Review: GigSky’s Data-Only eSIM Service Offers Convenient LTE Connectivity for Travel



(Originally published on MacRumors.com by Juli Clover)


On a recent trip to Europe, I had a chance to try out GigSky’s new pay-as-you-go cellular data plan that’s available through via eSIM on the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max.

I used GigSky’s service across four countries, testing out the ease of use, the coverage, the setup process, and what it’s like to use the eSIM to get cellular connectivity in another country.


Setup

Setting up the GigSky service was simple, and much more convenient than having to source a physical SIM to go along with a cellular service that uses a standard SIM. I downloaded the GigSky app, opened it up and selected the country I was visiting.

GigSky recommended that I purchase a plan once I arrived in my destination country (Czech Republic), which I did, and after the purchase was made and the payment confirmed, I was set up and ready to go.

Service Requirements


Using GigSky’s eSIM service requires an iPhone that is both unlocked and that supports eSIM, so the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR. My carrier is Verizon and I purchased my iPhone outright, so it came unlocked by default and there was nothing else I needed to do. The GigSky eSIM just worked.

Potential customers on other carriers may need to make sure their iPhone has been unlocked before the GigSky service will work. It is not available on a device that is locked.


eSIM Usage


I activated the GigSky eSIM after arriving in the Czech Republic, and from there, I didn’t need to do anything when traveling between country borders. The data plan was active no matter which European country I was in, and I didn’t see anything more than a momentary lapse in service crossing borders.


When first using the eSIM, I did run into a bit of trouble. GigSky’s eSIM is data only, which means there’s no phone number associated with it, and I didn’t think there was enough instruction on how this worked.


I initially wanted to disable my Verizon SIM to make sure I didn’t actually use any Verizon data or place Verizon calls/texts, but that got me into quite a bit of trouble in practice. After turning off my Verizon number on the first day in the Czech Republic, I got separated from the people I was with.


As it turns out, disabling the primary number with no secondary number turns iMessage and FaceTime off, and I couldn’t get any texts, messages, or calls to go through so I was thoroughly disconnected. There are probably similar issues when changing your main iMessage number, so when using a secondary SIM, whether it’s data only or a different phone number, make sure to leave the primary enabled so iMessage continues to work.

After that little setup snafu, I re-enabled my Verizon number, set GigSky as the primary data source, and left Verizon as the secondary data source.


I’m not entirely sure how it works with other carriers, but with Verizon, TravelPass service isn’t activated unless I place a phone call or send an SMS message. Because I couldn’t turn it off entirely, there was one time where I pocket dialed someone and got myself a $10 daily data charge, but that was my fault.


For the majority of the trip, once I had the settings properly established, the GigSky data worked without a hitch and I didn’t need to activate my Verizon travel plan.


Coverage


I tested GigSky’s service across four countries in Europe: Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, and Hungary. In most of these locations, except when I was in more rural places, I had reliable, fast LTE service that led me use social networks, check mail, and watch videos with no problems.

In Hungary, specifically in Budapest, my service switched between 3G and LTE, but I was never left without any connection at all with the exception of remote areas. In the major cities, and even smaller cities, my cellular connection worked well.