Nokia and LG debut dual-SIM phones

Allowing users to switch between SIMs to get better tariffs has become a must in some parts of the world, according to analyst

Nokia and LG Electronics have both launched new phones that can handle two SIM cards, as they aim to attract more buyers in developing countries.

Offering dual-SIM products has become increasingly important in the last couple of years . They allow users to get better tariffs or switch between SIMs for personal or work use.

"Particularly in a lot of emerging markets -- India, for example -- dual-SIM support has become an absolute requirement now," said Geoff Blaber, who leads mobile device research at CCS Insight.

From Nokia comes the Series 40-based Asha 310, which is the first model from the company that combines slots for two SIM cards with Wi-Fi for faster data access.

The main SIM card sits behind the battery, with a slot for a second SIM located on the side of the phone for easy access, allowing users to switch the second card without having to switch off the phone, according to Nokia. The SIM manager lets users assign profiles for up to five SIM cards and define which card they want to use for phone calls, text messages and Internet access, the company said.

The Asha 310 also has a 3-inch capacitive touch screen and a MicroSD memory card slot for more memory. Either a 2GB or 4GB card is included in the box.

The Asha family has given Nokia a boost while the company has struggled with sales of its Windows Phone-based Lumia family. During the fourth quarter it sold 9.3 million Asha full touch phones, compared to 4.4 million Lumia smartphones.

The Android camp is also getting on the dual-SIM bandwagon. From LG comes the Optimus L7 II, which in addition to two SIM cards also has a 4.3-inch screen and an 8-megapixel camera. It is powered by a dual-core 1GHz processor, has 4GB of integrated storage and a microSD card slot.

Just like the recently launched Optimus LG Pro, the Optimus L7 II has a significantly bigger battery than its predecessor -- 2,460mAh versus 1,700mAh.

The Nokia Asha 310 will be available in Asia, India, the Middle East, Africa and Brazil this quarter. It will cost around US$102 without local taxes or any operator subsidies. The dual-SIM version of the Optimus L7 II will go on sale in Russia this week, but no pricing was announced.

The phones will be on display at Mobile World Congress, which starts in Barcelona on Feb. 25.

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