Google wants to revolutionise eSIMs with Android 13


SIM cards are still an integral part of our phones. While you can call and send texts over Wi-Fi with apps like WhatsApp, etc, you will still need a phone number, and thus a SIM card, to start it all off. And SIM cards are vital for feature phones and smartphones both and mobile phone manufacturers have been making space for them on the device.

Over time though, as Android Police pointed out, SIM cards have shrunk in size to go from “full, to mini, to micro, and eventually nano SIMs”. Some phones also come with embedded SIMs or eSIMs now that can replace the traditional SIM cards, but these eSIMs come with their own set of issues that has “prevented them from fully taking over”. However, with Android 13, Google could have some solutions.

The problem that Google is trying to solve is how to make an eSIM offer “something similar to dual-SIM support” instead of working with a “single subscriber line at a time”. Google plans to use something called multiple enabled profiles (MEP) that will allow multiple active SIM profiles on one eSIM, so as it can connect to two different carriers at the same time.

Basically, this is exactly how phones with dual SIMs work, but instead of two physical cards, Google’s MEP method will work on a software level. Google is going to be “adding API classes to AOSP that will let carrier apps get information about the logical and physical interfaces alongside the SIM profiles stored on them”.

The way eSIMs exist right now, they can store multiple profiles on one chip and users can switch between them, but only one profile can be active at a time. So, in its current form, “the only way to get dual SIM support with existing solutions is to buy a device with multiple eSIMs, multiple physical SIM cards, or an eSIM and a physical SIM card”.

The other logical question here seems to be — why not use two eSIMs then? As Android Police pointed out, “that sort of undermines the whole point of technology, as having two eSIMs would still limit available space — even though on a lesser scale than physical cards”.

What Google aims to introduce is a “supercharged eSIM support on Android 13”. According to reports, the “AOSP references the technology, while the Android Developers website suggests Android 13 may integrate it”. Also, some new MEP APIs are already present in Android 13 DP2. With Android 13 betas all set to roll out soon, we will have more information on this as we move forward towards the next OS.