Two weeks ago, I kvetched about my wretched existence of having to carry two separate mobile devices for Voice and Data use -- a regular 3G cellphone and my inseparable BlackBerry 8820. Apparently, I'm not alone in this situation: some of you told me that you even carry two or more separate cell phones to have two phone numbers, one for work and one for personal use, and this doesn't count the other kit you have to carry with you, such as your MP3 player, your GPS unit and your camera.
"shouldn’t there be a way for cell devices to have two SIM cards? So I can take my employer’s SIM and shove it in to my Blackberry?"
Apparently, there is a way to do this -- with Dual SIM cards.
Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.
On the recommendation of one of my readers, I went a-Googling and found a number of companies on the Internet that sold such products. A lot of them are on eBay and originate in Asia, where the practice of having multiple cell numbers is much more common than it is here in the US. But one particular company, SIMORE, based out of Switzerland, caught my eye.
I'm not sure if it was the glitzy web site or their videos that made it look like child's play, or the country's reputation for making precision manufactured goods, but after I could see what it could do, I was hooked. I whipped out the 'ol MasterCard, ordered a "Black" version through their online shopping cart (the cheapest model, the one without encrypted SMS features -- I don't need them) and after denting my net worth about 80 bucks and waiting a week for delivery, I got it in my anxious, sweaty palms this last weekend, delivered via international mail.
If you happen to own a current model BlackBerry, it's not just a matter of shoving the SIMORE chip in and then everything is honky-dory. Like many of the dual-SIM units on the market, you actually have to modify your SIM chips (click for our hilarious video) in order to fit into the device, because the BlackBerry SIM slot is extremely snug. SIMORE provides clear adhesive templates that you stick to your SIM cards which you use as a guide to cut along the dotted line with, removing all of the excess plastic material and leaving just the core nubbin of the SIM with electrical contacts. After you carefully cut the cards, you want to remove that transparent adhesive, otherwise the SIMORE card won't work. I spent about 20 minutes cursing at myself thinking I had ruined two perfectly good SIM cards before I realized what I had done wrong.
When I was done, however, and after deftly sheathing the SIMORE chip in its protective metal jacket and inserting it into the BlackBerry's SIM slot, I was presented with a new menu option in my Applications menu. The SIMORE card automatically installs an OS extension to the BlackBerry during the bootup process, so it takes about twice as long for the device to cold restart. However, once it is done, switching between SIM cards is child's play -- by default, it starts off in SIM1 mode, and you can then toggle it to SIM2 mode. The process of acquiring the mobile network takes about 15-20 seconds, depending on your carrier. You can also program the device to auto switch between SIMs as well as switch on a timed schedule, so it operates in SIM1 mode for an hour and then goes to SIM2 for five minutes in order to check email.
Clearly, this is not a 100 percent ideal solution -- this stuff should all work transparently. Unfortunately, the limits of current GSM/EDGE/GPRS/3G technology prevent this from being any easier. BlackBerry and other device manufacturers should design phones which can take dual SIMs out of the box and operate on multiple networks simultaneously, especially if the SIMs are on the same carrier.
For now though, at least I have one less device to carry.
Do you have any experience with dual SIM chips that you want to share? Talk Back and let me know.