How to use an iPhone in the USA with a Holafly eSIM
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(Pocket-lint) – When traveling abroad, one of the biggest challenges they face is dealing with the SIM card. Enabling international roaming on SIM cards can be incredibly expensive, making it an unsuitable option for most budget-conscious travelers. But if you replace your standard SIM card with a local SIM card upon landing, you lose access to all messages and calls received on your main SIM card.
Holafly solves this conundrum by offering eSIMs that allow you to connect to the internet in any country without issue. If you are traveling to the United States, simply scan a QR code in your iPhone to activate the virtual SIM card, which gives you access to fast internet at an affordable rate. But how do you activate and use the Holafly eSIM on your iPhone in the United States?
In this article, we describe what eSIMs are, how they work, and how Holafly eSIMs can help you when traveling in the USA.
What is an eSIM, and how does it work?
An eSIM, short for “embedded SIM”, is actually a virtual SIM card that lets you add a data plan to your iPhone or smartphone. You need to scan a QR code on your iPhone to activate the eSIM card and access the data plan. The eSIM card is already inside most high-end smartphones, so you don’t need to insert a physical SIM card.
Setting up an eSIM is extremely simple. Once you have purchased the Holafly SIM card for the chosen country, you will receive a QR code. You need to scan the QR code using your camera, and the plan will automatically transfer to your phone. After scanning the QR code, you need to follow a few simple steps to choose whether the SIM card will be used for calls and data or only for data.
Here is an overview of the steps for eSIM activation:
- Make sure you are connected to WiFi.
- Go to Settings > Mobile data > Add data plan.
- Scan the QR code with your camera.
- Select whether the eSIM card is your primary or secondary SIM card. If you use the eSIM card for travel, you should ideally select Secondary.
- You will be asked which of your SIM cards you want to use for calls, mobile data and SMS. You should choose your main SIM card for SMS and calls and use the eSIM card for mobile data. But do not enable mobile data switching as you may incur additional charges.
- After installing the eSIM, you can go to Settings > Mobile data.
- Select your new eSIM under Cellular Plans.
- Activate the Activate this line button.
- Enable Mobile Data and Data Roaming in Settings.
- You may receive a few text messages after your eSIM is activated.
Holafly, an international eSIM store
Holafly is a start-up based in Spain and Colombia that offers eSIMs to travelers who want to stay connected while traveling abroad. The Holafly eSIM store offers SIM and eSIM cards for over 100 destinations in 4 languages, including the United States. The eSIM card for international travel in the United States offers up to 30 GB of extremely fast Internet and a reliable connection. So you can stay connected without activating international roaming or buying a local US SIM card.
Benefits of using an eSIM in the US:
- You instantly receive the eSIM QR code in your email – no waiting or delays.
- Fast and affordable internet – the ideal alternative to international data roaming.
- Stay connected to the internet wherever you are.
- An environmentally friendly alternative to traditional (plastic) SIM cards.
- No risk of losing your main SIM card because you don’t need to change SIM cards.
- Extremely simple installation and activation steps – they can be done in minutes.
- Access to 24/7 technical support via email, online chat or WhatsApp.
Requirements to use iPhone with an eSIM:
- iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone SE 2, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone SE 3.
- iOS 12.1 or later.
- Wireless carriers that support eSIM cards.
- Your iPhone must be unlocked.
- Your iPhone must have a WiFi connection during the setup process.
Other ways to use your iPhone in the United States
If you don’t have a compatible iOS or iPhone, you have two other options for using your iPhone in the United States: activate international roaming or buy a local SIM card in the United States.
Activate international roaming
International roaming is one of the most convenient (and expensive) ways to stay connected while traveling. If you’re in the UK, you can enable international roaming for a specific time or indefinitely for your trips to the US, giving you access to international data and minutes. But international roaming charges are quite high.
Here, for example, is a rough estimate of international roaming charges for the US from the UK on some of the most popular networks – Vodafone, EE and Three.
- Vodafone: Up to £3.00 per minute, 65p per text or 12p per MB of data.
- EE: up to £1.35 per minute, 60p per text or £20 for 250MB data.
- Three: Up to £1.40 per minute, 35p per text or 5p per MB of data.
Buy a local SIM card in the United States
If international roaming seems too expensive, you can also buy a local SIM card once you land in the United States. The best network providers in the United States are T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T. You can buy prepaid SIM cards at airports, Walmart stores, malls, or local carrier stores. To buy SIM cards in stores, you will need your passport with a valid VISA card and photo ID.
Here are the main difficulties in buying local SIM cards in the United States:
- You should ideally speak English.
- Determining the ideal provider for your SIM card can be difficult.
- iPhones can only hold one physical SIM card. This means that you will need to remove your main SIM card and insert the USA SIM card, which means that you will not receive any calls or messages intended for your main SIM card.
- Since you have to remove your main SIM card, you also risk misplacing it, which can have long-term consequences and problems.
Which operators are compatible with the electronic SIM card?
In the United States, AT&T, T-Mobile USA and Verizon are the main carriers compatible with the eSIM card. Please note that the eSIM card is mainly intended for customers on contract or switching from SIM card to eSIM card.
What mobile network frequencies work in the United States?
In the United States, most network providers use 3G or 4G frequencies, i.e. frequencies up to 2.5 gigahertz. The 5G network, which has a frequency of up to 95 Gigahertz, began rolling out in the United States in 2018, but network providers are constantly increasing coverage in additional cities across the country.
If all of these features seem useful to you, be sure to check out the HolaFly website for more details and to register! Don’t forget to use the code POCKETLINT to get a 5% discount.