How do I install eSIM? Is it complicated?

Spoiler: no it’s not! Nothing could be easier.

Nomad team

Nomad team, UX Lead

Jul 09 · 5 min read

The funny thing is, eSIMs are the easiest thing in the world to install. Yet, we hear it often enough from our customers all over the globe: “how do I install my Nomad eSIM?” or “I’ve installed the eSIM, now what?” Actually there are several steps involved in the eSIM installation process. But fear not, it’s super easy and takes just 5 minutes to install.

Here we will break down the steps, and get you connected right away! For a more general introduction to eSIM, check out our other article.

Before installing (indeed, before buying) - just check: is my phone compatible with eSIM?

It might sound obvious, but of course you aren’t going to be installing any eSIMs in a hurry if your phone simply is not an eSIM-compatible, unlocked phone. But fear not - these days most of the flagship models of major manufacturers support eSIM, so don’t get left behind! Check here for a full list of eSIM compatible smartphones, but here are example models for the 3 most popular manufacturers in the US (Apple, Samsung, Google):

Apple iPhone:

  • iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max,
  • iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max,
  • iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max,
  • iPhone XR,
  • iPhone SE 2020

Google Pixel:

  • Google Pixel 5 & 6
  • Google Pixel 4a & 4a 5G
  • Google Pixel 4 & 4XL
  • Google Pixel 3a & 3a XL
  • Google Pixel 3 & 3XL


  • Galaxy S21(5G/Ultra 5G), S22 Series
  • Galaxy Note 20 (FE/FE 5G)
  • Galaxy Note 20 (Ultra/Ultra 5G)
  • Samsung Note 20+
  • Galaxy S20, S20+, S20 Ultra

Many other phone manufacturers are looking to support eSIM in the coming years as the industry shifts towards digital SIM cards. Even devices like iPads already support eSIM depending on the model you have. In terms of obtaining an eSIM, our very own Nomad iOS app supports all iOS devices listed - and for the Android devices, just visit our web store!

Buying an eSIM Data Plan

The best way to purchase an eSIM data plan is to head over to the App Store and download the Nomad app. Nomad enables you to buy mobile data ranging from 1GB for 7 Days to 20GB for 30 Days in over 100 destinations.

In the app, you can select the plan that best fits your needs and purchase it in just a few clicks. You now own an eSIM data plan!

Buying an eSIM data plan on Nomad app
Buying an eSIM data plan on Nomad app

Installing your eSIM Data Plan

We recommend installing the eSIM soon after purchasing the plan, to make sure you can start using the data when you need it. Note that installing is not the same as activating. Installing your eSIM in advance will not start the expiry of the plan, expiry starts only after you activate the plan.

There are a few ways to install your eSIM Data Plan, and Nomad has tried to streamline the process as much as possible. As with all eSIM providers - not just Nomad - there are 2 options to install your eSIM:

  1. Install the eSIM via manual input (easier, but potentially slower)
  2. Install the eSIM via QR code (requires 2 screens, but potentially faster)

Install eSIM via Manual Input

The easier way to install an eSIM is through manual input, since scanning a QR code requires you to print out the code or display it on another screen.

a. Simply to go iOS Settings > Cellular > Add Cellular Plan and click "Enter Details manually" on the bottom.

b. Enter these information provided in the Nomad in-app instruction and also via email:

  1. SM-DP+ address
  2. Activation Code
  3. Confirmation Code (not required)

c. Follow the remaining iOS instructions:

  1. Name your plan (we recommend using "Nomad")
  2. Keep your Primary line as default for calling and messaging (because Nomad eSIM plans are data-only and cannot receive calls or texts)
  3. Select your Nomad eSIM data plan as default for cellular data if you are ready to start using it; select "Primary" for cellular data if you want to save Nomad data plan for later usage (Note: if you are using data to install and activate eSIM, choose "Primary" here so that you can go back to the app and activate the plan)

Install eSIM via QR Code

Another way to install your eSIM is through the QR code we provided via in-app instruction and email (if you’re not on Nomad, most providers will email you the instructions).

a. Print out the QR code or display it on another screen

b. Go iOS Settings > Cellular > Add Cellular Plan and scan the QR code

c. Follow the same iOS instructions as detailed above

Activating Your eSIM Data Plan

For U.S. or Canada plans:

When you are ready to use the plan, simply go to iOS Settings > Cellular and turn the Nomad eSIM line on. Make sure the line is turned on and "Data Roaming" is enabled.

Your eSIM data plan will automatically activate when you connect to the network and start using data.

For other countries:

Go back to the Nomad app or Nomad website, in the eSIM page, click "Activate Data Now." Go into iOS settings, make sure the line is turned on and "Data Roaming" is enabled.

Please note that for these plans, you have 30 days to activate the data plan after purchase. The plan will automatically activate after 30 days.

Troubleshooting common issues in eSIM Installation & Activation

If you have trouble installing eSIM, activating your plan or using the data, please refer to these common solutions:

  1. eSIM only works on an unlocked phone. If you see the message "Cellular Plans from This Carrier Cannot be Added. Your device can only use cellular plans from a different carrier", you probably have a locked phone with a carrier. In this case, please reach out to customer support if you would like a refund.
  2. Make sure the eSIM is turned on in your phone settings (the radio button is selected)
  3. Check if you have enabled "Data Roaming" for the line
  4. Select the Nomad eSIM for Cellular Data (in iOS Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data)
  5. Turn on Airplane mode on your phone, wait for 15 seconds, then turn off airplane mode. This will reset the network connection and hopefully allow the phone to connect to the eSIM network successfully.
  6. If you have done all of the above, try turning off your phone and restarting it

Bonus: Adding More Data

If you already have an active eSIM installed, you can seamlessly add more data to it without the hassle of installing another eSIM. Simply go to eSIM page in Nomad app, click "Add more data" and enjoy connectivity without interruption. Please note that this method only works if you data is not used up or expired, so make sure to add more data in advance. The add-on will automatically turn on once data from your current plan is used up or expires.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully has been a helpful guide on how to install an eSIM and how to top-up data. See how easy that was? When was the last time it took you just 5 minutes to install… anything? Don’t wait and join the eSIM revolution with Nomad today. As always, we wish you the best on your mobile connectivity journey.