Spark has become the first telco in New Zealand to support an eSIM or electronic SIM card.

Many of the latest smartphones and smart watches support an eSIM or virtual SIM. This setup does away with a physical SIM card - meaning a customer can have more than one phone or data plan at once, or even belong to two different telcos as they juggle between home and work accounts, or use different accounts for different situations to save money.

The technology should also be a boon for travellers who want to grab a local account without the hassle of buying and inserting SIM card.

When the Herald last covered e-SIMs, back in September 2018, the verdict was that they were great for customers.


But Telecommunications Users Association head Craig Young said phone companies also feared that eSIMS made it easier to switch providers - hence some foot-dragging.

Now, there's brighter news.

From today, Spark customers with an iPhone XR, iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max can now make use of dual SIM (activated via a QR code), allowing them to add a second phone line and use both numbers on one iPhone.

And that second phone line could be with Vodafone or 2degrees, a Spark spokeswoman confirms.

Spark has also added eSIM support for Samsung Galaxy Watch 4G (which can be paired with the telco's Unlimited Wearable Plan for unlimited data, calls and texts for $15 per month).

There are a number of devices conspicuously absent from Spark's list, including the latest Apple Watch and smartphones from Samsung and Huawei, but the telco says it will add eSIM support for more makes and models over the coming months.

At the time of the Herald's September update, incoming Vodafone NZ boss Jason Paris said he was angling for eSIM support in the New Year, subject to work on other projects.

Today, a Vodafone spokeswoman said, "eSIMs offer clear benefits to customers and for that reason have a firm place on our product roadmap. We are currently exploring a shortlist of options, including a QR code-based solution through to a more digitally seamless offer, and look forward to putting something in market that delivers a great experience for customers."


2degrees offered, "We are looking at how we might bring this technology to our customers. At this stage, we can't say when that will be."

Now that the genie's out of the bottle, everyone will have to get a wriggle on.