I don’t know how anyone can live without a smartphone, let alone travel without one.
If you’re like me, you use your phone every day, even if you try hard to find a healthy balance with digital detoxes and screen-free afternoons. The simple fact is that those little glass-and-metal devices make life so much easier.
The biggest challenge of using a smartphone in a foreign country used to be wrangling a new SIM plan with a provider you knew nothing about in a language you had a hard time understanding.
eSIM technology ditches the plastic SIM card in favour of a fully embedded chip. It has been floating around since 2017, but took a while before telecommunication providers got behind it. Apple gave those fat cats a kick in the pants in 2018 with the launch of the XR/XS models – their first handset to support eSIM. And then dropped the SIM tray altogether with the release of iPhone 14 (in the US).
Now the floodgates are open, and smaller eSIM providers are gradually dismantling the previously untouchable telco monopolies, which is great news for consumers. More choice means more competition, better prices… and, most importantly, more innovation.
And one of the best travel eSIM providers out there right now is Maya Mobile.
Who is Maya Mobile?
Founded in 2015, US-based Maya Mobile is headed by Founder and CEO, Daniel Fry. He brings a wealth of knowledge in technology infrastructure and cloud computing to the business, along with a passion for connectivity.
Despite launching their eSIM product against the challenging backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maya Mobile has grown exponentially and, in May 2023, passed the impressive milestone of 100,000 satisfied customers.
Over the last year, Maya Mobile has really stepped up its focus on delivering fast customer support, earning hundreds of overwhelmingly positive reviews on Trustpilot.
Unlike a traditional mobile network, Maya Mobile doesn’t own the cell towers it uses, but rather leverages existing partner networks all over the world. An important differentiating factor is that Maya only uses premium networks for faster speed and better reliability AND usually partners with 2 or more networks in each country, giving you the broadest possible coverage.
How Does a Travel eSIM Work & Why You Need One?
If you’re not sure what an eSIMs is, let’s cover the basics. An eSIM is a software-based alternative to the old-school physical SIM card that enables your phone to communicate with a local mobile network.
eSIM stands for “Embedded Subscriber Identity Module”, and is only supported on specific smartphones, tablets and smartwatches - more on that later. There’s no more need to poke your phone with a paperclip to remove that fiddly SIM card. Just scan a unique QR code, tap a few buttons, and you’re online.
Now that is convenient.
Travel eSIMs are designed for travellers heading overseas, and usually include mobile data services but not voice and SMS (who still uses that in 2023 anyway?). This is because international roaming costs for data from traditional telcos tend to be astronomical, so there are a lot of potential savings to make. And often, it’s quite easy (and affordable) to keep your “home” eSIM/SIM active while you’re travelling IF you really need to receive that important phone call or text message.
Since I started using eSIM technology, it has become so easy to switch between providers when I travel from country to country. I no longer need to carry my stash of local SIM cards. Here’s a real photo of *part* of my collection back in 2014:
This is why you need a travel eSIM now.
Why eSIM is Better than Wi-Fi & International Roaming
But Josh… I can just hop between free Wi-Fi networks in restaurants, hotels, train stations and airports while I travel. Why would I pay for an eSIM?
One simple word.
A personal mobile data connection is far safer and more secure than a public Wi-Fi network. Those are huge targets for hackers snooping around, looking for vulnerable devices to break into. The Maya Mobile network provides end-to-end encryption for total peace of mind.
So why not use international roaming from your “home” mobile network? Almost all local telcos are great at one thing… looking after their own network. But as soon as you step out of their sandbox, they have to activate an expensive agreement with a foreign telco to enable you to roam, which adds a lot of risk and overhead for them. So they discourage that with expensive post-paid roaming fees.
Travel eSIM providers like Maya Mobile side-step that risk by forging direct relationships with mobile networks in each country, and handle all the billing with prepaid plans, then pass those savings onto you, the consumer.
Better security, better prices, better experience.
eSIM wins, hands down.
A Travel eSIM Isn’t For Everyone (Yet)
But we haven’t quite reached the golden era of travel eSIMs yet. Most newer, more expensive handsets support the technology (Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, etc), but older and cheaper devices do not.
Check out this comprehensive list of supported devices from Maya Mobile to find out if your handset supports eSIM. If it doesn’t, then it could be a good time to go shopping (*wink*).
Sidenote: I recently replaced my old Samsung Galaxy S10+ with the new Google Pixel 7 Pro, primarily to make the most of eSIMs. Oh, and the camera is pretty amazing too.
Activating a Maya Mobile Travel eSIM in 20 Seconds
Maya Mobile does a great job of demystifying eSIM technology, making it accessible for anyone, regardless of their technical experience.
The online ordering process couldn’t be more straightforward. Once you’ve selected your eSIM, just choose your desired prepaid data amount (such as 1GB), and starting date (any time in the future, or even today). There are options for auto top-ups and monthly renewals for longer trips. Lastly, enter your contact details, choose your password and enter your payment details (card or Paypal).
Your eSIM will be delivered via email as a unique QR code. It looks something like this:
The once-off activation process takes around 20 seconds, as the eSIM communicates with the partner networks so they know you’re online.
Here’s the step-by-step process of me activating and renaming my eSIM on a Pixel 7 Pro:
It couldn’t be easier.
Regions Covered by Maya Mobile
Is Maya Mobile available where you’re travelling to? Chances are, yes. Covering 194 countries and regions, eSIM plans are available just about everywhere. From Uzbekistan to Uganda, and Japan to Jordan.
Maya Mobile offers a unique, and very easy-to-use international coverage map to see if the places you’re visiting have fast 4G/LTE and 5G coverage. I find this official map from GSMA has a bit more detail (and includes 3G coverage), but it’s only viewable for one country at a time. Maya Mobile’s map gives a broader perspective.
Maya Mobile Travel eSIM Prices
All eSIM plans provided by Maya Mobile are prepaid – so there’s no post-paid bill shock.
Pricing plans depend on:
- Length of usage; and
- Amount of bandwidth - data usage in gigabytes (GB)
The longer the length of the plan, the cheaper it is per day, although the majority of plans are available for generous 30-day periods. Plans that cover multiple countries can also save you money – especially in Europe and Asia/Pacific.
eSIM plans are available in all shapes and sizes to suit just about every traveller, from small bite-sized morsels for light users, to hefty unlimited plans for heavy users. The majority of leisure travellers will be content with 5-10 GB per month.
Note: Maya Mobile’s unlimited plans are only available in some countries.
Here are a few popular plans as examples:
Europe (includes 30 countries, valid for 30 days):
USA (valid for 30 days):
Asia/Pacific (includes 12 countries, valid for 30 days):
View all available plans by country here.
Tip: You can add data for multiple countries on just 1 Maya Mobile eSIM. And you can also add multiple eSIMs to the same shopping cart to save time.
Maya Mobile Travel eSIM Real World Experience & Speed Test
I recently used Maya Mobile’s 10GB plan in Malaysia, and the experience was as smooth as soft butter. You can tell from my earlier photos that the activation process took a matter of seconds, and from that point onwards, everything worked just as expected.
Mobile coverage was provided by 2 of the largest mobile networks in the country, so I ran into no dead zones. And the all-important speed test put a big smile on my face.
Why I Like Maya Mobile Travel eSIM
There’s a long list of reasons why I’m a fan of Maya Mobile, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll keep this succinct.
Fixed data AND Unlimited data options
Some providers only provide one or the other. Maya do both, so you have the flexibility you need.
Coverage from 2+ carriers in each country
There are no cutting corners. Maya Mobile only use premium carriers with wider coverage and faster speeds. And to give you even better coverage, your eSIM automatically switches between 2 or more local networks. It pays not to have all your eggs in one basket.
If you want to share your Internet connection with a laptop or tablet, you’re covered. Tethering is available on all plans, including unlimited ones.
No “fair use policy”
Unlimited data means just that. No daily data cap. Unlimited plans include speeds of 5Mbps until 30GB has been consumed within 30 days, and then throttled to 1Mbps afterwards. More than 95% of travellers use less than 30GB per month. Here’s the fine print.
If your plan doesn’t work or you can’t activate the eSIM for any reason, you can get 100% of your payment back. See the return policy.
Auto-renew for non-stop coverage
Both fixed and unlimited plans can be optionally renewed automatically for another 30 days, so you don’t even have to think about mobile data while you’re travelling for longer periods. Here are the steps.
View data usage online
No need to guess how much data you’ve used up. Check your account on the Maya Mobile website for up-to-date plan usage.
Buy now, use later
You can choose a date in the future during the checkout process, and your eSIM will be delivered 24 hours before the selected date.
Live chat support
Get help when you need it. In addition to live chat, Maya Mobile can be contacted via direct email or a ticket system. Their in-house support team is spread across different timezones, so the average first response time is a zippy 8-10 minutes.
What Could Be Better
No one’s perfect.
Unlimited data speed is slower than fixed data plans
There has to be a trade-off with every choice. And unlimited plans will give you peace of mind, albeit at a slightly slower speed. If you’re a heavy user, be aware of the 5Mbps speed limit. And once it gets throttled to 1Mbps, you might just be better off buying a couple of regular 10GB plans.
No phone number
Maya Mobile eSIM plans are for data only. You can still use your favourite apps like WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger and more for instant messaging and voice/video calls.
No physical SIM
If you don’t have a newer phone that supports eSIM, then Maya Mobile can’t help you. Sorry!
No currency exchange
The pricing shown on the website is automatically converted to the default currency of the language/region configured in your browser. This might be useful for some people, but I found it a little frustrating. My language is “English (Australia)”, but I prefer the currency to be in USD as it’s easier to manage my travel budget. When I provided this feedback to live chat, they passed it on to their dev team. So watch this space.
Tip: If you want to temporarily change the currency in Google Chrome, head to Settings > Languages and then move the preferred language/currency to the top of the list from the 3 dot menu (right). Once you’ve finished with your purchase on Maya Mobile, just revert the settings to the way they were.
The Bottom Line
Maya Mobile has pulled together all the important ingredients to create a leading travel eSIM product – low prices, extensive coverage, unlimited plan options, premium networks and top-notch customer support.
And then they went further, adding bells and whistles to make it even more compelling – multiple partner networks, auto top-ups and monthly renewals.
Maya Mobile really understand the traveller’s mindset, having ironed out every possible wrinkle. Now using your smartphone overseas is completely effortless and stress-free.
The travel eSIM bar has been set high. Very high.
And I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Price: from US$5
Where to buy: maya.net