Airalo offers Pay As You Go eSIMs for travel abroad in 190+ countries. Get a local eSIM from US$5 for 7 days usage.
If you have one of the latest smartphones from Apple, Samsung or Google, it may allow you to download an eSIM plan onto your phone. This can be a handy feature when you travel abroad to other countries as you can benefit from a local plan that’s cheaper than international roaming. This is possible without the need to get a physical SIM card in person, saving you both time and hassle on arrival.
Airalo is a leading provider of prepaid eSIM plans for tourists and business travellers to more than 190 countries around the world. Rather than paying the normal international roaming rates charged by your home provider, you can get a low-cost eSIM from Airalo for use in your destination country. Normally, this will cost you around US$5 for 1GB of data over 7 days (this is often substantially cheaper than the roaming rates from your home provider).
In this article, we’ll review the Airalo service including how it works and the local eSIM plans that are available. We’ll also look the list of compatible devices and how you can get a local eSIM from Airalo.
What is Airalo?
Airalo offers prepaid eSIM plans for travellers to more than 190 countries around the world. Calling itself the “world’s first eSIM store for travellers”, it allows you to save money on expensive roaming fees when you travel. This is possible without the need to buy a physical SIM card, saving you both time and hassle on arrival.
To use the Airalo service, you’ll need to have a compatible smartphone that supports eSIM technology. This includes the iPhone 11 and later, the Samsung Galaxy S20 and later, and the Google Pixel 3 and later. Your device also needs to be unlocked for it to accept an Airalo eSIM.
When you’re travelling to another country or region, you can simply use the Airalo app to purchase a local eSIM plan. Prices vary depending on the country you’re visiting but will normally be in the region of US$5 for 1GB of data to use over a 7-day period.
In the vast majority of cases, Airalo offers data-only eSIMs: you’ll need to use a different SIM for calling and texting (e.g. roaming on your normal domestic SIM card).
Advantages of Airalo
In our opinion, there are four major advantages to using Airalo when you travel abroad to another country:
- With Airalo, it’s incredibly quick and easy getting a local eSIM when you travel. You simply need to buy your eSIM plan through the Airalo app and then tap on a few buttons to download it to your device. There’s no need to visit a phone store on arrival to get a local SIM card.
- Airalo’s 7-day eSIMs offer good value for short trips abroad. In most cases, you’ll pay around US$5 for 1GB of data to use over a 7-day trip. This should be enough for the average mobile user wanting to stay connected on their trip (e.g. for browsing the web, instant messaging, email, maps, etc). In most cases, it will also be cheaper than roaming on your normal domestic provider.
- You can use the dual-SIM functionality on your phone to stay connected on your normal phone number. As many devices allow you to use both a physical SIM card and an eSIM at the same time, you can stay connected on your normal SIM card when using an Airalo eSIM. This means you’ll continue to receive incoming calls and text messages (though roaming fees may apply for this).
- The Airalo app allows you to easily manage your eSIM plans. This includes purchasing new plans, seeing how much data you’ve used and buying additional data add-ons. This is much easier than using a different app from each local mobile network when you visit different countries.
Disadvantages of Airalo
There are also some significant disadvantages and limitations when using an Airalo eSIM:
- The Airalo eSIMs only work on a handful of newer devices. You’ll need to have an eSIM compatible device to use an Airalo eSIM on your phone. If your phone doesn’t have the required eSIM support, you’ll need to get a physical SIM card on arrival or you’ll need to roam through your normal domestic SIM card.
- The Airalo eSIMs are expensive for regular, longer-term usage. If you’re travelling abroad for more than one week, the Airalo eSIMs can be a comparatively expensive option. In addition, you’ll normally get only limited amounts of data compared to a genuine local SIM card. To give an example, you’ll pay US$10 for 3GB data per month in the UK (this is for a data-only plan from Uki Mobile which uses 4G coverage from O2). For comparison, a genuine local Pay As You Go SIM card in the UK may come with up to 30GB of data at 5G speeds. You’ll also get unlimited minutes and texts included, whereas calling and texting are not available on the Airalo eSIM.
- Airalo’s eSIMs do not give you a local phone number and you won’t be able to make phone calls or send SMS text messages. In most cases, the Airalo eSIMs give you a data-only service. This means you won’t get a local phone number in the country you’re visiting. You also won’t be able to call or text using the eSIM. For this reason, you’ll need to use a different SIM card for calling and texting (such as roaming on your normal domestic SIM card, which may incur international roaming fees).
- Roaming on your normal domestic SIM card can sometimes be cheaper. Depending on the country you’re visiting and the roaming offers from your home network operator, it can sometimes work out cheaper just to roam on your domestic SIM card. This is particularly the case if they have roaming packages with calls and texts included. If you’re based in the UK, you can read our in-depth guides to roaming in Europe, Spain, the USA, Turkey and India.
eSIM Plans By Country
In total, Airalo says they offer local and regional SIM cards for use in more than 190 countries around the world. The plans available differ based on the country you’re visiting, and based on Airalo’s partner network agreements in each country.
In most countries, you’ll pay around US$5 for a 7-day eSIM plan with 1GB of data. For longer trips, there’s usually a 30-day eSIM plan available for around US$10, giving you about 3GB of data included.
The following table shows a selection of Airalo’s eSIM plans, along with the pricing and network coverage available in each country:
|Country||eSIM Plans From||Coverage Provider|
|United Kingdom||US$5 for 1GB data (7 days, Uki Mobile)||O2 UK (4G coverage)|
|Turkey||US$4.50 for 1GB data (7 days, Merhaba)||Turk Telekom (4G coverage)|
|United States||US$4.50 for 1GB data (7 days, Change)||AT&T, T-Mobile (4G coverage)|
|France||US$5 for 1GB data (7 days, Bonbon Mobile)||Orange FR (4G coverage)|
|Israel||US$5.50 for 1GB data (7 days, Annatel)||Annatel (4G coverage)|
|Canada||US$7.50 for 1GB data (7 days, Tuque Mobile)||Rogers (4G coverage)|
|Italy||US$4.50 for 1GB data (7 days, Mamma Mia)||Vodafone, TIM, Wind Tre (4G coverage)|
|Spain||US$4.50 for 1GB data (7 days, Guay Mobile)||Movistar (4G coverage)|
|Thailand||US$9.90 for unlimited data (8 days, dtac)||O2 UK (4G coverage)|
|Greece||US$5 for 1GB data (7 days, Uki Mobile)||Cosmote, Wind (4G coverage)|
|United Arab Emirates||US$8.50 for 1GB data (7 days, Burj Mobile)||Du (4G coverage)|
|Portugal||US$4.50 for 1GB data (7 days, Fofo Mobile)||NOS (4G coverage)|
|Malaysia||US$4.50 for 1GB data (7 days, Sambungkan)||Digi, Maxis, U Mobile (4G coverage)|
|India||US$5 for 1GB data (7 days, Indicomm)||Jio (4G coverage)|
|Scotland||US$5 for 1GB data (7 days, Nessietel)||O2 UK (4G coverage)|
|Germany||US$5 for 1GB data (7 days, Hallo! Mobil)||O2 DE (4G coverage)|
|Croatia||US$5 for 1GB data (7 days, Cronet)||Tele2 (4G coverage)|
|South Africa||US$5 for 1GB data (7 days, CellSA)||Vodacom (4G coverage)|
|Indonesia||US$5.50 for 1GB data (7 days, Indotel)||Telkomsel (4G coverage)|
|Singapore||US$7.50 for 1GB data (7 days, Connect Lah!)||Singtel (4G coverage)|
You can see a full list of Airalo’s local and regional eSIMs on their website.
One thing that’s worth mentioning: in the majority of cases, the mobile network brands listed on the Airalo website are not actually genuine local brands in that country. In fact, they often have rather amusing names such as Mamma Mia Mobile (Italy), Bonbon Mobile (France) and Connect Lah! (Singapore). If you try to Google these networks, you won’t find any information about them. This is because they’re simply local brands that have been designed by Airalo themselves.
To give an example, Airalo’s eSIMs for the United Kingdom are branded as coming from “Uki Mobile”. In reality, there’s no actual UK mobile network known as “Uki Mobile”: this is just a brand that has been created by Airalo themselves. In this case, the underlying coverage for the service is provided by O2 UK. You’ll be able to get 4G speeds when using a Uki Mobile eSIM. However, you won’t get access to things like 5G coverage or other O2 customer benefits like O2 Priority.
Airalo Compatible Phones
To use the Airalo service, you’ll need a eSIM-compatible mobile phone that’s also unlocked from your network. Some compatible eSIM devices include the following:
- Apple iPhone 11
- Apple iPhone 11 Pro
- Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
- Apple iPhone 12
- Apple iPhone 12 Mini
- Apple iPhone 12 Pro
- Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max
- Apple iPhone 13
- Apple iPhone 13 Mini
- Apple iPhone 13 Pro
- Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
- Apple iPhone SE 2020
- Apple iPhone SE 2022
- Apple iPhone XS
- Apple iPhone XS Max
- Apple iPhone XR
- Google Pixel 31
- Google Pixel 3 XL1
- Google Pixel 3a
- Google Pixel 3a XL
- Google Pixel 4
- Google Pixel 4 XL
- Google Pixel 4a
- Google Pixel 4a 5G
- Google Pixel 5
- Google Pixel 5a
- Google Pixel 6
- Google Pixel 6 Pro
- Huawei P40
- Huawei P40 Pro
- Motorola Razr2
- Samsung Galaxy Note 20
- Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
- Samsung Galaxy S20
- Samsung Galaxy S20 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S21
- Samsung Galaxy S21+
- Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
- Samsung Galaxy S22
- Samsung Galaxy S22+
- Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
- Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
- Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
For more information, please see the official Airalo website.