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dual sim phonesEver heard of dual SIM phones? My guess is you probably have. I can also guess you know what dual SIM phones are; after all, it’s not very hard to understand that a dual SIM phone has two SIMs. If you’re anything like me, though, this is about as far as you got. Have you ever seen a phone with two SIM cards? What are they even good for? Could they be useful for you? And if so, when, and why?

All these are very good questions, which for some reason, I never really bothered to ask myself, let alone find the answers to. Turns out that dual SIM phone are not as rare as you might think, and not only that, they can be pretty useful in specific situations. Can it be useful for you? Could it be worth buying? Read on to find out!

So What’s A Dual SIM Phone, Exactly?

The easy explanation is, of course, a phone with two SIM cards. To put it simply, it’s much like having two separate phones in one device. Each SIM can be connected to a different provider, or a different phone line from the same provider, and both will be active on the same device.

dual sim phones

There are some differences between dual SIM devices, however, which are important to know about. An active dual-SIM phone has the ability to support two active SIMs at the same time. This means you will receive calls and texts from both lines, and will be able to toggle between the two SIMs with a push of a button. Some even support the ability to hold a single conversation with two callers on two different lines. These are the majority of dual SIM phones you can find today.

Another kind of dual SIM phone you should know about, is the standby dual SIM phone. With this kind of phone, you need to switch between SIMs in order to activate them. So basically, your phone is only connected to one network at a time, but you can easily switch without having to remove and replace the SIM. Today, you can see this mostly in dual SIM adapters for devices that don’t support dual SIM, such as the iPhone. If you look around, you can find all kinds of gadgets that give the iPhone dual SIM abilities.

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Fun fact: the very first dual SIM phone was made in 2000, by Finnish GPS company Benefon. It’s name was the Benefon Twin, and it looked a lot like the old Nokia devices of yore.

Can I get A Dual SIM Smartphone?

dual simUp until recently, most dual SIM phones were sold in developing countries. Popular especially in China and India, many of the phone that supported dual SIM were lower-end devices that were also very affordable. This is starting to change now, and these days it’s easier to find dual SIM phones in Europe, and even in North America.

Well-known manufacturers such as Nokia, Samsung and HTC, have recently come out with several dual SIM devices, some of which even run Android. Some examples you can check out are the Samsung Galaxy S Duos and Galaxy Aces Duos, the HTC Desire VC, and the Nokia C2-03.

Note that most dual SIM devices are naturally more battery hungry. Some phones come with larger batteries, and some just don’t last as long when using two SIMs.

What Are Dual SIM Phones Good For?

Good question. So why would you even want a dual SIM phone? There are three major reasons to want one:

Two Lines

Do you have a work phone and a private phone? Do you need to separate your business and private calls? There are many reasons to want or need two separate lines, and two SIMs in one device can be much more convenient than carrying two phones everywhere you go. This way, you can always be available on both of your lines, without any extra worry.

dual sim

Don’t forget! Make sure you know which line calls are coming from. You wouldn’t want to answer your boss while drunk at a party!

Travellers

If you travel a lot, a dual SIM device can come in very handy. If you’ve ever travelled with your mobile device, you know you sometimes have no choice but to get a local SIM for data and calls. But what if you want to remain available on your home line as well? With a dual SIM phone, you can use data and make calls on the cheap using the local SIM, but stay available for incoming calls and text messages with your old home number. Pretty useful.

Don’t forget! Make sure you don’t pay a fortune for incoming calls on your home SIM!

Taking Advantage of Two Different Deals

dual sim phones

This one is for those who really want to go the extra mile. Sometimes you can find a really good deal for data with one provider, and an excellent deal for calls and texts with another. Most of us just find a good place in the middle and call it quits, but another way is to get a dual SIM device and enjoy both deals. If the plan doesn’t make you pay a monthly fee, and if the SIM cards themselves don’t cost too much, this could be an excellent way to get the best of both worlds.

Don’t forget! Set the right default action to the right SIM, if possible. If not, you’ll need to make sure you’re always using the right SIM.

Bottom Line

While not right for everyone, dual SIM phones are gaining in popularity all over the world. Even if you can’t find a good one right now, the options are bound to become better and better.

If you already have two phones, travel a lot, or like saving money in original ways, you might really want to consider a dual SIM phone. If none of the above is true, you probably don’t need two SIMs in your phone, but hey, it’s always nice to learn new things!

Do you own a dual SIM device? Did you use to own one? Are you considering getting one at some point? Tell us everything in the comments.

Image Credit: renaissancechambara, hiyori13, woman with two phones image via Shutterstock

  1. Pat O'Brien
    August 3, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    I'm looking into a dual sim phone to use in two different countries(Canada and the US) I want to avoid roaming charges. Will this work?

    Pat O

  2. G B
    December 11, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    I am wondering whether or not to go for the Lumia 535 (single sim) or Lumia 540 (dual sim). I know there are other differences, but on this alone, what should I buy?

    Thanks

  3. Martin
    April 12, 2015 at 9:08 am

    My dear people... please, I recommend you to buy single sim phones. Because, whatever the features does dual sim have, the high electromagnetic can't be ignored in dual sim mobiles (even the high models too). So, I beg you. Even it make you uncomfortable, please buy single sim. It's safe side. Due to high radiation of dual sim mobiles, cause brain tumours, memory impairment, etc., Contact me through mail for furthur issues. Please take concern my comment. Thank you.

    • Robert
      May 21, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      Very clear and very right explanation.
      Avoid dual sim phones!
      It has twice as much SAR level (specific absorption rate).
      SAR electromagnetic radio waves lead to cancer and etc.

  4. Sue Hill
    March 28, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    I have two mobiles. One is on contract with talk mobile the other is with Vodafone pay as you go can I put both sims into a dual sim phone?

  5. David soloman
    March 6, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    Sure a dual sim set of phones for VIP ever lost your phone or power supply I want two single number phones for back up not going to use them at the same time bone heads AT&T x verizon,2nd account unnessasary costly these companies will be left in the ash heap of time just parasites,monopolies!!

  6. Timothy Liem
    October 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    LOL.. We in Indonesia already stuffed with local-branded-made-in-China dual-SIM phones since six years ago..

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      October 5, 2012 at 7:37 am

      India is the biggest market for Dual SIM Handsets in the world. Popular since it's inception. :P Both branded and chinese stuff. :)

  7. Loreson San Juan
    October 3, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    dual sim phones are booming in the Philippines

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      October 5, 2012 at 7:37 am

      India is the biggest market for Dual SIM Handsets in the world. Popular since it's inception. :P

  8. Eero
    October 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    In western countries it seems that dual SIMs are extremely rare and you can find only few models (operators do not really like it which is easy to understand). However, I think lot of people would like to have dual SIMs f.ex. for identity management (business / private), traveling etc which were pretty well captured in the article. One additional aspect is that in some areas the coverage can be be poor when using only one SIM.

    There are also different types of dual SIM. Dual Sim Stand-by (DSS) - allows the device to switch from one network to the other when required and Dual Sim Active (DSA) - allows the device to be connected to both networks at the same time. The device can switch between two calls without dropping either. DSS based devices are in overwhelming majority, only few models claim they are dual SIM active.

  9. Reý Aetar
    October 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    good but except those branded ones all chenese phones have a dual sim
    some even have 3 sims

  10. Rob Hindle
    October 2, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Slightly off topic but related question:

    Can I get dual phone SIMs? What I mean is two sims programmed to the same number.

    The reason I ask is that I have 2 phones. One is an Android with the problems of smart-phones - not very robust, short battery life etc.

    The other is a conventional inexpensive "basic" model - I use that in higher risk situations like outdoor activities where it could get damaged, wet, lost or for travel when the long standby and quite good in normal use battery life are an advantage, also if you're not careful smart phones can rack up enormous roaming charges when travelling.

    It would be useful to have both on the same phone number.

    • Laga Mahesa
      October 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      Technically feasible, but extremely problematic in practice. If you have them both turned on, they'll cancel each other out and dramatically consume your battery because they're fighting both each other and the cell towers. The problems incurred by this on the cell towers is why your cell provider won't give you a dupe - you'd have to make one yourself.

      Good luck with that!

    • Reý Aetar
      October 2, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      no u cant ,to get that you need to be a vip
      or u need permission from regional officer and a long process is there
      i saw one topic like that in yahoo answers long ago, unfortunately i cant get it now

    • Harish Jonnalagadda
      October 3, 2012 at 11:48 am

      Dont think that can be done, have tried to see if it can be a while ago.

  11. Rob Hindle
    October 2, 2012 at 10:34 am

    One alternative to dual sim is to simply swap the sim. The reason that's a pain is that, especially with smart phones, there will be settings to change each time. Some phones even need time and date resetting (why can't they just get that off the network?)

    • Laga Mahesa
      October 2, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      Symbian, right? Whichever, there is usually a special code you can 'call' to request carrier settings for your particular model. For example, with my provider I can text "gprs nokia 6600" to 3000 and it will reply with a carrier settings file, upon receipt of which my phone will prompt me to install it.

      Just save that as a contact and you're gold.

  12. Rob Hindle
    October 2, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Dual SIM can be useful in mountainous areas (in UK: Scotland, Snowdonia, Lake District, Peak District) with patchy network coverage, if you don't get a signal with one provider you might with another.

    Another aspect of that which used to be covered in mobile phone reviews, but no more, is how good the phone is with weak signals.

  13. Dimal Chandrasiri
    October 2, 2012 at 9:28 am

    So I heard that dual sim phones use twice the signals as a single sim phone. will this affect to human health since lot of teenagers use them where I live.

    • Laga Mahesa
      October 2, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      Don't worry about it. If you're living in a city, even a small one, there are worse concerns you need to deal with first.

  14. VS Vishnu
    October 2, 2012 at 9:13 am

    thankss

  15. Reynldo Mallorca
    October 2, 2012 at 8:37 am

    ilikeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  16. Ahmed Khalil
    October 2, 2012 at 7:46 am

    it has big side effect too, that its power radiation is more than the normal one so it is more harm than the normal

  17. Tony
    October 2, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Hi! Speaking about dual or duo sim phones is nothing, I found here in India a Triple or Trio SIM phone, not a name brand but surely works, it is ideal for those with Wife, Work and With Other on the Side, jejeje, just kidding there but yes there is a Triple or Trio SIM phone in India, look for it on Google.

    • Harish Jonnalagadda
      October 3, 2012 at 11:47 am

      Yeah I know I saw the ads on the telly too! Why would anyone need so many cards is beyond me.

  18. Anonymous
    October 2, 2012 at 1:40 am

    Dual SIM can be a real boon for the ex-pat or overseas businessman, it is a shame the real top smartphones don't have the facility.

    • Laga Mahesa
      October 2, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      The higher you get up the smartphone ladder, the less likely you'll see dual-sim support. The carriers won't have it, and carriers are where the bulk of the profits come in as they subsidize for their victi...users.

  19. Mark Silos
    October 1, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Here in the philippines dual sim is use to cut cost in calling and texting other network providers. and due to network competition they give different promo's specially on pre-paids. Some areas don't have signals in which other network may have. You can buy pre-paid sim anytime you want in any network as much as P10.00 or around $0.23 cents.

    • Yaara Lancet
      October 2, 2012 at 3:59 pm

      That's pretty cool. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Oliver Rainer
    October 1, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Dual sim reminds me of my old Nokia case.

  21. Scott MacDonald
    October 1, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    If they were affordable enough, I'd love a pay as you go dual simmer.

    • André Kamara
      October 1, 2012 at 9:28 pm

      Check the new Acer Gallant Duos. It's €180, €150 without VAT and you have a RAM of 1Gb with Android Ice Cream Sandwich. I think Huawei also made some affordable ones.

    • Hatem Sindi
      October 1, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      Does it work with wind canada and t-mobile usa

    • André Kamara
      October 1, 2012 at 9:37 pm

      I'm not sure as I don't live in America, but there's no reason why it shouldn't.

    • Yaara Lancet
      October 2, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation Andre!

    • Anonymous
      October 2, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      You're welcome :-)

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      October 2, 2012 at 8:00 am

      Checkout the Samsung Galaxy Duos Lite GT-S5302. Android smartphone with dual SIM which has been launched a month back and cost around US $120 in India.

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      October 2, 2012 at 8:01 am

      Samsung Galaxy Y Duos Lite GT-S5302

    • Anonymous
      October 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm

      I was about to buy this one last month, but the RAM is not big enough and it has an "old" version on Android.

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      October 3, 2012 at 12:26 am

      Andre,

      It is 4GB internal and the Android is 4.0.4 Icecream Sandwich.

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      October 3, 2012 at 12:31 am

      Oh am sorry, I mixed it up with the one I am using which is a Samsung alaxy Chat GT-B5330 but it is a single SIM smartphone. Kindly ignore my previous comment Andre. Sorry for the mistake. Samsung Galaxy Y Duos Lite GT-S5302 runs on Androind GingerBread 2.3.6 and User Memory 2GB for multimedia and 1GB for applications and External Memory is upto 32GB.

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      October 2, 2012 at 8:06 am

      Dual SIM phones became popular in my country India initially solely because of the affordability factor. Being a developing country, where the standard of living is generally not at par with developed nations, people seldom could spent on two handsets. therefore, the initial dual SIM handset offerings were very basic in nature. However, with passing time, the advantage of a dual SIM handset drove through to the market, and more and more people started accepting it. As the acceptance grew, varied became the models, brands, features and offerings. Now dual SIM smartphones are very common sight in India.

    • Yaara Lancet
      October 2, 2012 at 3:59 pm

      Thanks for the device recommendations and your comment. It's surprising how little we see of these devices in the west, I know so many people who carry around two devices.

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      October 3, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      Another very recent awesome dual smartpone mobile is the Sony Xperia Tipo Dual. It costs around US $180 in India. The specs are pretty decent and yes it comes with Android ICS. :) More details at http://www.sonymobile.com/in/products/phones/xperia-tipo-dual/

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