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 2020
1. OnePlus 8 Pro – Best Overall
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 top flagships.
Understandably the price has gone up accordingly, but it still represents serious value by flagship standards, and you will save at least some money by opting for OnePlus over most other manufacturers. (The OnePlus costs less still, though you’ll have to give up a few features and downgrade the display and cameras.)
The 8 Pro camera is OnePlus’ best yet, and while it still lags behind rivals slightly in 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 – Best Features
The Galaxy S20 is the best phone in Samsung’s S20 series. 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.
Do note that only the Exynos (not Snapdragon) version of the Galaxy S20 supports dual-SIM.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S20 review
3. Oppo Find X2 Pro – Best Performance
The Oppo Find X2 Pro is a phenomenal phone by any measure. The 6.7in, 10-bit, 120Hz, QHD+ panel is the best display in any phone right now, and Oppo backs it up with the fastest wired charging around at 65W, and a top-tier camera that boasts two 48Mp lenses and up to 10x hybrid zoom.
You’ll have to live without wireless charging, and the choice between bland grey ceramic or garish orange vegan leather finishes might leave some struggling to find a design that suits their style.
For pure performance though, the Find X2 Pro can’t be beat right now, with all of the above plus a Snapdragon 865 5G, 512GB storage, and 12GB RAM – you just have to be willing to pay the price, as it doesn’t come cheap.
Read our full Oppo Find X2 Pro review
4. OnePlus Nord – Best Mid-range Phone
The OnePlus Nord is the best mid-range phone in the world right now. It looks and feels like a phone twice its price, with a display and main camera lens to match.
The 765G processor more than holds its own, and all of the camera lenses are solid except the forgettable macro shooter.
More importantly, you won’t find better at this price, or a better selection of the priority features for most users on a budget, with luxuries like wireless charging or an OTT 120Hz refresh rate ditched in favour of a focus on the fundamentals.
The Nord would be a good buy at £100 more – at this price, it’s a steal.
Read our full OnePlus Nord review
5. Realme 6 – Best Budget Phone
The Realme 6 is hands-down one of the best budget phones we’ve ever tested.
It’s slightly chunky size won’t be for everyone but this is currently the cheapest phone you can buy with a 90Hz display and it also has some decent cameras, speedy performance and solid battery life.
There’s very little to dislike. It can rival phones more than double the price.
Read our full Realme 6 review
6. Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S – Best Battery Life
The Redmi Note 9S is one of the best budget phones we’ve seen. This is a fantastic phone for less than £200, a real all-rounder with decent performance and cameras, as well as mind-blowing battery life. The Redmi recorded the longest time in the Geekbench 4 battery life test that we’ve seen to date.
We are not fans of the rear camera module, and the lack of NFC in some territories is a shame, but those niggles aside it ticks all our boxes at this price point.
A fine example of not a lot of money very well spent.
Read our full Xiaomi Redmi Note 9S review
7. Nubia Red Magic 5S – Best Gaming Phone
The Red Magic 5G was undeniably one of the best gaming phones on the market, and this upgrade to it is almost identical but makes a few tweaks and removes some of our frustrations with the in-display fingerprint sensor. Its 144Hz display and stereo speakers are among the best in their class.
The phone is targeted squarely at mobile gamers and as such, some aspects are less well suited to mainstream users. All things considered, however, the Red Magic 5S offers everything budding gamers are looking for, not to mention 5G speeds, at a price that means it’s hard to resist.
Read our full Nubia Red Magic 5S review
8. Oppo Find X2 – Best Combination of Performance and Value
For the price, the features you get on Oppo’s Find X2 are seriously impressive, and cheaper than phones of a similar spec from more well-known rivals.
It’s also better value for money than the Find X2 Pro – you still get that crisp display, a powerful chipset, an enviable camera and that ultra-fast charging.
The lack of wireless charging is a down side, and the in-display fingerprint scanner was occasionally a little janky. But that aside, this phone proves that you don’t need to stick with the top dogs in the tech industry to get a powerful phone.
Read our full Oppo Find X2 review
9. Realme X3 SuperZoom – Most Versatile Camera
Provided you can handle the sizeable Realme X3 SuperZoom, this phone strikes a favourable price/performance balance that focuses on camera capabilities above all else.
Factor in the high-refresh-rate display, speedy 30W fast charging and decent high-end performance, and it’s sub-£500 price tag looks rather enticing.
Read our full Realme X3 SuperZoom review
10. Oppo Reno 2 – Best Pop-up Camera
If you already have any other Oppo smartphone, it’s probaby not worth splashing out on the Reno 2. For everyone else, it looks like a good option if you want an Android phone with good cameras, excellent performance and long battery.
You may be among those who still do not trust the resilience of motorised cameras. Although we understand your doubts, the wing-shaped design of the Reno 2 seems good and also allows you to have a beautiful screen without notches.
Read our full Oppo Reno 2 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/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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