Can I receive SMS and calls with my data-only eSIM?

Can I receive SMS and calls with my data-only eSIM?

A data-only eSIM provides your device with the data it needs to connect to the internet, but not with a phone number you can pass out to friends and family.

You can still receive and place calls with an eSIM. 

Here are two options to make phone calls with a data-only eSIM:

  • Placing/Receiving calls using the internet

You can download/purchase an app that will provide you with a temporary phone number and use it like a regular phone line for calling, texting, voicemail, etc.

Other internet calling options include WhatsApp, FaceTime, Instagram and other social media platforms. Since they run on internet connections, you won’t incur extra fees with your data-only eSIM.

With your iPhone, you can also use apps like iMessage and FaceTime. (When iMessage is connected to your Apple ID email address, messages are sent over Wi-Fi or data and don’t count as texts.)

For all of the options to connect via the internet, make sure to keep Data Roaming OFF in Settings/Cellular for your primary SIM, so your carrier doesn’t try to connect you to an international network. You want your device to be relying on your eSIM data plan only to avoid expensive roaming charges!

  • Placing/receiving calls using your main phone number and using data with eSIM

You can use a data-only eSIM and still use your regular phone number. 

Turn OFF ‘Data Roaming’ on your primary SIM, but keep the Cellular Line ON, this way your device won’t access the internet through your SIM card but through your prepaid eSIM data plan. Because eSIM plans are prepaid, you will not pay any data roaming charges. However, your carrier will charge a pay-per-use fee for any active calls/texts that occur while you are in another country.

How to use your phone number with a data-only eSIM

1. Leave your primary SIM on

Your primary SIM card/Cellular line needs to remain active so your regular phone number is accessible. If you toggle off your primary SIM line (or remove the card), you can’t use your phone number to make or receive calls or text.

2. Turn Data Roaming OFF for your primary SIM

You need to prevent your primary SIM from using data when you’re travelling outside your service plan.Toggle OFF ‘Data Roaming’ for your primary SIM prior to your trip, while leaving the cellular Line ON..

3. Check that you don’t have a carrier travel plan

Carrier travel plans are when you pay a flat daily rate to use your regular SIM card while on vacation. Usually you have to activate them, but sometimes these plans are automatically triggered when your carrier detects you’ve left the country. Check with your carrier to make sure you won’t be placed on a carrier travel plan.

4. Choose your eSIM as your data source

Right before you travel (or upon arrival), make sure the phone is set up correctly to use your eSIM for all mobile data. You don’t want your phone mistakenly still using your primary SIM card for data, which would result in roaming charges and can add up quickly.  

‘Data Roaming’ should be toggled ON with your eSIM, this will ensure your phone’s data source when you activate your data package.

5. Expect carrier fees for active calls & texts

When you’re using an eSIM for all mobile data, your home carrier can’t charge you data for roaming fees. However, if your regular phone number is still active, they will likely charge you per call and per text while you’re abroad. The fees vary depending on your carrier, and your destination.

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