The problem we have been having as Kenyans is lack of a dual-SIM high end phone. Most dual-SIMs tend to be on the lower end, non-smartphones, and if you’re lucky some kind of Edge connection.
Samsung (I am now firmly #teamSamsung) has the perfect phone for you: an Android smartphone with Dual-SIM capability. If you have been wondering how to try other networks for data, voice, SMS without losing the functionality of your smartphone, you can now do that very easily; while maintaining your previous line. That’s how I got to try out Orange data, which I’m still using.
The Galaxy Y Duos and the Galaxy Y Pro Duos. Image from fonearena.com
I have used both phones, and will review both in one post so you can pick one that’s most suited for your needs. First though, here is what they have in common:
Android v2.3 Gingerbread
Both phones come installed with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, which gives you good performance and a fluid user experience. It means your phone is easier to use, very responsive and looks good too! You are also likely to find a wider range of apps compatible with Android 2.3 and above.
Both phones have rear cameras with 3.15 MP producing up to 2048×1536 pixels photos. With good lighting, the photos can be of good enough quality.
You can check out some photos I took with the Galaxy Y on this post about Harambee Stars:
A view of the Kasarani Stadium during the match. Photo taken by the galaxy Y Duos
This is a very important feature in a smartphone; even more crucial in a smartphone that is dual-SIM. What drains your battery most is that constant communication with the network that your phone must maintain, unless you have a phone with a huge screen (like the S II) where the screen becomes the chief battery consumer.
Both phones have standard battery, Li-Ion of about 1300 mAh. They can last up two days of both networks on, and data switched on. You can survive a full-day of intensive use.
Both phones have an internal memory of 160 MB (which can be quickly filled up by apps), 512 MB ROM, 384 MB RAM.
The external memory (memory card) is expandable up to 16GB, but the phone comes with a 2GB memory card.
What Android Offers
(If you understand Android, you can skip this part.)
A lot of people, I have discovered, still don’t understand the hype around smart-phones in general and Android in particular. Here is some of what Android offers:
If your office/coffee joint/hotel has (free) wireless internet, you can also connect to it on your phone and download apps, update your apps etc. This is especially important if you have applications that are big (5MB upwards), or if you require to do something with a fast internet connection. Wi-Fi networks can do up to 300Mbps (theoretically), while 3G networks offer up to 42 Mbps (theortically). Just know wi-fi offers you faster speeds than 3G networks most of the time!
- Ability to use your phone as a modem
With an Android phone, there is no need to get a modem. Your phone can act as your internet access point. This can be done via USB (takes less power, connects to only one computer) or via wireless hotspot. If you create a hotspot, you can support up to 8 devices on your internet (devices can be computers, other phones, or tablets).
The ability to multi-task is one big advantage of smartphones. It means if you receive a text while surfing, you don’t even have to stop what you are doing to read your text. E.g. if you are surfing on facebook with opera mini and you get a text, you can pull it down from the notifications bar, read the text, press the back button and you are exactly where you were before the text. Unlike the basic phone where you have to close down opera mini completely to read the text, and may even have to log in again.
- Gmail Backup
In order to use an Android phone effectively, you must have a gmail account. Yes I know Google wants to “own” you and your data, but it’s worth it. You can the download apps from Google Play (formerly Android market). It also backs up all your contacts on your gmail account so if you change phones, all you have to do is “sync” your gmail account and your contacts are in your new phone. Why do you think I switch phones so easily?
- Access to Millions of Apps and Games
If you can think of any app, it’s already been done. It’s like rule 34 for porn (don’t Google that). Bible apps, apps to read and edit office documents (powerpoint, pdf, word, excel), apps to prank your friends, apps to track your phone etc. Try them out.
One of my best Google apps is the map!!! You can navigate to anywhere in the world, check out your village via satellite, even see cars packed on the street at the time when the satellite picture was taken. You can ask for directions to anywhere, and most of Nairobi is mapped (except Liddos- don’t Google that either, but that is a story for another day!!!)
This was a screenshot I took while I was navigating to the Railways Museum for Binyavanga Wainaina's book launch. It had very precise directions!
You can rotate the map to navigate better, you can even get walking directions. Make sure you are oriented in the right direction and do look up so you don’t bump into people!
- Android offers this and much more..
What Dual-SIM offers
Now imagine you have all that on Android, and now you have a DUAL-SIM phone so you don’t have to carry around two phones. You don’t need a modem since you can tether with whichever SIM card you prefer.
Both SIM cards are active at the same time. You can receive calls/texts on either simultaneously. However, for data, you have to choose which SIM card to use.
A screenshot showing which SIM card you would like to use for data.
When replying to texts or calls, you can choose which SIM card to use. This can be done by easily selecting the SIM card from the drop down, or for the Pro Duos, there is a dedicated button to switch SIMs. You easily get the hang of this phone in a short phone.
A screenshot showing how easy it is to switch between which SIM card to use for voice and SMS
You can also choose whether to use 2G networks (which saves battery life), or for one SIM card to be on 3G (I advise you keep the data SIM to be permanently on 3G, and your voice/SMS line to be on 2G). I currently use Orange for Data, which I covered in this post.
If you are running low on battery, you can turn off the data SIM, make it inactive, so you can still use voice/SMS for another two or so hours.
So why would you pick either phone?
The Galaxy Y Pro Duos
Check out the detailed specifications here
The Samsung Galaxy Y Pro Duos. Image from phonesarchive.com
This phone is both QWERTY and touch-screen enabled. It’s suitable for someone who doesn’t like touch-screens or finds it cumbersome to type on touch-screen (sausage fingers LOL! Sorry for using LOL but it warrants in this case, I always picture someone typing one letter after another on the touchscreen).
It has a front-facing camera, great for taking self-portraits! This means you can do Skype with video calls.
It has a dedicated key for quickly switching between networks.
Cost: Kshs. 18,000
The Galaxy Y Duos
Check out the full specifications here
The Samsung Galaxy Y Duos and how it looks in your hand. Image from wiserbuddy.blogspot.com
Personally, I prefer an all-touch phone because it is sleek. Fits easily in my hand. Looks cooler. But that is just me.
The advantage with this phone is the screen size, it is much larger because it has no QWERTY.
I do miss the front camera though.
Cost: Kshs. 16,000