What will push Britons into adopting eSIMs – and what’s putting them off?
November 9th, 2023, Kineree Shah

What will push Britons into adopting eSIMs – and what’s putting them off?

eSIMs or electronic sims have become increasingly relevant after Apple brought them to the forefront of mainstream consumer technology. For business strategists eyeing the mobile device landscape, YouGov Surveys: Serviced poll data unveils market research on current perceptions and usage patterns of the technology.

How familiar are Britons with eSIMs? 

We polled 2,126 British adults. Of these, a clear majority (three in five) say they are unfamiliar with eSIMs. About one in seven have heard of them but lack a clear understanding of what they are (14%). The same proportion of consumers know what eSIMs are but don’t know how they work (14%). On a positive note, roughly one in eight (12%) Britons are fully aware of an eSIM card, both in terms of what they are and how they function. This segment can be seen as potential early adopters or influencers and is more prevalent among 16-34 aged adults (19%).

Are Britons willing to switch to eSIMs?

Delving deeper into usage patterns, once eSIMs were explained to respondents, more than two in five respondents (43%) say they have no current plans to switch to an eSIM card but wouldn't dismiss the possibility. Approximately one in five (22%) are more positive, stating they would consider switching to an eSIM card in the future. In contrast, nearly one in ten (9%) were resolute and say they would never consider using one.

A smaller segment, 6% of British adults, are on the cusp of adoption and are considering a shift to an eSIM in the near future, for example when their existing phone contracts conclude. Only 4% of consumers are current eSIM users.

What will push consumers to use an eSIM?

Among Britons who have used or would consider using an eSIM in the future, three in 10 say their primary motivation is the ease of switching between mobile networks, particularly among adults aged 25-34. Close behind, nearly the same proportion are drawn to eSIMs due to their reduced plastic use, indicating a growing sensitivity to sustainability (29%). Furthermore, the mere convenience of not dealing with a physical SIM card is alluring for more than a quarter of those surveyed (27%).

Competitive market offerings related to eSIM plans are currently attracting attention. A quarter of British consumers indicate an inclination towards enhanced deals for eSIM cards, valuing the reduced risk of loss or damage associated with physical SIM cards (24%) citing this as a factor. Additionally, 25% express a preference for eSIM technology on the basis that their preferred devices exclusively support this technology.

Other reasons include the appeal of housing multiple numbers on a single device (16%), recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues (15%), and a sheer curiosity or a penchant for the latest technology (10%).

What’s stopping Britons from using an eSIM?

Despite some enthusiasm, nearly one in 10 Britons remains hesitant about making the switch to eSIMs (9%). The most prevalent barrier, as indicated by two in five Britons (41%), is the lack of a compelling incentive or reason to change from their current setup. Three in 10 say they are concerned about security or privacy with eSIMs (29%) while unfamiliarity or a lack of understanding about the advantages of eSIMs holds back a quarter of consumers (24%).

Two-fifths say they are worried about losing access to their number or their service (18%). About the same proportion are apprehensive about eSIMs working seamlessly across different networks (17%). 15% cited their current device's incompatibility with eSIMs as a reason for their hesitance. The potential complexity and technicality of the switch deters 14% of consumers.

In addition to this, our survey reveals that there is a notable lack of awareness among British consumers regarding the availability of eSIM card services across mobile networks. Seven in 10 admit to being unsure about which mobile operators currently offer eSIM card options (69%). Even among those who would contemplate using eSIMs or have ever used them, two-thirds remain uncertain about the providers that support this technology (66%), highlighting that a majority of potential eSIM card users are not informed about their choices in the market.

As the mobile industry continues its march forward, this market research provide a window into consumer sentiments, highlighting areas of opportunity and challenges to overcome in the realm of eSIM technology.

Get in touch to know about YouGov’s latest eSIM study including:

  • What’s deterring Apple and Samsung users from using eSIM card?
  • Perceptions and usage patterns of eSIMs among contract and SIM-only plan consumers.
  • Consumer perspectives on eSIM availability across various mobile networks.
  • Comparative analysis of network subscriber openness to eSIM technology.
  • Factors influencing mobile network customers' adoption of eSIM services.

Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online on Oct 27-30, 2023, with a nationally representative sample of 2,126 adults (aged 16+ years) in UK, using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.

Make smarter business decisions with better intelligence. Understand exactly what your audience is thinking by leveraging our panel of 20 million+ members. Speak with us today

Explore our living data for free

Discover more telco content here

Want to run your own research? Run a survey now

Cover photo by Andrey Matveev