It’s all falling into place. Just a few days after Apple introduced its eSim-based dual-sim capability for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, there are now two carriers that allow you to easily tap into this feature.
Last week, we got early access to Truphone’s system, which now lets you sign up for new data-only roaming plans through its My Truphone app. This week, we’re looking at its competitor, GigSky.
Carriers don’t have to make Apple’s eSIM easy to configure. Bell in Canada, the first North American carrier to support eSim, requires you to come into a store.
But GigSky, which specializes in short-term plans for international roamers, makes it easier. The new version of its app launches Nov. 7. Once you upgrade, you can select and pay for a service plan within the app. That’s almost as easy as the GigSky experience on the iPad Pro, where you pick a plan from a menu in the tablet’s Settings app.
After you pick a service plan on the iPhone app, you name your SIM and decide what to do with it. The iPhone lets you use one SIM for voice and a different one for data, which works well with GigSky, because GigSky is a data-only plan. You’ll keep your US number for voice service, but data will fall onto the GigSky SIM until you change the option in Settings.
You can have several virtual SIMs installed in your phone, but only two active at a time: I had Verizon, Truphone, and GigSky. It took about 10 minutes for the GigSky service to kick in for me, and then I could use it like any other cellular data plan. Once the plan was active, the GigSky app acted as a very up-to-the-minute monitor, telling me how much data and time I had left on my plan.
This is a pretty great experience, and it’s going to make roaming to multiple countries with your iPhone very easy. GigSky has a multi-country Europe plan that charges $ 20 for 1GB and $ 50 for 5GB, for example, with other plans applying from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. That’s about the same price as Truphone’s global plans.
Most US service plans nowadays include some sort of international roaming, so of course you should compare this value to your carrier’s plan. Sprint and T-Mobile have free international roaming, but it’s at very throttled speeds. Verizon charges $ 10/day for 500MB/day of high speed data; AT&T charges $ 10/day to use your home data bucket.
It’ll be interesting to see if local carriers follow up with experiences as simple as GigSky’s solution.