How do you get a Three eSIM in 2023?

iPhone on table
Network upgrade? Three will soon support eSIMs

The eSIM has been around for a good few years now – unless you’re a customer of Three that is. Three began trials of eSIMs as far back as 2020, but three years on customers are still struggling to get an eSim. How do you get a Three eSIM? Read on to find out what’s happening and who can get them.

What is an eSIM?

Instead of putting a little piece of plastic into the phone’s SIM-card slot, an eSIM is a virtual SIM card. They’re good for the environment, because the phone network doesn’t have to manufacture plastic SIM cards, package them and send them to customers. They’re good for the networks, because eSIMs reduce their costs. And they’re good for the consumer, because they should be less hassle than those increasingly fiddly pieces of plastic.

Many of the leading smartphones now offer support for eSIMs, including the latest Apple iPhones. eSIMs can also be used in devices that can’t physically accommodate a SIM card, such as smartwatches.

If you want to see how you activate an eSIM card, Three produced this video during its trial:

How do you get an eSIM from Three?

Frustratingly, it’s still not possible for the vast majority of customers to get an eSIM from Three.

Three began trials of eSIMs in selected stores in 2020, but spent the next two years telling customers they were coming soon.

It seemed like there was finally a breakthrough in June 2022, when Three announced limited support for eSIMs for Apple Watch owners. And though the company has conducted yet more trials with customers in selected stores, Three is still to fully support eSIMs across its network at the time of writing in January 2023, as you can see from the tweet below, which is almost a cut-and-paste job of the tweet they sent me above, with the year changed.

There is some cause for optimism. Three’s support page for eSIMs has changed since I last looked at in the summer of 2022, and now includes instructions on how to install eSIMs on iPhones, Android phones and Google Pixel devices, suggesting that the company is geared up for wider phone support. But why it’s taking Three so long to sort this out is anyone’s guess.

One thing’s for sure – with Apple now dropping support for SIM cards in its latest iPhones in the US, it’s going to happen over here soon. If Three doesn’t get its act together this year, it could lose a lot of customers.

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About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at


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  • Three are now offering eSims with one very big issue. If you are a current three contract customer you need to payout your current contract then sign a new contract with the eSim. WHY? I cannot wait until my contract ends so i can leave to a network that has a network

  • Encountered the same problem! Called Three last week and was told I would need to pay out my current contract and sign a new contract to get eSIM. But I don’t want a different contract.. I want the same contract to support the phone I just purchased.

    When I contacted Three yesterday I was told eSIM is not currently supported and to check their website for updates.

    Good way to drive away customers.

  • I have been waitng for a long time now and am unfortunately locked into a 2 year agreement with Three. Can’t use my Iphone 14 in the meantime. Wish I could quit them! Anyone know how I can get out?

  • Still don’t support esim, 26th March 2023. I looked at their website and saw the instructions on how to activate esim, wrongly assumed three supported esim, bought an iPhone 14 pro in USA only to be told by three, not supported and don’t have a date. Looks like will be moving to a network that does.

  • Why would anyone buy an iPhone in the US of all places to use elsewhere? Their version is infamous for being crippled compared to those sold elsewhere and most are also SIM locked. Totally agree on the frustration with Three and lack of ESIM support, but ESIMs are not the future, just a nice extra for use with some products. If you buy a crippled product (presumably because it’s cheap) instead of the non-crippled version, don’t blame others for not supporting your decision.

  • @moonhaus – My USA iPhone has fewer restrictions and more bands than UK version and Apple are about to stop supporting physical SIMs so eSIMs are the future. No idea where you’re getting your info from.