A Guide to Dual-SIM Active Phones and the Best Ones on the Market

Kyle Reyes
January 26, 2023

In today’s day and age, there are a ton of reasons why you may want to have two phone numbers. Work and travel are significant, sweeping reasons and each of them breaks down into more specific categories. The idea behind Dual-SIM Active phones is pretty simple. The phone is configured in a way in which it is able to hold two separate numbers on the single device. Imagine taking two phones with their own accounts (regardless of service provider or plan) and combining them. That’s a Dual-SIM phone. 

A lot of people can benefit from Dual-SIM phones, and this article will cover the basics of what Dual-SIM phones are before we jump into the best Dual-SIM active phones on the market and the instances in which they shine the brightest. Without further ado, let’s get into what makes Dual-SIM phones possible!

What is a Dual-SIM Phone?

As we touched on in the intro, Dual-SIM phones allow users to hold two separate accounts and numbers on one device. There are a lot of people who have a personal phone and a work phone. This is a classic way for people to separate their work from their non-work lives, especially if they, say, need to have their work phone online at all times and be able to answer it outside of work hours. A work phone with a separate ringtone allows those employees to know exactly when they are getting a work call. It also means that they can leave their work phone behind when they are truly off the clock. No slack notifications or e-mails on vacation! 

That being said, carrying around two phones all the time is less than ideal. In terms of pocket space alone, two phones can be more than a bit inconvenient. As phones have become more and more complex the first dual-SIM phones gained popularity. Some people started to go crazy and created triple-SIM and quad-SIM phones, but they never caught on like dual-SIM phones have. You may have a dual-SIM compatible phone and not even know it! 

Who uses Dual-SIM Active Phones?

Anyone who wants to have access to multiple numbers or plans could use a dual-SIM phone. When you have multiple SIM cards on the same phone, you can switch between them at will. With a phone like this, you have an additional setting, normally in your drop-down menu, that lets you switch what the active SIM card is on your phone. While only one SIM card is active at a time in your user interface, you will receive text and call notifications from each number whenever it is relevant. 

This means that even if you are on the phone with someone that’s on your personal line you can still get a call from the other line. It will come through as a normal call and you can put your current call on hold or let it ring and keep talking to whoever is on line one. One important note — the data you use is tied to the SIM card that is active in the background. That means you need to be conscious of the SIM card that’s active if one of your plans does not have unlimited data or is for another region. Other than that, the switch between SIM cards should be easy! 

Business Phones

There is nothing new about a phone just for business, but with a Dual SIM active phone, you are able to utilize that SIM card on your regular phone. Since it is a separate number and separate account, you have more freedom to customize the notification settings than you would be working with only one number. For instance, if you are heading out on vacation and want to completely disconnect from your work phone you can put yourself on a serious do not disturb for that one number while keeping your personal phone active and usable.

This is also a great way to combine accounts if you travel internationally.  

International SIM Cards

A lot of people travel internationally with some regularity, and a dual SIM active phone lets you evade roaming charges and lower data speeds if you are in another country. While a lot of United States companies have international roaming agreements, those agreements are generally not worthwhile if you spend a lot of time in another country. A lot of time means, generally, over a week each month. Depending on the time you spend you can tailor the plan to what makes sense. A cheaper plan could be less expensive than what the roaming charges would have been and you can do it with only one phone! 

What Happens When People Call Both Numbers? 

Nothing crazy! You are able to put one call on hold and answer the other one, but it comes up as a normal notification on your user interface and you can do what you will with that. You can even, under the right circumstances, set up a conference call with the two incoming calls! 

How to set up Dual SIM Active Phones

Before we go any further, let’s talk about how to set up your Dual SIM active phone! Dual SIM active and standby phones have a slight difference, and we recommend Dual SIM active phones, but at the end of the day, it’s not a big deal. 

How to set up a Dual SIM Apple Phone

All of the newer models of Apple devices are dual SIM compatible. In order to set up a dual SIM, you first open up the SIM tray and place one of your SIM cards on the bottom of the tray and the other on the top, and slide it back into the slot! From there, make sure to label your plans. These are the tags labeled in the Apple settings: 

  • Business
  • Cellular Data
  • Personal 
  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Travel

You can pick and choose which category works best for the number and you can change it whenever in your settings! You can set a primary and secondary number and configure the settings to best use your cellular data and decide which of your numbers send the message when you are contacting someone not already in your contacts list. When you configure your contact list, you can choose your preferred cellular plan when you send messages to specific contacts. That is a great way to lessen the flip flopping between multiple numbers, as you can use cellular data on one number while sending calls and texts on another!

The microSD slot is a nice option for those who like to keep a lot of pictures or downloaded media on their phone. For those who want to save data, a micro SD is a great option! Image courtesy of Samsung

How to set up a Dual SIM Android Phone

Similar to Apple phones, Dual SIM compatible Android phones have a SIM card reader that reads both SIM cards. They have a hybrid tray as well, where one of the slots can hold a SIM card as well as a micro SD card that you can insert to increase phone memory (as long as you don’t need it for a second SIM card.)

After inserting both of your SIM cards, you are able to go into the phone’s settings and activate the second card after your phone detects it automatically. From there, you can choose from the categories, again similar to the categories available at Apple. There are a few extra categories available, like text messages, heart, and home. Once you have set up the SIM card you have an extra option when making calls, texts, and using data. In the drop down menu as well as when you are sending a text or making a call you have the option to change the SIM card, and in your setting you can decide which ones are default for certain activities. 

Which Should You Purchase?

That’s all up to you! Both Apple and Android have some amazing options for phones, and if you are purchasing a new phone we recommend making a list of some of your favorites from each provider and picking out the one that you will be most comfortable using. There are enough dual SIM active phone options that there are great options no matter where you are looking.

One downside of purchasing a dual SIM active phone is that it is mainly the newer models that have the new trays and are able to support two SIM cards, so older, more affordable phones are oftentimes out of the question. If you are being supplied with a work phone, you can ask, if you are receiving a dual SIM compatible device, whether or not you can use it for your personal phone as well. 

Our Top 6 Dual Sim Phones Active as of 2023

Now that you’ve got the lowdown on how dual SIM active phones work, let’s dive into the best of the best if you’re looking for a dual SIM active phone in 2023.

1. Samsung Galaxy S22 Series

Price: $1,000

The S22 series from Samsung Galaxy are all available with a dual SIM card slot, and have a fantastic suite of bells and whistles. It has a tremendous processor, a ton of memory, and a killer camera. The price tag is a big hurdle, but a phone like this will treat you well if you are able to budget out the money for it. The Samsung Galaxy comes with a dual SIM card slot and it supports both SIM and eSIM cards, letting you take advantage of the extra storage while using two SIM cards if you configure an eSIM with one of your cellular providers. 

The features on the S22 are some of the best out there. It has a ton of the features that come with new phones, and it is able to output some of the best pictures on the market. We do, however, want to give a mention to the previous model, the S21. 

2. Samsung Galaxy S21 Series

Price: $625

Coming in strong is the S21 series. It has a bit of a worse camera, not as much processing power or battery life, but it has the same base suite of features as the newer phone. We are big fans of finding a more affordable phone depending on the features you are looking for. In this case, you are limited by the fact that you’re looking for a dual SIM active phone, but if you are not as interested in the improvements  made with the more recent phone models then you have a much different equation to think about when it comes to buying a new phone. 

Some of the biggest items that are being improved with new phones are the camera, the display resolution, the processor, and the battery life. Battery life is, however, balanced by the fact that these newer phones are using more battery power, so they need a stronger system to keep up with the expenditure. After that, there are not too many differences between the last three or four series of phones released by the major companies. Let’s jump into the rest of our list, where we will bring up some new and expensive dual SIM active phones and some more affordable ones. 

3. Google Pixel 7

Price: $600

The Google Pixel 7 is a fantastic new phone with a lot of storage and access to the latest and greatest that Google is able to put on the table. This is an amazing phone for users of all kinds, and it has a great camera and some fantastic features when it comes to photo taking and photo editing. This is another excellent choice for a dual SIM active phone if you are looking for a new phone that is more affordable than the flagship from Samsung or Apple. 

This is the phone for you if you are happy with a phone that’s been figuring out its look over the last few generations and landed on something fantastic. That being said, the oldest Google Pixel that has dual SIM capability goes way back to the 3a. Let’s check it out. 

4. Google Pixel 3a

Price (Refurbished): $100

The price on this one changes a lot depending on the sale you get and the place you look to purchase it. Right now on Amazon, the Google Pixel 3a is around $100 and is a very affordable way to get yourself a dual SIM active phone if you need to use two SIM cards but are not interested in the kinds of features available in some of the newer phones. If you use your phone for mainly talk and text, and aren’t too interested in stuff like 4k streaming or gaming that require a significant processor then this phone could be great for you! 

Getting used phones, be they refurbished or lightly used, is always a risk because you are not sure if they have any problems on the inside. Refurbished or lightly used phones are almost always good as new, especially ones that are being sold by a wireless provider or other big distributor who have checked the insides to ensure that everything is working. While these phones are more risky than the newer, unrefurbished phones, but they are so cheap that even if they don’t last as long, you are able to purchase another one or even a third (if you are tremendously unlucky) and still be saving some serious money even if you have bad luck with the first one! 

5. iPhone 13

Price:  $730

Apple’s iPhone 13 series is a fantastic choice for a dual SIM phone. iPhones are so prevalent, and access to iMessage allows for quick and efficient communication with all Apple devices. They have a fantastic UI and it is really easy to add on a second SIM card through the settings of the phone. On top of its ability to be a dual SIM active phone, the iPhone 13 series all have fantastic cameras, processors, and screens so if you are someone who likes to game or watch videos or something like that on your phone this is a fantastic way to do that. While the whole series is fantastic, we recommend the base model unless you can justify the extra abilities of the pricier models in your budget. 

6. iPhone SE (3rd Gen)

Price: $450

Last but not least, the iPhone SE (3rd Gen) is an affordable option that nets you a great new Apple device with dual SIM capability. This model comes without the bells and whistles that many of the other new phones have, but you can rest assured that it is a new phone and is not refurbished while coming at an astonishingly low price point in relation to the other phones on Apple’s roster. 

Just make sure to include a few sentences wrapping everything up!

Kyle Reyes
Kyles Reyes is a journalist from Pittsburgh, PA that specializes in the wireless industry, phone plan comparisons & advice.
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