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September 9, 2017

Frequent flyer? These are the best dual-SIM phones you can buy

by John_A

Dual SIM phones aren’t particularly popular in the U.S. or the U.K. If you find yourself traveling overseas frequently, though, they can be very helpful.

Using a device with two SIM cards allows you to remain connected to two mobile networks at once and receive calls on both numbers, or maintain service if you move from one coverage zone to another. For that reason, dual-SIM capabilities are a selling point in mainland Europe and Asia — though as you might expect, few devices sold outside of those regions support the feature.

Still, there are a handful of devices out there that do, and that are available in many parts of the world. In this list, we’ll run through the best dual-SIM phones for customers who prioritize dual-SIM functionality.

OnePlus 5

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The OnePlus 5 is one of our favorite phones of the year, and certainly one of the best value propositions on the market right now. For well under $500, you can get a handset that qualifies as flagship in every sense of the word, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 6GB of RAM, and a 1080p AMOLED display coated in curved Gorilla Glass 5. And to make the deal even sweeter — for the purposes of this list, anyway — it’s got a dual-SIM tray.

The OnePlus 5 is exclusively sold unlocked on OnePlus’ own site, which means you have the freedom to choose a network (or two) that satisfies your needs.

Samsung Galaxy S8 (International Version)

First things first, let’s make this clear: The Galaxy S8 you purchase from a carrier or retailer based in the U.S. will not feature a dual-SIM tray. That’s a feature exclusive to international models. However, you can still order that version of Samsung’s flagship online through sites like Amazon, and it’s engineered to be as widely compatible with as many different regions and networks as possible.

There’s another key difference between this variant of the Galaxy S8 and its American counterpart. Whereas the phone is powered by a Snapdragon 835 chip in the States, overseas it carries Samsung’s own Exynos 8895 processor. Benchmarks have shown the Exynos 8895 to have a slight edge in terms of power and performance, but the 835 is plenty capable already, and the difference is negligible in typical use.

Honor 6X

Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends

Priced at just $200 unlocked, you wouldn’t expect the Honor 6X to be particularly well-equipped. Thankfully, that’s not the case. Inside, you’ll find one of parent company Huawei’s midrange chipsets — the Kirin 655 — which is comparable, though perhaps not quite as snappy as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 625. The Honor 6X also features an impressive 3GB of RAM and even a dual-lens cameras around the back.

The midrange budget market is an incredibly competitive one, but Honor’s handset separates itself from the pack with a comprehensive spec sheet and dual-SIM functionality. It is only compatible with GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile, however — so you won’t be able to bring it to Verizon and Sprint, as they operate on the CDMA standard.

Huawei Mate 9

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

If you love big-screen phones, Huawei’s Mate 9 packs a 5.9-inch display — perfect for users who would feel at home with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8, but couldn’t bear spending twice as much. That’s right, the Mate 9 runs just $500. It’s the only device Huawei sells in the U.S., but it’s a very well-rounded one, with a massive 4,000mAh battery, excellent dual cameras, co-designed with Leica, and a Kirin 960 processor with 4GB RAM. The Kirin silicon proved to be nearly on par with Snapdragon 821 in our testing — Qualcomm’s flagship system-on-chip from 2016.

That’s more than enough power, in a generous form factor, with dual-SIM support — something you won’t find in the Galaxy Note 8 sold on our shores. Huawei has taken extra steps with its dual-SIM tech to ensure that the second card doesn’t suffer worse connectivity or slower data, a common problem of devices with the feature. Like the Honor 6X, however, you’ll need to be on a GSM carrier to use the Mate 9.

Xiaomi Mi 6

Xiaomi’s phones aren’t officially sold in the U.S., but you can import them from third-party vendors. If you’re experienced with Android, and are prepared to solve technical issues on your own without corporate support, you’ll find this to be an aggressively priced, full-featured handset with the power to rival the best from Samsung, LG, and Apple.

The Mi 6 features a Snapdragon 835, just like the OnePlus 5, and starts with 6GB of memory and 64GB of internal storage. Actually, from a specs standpoint, the two devices are pretty similar. The main difference concerns the software. The Mi 6 utilizes Xiaomi’s MIUI skin, which is about as heavy a departure from stock Android as you’ll find. You can expect to pay about $490 for the base model.

Look past that, and it sounds pretty good, right? There’s one more thing you should be aware of though, and it’s something you’ll want to check with your local carrier before pulling the trigger. The Mi 6 is intended for use in China, and as such may not play nice with all the bands every network operates on. Still, it’s powerful, inexpensive, and can handle two SIM cards — and that earns it a spot on this list.




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