Airalo Review: How Good is this eSIM Provider in 2024?
Having reliable data while traveling internationally poses challenges. Should you hunt local SIM cards in each country? Deal with limitations using your provider’s roaming packages? Or try an alternative like eSIM data plans from Airalo?
After testing Airalo service across Europe and Asia, here is my in-depth Airalo review covering how well these eSIM data packages perform abroad plus key factors travelers should consider before buying.
What is Airalo?
Founded in 2019, Airalo aims to simplify staying connected globally using cloud-based eSIM technology instead of physical SIM cards. eSIMs link compatible phones/devices to cellular networks remotely.
Airalo partners with 500+ carriers internationally to provide eSIM data plans in over 140 countries. This grants easy network switching by region.
Compared to alternatives like roaming with your domestic carrier or buying local SIM cards when traveling, Airalo touts several key perks:
- No roaming fees or charges from regular cell provider
- Single setup for worldwide data access
- Flexible short-term data packages
- eSIM integrated natively with devices and accounts
With affordable rates for short validity periods, Airalo sells itself as an ideal international data solution while jet-setting short-term. But does the service actually work reliably abroad?
I traveled Europe and Asia testing Airalo for 3 weeks cumulatively. Here’s how the experience panned out…
Using Airalo eSIM: What Travelers Should Know
Like any cellular data provider, when reviewing Airalo real-world performance depends greatly on location specifics. Population density, tourism traffic, local infrastructure and geography limiting signal all impact speeds.
But a few key factors remained consistent using Airalo eSIM across Spain, Italy, Greece, France, Japan and Singapore during my trip.
- Data connectivity adequate for essential communication apps (email, messaging, audio, basic video calls, social media).
- Speeds frequently capped below 5 Mbps for downloads, ~2 Mbps uploads. Enough for basic web use, streaming music.
- Occasional faster bursts 10-25Mbps down in prime locations. Video lagged buffering at highest resolutions.
- Slower in congested tourist cities. Rural/subway deadzones cut connectivity.
- Overall suitable for general travel purposes aside from HD video and gaming.
- Solid LTE signal from partner networks within most populated areas and along highways.
- Patchier coverage venturing into remote nature/islands/villages with older 3G or no reception.
- Reliable connectivity walking within metropolitan areas for turn-by-turn navigation, restaurant lookups etc no issues.
- Start date begins immediately upon activation, expires midnight GMT end date regardless of usage.
- Remaining data resets to full allotment when buying multiple back-to-back plans online.
- Be aware when crossing timezones – uses validity periods in GMT.
For essential digital access like maps, translation, transport and basic apps, Airalo proved sufficient the majority of my trip. Travelers less concerned streaming full-resolution YouTube daily will likely find speeds reasonable.
Next let’s break down Airalo’s various data packages and plan options when reviewing costs.
Airalo Data Plans and Pricing
Airalo sells prepaid data eSIM packages for over 140 countries with prices based on region. I’ll use rates for Europe here as a benchmark.
Multiple duration and data caps are offered fitting light or heavy mobile usage during trips:
European Data Plans
- 1 GB/3 days – $9
- 1 GB/5 days – $12
- 3 GB/5 days – $18
- 5 GB/10 days – $27
- 10 GB/15 days – $45
- 20 GB/30 days – $75
You purchase country-specific eSIMs for set durations/caps then activate each sequentially as needed when crossing borders. Extra data add-ons can supplement plans mid-use if running low.
Compared to roaming fees ~$10 per day charged by major US carriers for talk/text/data when mobile internationally, these Airalo rates for prepaid data-only eSIMs can present huge cost savings traveling long-term.
But for short weekend city hops, performance from domestic cell provider roaming may possibly suffice depending on your data needs. For anything over 5 days abroad though, an Airalo eSIM likely saves substantial money.
Tip: After testing coverage in my destinations, I found the 3 GB Airalo plans for 5 day periods offered the best value balancing sufficient data for essential apps vs trip duration.
Next I’ll share a bit about my experience specifically activating and using Airalo eSIMs while traveling…
Activating Airalo eSIM: Any Issues?
After purchasing Airalo data plans for travel regions from their website, you must activate each by scanning a QR code. This links devices to the local provider eSIM.
The activation process proved extremely quick and convenient in my experience:
- Bought Airalo data plans for upcoming country online in minutes
- Received email with unique eSIM QR activation codes
- Scanned QR code which automatically launched carrier profile and cellular data service within seconds
- Enabled cellular data toggle and I was already surfing abroad!
I activated multiple Airalo data eSIMs sequentially when crossing borders in Europe and Asia without hiccups. The carriers changed automatically detecting my location.
As long as your device supports eSIM (all iPhones from XS forward or Android models with eSIM), Airalo plans start working in seconds. Removing complexity from the equation makes Airalo so handy traveling between countries.
No foreign languages barriers, telco store trips, SIM card swaps or roaming headaches. Just scan and go!
Airalo Customer Support Review:
No matter how reliable a service, should questions or issues arise, customer support becomes critical. How does Airalo’s customer assistance stack up?
During two weeks abroad, I contacted Airalo customer service twice via:
- Instant chat widget at Airalo website
- Email sent to support email
Reasons for inquiry:
- Asked recommendation choosing data plan duration for Greece islands trip
- Had issue activating Japan eSIM QR code
Overall I experienced excellent customer response times and resolutions:
- Chat widget response under 60 seconds both inquiries
- Email ticket resolved within 3 hours
- Courteous representatives provided helpful guidance tailoring data plan needs and troubleshot QR code activation issue swiftly.
Knowing snafus can and do occur traveling (lost luggage anyone?), having responsive Airalo support provides peace of mind should hiccups emerge getting eSIMs up and running. No concerns here!
Airalo vs Local SIM Cards
Choosing between Airalo and a local SIM card depends on your individual needs and preferences. Here’s a comparison table to help you decide:
|Local SIM Card
|Requires finding and purchasing a SIM card
|Flexible data plans and validity periods
|Fixed data plans
|Can be cheaper than roaming charges, depending on usage
|Varies depending on the provider and plan
|Wide global coverage
|Local coverage only
If you value convenience, flexibility, and affordability, Airalo is a great choice. However, if you need a local phone number or prefer fixed data plans, a local SIM card might be a better option.
Final Verdict: Should You Buy Airalo eSIM Service?
If prioritizing affordable cellular data connectivity abroad optimized for essential apps and basic web, absolutely. For travelers on a budget mostly requiring maps, texting, and internet access for transit logistics and tangential browsing, Airalo does the job wonderfully.
But for heavy video streaming, gaming, uploading massive photos/video to the cloud and such, occasional speed throttling and average 5 Mbps downloads using Airalo eSIM may disappoint. YMMV by exact location.
In summary for my Airalo review 2024:
- Way cheaper than pay-per-day domestic roaming packages
- Quick/easy QR activation between 140+ countries
- No physical SIM cards to juggle
- Flexible validity durations (5 days, 15 GB etc)
- Reliable coverage throughout most metropolitan areas
- Slower speeds than local telco networks
- Video streaming can lag
Eliminating roaming guesswork and excessive fees makes Airalo a trusty connectivity companion for globetrotting civilians worldwide.
If you’re looking for a hassle-free and affordable way to stay connected during your travels, Airalo is an excellent choice. Its ease of use, comprehensive coverage, and commitment to customer satisfaction make it a leading contender in the eSIM market.
Here are some additional resources for Airalo users:
- Help Center: https://www.airalo.com/more-info/contact
- FAQ: https://www.airalo.com/
- Community Forum: https://www.rankia.com/foro/boglehead
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or embarking on your first international adventure, Airalo is a valuable tool to keep you connected and informed.
Thank you for reading our Airalo review. We hope this information helps you make an informed decision about your travel connectivity needs.
- This review is based on our experience using Airalo and may not reflect the experiences of all users.
- We encourage you to conduct your own research and compare different eSIM providers before making a decision.
- We may earn a commission if you purchase an Airalo eSIM using our referral links.
We wish you safe and happy travels!
What travel questions can I answer about using Airalo abroad? Share them in comments!