Dual-SIM smartphones let you use two SIMs 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, however, 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 are being 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, but there are risks involved.
Since most dual-SIM phones are Chinese, you might also want to check our guides to the best Chinese phones & best budget Chinese phones.
Best Dual-SIM Phones 2020
1. OnePlus 8 Pro
The OnePlus 8 Pro is arguably the company’s first full flagship, finally incorporating long-requested features like wireless charging and an IP68 waterproof rating to make it a genuine contender with Samsung’s finest.
Understandably the price has gone up accordingly, but at £799/$899 for the base model – no slouch at 8GB RAM and 128GB storage – it still represents serious value by flagship standards, meaning you will save at least some money by opting for OnePlus over most other manufacturers. You can save even more with the £599/$699 OnePlus 8, though you’ll have to give up a few features and downgrade the display and cameras.
The 8 Pro camera is OnePlus’s best yet, and while it still lags behind rivals slightly in some software the hardware is among the best around, which has helped to close the gap considerably. Throw in 5G, a great design, and the best Android skin around and the OnePlus 8 Pro is easy to recommend to anyone who can afford it.
Read our full OnePlus 8 Pro review
2. Samsung Galaxy S20
The Galaxy S20 is the best phone in Samsung’s S20 series, and simply the best phone the company makes right now. It’s compact, powerful, and packs a versatile camera system that may not match the top-tier S20 Ultra on zoom or detail, but it meets – and sometimes beats – it across the rest of the board, which means it’s more than a match for just about any other phone out there too.
The wider 5G ecosystem isn’t quite there yet, but will be within the lifetime of this phone, making it almost worth the upgrade. And while battery life remains a slight concern, that’s really the only major fault here. The Android ecosystem offers more for less elsewhere, but usually without Samsung’s level of prestige or polish, and in this case we think that’s worth paying for.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S20 review
3. Xiaomi Mi 9
Devilishly fast, insanely beautiful and offering the best value for money you’ll find in any smartphone, anywhere. Mi 9 is a cracking deal at £305.99, well worth the upgrade from the Mi 8, and still worth a second look even with the (for now China only) announcement of Mi 10.
New is an in-display fingerprint sensor as standard, Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 855 processor, 20W wireless charging, a larger screen and a triple-lens camera that includes a massive 48Mp lens.
A Tech Advisor award winner at MWC 2019, Mi 9 is one of the best phones in the world, yet it comes at a mid-range price. It is also one of the top-rated camera phones.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi 9 review
4. Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro
Beaten by the more recent Mi 9 (and soon Mi 10) but not out of the running yet, Mi 8 Pro offers phenomenal value at £249.97 from Laptops Direct. And now that Xiaomi phones are easily available in the UK, there’s no reason not to consider it.
With powerful performance, decent cameras, some genuinely useful software, a fancy in-display fingerprint sensor and a cool transparent back cover, this is a great all-rounder at a fantastic price.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro review
5. Huawei P30 Pro
We love the P30 Pro. The design is top-drawer stuff, the display is outstanding and the cameras are truly some of the best ever seen on a phone, even one year on.
Prices have dropped since it launched early in 2019 and it’s great value compared to many rival flagships.
If you want to spend less (and get a little less), there’s the Huawei P30 to consider too.
Do note that the P30 was announced before Huawei was put on the US trade blocklist and Google announced its decision to pull support; therefore, it continues to have full access to Google apps, services and security updates.
Read our full Huawei P30 Pro review
6. Vivo Nex 3
With specs to rival anything else out there, some of the best battery life we’ve seen, and a beautiful curved screen, the Vivo Nex 3 is the epitome of a 2019 flagship phone – right down to the circular camera cutout on the back.
The curved ‘waterfall’ display covers the entire front of the phone, with no notch, cut-out, or anything – helped by a pop-up selfie camera at the top of the phone. There aren’t even any buttons to get in the way of the curved edges, with pressure-sensitive spots combined with haptic feedback to create the ‘feel’ of the volume and power buttons you’d normally expect.
You can’t buy it in the west – and importers are probably better off ditching the 5G and sticking to the regular 4G model – but if you’re willing to jump through some extra hoops to get hold of the Nex 3 there really isn’t much to disappoint. The only real letdowns are the lack of waterproofing, an occasionally clunky operating system, and a camera that’s good but can’t quite keep up with the best out there – but the combo of a 64Mp main sensor, 2x optical zoom, and wide angle will keep all but the most ardent camera connoisseurs happy regardless.
Read our full Vivo Nex 3 review
7. Honor View 20
The Honor View 20 is stunning to look at – from just about any angle, thanks to the one-two punch of the pinhole camera on the front and the genuinely unique holographic V effect on the glass rear. The photos look great, but don’t really do this thing justice – it’s properly gorgeous.
At just £499 for the base model, and £579 for one with extra RAM and storage, this is genuinely affordable too. Honor’s flagships have always offered serious specs and slick design while undercutting rivals on price, but it usually feels like there are a couple of compromises along the way.
For perhaps the first time, the View 20 doesn’t feel that way. Sure, premium features like wireless charging and waterproofing are still missing, but for most people those remain nice-to-haves – whereas with the core features here Honor is firing on all cylinders.
Read our full Honor View 20 review
8. Xiaomi Mi Mix 3
Swapping out the awkwardly placed selfie camera with a new dual-lens model that is tucked away behind the screen, the Mi Mix 3 is one of several new slider phones that shows how the concept should work. Not only allowing a proper full-screen display, but adding new quick-access functionality to the phone.
In other respects Mi Mix 3 is not a huge upgrade over the 2S, and actually loses some of its bling over its predecessor with the absence of its 18K gold camera surround. But it’s still a great phone, available at an incredible price (check out eBuyer for the best deals), and it’s astonishing to see just how far the original full-display phone has come.
There’s also a 5G version, available via Vodafone and Three, which was the first – and cheapest – 5G phone to go on sale in the UK.
Read our full Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 review
9. Huawei P30
Huawei’s pitch for the P30 is all about its camera, and it’s fair to say that the company has delivered. The Pro model may be one step ahead, but this version is still a match for plenty of high-end phones out there.
Low light and long-distance shots are where Huawei has really thrown down the gauntlet, with a combination of three great lenses and some software tricks that even Google’s Pixel phones struggle to match.
The P30 also looks stunning, with a big display (and small notch), some lovely colourful finishes, and a seriously slim body. Plus, there’s even a headphone jack.
If you want a phone with a phenomenal camera but can’t justify dropping close to a grand in one go, the Huawei P30 is seriously worth a look.
Do note that the P30 was announced before Huawei was put on the US trade blocklist and Google announced its decision to pull support, and as such, continues to have full access to Google apps, services and security updates.
Read our full Huawei P30 review
10. Oppo A9 2020
The Oppo A9 2020 is a budget handset the manages to excel in multiple areas – with an attractive design, a 48MP quad-camera and a massive 5000mAh battery that outshines even some of the most expensive phones on the market.
It’s not without faults, of course. Though the battery life is excellent, there’s no fast charging. Though the night mode on the camera is stellar, the user-experience of taking photos really needs refining to be simpler and cleaner.
For the price point, however, you’re getting a very good camera smartphone that feels high-end and a device that won’t die on you quickly. For these reasons we’d definitely say that the Oppo A9 2020 is a budget contender.
Read our full Oppo A9 2020 review
Your buying guide to the best dual-SIM phones in 2020
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, 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 at 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 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.
Another issue when using dual-SIM phones is where your contacts are stored. We found that by default the contacts from both SIM cards are stored in the phonebook.
If you’d rather see the contacts from only one SIM, tap the three dots icon (within the Contacts app) and choose ‘Contacts to display’. You can then select All contacts, Gmail contacts, phone contacts or one of your two SIMs.
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