Apple and Samsung have been in talks with major network providers to adopt electronic SIM cards for future smartphones. Now Samsung is bringing the GSMA enabled eSIM to its Gear S2 Classic 3G.

The move means manufacturers join others in the mobile business in utilising e-SIMs in their devices, which ultimately give consumers the option to switch provider and plan without having to request a brand new SIM card - a process that can often take a while and could cost a fee in some cases.

This will will affect the UK and US, with the operators that are expected to support the plan being AT&T, Deutche Telekom, Etisalat, Hutchinson Whampoa, Orange, Telefonica and Vodafone.

But what exactly is an e-Sim? And what exactly will it offer if your next phone supports it? Let us explain...

The term "eSIM" relates to a new standard being promoted by the GSMA - the association that represents network operators worldwide.

It will come in the form of an integrated SIM chip, one that cannot and need not be removed from a device - something that consumer electronics manufacturers are also keen to adopt for connected items around the house as part of the Internet of Things.

The information on it will be compliant or rewritable by all operators, meaning a user can decide to change operator with a simple phone call. A new SIM will not be required, nor should there be any time delay in switching the e-SIM to its new purpose. There will also be no physical swapping over required by the user.

The basic premise is that the eSIM will be completely standardised across manufacturers, although Apple has already got something similar - Apple SIM - that it uses in US iPads predominantly. EE also supports Apple SIM in the UK.

It is likely Apple would continue with its own version, although it would technically comply with GSMA standards.

Not only does it give you the freedom to switch operator at the end of a contract without having to wait for a new SIM in the post or visit a mobile phone shop, you will be able to upgrade your account from a pay-as-you-go plan to a contracted one with the minimum of fuss.

It should also be easier to swap devices when you upgrade. Currently, you might switch from a device that requires a micro SIM to one that only supports nano SIMs. With an e-SIM, you need just register the new device.

Alternatively, if you are on a 3G plan with Orange, say, but want to upgrade to a 4G EE plan, that will be a doddle.

Samsung has announced that its Gear S2 Classic 3G with eSIM is GMSA approved for international use. Let the flood gates be open.

READ: Samsung Gear S2 Classic 3G to bring card-free eSIM enabled smartwatches to the UK