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HomeTechnologyMobileFlashback: some crazy phones had three or even four SIM card slots

Flashback: some crazy phones had three or even four SIM card slots

How many SIM slots does your phone have? Dual SIM models are very popular in some regions, but in recent years eSIM (embedded SIM) has started to replace the secondary slot for an external card.

Many carriers offer low-cost roaming or no roaming at all (for example within the EU), so having the option to open extra cards from a local carrier has become less important. But now, ten years ago, some manufacturers weren’t sure how many phone lines you might need in your pocket.

A? Two? four? Let’s start with the loneliest number. As we explained in a previous installment, the first GSM phones had SIM cards – the kind of full-size ones you might have used in payphones. They did double duty. First, they told the operator network who will be billed for the call. Second, they served as storage, as the earliest phones had no memory for phone numbers or text messages.

So the need for at least one SIM is pretty obvious (although if you grew up in a CDMA region you might disagree). How about two SIMs? In 2000, the world’s first dual SIM phone, the Benefon Twin, was introduced. Actually “twin” actually referred to the phone with dual band connectivity, actually the Benefon Twin Dual SIM we are interested in.

Benefon Twin Dual SIM, first of its kind
Benefon Twin Dual SIM, first of its kind
Benefon Twin Dual SIM, first of its kind

The Benefon Twin Dual SIM is the first of its kind (picture credit)

Finnish operator VLP boasted about its usefulness: “Using two SIM cards in a single phone will provide our customers with a smart and convenient way to combine the economies of our Citikka subscription and the global coverage of GSM services. Citikka Q is especially for users who frequently move outside the service area of ​​our Citikka network.” Mr Erik Sjoberg, managing director of VLP, said. “As far as we know, the Benefon Twin Dual SIM is the first GSM phone on the market with an operating system and two SIM card slots, which greatly simplifies the phone management of two-line users.

“It provides an equally significant added value, not just for customers of regional Cityphone services, but for all users who use two separate mobile subscriptions for any reason,” Mr. Jorma Nieminen added.

We can say that the Gigabyte Gsmart G1317 Rola is the first Android with dual SIM. Announced in late 2010, it was released in April 2011. Note also that ViewSonic was “first” when it launched the ViewSonic V350 in February 2011, but that model has been redesigned and its launch delayed to June.

Gigabyte Gsmart G1317 Rola is the world's first Android phone with two SIM slotsGigabyte Gsmart G1317 Rola is the world’s first Android phone with two SIM slots

The first triple SIM phone we could find came in 2010, the Intex IN 5030 E Tri.do. This is a remarkable name for a notable phone – it supports GSM+GSM+CDMA connectivity and can simultaneously use SIM cards from Airtel, Idea for GSM and Tata Indicom (three major operators in India at the time).

Intex IN 5030 E Tri.do, the world's first triple SIM phone
Intex IN 5030 E Tri.do, the world's first triple SIM phone

Intex IN 5030 E Tri.do, the world’s first triple SIM phone

LG introduced its first triple SIM handset, a feature phone, in 2012. This was the LG A290. A year later, LG and MediaTek announced a collaboration to create the world’s first 3G Android smartphone.

One poster, HateU, said, “Triple SIM? Are you kidding me! I want quad SIM! Otherwise, I have to buy 2 different phones for my 4 SIM cards. Shame on you LG!”

Wish granted – from late 2010 the Flying F160 claimed to be the world’s first Quad SIM phone. It even had a dedicated slot for a microSD card. But that’s not the whole story.

Also another phone surfaced – OTECH F1. He also claimed first place, but there is no reason why neither should be first. In fact, looking at its hardware, it’s pretty obvious that this is a white box device labeled as the Flying or OTECH phone.

OTECH F1 (aka Flying F160), the world's first Quad SIM phone
OTECH F1 (aka Flying F160), the world's first Quad SIM phone
OTECH F1 (aka Flying F160), the world's first Quad SIM phone

OTECH F1 (aka Flying F160), the world’s first Quad SIM phone

Shortly after quad-SIM phone callers were struggling to choose – a company called T&T was founded. four models, priced at just $30 each. These were of course essential feature phones, and they didn’t hide their design inspiration from BlackBerry, Motorola, and Nokia.

Quad SIM phones are cheap - just $30 per person!
Quad SIM phones are cheap - just $30 per person!
Quad SIM phones are cheap - just $30 per person!
Quad SIM phones are cheap - just $30 per person!
Quad SIM phones are cheap - just $30 per person!
Quad SIM phones are cheap - just $30 per person!
Quad SIM phones are cheap - just $30 per person!
Quad SIM phones are cheap - just $30 per person!

Quad SIM phones are cheap – just $30 per person!

LG also launched several Quad SIM phones in 2013, namely the LG C299 and LG A395. But there aren’t many phones in our database that can fit four physical SIM cards. As we mentioned earlier, there isn’t much need these days, not even three. Considering the convenience of eSIM, maybe not even for two physical SIMs.

Have you ever had a triple or quad SIM phone? Do you think there is still a need for such devices, especially a use case that cannot be handled by eSIM?

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