Skydiving – GigSky Review: The Best eSIM for Travel?

Staying connected in the 21st century is as vital as packing a toothbrush for a holiday, but it doesn’t have to be as complicated as one might think. If you haven’t been introduced to the world of eSIMs by now, let us do the honors.

An eSIM is a virtual replacement for a physical SIM card that you download through an app or website, allowing you to connect your phone, tablet, or laptop to a cellular network. This fantastic technology has changed the way that travelers connect abroad and we’re here to introduce you to a company that has been at the heart of the eSIM game since 2014, GigSky.

So strap on your techy hat and get ready to have your travel world turned upside down as we enter the world of GigSky eSIMs! 

What is an eSIM? 

An eSIM is a digital SIM card that is downloaded onto a device and connects the user to a cellular network in minutes. Unlike traditional physical SIM cards, eSIMs do not require you to go out of your way to purchase a physical SIM card, which you then have to insert into your device. Instead, users simply ensure they have a strong Wi-Fi connection and can then download their new eSIM on an app or website from the comfort of their hotel bed.

Packages for eSIMs vary by country, region, and continent, offering unique personalized packages for users no matter where they plan to travel. Depending on the eSIM company chosen, eSIM packages can come with a cellphone number, data, text, and calling minutes, but it’s more common to find eSIM plans that just offer data-only packages since travelers can use internet-based apps like WhatsApp and Messenger to stay connected.

Those who want to continue to use their cellphone number abroad to text and call can still do so as eSIMs can be used in conjunction with another eSIM or SIM card. For example, if you have an iPhone with a North American SIM card and number, you can download an eSIM with data, turn off data roaming and usage on your home SIM card, and then replace that data with the eSIM connectivity. You can then still use iMessage, Facetime Audio, and Facetime to stay connected with your home phone number.

However, not all phones and devices are equipped to handle this new technology yet. A general rule of thumb is that most devices made in 2019 or later are compatible with eSIMs. You can find a list of compatible devices here.

GigSky website

Benefits of an eSIM for Travelers 

Oh boy, do I ever get excited when someone asks me why they should use an eSIM for travel! I know, weird flex, but this handy digital technology is the solution for multiple problems that most travelers don’t think about in advance. The most obvious benefit is that travelers no longer have to go out of their way to pick up a physical SIM card.

Instead, with eSIMs, travelers can download their eSIM on a Wi-Fi network before heading to the airport and then simply turn on the eSIM the moment they land in another country for instant connectivity. This is a big win for avid travelers as before eSIMs, you’d have to hunt down a physical store in another country to purchase a SIM card or pay double the price for the convenience of purchasing one at the airport. 

Another benefit of eSIMs, especially for North American residents, is that they are way more budget-friendly. America and Canada have some of the highest costs for cellphone plans in the world, and that cost is reflected in their international plans as well. Packages with eSIMs are more flexible, too.

Depending on your usage, you’ll find several packages that offer a range of data amounts, days of validity, countries, continents, regions, and more, so that travelers can ensure they’re covered for all parts of their trip and don’t have to purchase plans with too little or too much data for their regular usage. Lastly, eSIMs are easy to manage.

You can easily oversee your data usage, top-up your eSIM, or track calling minutes using most eSIM apps compared to traditional cellphone networks where you have to call a number or log in to a website to check your usage. 

Who is GigSky?

GigSky, a telecommunications network operator, is like the godfather of eSIM technology. In 2014 when Apple began investing in eSIM technology, Apple chose GigSky as the official partner to help develop a standardized eSIM for devices, and five years later, we saw the birth of the eSIM. Since they’ve been there since the beginning, GigSky understands the various challenges users face both with both traditional SIM cards and eSIM technology.

The American-based company has not only partnered with Apple but also with the U.S. Department of Defense, 190 cruise ships, and over 40 airlines around the world to provide robust, reliable internet from Perth to Timbuktu, including the sky and sea in between. GigSky offers data-only packages available in over 190 countries and it’s the only eSIM company that provides cruise ship and in-flight eSIM data packages, along with off-shore packages for boaters in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea. 

GigSky reviews

Advantages of GigSky

GigSky is a Heavy MVNO

Now that we’ve established who GigSky is and their credentials, you may be wondering what sets them apart from other eSIM companies. Well, first of all, they are the only eSIM company that offers a free eSIM and data package for new users. But why? GigSky is confident in its packages and services because they are not an eSIM reseller like many other companies you may find in the market. Instead, they are a heavy MVNO.

Hold the phone, though. What does that mean in terms of service provided? To break it down simply, there are two types of cell phone providers: MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) and MNO (Mobile Network Operators like Vodafone, Bell, and AT&T).

MNOs, or traditional network companies, have licenses and own the rights to certain radio spectrums, which is how our cell phone service gets delivered to our phones. MVNOs do not hold the licensing rights to use their own radio frequency and therefore have to then buy or lease space on the same spectrum MNOs work on. Still with us? Well, think of it like a highway. Traditional networks own the highway, but to be able to use it, MVNOs have to pay a toll. 

Now within MVNOs, there are three types of companies: skinny MVNOs, light MVNOs, and heavy MVNOs. Skinny MVNOs are the most abundant on the market as they are more bare bones. Skinny MVNOs have no infrastructure of their own and rely completely on traditional networks to provide all the packages and infrastructure. Essentially, they are just resellers with their own customer service that focuses on commercial reselling rather than investing in their own network to provide different services, such as the ability for your eSIM to switch to the strongest mobile network automatically.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have heavy MVNOs who have invested in their own core network and infrastructure so they can operate more independently. This means they can offer exclusive services and benefits, like data automatic network switching and remote service since they run almost the same as traditional networks.

The upside of all MVNOs is that they can offer greater flexibility with plans and generally better pricing.

GigSky Partnerships and Rewards

Like some other eSIM companies, GigSky offers a 5% cashback on purchases in the form of GigSky Credits to use towards future purchases. This is awesome for savvy travelers who plan to hit the road for a couple of months. However, unlike any other eSIM company on the market, they offer a free eSIM with 100 MB of data for first-time users and fantastic partnership rewards with Visa. If you have a Visa credit card with a partnering bank, then you can claim a free eSIM with anywhere from 1 GB to 5 GB of data! 

Trusted and Secure

Many other eSIM companies are based in overseas countries like China and Singapore and therefore don’t have to follow U.S. laws and guidelines, but their own country’s instead. This means companies based in China may be required to give up personal information and data usage to the Chinese government since the government is known to monitor the internet and collect data usage.

Choosing a company based in North America means you’ll have peace of mind knowing your sensitive information, like data usage and credit card information, won’t be leaked. GigSky is also a trusted brand by the U.S. Department of Defense, Apple, and Visa; and large corporations and government bodies wouldn’t do so if they thought the company wasn’t secure. 

Overall Review of GigSky

Variety of Packages

When it comes to the variety of packages available, no other eSIM company offers coverage like GigSky. As previously stated, GigSky is the only eSIM company that offers in-flight and cruise ship data packages. Few others, if any, also offer a comprehensive worldwide package valid in multiple countries across multiple continents. GigSky offers a World Plan for 30 days with 5 GB of data that can be used in 163 different countries, so you’re prepared with data no matter where your next spontaneous flight takes you. 

When it comes to the general eSIM packages for travel, GigSky offers a great selection of packages, either by country or region, with plenty of options for every type of user. For a majority of countries and regions, you can choose between four or five packages that range from 1 GB to 10 GB. However, the downside is that GigSky does not offer unlimited data packages. 

Select GigSky eSIM travel plan

Payment

When it comes to payment, GigSky is as straightforward as other online-based companies, with their app and website offering a user-friendly design that the least techy travelers can navigate. However, when it comes to the currency you can pay in, GigSky has some work to do.

Currently, you can only purchase packages in USD, GBP, JPY, and EUR. If you don’t have a bank account in any of these currencies, you’ll most likely be charged a currency converting fee by your bank. While it is quite standard for eSIM companies to only accept a few different currencies, it does leave Canadians, Australians, and other country’s users with an additional fee.

That being said, GigSky does have one superior advantage with payment, they support Apple Payment so travelers can purchase packages on the go without having to input their credit card and billing information. 

Personal Hotspot

One factor travelers forget to check when purchasing an eSIM is whether the package or operator allows you to hotspot your data to other devices. Many travelers like to go halfsies on a data plan and digital nomads might want to use their data to work on their laptop if they don’t have Wi-Fi. Unlike some other eSIM companies, GigSky is 100% okay with you sharing your data, which is what we like to see! 

Purchase and Download Process

After purchasing an eSIM package, I found the download process extremely easy compared to other eSIM companies. Once you’ve signed up and verified your account by email, you’ll then be able to download and purchase an eSIM. After your payment has been processed, you’ll be prompted to download the eSIM and you should do this on a reliable Wi-Fi network to ensure it downloads correctly.

Once you’ve purchased the eSIM, you’ll also have 30 days to activate it. Downloading an eSIM and activating it are two different things. You should always download your eSIM in advance so that you can simply turn it on in your phone settings once you reach your destination. If you’re purchasing a package through the app (our recommended route) then you’ll immediately be prompted to download the eSIM. With website purchases, you’ll be sent a QR code to scan via email.

Now one minor inconvenience I came across was that the website and app do not run cohesively, meaning if you do not purchase your eSIM through the app, then you cannot track your data usage through the app. Keep this in mind when you are purchasing an eSIM as it will be way easier to open an app to track data usage than signing into an online portal. Once downloaded and turned on, you can set your eSIM preferred settings, and then voila, instant internet connection! 

How GigSky works

Disadvantages of GigSky

“Pobody’s nerfect” (any Simpsons or The Good Place fans around?) and the same goes for companies. GigSky definitely has some advantages over other eSIM providers, but there is some work to be done to bring it to its full potential.

One downside of GigSky is that you don’t get a phone number or any texting/calling minutes. This can be inconvenient if you need to call local numbers, say a restaurant to make reservations or a tour to explain you’ll be 10 minutes late. GigSky also doesn’t offer any unlimited data plans, which isn’t ideal for nomads looking to use their cellular data for work.

As mentioned previously, GigSky’s app and website don’t work cohesively, so if you downloaded your eSIM off of a website, you won’t be able to track its data usage in the app; to do so you must purchase and download through the app. 

What is the Gist?

Look, eSIMs are still relatively new, so there is still a lot to be perfected. With that said, after using GigSky, they are definitely in my top three favorite eSIM companies because of the variety of eSIM packages available and the ease of download and activation.

My 57-year-old non-techy mother (don’t tell her I put that out on the internet) was even able to download and use the eSIM without any issue. So whether you’re looking for an easy eSIM app that will guide your non-techy parents easily through the process instead of you or you are on the hunt for a trustworthy eSIM company that offers reliable internet and rewards for purchase, GigSky is an excellent option. Experience the simplicity yourself – get your own eSIM from GigSky today and stay connected wherever you go!

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