Global travellers often use more than one SIM card at once to save on phone costs. By letting you run two SIMs in a single phone, the DUALSIM Mini saves you constant SIM card swapping. Is that a useful option for road warriors?
After several years of making work-related trips to the UK and other countries, I think I've got my phone costs under reasonably tight control. I use a separate SIM card when in Britain, which saves me paying exorbitant roaming charges for my existing number. It also means my Australian phone number doesn't start ringing at 3am in the morning.
The negative part of that approach is that I have to swap the Australian and UK SIMs in and out of my phone several times a journey, which is annoying and potentially risky to the cards themselves given my longstanding klutz status.
The DUALSIM Mini -- the second double-SIM phone from Australian phone developer DUALSIM -- aims to solve that problem by allowing you to insert two SIM cards in a single phone. You can switch each SIM on and off individually -- an option which DUALSIM suggests can be used to distinguish work and personal phones, but can also be used if you travel and want to pop in a cheaper pay-as-you SIM for local calls in that country and keep your home number silent during the wee small hours.
I've been testing the Mini on a trip to Europe, and on the whole I've been pretty impressed. In the past, I've tended to simply leave a blunt message saying "I'm not checking this phone" on my Australian voicemail, and largely relied on my Europe-only SIM. While I've still got the blunt message, having my Australian SIM active as well does make it less likely I'll miss important messages.
What are the downsides? The DUALSIM Mini is GSM-only, which means it won't offer great coverage Australia-wide. If you're used to working with a full-keypad smart phone, as I am, it's also restrictive to go back to entering text via a phone keypad.
Battery life only seems to run a couple of days even with fairly minimal usage, though perhaps that's to be expected given the need to track multiple signals. Needing to confirm which SIM you want to use every time you make a call is also a little tiring, but perhaps inevitable with this kind of approach.
With an RRP of $299 for what is, double SIMs aside, a rather basic candybar phone, the DUALSIM Mini is a little on the costly side. But if you do need to regularly use more than one SIM on the road, it's worth considering.
Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman occasionally wonders if he couldn't solve these problems better with Skype. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.