might work as well with these providers. I’d recommend to contact the providers directly to make sure there are no compatibility issues.

  12. JanneH says:

    While not actual purely digital eSIM, you cannot bypass Goodspeed Go when considering cheap Global data.
    In comes currently with Motorola dual SIM smartphones. You need to order the actual SIM alongside your own, but it’s cheap and fast delivery. Then you have actual SIM that creates the eSIM profiles while you go! You don’t need to configure anything while travelling and the coverage and reliability is awesome. Also, no throttling like with so many others.

    https://goodspeed.io/goodspeed-go.html

  13. Igor Kaminsky says:

    I have been a fan of Gigsky for a long time using their physical sim. Great coverage (expensive) but having said that I have tried all eSIM options out there and Airalo is by far the most affordable option. I’m a sailor and I always seek for the best local data. Airalo offers local esims from many countries.

    • Patrick says:

      Hi Igor! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! You’re right. We also found airalo to be the best option in terms of pricing. What we didn’t like is the spare information you can find about the company But then that’s something a lot of people probably won’t care about?

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