Dual SIM smartphones: What you need to know

24 May 2017

Two SIMs are better than one, they're twice the fun. Or something along those lines. But in all seriousness, dual SIM smartphones - device that can take two SIM cards at once - are becoming more common in Australia. And they can be pretty useful too.

While we've got a few different options for dual SIM phones in Australia - from manufacturers including OPPO, Huawei, and Motorola - they're still not as quite as prevalent as in other markets. The main reason for this is that our telcos simply won't sell dual SIM devices. You can get a dual SIM Galaxy S8 in the UAE, but not in Australia.

The most common dual SIM setup is currently a 4G / 3G dual standby configuration. This ostensibly means that only one SIM is able to use the 4G network, while the other is stuck on 3G. Dual standby refers to the fact that you can't use both SIMs at once. For example, if you're taking a call on your primary SIM, someone calling your second SIM's number won't be able to reach you. 

In a dual active configuration - which is far less common - you're able to use both SIMs at once.

Why two SIMs?

There's a couple of reasons you might want a dual SIM smartphone:

  • You want to have a work number and a personal number both go to the same phone, so you don't need to carry around two devices.
  • You want to keep using Australian SIM while overseas for talk and text (which is often much cheaper than roaming data) but get a local SIM at your destination for data.
  • You want a second SIM for making international calls at a cheaper rate than on your main plan.
  • You just want two different numbers.
  • You want to pretend to be Walter White.
  • You get patchy coverage in some places, but don't want to change provider.

Are there any downsides to dual SIM phones?

If the device you're after offers dual SIM capabilities, there's still a few things to consider before taking the plunge:

  • Dual SIM phones typically make you choose between using the second SIM slot for a second SIM, or for a microSD card. You can't use both.
  • Unless work's paying for your second SIM, you'll be up for two phone bills.
  • You'll have to buy it outright, because Australian telcos don't sell dual SIM smartphones on a contract.

Dual SIM smartphones available in Australia

Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus

The Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus are among the most affordable dual SIM smartphones available in Australia, but they're still top notch devices. We'd recommend spending a little more and getting the Moto G5 Plus, but if you'd prefer the cheaper of the two, the Moto G5 is still a solid choice.

The Moto G5 is $299 outright, and the Moto G5 Plus starts at $399 outright.

Moto Z and Moto Z Play

The Moto Z is Motorola's modular flagship from late last year, touting compatibility with a whole heap of hot swappable accessories including snap-on battery packs, zoom lenses, and a portable projector for some reason. 

The Moto Z Play is a little cheaper, a little less powerful, a little thicker, still works with Moto Mods, and has a much bigger battery.

The Moto Z is $899 outright, and the Moto Z Play is $599 outright.

OPPO R9s and OPPO R9s Plus

Both of OPPO's latest bang-for-buck hero devices - the 5.5-inch R9s and the 6-inch R9s Plus - are available in dual SIM configurations locally.

Be mindful of where you buy one from though: while the OPPO R9s and OPPO R9s Plus are available through a number of telcos, only the models sold outright (direct from OPPO or through retailers such as JB Hi-Fi and Officeworks) are dual SIM.

The R9s is $598 outright, and the R9s Plus is $698 outright.

Huawei Mate 9 (Mocha Brown)

Like big phones? Well, at almost 6-inches, the Mate 9 is one of the biggest around; no wonder there's space for two SIM cards.

The black Mate 9 sold through telcos is a single SIM model, so if you want the dual SIM model, you'll want to look for the outright variant. You'll find it in a fetching "mocha brown". 

The Mate 9 is $999 outright.

Huawei P10 Plus

The regular-sized Huawei P10 might only be a single SIM device, but its larger sibling, the P10 Plus, will happily take two. 

Like the Mate 9 and the smaller P10, one of the P10 Plus' key features is a dual rear-facing camera setup "co-engineered" with Leica.

The P10 Plus is $1,099 outright.

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