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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Firsty eSim: Too Good to Be True or the Real Deal for Travelers?


It’s no secret that the eSims have made our travel so much easier.

eSim providers like Airalo allow us to have a data connection upon arrival at almost any airport on this planet.

While convenient, these eSim packages are often pricier than local options.

You might be willing to pay for the convenience at the beginning of your trip…

but how many times have you hesitated to renew them because it expired just a day before leaving the country?

or hesitated to buy a new package just for your half-day layover in a detouring country?

Luckily, a Dutch startup company called Firsty is about to solve this problem.

Firsty provides free global data plans

Firsty is currently providing FREE data connections in 70+ countries. (view full list of countries here)

To be clear, they’re providing a freemium service:

A free plan (Firsty Free) and a paid plan (Firsty Fast).

Firsty Free offers free data on slow speed

You might be wondering…

How are they giving out data at no cost? there must be a catch.

Yes there is.

But it’s not as bad as you think:

  1. To acquire 60 minutes of free data, you have to watch a 15~30 second ad.
  2. Data speed is throttled, just enough to send messages and do light browsing.

I personally think this is very reasonable.

I went ahead and watched a 30-second advertisement to get firsthand experience with Firsty Free.

Must watch an ad to receive free data
Sometimes it says 45 minutes, sometimes 60 minutes
Always received 60 minutes regardless

After watching a short advertisement video, I started receiving internet connection.

I promptly ran a speed test and was getting 0.08Mbps download and 0.07Mbps upload speed.

It was indeed slow (as advertised), but I was able to do the following without any issues:

  • Send texts and IM
  • Make voice calls (on Whatsapp)
  • Check emails
  • Navigate on Google Maps (without real-time traffic data)
  • Light websurfing
  • Listen on Spotify (with a little bit of buffering)

You can definitely forget about scrolling Tiktok, browsing YouTube, or watching Netflix and other videos though.

Yeah forget about this

It also gives you a notification when your free minutes are about to expire, so that you don’t forget to extend your connection.

I thought this was a nice small added touch, preventing you from getting disconnected when waiting for an important reply from friends, family, or work.

While this speed may not be enough for most travelers,

it can be ideal for elderly people, travelers on a short layover, or even for kids whose parents don’t want to give them a full cell phone plan yet.

Firsty Fast offers faster speed but a little pricey

If Firsty Free speed isn’t enough for your needs, there’s an option to pay for faster speeds.

The speed was quite decent, at about 115 Mbps download and 17.7 Mbps upload.

The price is typically €2.5 / day for 2GB of faster speed.

You do get a slight discount if purchased for longer duration:

  • 1-10 days: €2.50/day
  • 11-20 days: €2.20/day
  • 21-25 days: €2.10/day
  • 26-30 days: €1.95/day

While this is a great option to have in case you need faster speed,

I personally don’t find this compelling.

I might consider purchasing it for a day or two for convenience, but if I’m traveling for a week or longer, I’m confident I can find a better plan.

For example, Lycamobile in the UK offers a 30 day plan for 5GBP only, which even supports calls and texts.

It’s crazy how much cell phone plans have become more affordable

One suggestion I’d personally like to offer them, since they can already control the speed, is to consider adding a feature to toggle on/off faster speed.

This way, your faster speed data minutes would only be deducted while you have the faster speed toggled on.

And you’d toggle off faster speed while you’re in Wi-Fi connected environment or while sleeping at night.

Final Thoughts: Is Firsty eSim the Real Deal?

In my opinion, Firsty eSim is a GREAT back up eSim to have.

This one SIM works in over 70 countries, so you don’t have to go through the hassle of installing a new SIM in every country.

The free plan offers enough speed to check emails, send messages, make voice calls, and navigate on Google Maps.

It gives me peace of mind knowing I will always have some sort of connection at NO COST, with the option to pay for faster speeds in case of an emergency.

I sincerely appreciate Firsty for bringing this idea to the table and I highly recommend giving it a try.

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