by Asif Iqbal, a blogger & consumer electronics expert with MySmartPrice
We’ve seen strong sales in niche categories getting a lot of attention from manufacturers. One such niche is the dual-SIM category. The relative ease with which a SIM card can be obtained combined with the low tariffs mean that a lot of users (especially in India) choose to use two numbers simultaneously. As such, the dual-SIM segment has also grown to cater to a wider audience in terms of choice. The low cost Chinese brands were the first to go aggressive with the release of dual-SIM phones which had other features such as really loud speakers and touchscreens.
People with a very shallow budget liked such phones due to their ability to provide entertainment at cheaper rates.
At the same time big name brands like Nokia, Samsung and LG were hesitant to release such handsets with dual-SIM capabilities deeming them ‘cheap’.
But soon they understood that there was a lot of demand for dual-SIM phones from the international brands.
“Microsoft does not offer any customisation on the software side and even has a strict limitation on WP8 hardware”
Samsung and Nokia were the first international brands to enter dual SIM feature phones market with ‘Guru’ and ‘Asha’ series.
One of the first foreign manufacturers to offer dual-SIM mobiles to Indian consumers, Samsung is currently leading the fray in terms of premium offerings in this segment.
The Galaxy S Duos became the most sought after dual-SIM mobile of 2012 in the premium segment. It blew similar offerings right out of the water.
Not content with resting on its laurels, however, Samsung has unveiled a new dual-SIM handset for 2013, dubbed the Grand Duos.
The Grand Duos takes design cues from the Galaxy SIII, and Samsung’s initiative to unify its design ethos across the Galaxy line of devices is evident in the way the Grand Duos is styled.
With Samsung’s TouchWiz Nature UX running on Android Jelly Bean on the Grand Duos, the UI is fluid as well as fast.
While it needs to be seen how well it sells, as the Grand Duos Price in India is priced around INR 21,000 while its newer competitor, Micromax Canvas HD 116 is competitively priced at around INR 14,000. [Prices March 2013].
In the meanwhile, there is also news of Samsung launching the dual SIM version of its flagship device – the Samsung Galaxy S3 Duos, in China.
While Samsung was quick to realize the advantages of launching mid-range dual-SIM handsets, other manufacturers have since launched their own handsets.
HTC’s Desire SV is one such entry. Launched in November 2012, it runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) along with Sense 4.1.
Even others such as LG and Sony made a nice move by releasing dual SIM based Android smartphones at correct time with devices such as LG Optimus L series and Sony Xperia Tipo Dual.
The main onus behind launching a dual-SIM mobile for most manufacturers was to offer convenience on-the-go, and as such, many mobiles that were designed featured budget handsets that targeted first-time buyers.
Brands like Micromax, Karbonn and Lava mobiles offer an astonishing bevy of such devices.
Although there was a lot of choice that was available to the consumer, most of the devices in this category were not satisfactory to buyers who were looking for mobiles that offered much more in terms of functionality.
This is what led to creation of device like the Galaxy S Duos.
Although Nokia’s Asha series devices are one of the best-selling mobile phones in the market even defeating the likes of Samsung Champ and Guru Series, they are missing out due to unavailability of any Nokia smartphone in the mid-range or premium segment.
As Microsoft does not offer any customisation on the software side and even has a strict limitation on the WP8 hardware front as well, Nokia is unable to offer dual SIM premium smartphones in its line-up.
In conclusion, major manufacturers see the dual-SIM market as a significant growth area and are launching not only budget but also a lot of mid-range handsets to consolidate their position in this segment.
With devices like the Galaxy Grand Duos already launched and many more to come this calendar year, 2013 promises to be a great year for dual-SIM handsets.
Asif Iqbal is a consumer electronics expert with MySmartPrice – a price comparison website based in India. Asif has been writing blogging about how dual-SIM has become an essential point in the feature list of BRIC nations, especially India. He is a computer sciences graduate and has been closely following the consumer electronics space from last six years and a technology blogger for the past three years.