Part 4: eSIM APN Settings and Data Roaming

Part 4: eSIM APN Settings and Data Roaming
Photo by Sten Ritterfeld / Unsplash

For the eSIM to function properly, its settings must must be configured according to the requirements of the operator who is providing the service.

The good news is that, most of the time, the operator settings are automatically configured by your phone, so you don't need to bother with these. However, this is not always the case, and sometimes you may have to fix the settings if they get messed up. Read on to learn how to do this.

What is APN and what does it do?

APN stands for Access Point Name and is the gateway that the operator uses to connect its subscribers to the internet.

The APN settigns are stored in your phone, and they are passed to the mobile network you are connected to, so it can know how to handle the data traffic originating from your device.

  • If the APN settings are incorrect, your data sessions will be sent to a wrong gateway. You will be getting mobile signal, but you will not be able to use mobile data or access the intenet.

Luckily, for casual consumer use cases, operators are often using easy to type aliases for the APN gateway, such as 'internet', 'uinternet', 'fastaccess', 'mbb', etc... and do not enforce things like username and password.

Auto-APN - a major leap in end-user convenience

Device manufacturers and major operators have started making life easier for common people by keeping an 'APN list'.

When a SIM card is inserted, or a new eSIM downloaded, the device recognizes which operator it belongs to, looks up the 'APN list', and automatically fills in the required APN settings - earning the label 'Auto-APN'.

This eliminates the need for the user to enter the APN settings manually, which saves time, reduces the risk of typos and tickets to the customer support centres, and altogether makes for a smoother customer onboarding experience. Almost all eSIMs sold at store have Auto-APN capability.

How to configure the correct APN for eSIM?

In general, we do not recommend changing the APN settings, unless you received specific instruction by the operator to do so.

In rare cases, even when the APN is supposed to be set automatically, you may find out that APN settings are incorrect - some old APN configurations may have gotten stuck, or your phone failed to update them correctly.

If you need to learn how to configure the APN - whether it is required by the operator, or just for troubleshooting purposes - the best advice we can give you is to Google 'How to configure APN on XXX', where XXX stands for you particular device model. There are many manufacturer manuals and enthusiast videos online that can help you with detailed instructions and illustrations.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Setting up APN on iPhones and other iOS devices

APN settings are accessible form the 'Cellular Data Network' (or 'Mobile Data Network') tab in the eSIM settings menu.

Just type (or change) the APN information given to you by the provider.

Setting up APN on Android devices

Doing this with Android devices is a bit more complicated compared to iOS. You will be often required to add a new APN instead of just changing an existing one. When adding the a new APN (Access Point Name) on Android, the are two mandtory fields:

  • Name: This is just a label. You can call it anyway you like
  • APN: This is the important one, where you should enter the value provided by the operator, like mbb, internet, uinternet, etc...

After you successfully add the APN, you need to select it so the phone knows which APN to use.

Data Roaming ON or OFF - why is it needed?

'Data Roaming' refers to using your mobile connection abroad to access the internet. Data roaming fees charged by the usual operators can be very expensive, and often lead to 'Bill Shocks', prompting devices manufacturers to introduce the data roaming switch - which is, by default, in OFF state, to protect the consumer interest.

Most of the operators and eSIM providers catering to traveler segment, use roaming by design. Therefore, Data Roaming must be switched ON, for you to be able to use the service. When it comes to the eSIM packages you purchase from Mobimatter travel eSIM store, you can turn on Data Roaming without any worries - you will never be automatically charged for something you didn't sign up for.