Embedded SIM (eSIM) technology is becoming widely adopted in many modern smartphones, and South African mobile operators have started to support wearables with eSIMs.
These devices include Samsung and Apple’s high-end smartwatches – the Galaxy Watch and Apple Watch.
Vodacom recently announced that it had added the Apple Watch Series 3 and Series 5 Cellular to its list of supported devices.
The Apple Watch Series 5 Cellular will be available from 22 May and will run on Vodacom’s OneNumber platform.
OneNumber allows customers to connect their eSIM-enabled wearable to their existing mobile number, sharing their data and airtime balance.
MTN also supports eSIM functionality on the Samsung Galaxy Watch, although this is only available on selected contracts.
Major new devices which feature eSIM support include Apple’s iPhone 11 range, which was launched in September 2019.
After the launch of these new smartphones, local mobile networks told MyBroadband they would launch eSIM support for iPhones “soon”.
However, this is still not available on MTN and Vodacom – which are the only networks to offer eSIM support in South Africa.
MyBroadband asked these operators about the current state of their eSIM solution and when they expect to support Apple’s iPhone eSIM capabilities.
Vodacom told MyBroadband it does plan to add support for more eSIM devices in the future, but its current focus was on wearables.
“We successfully launched the Samsung eSIM range mid last year and these devices are well received by customers,” Vodacom said.
“Plans are underway to support more devices in the future.”
“Our current focus is on the eSIM wearables, expanding our current eSIM wearable portfolio as well as enhancing the customer journey, as is the case with the launch of the Apple Watch,” the company said.
“Powered by Vodacom OneNumber, customers will have a seamless connection with their primary number through eSIM technology.”
The company did not provide a timeline for iPhone eSIM support on its network.
MTN executive for corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan told MyBroadband it was looking at improving its eSIM offering by the end of 2020.
“MTN customers can get the eSIM technology on the Samsung Galaxy Watch 42mm,” O’Sullivan said.
“These watches are only available to customers purchasing a 2-4-1 deal with the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 or Note 10+ on the MTN Made For Me or Sky Price plans.”
“MTN is also engaging various other smartphone manufacturers, including Apple, and we expect to upscale our eSIM support by end of 2020,” the company added.
“One of the challenges of implementing eSIM is to find a way to obtain a customer’s identity proof such as ID and passport for RICA purposes.”