What Are Dual SIM Phones, And Do You Need One?

dual sim 300   What Are Dual SIM Phones, And Do You Need One?Ever 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.

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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.

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 sim 1   What Are Dual SIM Phones, And Do You Need One?Up 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.

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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!


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

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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

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Scott MacDonald

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

André Kamara

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

Does it work with wind canada and t-mobile usa

André Kamara

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

Yaara Lancet

Thanks for the recommendation Andre!


You’re welcome :-)

Rajaa Chowdhury

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

Samsung Galaxy Y Duos Lite GT-S5302


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


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

Rajaa Chowdhury

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

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

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.

Oliver Rainer

Dual sim reminds me of my old Nokia case.

Mark Silos

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

That’s pretty cool. Thanks for sharing!


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

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.


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

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

Ahmed Khalil

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

Reynldo Mallorca


VS Vishnu


Dimal Chandrasiri

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

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.

Rob Hindle

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.

Rob Hindle

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

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.

Rob Hindle

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

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!

ReĂ˝ Aetar

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

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

ReĂ˝ Aetar

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


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.

Loreson San Juan

dual sim phones are booming in the Philippines

Rajaa Chowdhury

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

Timothy Liem

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

Rajaa Chowdhury

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