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DualSIM Mini review: DualSIM Mini

The DualSIM Mini is tiny in form factor, price and attractive features.

Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is a freelance word writing machine masquerading as a person, a disguise he's managed for over fifteen years now, including a three year stint at ZDNet/CNET Australia. He likes cats, retro gaming and terrible puns.
Alex Kidman
3 min read

6.1

DualSIM Mini

The Good

Inexpensive for a dual-SIM model. Simple operation.

The Bad

Feature set is dated. Camera is awful.

The Bottom Line

The DualSIM Mini is tiny in form factor, price and attractive features.

Design

If you read our recent features covering CNET Australia's five-year anniversary, you would have hit our gallery of what mobiles looked like five years ago. Why are we bringing that up in a review of the DualSIM Mini? It's because the design of the DualSIM Mini is undeniably dated. It's a small candybar phone with a simple mid-pad selector with a somewhat spongy feel and rather clicky buttons. The 176x220-pixel LCD screen is a low resolution and suffers badly from uneven backlighting. About the only "modern" design concession is one that DualSIM's borrowed from HTC, in that there's no 3.5mm headphone jack, and you've instead got to use the charging socket with a custom set of headphones. Borrowing ideas only really works if they're good ideas, and this isn't one.

Features

As if in keeping with this phone's dated appearance, it's also very dated in terms of its feature set. You get a browser — but it's a WAP browser. You get an integrated camera, with all the fierce power that VGA resolution can bring. You get a simplistic menu with low resolution icons for each of the phone's features. You do get Bluetooth, but no A2DP, so you can't substitute the custom headphones for your own better quality ones.

The hook for the DualSIM Mini that stops it just being a rather unpleasant trip down memory lane is the inclusion of dual-SIM card slots. They're both 2G only, but that's not too shocking in a phone that's very clearly pitched at the budget space. One annoying omission that we'd love to see in a DualSIM phone would be quad-band GSM support; all the DualSIM covers is tri-band (900/1800/1900MHz). A quad-band model would give it just that bit more world roaming support.

Performance

That feeling of wanting just a bit more permeated our testing of the DualSIM Mini. We like the idea of a dual-SIM phone, as there's some flexibility to it, for example, you can take advantage of different carrier rates to certain numbers or in certain time periods. Equally, you could use it across countries while travelling to utilise multiple networks. One CBS Interactive staffer did comment that it'd make the perfect "wife/mistress" phone, and they're probably right. Whether that's an ethical type of thing to do is another matter entirely.

The dual-SIM aspect of the Mini does work pretty well, with intelligent merging of phone SIM address books to give you a single contact list, and an easy identification of each SIM's status. You do have to get used to multiple presses to launch a call, given that you've got to select which SIM you want to use, but that's the same as with other dual-SIM models.

Now, where we felt left wanting was in pretty much every other aspect of the DualSIM's performance. Perhaps we're fussy, but we'd like keys that were responsive, rather than slow. A selector that didn't squish down without necessarily going where we wanted it to. A camera with some quality in it. When you can take better shots with a Nintendo DSi, something's wrong.

DualSIM rates the Mini's battery life at 200 minutes of talk time, although standby time isn't listed. One of the big catches with the idea of running two SIMs at once is that you're doubling the amount of radio usage and therefore the battery drain. The DualSIM Mini's 850mAh battery lasted around three days in light usage in our tests, which actually beats out the earlier DualSIM Slider by a day and a half, despite having the same battery capacity.

The DualSIM Mini's an undeniably cheap phone at only AU$299, and that's perhaps its saving grace. You're sacrificing a lot of modern features along the way in return for that low price and dual-SIM support. It's a bargain we'd have to say isn't quite equal, but your opinion may vary. The search for the perfect dual-SIM phone continues.