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A phone that allows two SIMs.

See: SIM

Since a SIM links a phone to a specific carrier (service provider), billing account, and phone number, a dual-SIM phone can be linked to two different phone numbers associated with two different billing accounts. Those accounts and phone numbers can be with different carriers, and even in different countries.

One common use is to have one phone with both a business phone number (and account) and a separate personal line. Another use is to have accounts with carriers in two different countries, in order to avoid costly roaming rates.

Some dual-SIM phones only allow one SIM to be active at a time, requiring the user to switch SIMs via a menu option. Other phones allow both SIMs to be active at once, a feature sometimes called "dual-active". Similarly, some that allow both SIMs to be active only allow one SIM to use certain network features like 5G data.

One or both SIMs in a dual-SIM phone may be an eSIM. Older dual-SIM phones had slots for two physical SIM cards. Many newer phones accept one physical SIM and a second SIM as an eSIM (no physical card). Or in some phones, both the primary and secondary SIM are eSIM.

See: eSIM

Phones with two physical SIM slots are uncommon in the U.S., but popular in certain other countries. Phones with a secondary eSIM are increasingly common.

Last updated Jan 12, 2024 by Rich Brome

Editor in Chief Rich became fascinated with cell phones in 1999, creating mobile web sites for phones with tiny black-and-white displays and obsessing over new phone models. Realizing a need for better info about phones, he started Phone Scoop in 2001, and has been helming the site ever since. Rich has spent two decades researching and covering every detail of the phone industry, traveling the world to tour factories, interview CEOs, and get every last spec and photo Phone Scoop readers have come to expect. As an industry veteran, Rich is a respected voice on phone technology of the past, present, and future.

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