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My question topic is Android support for dual SIM hardware. More specifically I'd like to find out if it's the Android 2.2 release that added support for real dual SIM and dual GSM support, and to which extend both cards are online or usable as data channel.

A question about Dual SIM Android phone? already came up here, but it didn't investigate the issue completely. And the mentioned mobile (Tiger G3) was also most likely incorrectly reported as Android phone. From all pictures I've seen it's a regular chinese MTK/NucleuOS phone.

I want to base my question on the STAR A3000 as hardware example. It's verified that it is really running Android, and dual SIM capabilities seem very plausible:
http://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?SearchText=A3000
I'm linking to a search listing and not a shop or review directly to avoid the impression of spamvertizing. It's also a more long-lived link that way. But foremost I want to highlight that there are two hardware versions. The original A3000 runs Android 2.1 and offers no dual SIM capabilities. All newer listings advertise both Android 2.2 and dual SIM support.

The trouble with chinese mobiles and resellers is that not all details are super reliable. You'll have to cross check multiple sources, and better assume the lowest common denominator. In the above shop search some Android 2.2 dual sim A3000s are for example still depicted with the original hardware version. I've seen a few images (and there's a youtube video) with the dual sim slots, so I presume this verified. There's also a rumor (on dealextreme) that both hardware versions are identical and there's just a black cover above the second sim slot for the first version (looks plausible from pictures). So that's why I assume that Android 2.1 didn't support such features, and the Android 2.2 kernel maybe introduced it.

The hardware in this phone most likely supports not only dual SIM, but dual GSM. This means that both SIM cards are connected the whole time, to two different networks. All previous MTK chips and mobiles support that.
However I've seen one picture of the A3000 Android 2.2.1 version which shows a configuration screen with an option along the lines "[x] Select SIM card at bootup". This would suggest that it's not a real dual-GSM setup, but just dual-SIM - which only allows switching. Yet all the listings from my first link suggest that the phone and Android is "dual sim dual standby". So I'm confused.

Back to the question: Did Android 2.2 introduce proper support for dual-GSM? I know none of the big brand vendors supports anything like that, so it must be a fringe feature, maybe not even in the OHA documentation. Any chance something like this was mentioned in some sort of release notes? (Really I have no clue, no Android phone yet, still gauging.)

My main interest is keeping my main phone number, and using a secondary SIM and contract for data connnections preferrably. Or the other way round.


Another note. I know there was also the General Mobile DSTL1 once, which was the first (and for a long time only) Android 1.5/1.6 phone to advertise dual-SIM. I don't know to which extend it supported real dual-GSM functionality. But it's interesting that old Android versions allowed it. So I'll extend my question into why no Android 2.0 and 2.1 phones with dual-sim existed. Did the feature possibly come and go twice in Androids lifetime?

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3 Answers 3

A3000 is a real dual standby Android phone. It allows selecting a SIM when you call or send an SMS. And also you receive calls to any SIM. When you talk to one SIM, the second shows busy too. I've just got this phone (this morning) from alibaba.com and now I'm testing it. Hello from Siberia :)

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+1 Ah, very cool. Maybe you can elaborate a bit when you had some time to check it out thoroughly. I'm also interested in if the default data/internet connection can be configured to the second sim for example. –  mario Jan 26 '11 at 6:00
    
+1 Hey, it sounds promising. Does it support Market? (I've met a Chinese tablet, called ePad, which does not - it was too slow for any app.) –  ern0 Jan 26 '11 at 13:32

I have it for a week, and I believe I have managed to test most of its functions. WiFi works, BT works, bouth sims works perfectly, camera 2.0Mpix, flash works, market works, better to charge in external charger because small nokia or usb cable (samsung) not always works. g sensors works (labyrinth). too slow for abduction or NFS. you can chose use gprs from sim1, sim2 ar non of them. without microSD it is useless. TV (analog) works. generay its too slow for games, but seems a good phone.

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GPS not exist, only A-GPS. 3D engine very weak. CPU hard to describe, it shows only one cpu 207.66MHz, but averyone sais that there is second core with 400Mhz –  user2912 Feb 21 '11 at 15:25

No, there's still no dual-SIM or multi-SIM support in Android itself. There's nothing to stop manufacturers extending their ROM to support two or more SIM cards, and several have done this. There are some phones where you have to reboot to switch SIMs, like in the old days with dumbphones, and some phones, such as this one, where you can actually be on standby on two networks at once.

The only limitation is that third-party apps (such as dialers you download from Google Play) can only see one of the SIM cards - because that's all the standard Android framework can expose.

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