Dual-SIM Reviews & Buying Advice


Dual-SIM smartphones let you use two SIM cards in a single phone. Most people who use dual-SIM phones find the functionality useful for mixing work and pleasure, rather than carrying separate phones for their work and personal contracts.

Dual-SIM phones are also useful for maintaining two personal contracts, whereby one might offer a good rate on calls and texts and the other offers unlimited data. Or perhaps you frequently travel abroad and would like to carry a UK SIM for when you’re at home and another that is local to the country you’re visiting.

Dual-SIM phones are incredibly popular outside the UK, but for some reason, us Brits have been left out of the dual-SIM party. This is one reason why the Chinese market has become a popular solution for picking up a dual-SIM phone. 

Since most dual-SIM phones are Chinese, you might also want to check our guides to the best Chinese phones & best budget Chinese phones.

Do bear in mind that many smartphones officially sold in the UK are single-SIM variants, whereas alternative models of that very same phone sold elsewhere in the world are dual-SIM. If you have a specific phone in mind, a good place to check is Amazon for any dual-SIM variants of that phone.

Best Dual-SIM Phones 2021

1. Xiaomi Mi 11 – Best Overall

2. Oppo Find X3 Pro – Best Display

Oppo Find X3 Pro

3. OnePlus 8 Pro – Feature-packed

OnePlus 8 Pro

4. OnePlus Nord – Best Mid-range Phone

OnePlus Nord

5. OnePlus 8T – Best Value Flagship

OnePlus 8T

6. Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro – Best Premium Mid-ranger

Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro

7. Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro – Best Value Overall

Xiaomi Redmi Note 10 Pro

8. Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro – Best Budget Phone

Xiaomi Poco X3 Pro

9. Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S – Best Battery Life

Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S

10. Nubia Red Magic 5S – Best Gaming Phone

Nubia Red Magic 5S

Your buying guide to the best dual-SIM phones in 2021

How do dual-SIM phones work? 

Something we’ve noticed when shopping for dual-SIM phones is that the manufacturer very rarely provides any information about the functionality other than it exists. It doesn’t tell you how the dual-SIM functionality works in practice, nor whether both SIMs support 4G/5G, or even what size SIM cards they accept.

You can never assume; you’ll need to contact the manufacturer or check spec tables, reviews or forums to find out this information.

In all the dual-SIM phones we’ve tested, both SIMs are on standby at all times (known as dual-standby phones), but you can actively use only one SIM at a time. This means that either SIM can accept a phone call or text at any time, without you having to actively swap between them or reboot the phone.

However, if you get a call on one number while a call is active on the other, it won’t start ringing in your ear or give you the option to put the first caller on hold – the call will simply not be successful.

What is the difference between Dual-Standby and Dual-Active?

Dual-active SIM phones use two modems and allow you to receive calls on both numbers at once.

If it’s you who wants to make a call or send a text, Android has a standard SIM Management menu that lets you specify which SIM should be used for voice calls, video calls, messages and mobile data. You can either specify a particular SIM for each of these tasks, or leave the setting as ‘Always Ask’.

The data connection is where there seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes to dual-SIM phones. Whereas both SIM slots on some dual-SIM phones are capable of supporting 4G or 5G connections, you can use data connectivity on only one SIM at a time. 

Unlike with calls and texts, typically speaking the data connection can’t be on standby for both SIMs; you must specify which SIM you want to use rather than select one when prompted – though some phones will let you set them to switch to the other SIM when the first can’t make a connection.

By default, when you are using the data connection on one SIM and a phone call comes in to the other, it will pause the data connection on the first.

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