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Three UK Finally Starts Adding Mobile eSIM Support to Website

Friday, September 25th, 2020 (7:50 am) - Score 32,208

Good news. Mobile operator Three UK appears to be holding to their September 2020 launch window (here) for eSIM support on their network (4G and 5G) and have now added an eSIM Support and Activation page to their website. But there’s still no firm word on whether or when Apple Watches will be supported.

Traditional SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) cards are the tiny chips that authenticate your identity to a mobile operator, usually as soon as you slide one into a new mobile phone or other supporting device. SIM cards can also store a basic list of your contacts, although online contact lists have largely superseded that feature on modern devices.

Meanwhile a growing number of new Smartphones and Smart Watches are now shipping with eSIM technology, which essentially embeds an electronic SIM into your phone and makes it easier to switch between carriers via multiple account support (i.e. no more waiting for new SIM cards to arrive or fiddling with different ones when trying to change network).

Three UK has been promising to add eSIM support to their network for years, but a few months ago they confirmed that this would finally go live in September (after trials) and they appear to be holding to that. But initially they’ll only be supporting eSIM on Smartphones (not watches).

As one support agent told a customer via social media this week: “We’ve been testing eSIM for phones and plan to release it very, very soon. We’re still working on eSIM for secondary devices though. It’s a little more complex, but we’re working on it.” Since then they’ve added an eSIM Support and Activation page to their website (credits to Graeme for spotting), along with this video.

Rival operators including O2, Vodafone and EE have had this feature for a while, albeit with varying different levels of support (i.e. it’s sometimes only enabled for selected devices).

Leave a Comment
44 Responses
  1. Avatar Sam says:

    Vodafone now have esim support too.

    1. Avatar Chayne says:

      Sam, is that for phones too? They were only supporting esims for Apple Watch but not for phones the last time I checked

    2. Avatar Jack says:

      For phones and smart watches (and similar devices) now

    3. Avatar ALIP says:

      3 has finally decided to launch ESIM in the UK but only in one area for trials

      Staff will be going through training over the next few days but data costs have not been released.

      From the 28th September the following 3 outlets will be offering E sim ( Compatible phones only ). Not Smart watches.


    4. Avatar Gary says:

      When will I be able to get a esim for my three network?.

  2. Avatar AM says:

    will they support eSim for prepaid customers or postpaid only like Vodafone?

  3. Avatar R N says:

    So I was on the phone with Three to switch my SIM to eSIM, they claiming that this is something cannot be done over the phone and has to be done in-store, I explained to them that the nearest Three stores are over an hour drive and the whole idea of going to the store for such thing is just utterly stupid.

    You don’t go to the store to request a SIM replacement, why with eSIM? I am lost for words.

    1. Avatar Zeph says:

      The three website seems to say that you can simply request changing to eSIM via their website, but there’s currently no active link to do so. I’m guessing you were told by the the person on the phone to go into a store because they either had no clue what they were talking about, there are currently some IT issues that’s preventing it being done over the phone, or perhaps they have some security concerns about “SIM swap”, which is a huge source of fraud. More info from Three about how to swap to eSIM here:


    2. Avatar R N says:

      Hey Zeph,

      When I spoke with them, they had no clue about eSIM been offered on the website, I had to give them the link address to prove it, they went on about (no we don’t offer eSIM), it’s sad their customer services at completely out of the loop of their product.

      Also, I have told them this is something that can be done online as it stated in their website, but all I got was the guy trying to avoid any embarrassment and advised to go too the nearest store.

      As you said, they probably have some technical issues still and couldn’t be done over the phone just yet.

  4. Avatar Billy miles says:

    What happened to that article about three 5G that was on the website yesterday?

  5. Avatar Dean Mason says:

    What devices are eligible for this please?

  6. Avatar Edward Hunter says:

    Hi hope the iPhone SE 2020 is compatible as is supports esim but three claim a 5G handset, I hope not and it works with 4G as well

  7. Avatar Dean Mason says:

    Where do I find a full list of eligible phones?

    1. Avatar Zeph says:

      Three has some info here. It doesn’t look exhaustive.


  8. Avatar Fin says:

    Spoke/web chatted with several three representatives today and have been told the following;

    Using chat three tell me they are starting the service 280920.
    Separately using chat three tell me they have no dates for esim being released.
    Rang Bexleyheath store, they asked me what an esim was!!
    Rang Orpington store, they told me they are coming soon but no idea when.
    Rang Bluewater store 6 times, they didn’t answer.
    Rang Bromley store they say 2 months until they are released and only for phone not for watches.
    Spoke to an upgrade person via 333 couldn’t understand most the question serious language barrier but said it was something they couldn’t help me with.

    1. Avatar Zeph says:

      You could have saved yourself a lot of phone calls! Info from Three here – it seems it’s a bit of a work in progress.


  9. Avatar Edward Hunter says:

    Just spoke to three promotions department and they said it was being rolled out on the 28th of September at selected stores and there is no date to when all stores will have eSIM support yet and it’s not something you can do over the telephone,

    She couldn’t advise on what phones with supported Ava and with mainly interested in selling me a new device rather than actually answering my question but she did say the information and only just come through by email so she was reading it while I was on the phone to them,

    1. Avatar Zeph says:

      Three’s latest info can be found here. Looks like they’re planning to allow you to do it all online, but there’s no active link to do so yet


  10. Avatar Henry Askari says:

    since almost 2 months we have a problem with Internet access in Edinburgh. I have 3 contract with three UK and many other costumers that I know have the same trouble, when is it finally possible to have access to Internet again for many three costumer to?

    1. Avatar Stephen Wakeman says:

      This is ISP Review, an independent website that is not owned or operated by Three. If you have a problem with Three’s service then you should contact them.

  11. Avatar Stuart Steven says:

    When will three support Samsung smartwatch?

  12. Avatar ap says:

    Three customer service is absolutely useless . Tried to engage with them about esim for the new Apple Watch. What a total disaster from start to finish. Their representative couldn’t understand English that well ( As a paying customer we should get better service ). Their representative asked me if I wanted a second sim. Then kept apologising for his disappointment that he couldn’t be of service.

    I agree with other customer experiences. Three are not keeping up with new technology and I feel if they can’t offer us a service to support new hardware / technology then our contract should be terminated without any early cancellation penalty. We should be free to move on to another service provider.

  13. Avatar Fabrizio says:

    I wonder, once the physical SIM to eSIM swap works, if I could use my existing broadband SIM so I could use as Data only for my iphone SE. It’ll probably only for for Mobile SIMs only and Data Only physical SIMs will be excluded at a wild guess…

  14. Avatar Orlando Junior says:

    Hi all, spoke with them today and they confirmed that the eSims will be available from tomorrow (28th of September) and they said “it will be compatible with Apple Watch cellular”.

    1. Avatar R N says:

      I spoke with them this afternoon inquiring again about the eSIM launch, they did confirm the launch is happening on the 28th however as a trail, not everyone can switch.

      And funny you asked them about Apple watch support, guess what, they said there will be no support just yet and they don’t know when it will happen.

      So Three is either lying, clueless or full of sh*t.

  15. Avatar Gareth Lowrie says:

    I spoke with Three customer services this morning and they told me to go to my nearest store to swap over my existing line to eSIM, which was Metrocentre, Gateshead. I got there and the manager told me they don’t support them yet and that they are currently starting a trial in North West England and they aren’t available elsewhere yet.

    I rang back up customer services and he did a check for my nearest store that had eSIM capabilities and he said there was none in my area.

  16. Avatar Kevin says:

    Three have been nothing short of unprofessional. They have consistently delayed the eSIM launch for the past 3 years. In the last few months, their conflicting responses (on Twitter) have ranged from ‘we are sorry we don’t know anything more about it, but you’ll be the first to hear when we do’ to ‘it’s in trial stage just now and will be launched at the end of September’. Now it’s the end of September and looks like they are only starting the trial. For new customers, on selected devices, only in selected areas.

    Go to hell Three!

  17. Avatar James says:

    I have just got an esim yesterday from the store in Southport. They told me I was their first customer for this and I saw the paperwork that they had which stated it was a local trial as mentioned in another comment above.
    In terms of them working, I can say the only issue I had initially was it took about 30 minutes before I had any data. But since then, I have installed my works physical sim in my phone and have that and the 3 esim operating together without issues so far.
    Unfortunately, I don’t have an apple watch so I can’t say if it would work with this. Hopefully they will start rolling these out and finally give the people want we’ve been after for years!

    1. Avatar James says:

      I should also mention, I am an existing customer and just did a swap from a physical sim to an esim.

  18. Avatar AM says:

    Why we have to go the store? Why is eSim not available in their app like eSim from T-Mobile in US?

    1. Avatar Fabrizio says:

      Or Truphone in the U.K.; you just install the app and within a minute or so the eSim profile was installed and working on my phone SE, it’s for data but it’s great to top up when data runs out on my sky sim.

    2. Avatar James says:

      I think with the trial you have to go in store, but when it properly launches you can do it online. There is a section on the esim support page but the link isn’t working yet. Guessing it will do when they launch it properly and the trial has finished.

  19. Avatar Tahir Gul says:

    I called three customer team and advisor told me to visit three store. Next day again I called this time the advisor placed ordered for me and I received esim next day. Very simple to setup but even after 4 hours not activated so called again. Customer service advised that due to some IT glitch instructions not processed and he sorted out. In next couple hours up and running once I take out physical sim for the same number ie esim. Now using physical sim from another operator.

  20. Avatar AM says:

    And how much did you pay for eSim at Three? What is the cost?

    1. Avatar Raja Rathinam says:

      It’s free of cost.

  21. Avatar Robert says:

    Requiring customers to pick up a QR code on cardboard defeats one of the purposes of eSIM – the ability to provision the eSIM remotely. It is particularly crazy that they require a trip to the store during Covid.

    All they need to do is allow you to download a QR code from the website – or they can even display the QR code on the screen and the phone can be provisioned that way.

  22. Avatar Bart B says:

    Is there an updated list of stores that are able to issue QR code?
    Did anyone else receive one via post after ordering it over the phone?

    I have ordered mine, and after clear explanation that I need an Esim, I received old type sim card – so frustrating!!!

    1. Avatar Raja Rathinam says:

      I have received esim by post, and I also has to insist twice to the customer support and got it correctly

    2. Avatar alex123 says:

      Raja what did you have to tell them in order to be able to get an esim sent by post?

    3. Avatar BB says:

      Same here Raja, let me know too please, as I am fed up asking.


    4. Avatar Bart B says:

      I think Raja is telling porkies or you have a family working in Three. Spoke to 3 different departments and I am being told that its impossible to send via post , which is absolutely pointless in my opinion.

      Thanks BB

  23. Avatar Fin says:

    I asked for mine via post as im in London and came in two days, they said it would automatic activate and it didn’t. Rang then up and was on in seconds.

    I ordered mine 021020 after seeing Tahir Gul post, and just kept saying esim to the guy and making him say it back to confirm.

    I had rang a few days before and they had said not a chance can you have one via post but as I say saw the post 011020 and I rang back

    1. Avatar alex123 says:

      Mind boggling roll out of eSIM from three.. called them up and they told me they could provision an eSIM, but then they told me they are OUT OF STOCK – It’s a piece of paper with a QR code! Why not just send an email with the QR code or just provision the eSIM profile from their app?

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