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  • Writer's pictureBrian Crandall

What is eSIM & My Experience

eSIM stands for Embedded SIM,or the full version is Embedded Subscriber Identity Module. eSIM is built into the device, which is great for saving space on the logic board and making room for other components or other options, features, or even more storage. eSIM has its advantages such as activating more than one line on a phone at a time and even having the ability to use multiple carriers on any unlocked device at a time. It also offers peace of mind in the event your device is lost or stolen, due to the lack of ability to remove the SIM, making it easier to track, or easier to erase remotely.

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Even on the Samsung/Android side of things, it still has bugs that need to be worked out prior to jumping all in on this tech. Down below is my take and experience with eSIM and should be taken as a word of caution on why you should hold off too.

My Experience with eSIM

Back during the summer my wife and I had the eSIM's activated. My device being the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and my wife's being the Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus. I had completed the June security update on my Ultra, as I always do as soon as updates are released. My wife tends to not keep on top of them and usually updates after they've been out for a week or so. When I completed the update I was getting a persistent notification. "To secure your Samsung Account, please sign in." At first I thought it was something that I had already done and for some reason the notification never went away. After swiping it away and having the notification come back, I knew that there was more going on. I tapped on the notification and attempted to sign in. The phone was unresponsive and it remained on the login screen. After a couple more times of attempting to login, I received a "Failed to sign-in" prompt. I began to explore my settings, and at the very top within setting, is your Samsung Account sign-in. My phone did show that I was in fact signed in to my account. I started to investigate even further by checking for Carrier updates, other software security updates, Google Play and Protect security updates... only to come up dry and empty handed. I had gone through all the basic troubleshooting steps by checking these setting and turning the device off and back on. I then began some more advanced steps, such as putting my S22 Ultra into Safe Mode. If you don't know, on any Samsung device you can initiate Safe Mode by bringing up the menu to power off/restart the phone. By pressing and holding the Power Off option, brings up the Safe Mode button.

What Is Safe Mode?

The purpose of this option is to troubleshoot the device

in the event something isn't functioning properly or to troubleshoot poor performance. This feature helps to isolate software related issues caused by downloaded apps.

When a Samsung phone is in Safe Mode, it renders all non native Samsung stock apps inoperable. After putting my S22 Ultra in Safe Mode, I found nothing unusual or out of the ordinary, which is what I had expected, give the circumstance that I had not had an performance related issues with my phone aside from the persistent Samsung Sign-in notification. From here I was beginning to run out of options.

Android Recovery Mode

I put my device into Android Recovery Mode. This is accessed by powering off the device. When you go to power the phone back on, you hold down the power and volume up buttons simultaneously until the menu appears. This menu allows you to reboot the system, reboot the bootloader, Side load updates, Wipe Cashe Partition, and so on. I Can't tell you how many times I entered this menu to wipe the cashe.

I got so deep into trying to fix this sign-in issue, I even resorted to removing the S22 Ultra from my Samsung account, doing a full factory data reset within the setting, powering the device off, activating Android Recovery, wiping the cashe 3 times, then doing a full factory data reset again within Android Recovery 3 more times... and still NOTHING had been unresolved. I did all of those steps a total of 7 times in sequence before finally giving up and calling Samsung Technical Support.

Samsung Tech Support

When on the phone with Samsung the advisor had gone through all the same steps I had gone through. In fact I had noted to them all the steps I had been through, and with disbelief, they wanted to proceed with their troubleshooting, which I entertained their desire to do so. The Samsung representative and I got so far into troubleshooting that they had requested a screen sharing session. The end result was no resolution and an offer to replace my device, the only catch was that even though the S22 Series came out in March, in June they were still on back order and replacement devices were even harder to come by.

30 days following my phone call to Samsung and with no replacement devices available, Samsung offered to buy my phone back. The only issue with them buying my device back, I was going to lose money because of the incentives I received in credits and the amount I was given on trade-in for my Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. Sure I could have taken the $600, which is what I ultimately ended up paying for my S22 Ultra, but then I would have to spend another $1,200 to buy a new one. And I wouldn't receive the $600 until Samsung received my phone, which would have put me without a device or buying one fully out of pocket. I declined the offer to buy back my phone and decided I would ultimately live with this issue for the unforeseeable future; unable to sign-in to access my Samsung account or the Galaxy App Store even though it was showing in my settings that I was in fact signed into my account.

My Discovery

Two weeks after deciding to keep my phone, I was home one weekend and decided to give another stab at resolving this problem. I searched all over the web again, only to come up empty handed again. I searched the settings one last and desperate time... and it hit me!!! What if my eSIM has somehow caused a virtual disconnection from my Samsung account?

I had more than several updates within the Galaxy Store to test my theory (I think there was roughly around 30 app updates) at this point and being that I was at home, I was connected to WI-FI to do the updates when my eSIM was turned off if it would let me do them. Going into Settings > SIM Manager, you can access a toggle to turn your eSIM off and on. I turned my eSIM off and proceeded to sign-in to my Samsung account via the persistent notification and the sign-in followed through as if I hadn't been signed in. I then went to my notification to process the updates I had for my Galaxy Store apps, tapped on the updates like I had done many times before, and the notification finally accessed my apps and began to do the updates. I then went back into settings, turned my eSIM back on and only had very few issues in the following days. My wife eventually fell into the same issue and I was able to fix the problem with her S22 Plus right away.

Getting Our New Physical SIM Cards

In order to fully fix the issue, we did finally have to go to T-Mobile to get new physical SIM cards, which completely dissolved any more issues we were having. When I went to get a new SIM card for my wife and I, the advisor in the store wanted to go through more troubleshooting steps with me. I was at work at the moment and needed to get the SIM cards and go. I explained that I didn't have time for troubleshooting, that I had already done a lengthy amount of my own, along with spending an extensive amount of time on the phone with Samsung. The T-Mobile advisor gave advice to turn off 5G because it was known to be unreliable in the market we were in. I insisted on getting the SIM cards and not to pay for them over the fact that I was only requesting them due to a technical issue. I also informed the advisor that I work in tech and asking people to turning off a feature that people pay T-Mobile for is not a good resolution to offer consumers. Later on that week when I had time to stop back into my local T-Mobile store, I sought out that advisor, who turned out to be the store manager. I told him my issue in full detail along with troubleshooting steps I took relating to the June Security update and how eSIM effected it.

How Does This Effect YOU?

Simply put... It may not effect you at all. What I do know is that it was an isolated issue pertaining to T-Mobile, eSIM, and the June security software update on Samsung devices. Outside of that, it didn't seem to effect anyone on any other carrier that did this update with a physical SIM or eSIM. It didn't seem to effect anyone on T-Mobile with a physical SIM. What does seem apparent is that eSIM is still so new, that not many people have switched to it, so therefore the problem went unnoticed. So what happens when a company like Apple forces people to switch to eSIM, especially when they tend to be the last to adopt a feature until the bugs have been worked out?

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