Airtel SIM Cards and eSIM: a Comprehensive Guide for Tourists

Getting connected during travel is essential in today’s digital world. This article provides tourists with all they need to know about purchasing and activating an Airtel SIM card & eSIM for use in India.

This guide outlines the different options available, requirements, plans, and step-by-step activation instructions so tourists can quickly and easily access Airtel’s high-quality 4G/ 5G networks across the country.

best airtel sim card and esim

I. Quick Facts about Airtel

Airtel is one of the largest mobile network operators in India, providing cellular connectivity to millions of subscribers. Below is the information compiled to provide you with basic knowledge about Airtel:

  • Founded year: 1995
  • Full company name: Bharti Airtel Limited
  • Brand name: Airtel
  • Brand name meaning: Combination of “air” and “telecom” representing wireless networks focus.
  • Types of services: Mobile, fixed telephony, broadband internet, subscription television, enterprise solutions.
  • Number of subscribers: 574M (2023), 375M from India
  • Number of the network of stores: Widespread network across India including Airtel stores, galleries, and authorized retailers.
  • Customer care policy: Various support channels like calls, emails, chats. Available in multiple languages, 24/7.
  • Award: India’s 2nd most valuable brand in Brandz ranking.
  • Milestones: First to cross 2 million mobile subscribers. Launched “Hello Tunes”. Acquired Zain’s Africa operations, among the fifth largest globally.
quick facts about airtel

II. India Airtel Coverage and Speed in India

As India’s telecommunications market includes hundreds of millions of users, it remains unclear if Airtel’s 4G and future 5G networks can meet this immense demand. Let’s see now! 

1. Airtel Coverage in India

airtel coverage in india

Airtel, as one of India’s largest telecom operators, casts a wide network across the country. Here are some outstanding features of its coverage:

  • Extensive 4G Coverage: Airtel led the 4G rollout in India, now in 500,000+ towns.
  • Innovative Tech: Introduced MIMO & Carrier Aggregation for better speeds.
  • Global Roaming: Wide international coverage with free calls/texts.
  • Rural Network Boost: ‘Project Leap’ enhances rural connectivity. Airtel maintains a strong presence in India’s telecom sector with a focus on high-quality service for all subscribers.

Thus, Airtel continues to hold a significant position in India’s telecom landscape, with a commitment to delivering high-quality service to all its subscribers.

2. Airtel Speed

airtel speed in india

Airtel has established itself as a leader in network quality across activities like gaming and video streaming. However, how do its speeds hold up, especially for 5G?

  • 5G Download Speed: Airtel offers an impressive 234.3Mbps, ideal for HD streaming and large file transfers on 5G.
  • 5G Upload Speed: Airtel excels with 25.1Mbps, enabling quick sharing of photos and videos.
  • Consistency: Airtel’s Consistent Quality score of 57.7% ensures smooth handling of most applications like maps and social media.

So in summary, while Airtel may not have the absolute maximum speeds, its 5G performance is nothing to scoff at. 

III. Airtel Connectivity Options for Travelers to India

Airtel provides 3 main connectivity choices for travelers to India: Airtel SIM card, pocket wifi, and roaming. Let’s take a look at their pros and cons:

OptionAvailabilityProsCons
Airtel SIM CardAvailable for purchase at airport counters or retail stores in India. Requires a valid passport for activation.– Can make calls and use mobile data. Works anywhere in India. 
– Cheaper rates than roaming or pocket wifi long term.
– Need an Indian phone number. 
– Have to purchase data packs separately.
Pocket WifiAvailable for rental at airport counters. Small portable wifi hotspot device.– Portable wifi connection anywhere.
– Can be shared among traveling groups.
– More expensive than a SIM card for longer trips. 
– Data limits apply. Extra charges if limits are exceeded.
RoamingAutomatically activates if the traveler has international roaming enabled on their home network provider.– Can use own cellular device and number abroad. 
– No need to rent devices.
Very expensive rates compared to local SIM or pocket wifi.

A local SIM card is generally the best and most affordable option. It allows visitors to reliably use their cell phones without issues for the whole time they are in India. 

IV. Best Airtel SIM Cards for Tourists & Cost

Airtel is India’s major network operator and always provides reasonable packages for tourists to explore the mysterious land of India. Below is the price list of this network’s packages for your reference:

PlanBenefitsValidity
Rs 191GB Data1 Day
Rs 292GB Data1 Day
Rs 583GB DataExisting Plan Validity
Rs 654GB Additional DataExisting Plan Validity
Rs 985GB DataExisting Plan Validity
Rs 11812GB DataExisting Plan Validity
Rs 14815GB DataExisting Plan Validity
Rs 1491GB Data + Airtel Xstream Premium for 30 DaysExisting Plan Validity
Rs 1551GB Data, Unlimited Calls, 300 SMS24 Days
Rs 1811GB/Day Data, Unlimited Calls, 300 SMS30 Days
Rs 1993GB Data, Unlimited Calls, 300 SMS30 Days
Rs 2091GB/Day Data, Unlimited Calls, 100 SMS/Day21 Days
Rs 2391GB/Day Data, Unlimited Calls, 100 SMS/Day, 5G Data24 Days
Rs 2651GB/Day Data, Unlimited Calls, 100 SMS/Day28 Days
Rs 2991.5GB/Day Data, Unlimited Calls, 100 SMS/Day28 Days

Recommendation: Based on the table of Airtel prepaid recharge plans above, the Rs. 181 plan offers the best overall value and is likely the best option for most users.

V. Does Airtel India Support eSIM?

Yes, Airtel India does support eSIM technology, offering a seamless and streamlined connectivity experience to its users. Compared to physical SIM card:

  • eSIMs offer unmatched convenience, eliminating the need for physical SIM card swapping
  • They enable easy activation and switching of plans without the hassle of physical cards
  • Modern smartphones benefit from eSIMs as they allow for a more compact design without the need for a SIM tray.
  • Managing multiple network plans becomes simpler with eSIMs, providing flexibility for international travel or work.

To acquire an eSIM for Airtel India, customers can either opt to buy directly from the network operator or select a trustworthy online vendor. Gigago included. 

Unfortunately, Gigago does not currently offer eSIM options for Airtel India due to higher pricing that does not align with our commitment to quality and value.

Instead, Gigago provides Jio packages that are directly from the network, ensuring that customers enjoy the best coverage at competitive rates. Gigago offers multiple data plan options, starting from 3 GB for 30 days with $14.50

gigago india esim

What is great about Gigago’s India eSIM is that its plans’ costs are diversifying, varying between $14.50$29.90 . Thus, it does not matter how many Internet users you are and how long your trip is in India, there is always an option for you with Gigago.

VI. Where can you buy an Airtel SIM Card and eSIM?

It is not too hard to find a place to purchase an Airtel SIM card or eSIM when coming to India. Here are a few ways:

1. Where to buy Airtel SIM for India?

There are many places to buy an Airtel SIM in India:

  • Online: Buy on e-commerce sites or Airtel’s website for home delivery & online deals.
  • Airport Kiosks: Quick solution for travelers with 24/7 activation.
  • Retailers: Traditional source in small towns for personal assistance & instant activation.
  • Amazon: Browse plans, offers, and reviews before purchase.
  • Airtel Store: Expert guidance on plan selection, activation, and troubleshooting.
where to buy airtel sim for india

Note: Passport, Visa, Passport-sized photographs, Local address proof, Proof of accommodation in India, and Valid identification proof such as a driver’s license or national ID card from your home country are needed. 

2. Where to buy India Airtel eSIM?

Here are some ways for you:

  • Online Through Airtel’s Website: Buy an Airtel eSIM on the official Airtel India site. Register, choose eSIM, and follow the prompts to purchase. Ensure phone compatibility.
  • Visit an Airtel Store: Get help in-store at any Airtel retail store in India. Staff can assist with eSIM purchase and activation.
  • Airtel Thanks App: Airtel users can buy eSIM through the Airtel Thanks app. Find the eSIM option and follow the steps to purchase on your device.
where to buy india airtel esim

VII. How to Activate Airtel India SIM/eSIM?

It’s not difficult to use an Airtel SIM/eSIM while visiting India. If this is your first time using it, please check the guidance below.

1. How to use Airtel India SIM card?

You only need to follow these simple steps and everything will be ready.

  1. Insert the SIM card: Locate the SIM card slot on your device
  2. Power on your device: Turn on your device and wait for it to recognize the SIM card
  3. Activate the SIM card: In most cases, Airtel SIM card will be pre-activated
  4. Set up APN settings if you can not use the eSIM.
  5. Check your services.

2. How to activate Airtel India eSIM?

Getting started with an Airtel eSIM for India is quite easy as follows:

  1. Install the eSIM
  2. Activate the eSIM
  3. Set up the eSIM
  4. Start using the eSIM: Once the eSIM is activated and set up, you can start using its services.

VIII. Alternatives to India Airtel

In a large country like India, there is no shortage of reputable network operators. May be mentioned as:

  • Reliance Jio: Boasts nationwide 4G coverage and competitive prepaid plans that cater to data-savvy users.
  • Vodafone Idea (Vi): Offers a strong network presence with bonus features like data rollover and app-based exclusives.
  • BSNL: State-owned provider with wide reach, especially in rural areas, and economically priced services.
  • Tata Docomo: Known for its simple tariff plans, appealing to budget-conscious consumers.
  • MTNL: Operates in the key metro areas of Mumbai and Delhi, providing niche services for urban residents.

Hope you can choose the best fit for your needs!

IX. FAQs about Airtel SIM card & eSIM in India

Can I use an Airtel eSIM on multiple devices simultaneously?

No, an Airtel eSIM data plan can only be activated on one device at a time. 

Are there any discounts for purchasing multiple Airtel eSIM plans?

Yes. You can read it here:
2-Pack: 5-10% off when buying two plans together.
Family Pack: Discounted plans for 2-4 devices with pooled data and validity.
Student Pack: Up to 50% off for 3 plans with valid student ID.
Business Pack: Special pricing on 5-10 plans for business travelers.
High Volume Pack: Bulk pricing for 10+ activations for tours/companies.
Subscribe u0026amp; Save: 15% off recurring monthly packs with auto-renewal.
Temporary sale offers also provide additional discounts when purchasing in bundles during promotional periods. Check Airtel’s website for ongoing combo pack deals.

Is there a process to port my number from another network to Airtel?

Yes, you can easily port your existing number from other networks like Jio, and Vodafone idea to Airtel. Visit the nearest Airtel store with your ID proof and fill out a porting request form. It usually takes 3 days to port the number.

Do I need to pay for a new Airtel SIM card?

You need to pay a one-time SIM activation charge to get a new Airtel SIM. The charge varies depending on the circle but is usually around Rs. 45 including taxes. eSIM activation is free of cost.

X. Final words

To wrap it up, Airtel is stepping up mobile connectivity with options for both physical Airtel SIM card & eSIM technology. Having both SIM card and eSIM choices gives users the freedom to tap into Airtel’s top-notch network across India.

Whether you’re a frequent traveler or love the convenience of multi-SIM use, Airtel has you covered for seamless connectivity in either format. Enjoy exploring this beautiful country!