Last updated: 30 November 2015
Mobile phones with more than one SIM card have become popular in Brazil, since it allows the user to choose the services that best fits their needs. In this article, we will provide an overview of the multi-SIM technology and how it is used in Brazil.
Mobile phones with technology that allows using more than one SIM card are still popular in Brazil. Multi-SIM mobiles experienced huge growth in the last couple of years, in 2013 alone the sales of these devices grew 680%, according to IDC Brasil. Increased adoption is expected to continue, especially with the launch of new devices with 3G and 4G technology.
Currently, the main manufacturers already offer low to high-end smartphones with dual-SIM technology, which is the most common in the country. In April 2015, smartphones represented 77.5% of all the devices in Brazil, according to IDC Brasil.
Mobile phones with the capacity for 3 or 4 SIM cards, which is the maximum supported, are rare in the country, since they are not widely sold by popular brands or in major retailers. Consumers are used to looking for mobile phones directly in the provider stores, which obviously do not offer options for Multi-SIM phones. Devices with 3+ SIM cards are usually manufactured by Chinese brands and are feature phones, which explains the low adoption since the consumer tends to look for smartphones.
The best-selling mobile phone brand in Brazil during 2014 was Samsung, followed by LG and Nokia. Dual-SIM models were also among the best-sellers, all of them mid and high-end models, such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini Duos and the Samsung Galaxy Gran Duos. This is a reflection of a large investment from the South-Korean company in the improvement of the Dual-SIM technology.
Why Choose a Multi-SIM Mobile Phone?
Dual-SIM mobile phones are chosen for one main reason in Brazil: savings on voice call services. Plans offered by Brazilian operators have huge differences among them, such as the price, quality of the service and benefits. For example, one operator may offer cheap data plans, while others offer free of charge calls for numbers with the same operator, whilst others unlimited messaging.
Using more than one SIM card allows the user to choose which option best fits their needs according to the purpose. However, providers are already offering new mobile plans which make calls to another carrier cheaper, which may diminish the necessity for an additional SIM card.
Multi-SIM devices are also used by those who want a private and a corporate telephone line on the same device.
Since the operators work with the same frequency bandwidths there are no limitations for the use according to the mobile phone chosen by the client. According to IDC Brasil, the trend among the manufacturers is to offer even more options carrying 4G technology.
Using Multi-SIM Technology
There are multiple ways available on a mobile phone device to switch between SIM cards, depending on which one you want to use. Since it is not standardised the system may vary according to the manufacturer. Most smartphones with the technology make the switch between SIMs normally through the notification menu. There are still some models which have a physical button on the side of the device to switch SIMs.
Currently all the models use a system called “dual standby”, which means if you are on a call using one card, the calls made for the other card are sent to voicemail or are simply inoperant. The same system is valid for radio calls, offered by Nextel. It is possible to find older models with the “full active” system, which allows simultaneous calls.
The device settings usually offer options to choose the functions performed by each SIM card, such as which one will provide data packaging, make calls or send texts. However, on some models, internet services are only available from SIM cards inserted in slot 1 and not on both, so it is important to check which connection options are available on your phone.
Essentially there aren’t large differences between single-SIM card mobiles and multi SIM cards, since they operate similarly. The only major disadvantage on multi-SIM mobiles is the battery consumption, which tends to be higher since the device uses more power to keep more cellular networks operational. Although this problem tends to be lower on more recent devices, with the use of new technologies that helps manage battery consumption. Mobiles with 3+ SIM cards have an additional disadvantage of being manufactured only by lesser known brands, often with low quality and are sold with limited or no guarantee to the user.