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The Motorola Razr's biggest jump may not be its overlapping display

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The new Razola overclocking smartphone from Motorola will be sold in e-SIM configuration only. (Image Credit: Bloomberg)

The new Motorola Razr has created quite a buzz since it was unveiled last week. But this new phone pushes the envelope not only with its folding screen. In fact, the new Motorola Razr will be sold with an eSIM configuration, making it the first phone to fully slot the physical SIM card slot.

For some, this is the latest sign that ESIM technology is the area where the biggest smartphone brands see a lot of potential, and the launch of the new Motorola Razr is just the beginning. While Google Pixel 4 and iPhone 11 Pro also support eSIM, they also come with the physical SIM option. The new Razr, on the other hand, completely abandons the traditional SIM card slot and it is unique.

Global shipments of ESIM-capable devices (including vehicles) increased by 63% to 364 million units last year and are estimated to reach nearly 2 billion units in shipments by 2025, according to research firm Counterpoint. More manufacturers such as Xiaomi, Huawei, Samsung and Vivo are expected to launch eSIM-enabled smartphones.

"In the next 18 months you will have all the leading manufacturers launching high-end smartphones with ESIM," said Deval Hat, Managing Director of Giseke and Debriant India. in an interview. The German company, credited with developing the first SIM card in the 1990s, has become a leading name in ESIM technology. Jett says he expects at least 20 to 30 percent of smartphones in the next two to three years to be powered by eSIM.

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eSIM, or "embedded subscriber identity module", is basically an electronic version of the standard SIM card that exists today. SIMs, including eSIM, have two basic functions – to connect and identify devices on mobile networks. But while the physical SIM card is "hard" for a mobile operator (say, Airtel or Vodafone), the eSIM is a chip attached directly to the smart phone board. Unlike physical SIM, eSIM "remotely provides", allowing users to remotely modify and activate the device's built-in SIM profile. So, once your smartphone is powered by eSIM, you can switch to any telecommunications operator without changing the physical SIM card. Thus, the unnecessary problems that users face while switching to a new service provider will thus be a thing of the past.

Perhaps the real advantage of using an eSIM-enabled device is how users could have multiple operator profiles stored in eSIM for different services. ESIM is also useful for travelers who can switch to a local network operator – thus avoiding roaming charges.

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The ecosystem renews the notion that ESIM takes precedence over physical SIM cards. However, the use of eSIMs extends beyond the convenience factor. With eSIMs, it is now possible to design smart phones with thinner and lighter profiles, since there is no need for physical SIM slots. The new Razr, when closed, is 14mm thick. The lack of a physical SIM slot could play a key role in the extremely slim design of the new Motorola Razr. Interestingly, the new Motorola Razr is the only foldable phone that has nano-water-resistant waterproof, making it splashy. The Samsung Galaxy Fold, on the other hand, is neither as slim or lightweight as the new Motorola Razr, nor has a waterproof design.

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The new Motorola Razr completely discards the traditional SIM card slot and it is unique. (Image Credit: Bloomberg)

But the credit for popularizing eSIM should appear in the LTE versions of the Apple Watch. In fact, smart watches will be a major growth area for eSIM, along with cars. Some of the top car manufacturers such as BMW, Audi and Mercedes support ESIM that provides real-time traffic information and remote on-the-go assistance. In India, MG Hector and Hyundai Venue support ESIM for mobile connectivity. Connected laptops are another emerging category that greatly favor the increase in the number of eSIMs.

However, the industry has shown resilience to the mobile ecosystem with eSIM. In particular, telecommunications operators are opposed to the concept and only a small number support it, including Airtel and Reliance Jio in India. Many fear that adopting eSIMs will negatively impact their business, as users can easily change service providers without changing devices without even needing a new SIM card. Manufacturers in China and South Korea also haven't played the ball and may be key to how big the trends end up.

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