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I tried living the dual phone life — it just isn't for me

LG G7 and Galaxy S9
LG G7 and Galaxy S9 (Image credit: Android Central)

A couple of months ago, I wrote about carrying two phones at once; why you might want to, and some of the strategies that go into making it easier to manage. I've been dual-wieding phones since a little bit before then — right around the time I picked up an iPhone X — but I've finally given up on the prospect and gone back to carrying just one phone at a time because, for me at least, two proved to be more hassle than they were worth.

There are plenty of valid reasons to carry two phones, some work-related and some personal. I'm somewhere in-between; as a phone reviewer, it can be helpful to carry and test more than one phone at once, but I don't really take full advantage of that. One of my pockets is almost always occupied by my iPhone X, despite me being an employee of Android Central. What can I say — I like having both mobile operating systems at the ready, and some of the conveniences when paired with my MacBook Pro (Airdrop and iMessage, in particular) make the iPhone hard to leave at home.

But eventually, the inconveniences of having to manage two devices outweighed any advantages brought on by Apple's or Google's ecosystems. Having to charge two phones every day, keep two SIM cards active, keep both of my front pockets free (which is especially frustrating when I carry my wallet in my front pocket and always worry about my cards scratching my phones if I keep both in a pocket), and so on — it just became too much for me to want to deal with.

I carried two phones for platform diversity, but that might've been my downfall.

In fairness, things might've been a fair bit easier had I been carrying two Android phones. In my aforementioned piece, I recommended Google Voice as a way to use one phone number across multiple devices, but that doesn't work with iMessage. Neither does T-Mobile DIGITS, in case you're wondering. Photos would've also been a bit easier to manage; while you can use Google Photos for unlimited photo backups on either platform, iOS is aggressive enough in its background app management that I've checked Google Photos countless times to see a week's worth of photos still waiting to upload.

In any case, the dual phone experiment is over for me — at least, when I'm not traveling. This isn't the first time I've carried more than one phone at a time and I doubt it'll be the last, but having one phone just feels comfortable, and I've finally backed away from iMessage and moved my main SIM to the current phone I'm reviewing — which is the HTC U12+, in case you're wondering. Life is simpler now, though I already hate being back on SMS/MMS as the media I send and receive reverts to what the internet lovingly calls "potato quality."

One of the things I enjoyed most about carrying two phones was being able to use two different networks, always being able to fall back to Verizon when AT&T loses coverage or vice-versa. The obvious solution when carrying only one phone is to use a dual-SIM phone, which can switch back and forth internally, either manually or automatically based on coverage. In he States, your options for a dual-SIM phone are fairly limited but they're not totally barren. Most of Huawei's phones are dual-SIM capable, including the long-lasting Mate 10 Pro and the affordable Honor View 10. If you're willing to import, you can also snag an international Galaxy S9, which makes use of the increasingly common microSD/nanoSIM hybrid tray to offer dual-SIM support.

I think for most people, though, the best option may be the OnePlus 6. Not only is it one of the more affordable options, but it's one of the best phones currently on the market, with high-end specs and a surprisingly good set of cameras, though it's still not quite up to par with true flagships like the Galaxy S9 and Pixel 2. It also works great on GSM networks — sorry if you were looking to use Verizon or Sprint. This means that even if you have a T-Mobile personal SIM and an AT&T work SIM, or some other combination of GSM networks, you don't have to carry two phones around all the time unless you really want to.

See at OnePlus

What's your take? Do you carry two phones, and if so is it by necessity or choice? Would you rather use a dual-SIM phone? Let us know in the comments below!

Hayato was a product reviewer and video editor for Android Central.

71 Comments
  • Does FreedomPop work on AT&T network now? I have T-Mobile and coverage is spotty. Wondering if I could use FreedomPop in emergencies with a OnePlus 6 for 2 GSM networks......
  • Yes FreedomPop works on AT&T
  • Yep Google Voice. 3 (Phone + 2 GV) numbers, one phone. No dual sims crap, no 2 phones crap. One phone, 3 lines, 2 separate google accounts all tied together. LIfe is simple. I tried using a dual sim phone but I didn't like that only one was data only. I have no intentions of using Apple and for me GV just works and works well.
  • So can you tell when someone is calling the Google number instead of your phone's normal number?
    I WOULD like to separate work calls from personal, but I'd like to tell which is which. How reliable is Google Voice?
  • I have three Google Voice numbers and I have them set up in Google Hangouts with dialer and it lets me know which number the phone call is coming in on when I receive a call and it's been dependable for me
  • Thanks. That's a golden reply :)
  • Sorry for late response but basically what notgniddew said. For me I use the native Samsung dialer and have GV notify me of the GV number calling in. For example my dialer will see GV #1 calling in because I GV setting to display its number and not who the caller's number is. I won't know the actual number until I go in the GV app and look at the call history. Since those aren't my actual cell number I don't care who they are because if I don't like who called, I simply block the number. Or I can set up GV to have the caller notify themselves who they are before accepting the call. And GV is extremely reliable. It's simply a forwarding number. It's as good as your cell phone provider. I used it when I did sales at Carmax and never had any issues.
  • https://www.androidcentral.com/i-tried-living-dual-phone-life-it-just-is...
  • Does FreedomPop work on AT&T network now? I have T-Mobile and coverage is spotty. Wondering if I could use FreedomPop in emergencies with a OnePlus 6 for 2 GSM networks......
  • iMessage is overrated.
  • I hate carrying to phones. I have my personal phone (Pixel 2) and a phone issued by my company (iPhone 6S Plus), and I leave the company phone at home. I just give coworkers a Google Voice number that rings my Pixel. The 6S Plus is a perfectly good phone, but I like to travel with as little stuff as I can get away with, and an extra phone in my pocket plus charger in my bag is just a pain in the butt.
  • Is that better than forwarding the work iPhone number to your Android because with GV is easier to identify a work call?
  • A phone reviewer might be the one type of individual that can get away with carrying multiple devices without bearing the stigma of mental illness or at least a life altering neurosis. Each generation that comes along has a value system. For a while now every generation has largely embraced digital technology to greater and greater degrees. Historically however there always comes an anti generation that utterly rejects the values of those that came before. This new generation will eschew the connected life. They may call us old folks Borgs while they flaunt their freedom from social media and the constant dinging of the phone. Perhaps they will lead us out of darkness and ocd. Hurry up kids. It's time to arise.
  • Oh welp, guess I'm mentally ill cause I carry three devices every time though I barely use social media. Love it when people judge everything because they can and its especially more amusing when it concerns tech.
  • Love it when people get defensive over their obsession with tech.
  • I did it for nearly a month last year and that was annoying. The only thing that made it slightly easier was that both phones were compact (iPhone SE). It was a great way for me to be able to test another network against the carrier I was currently using.
    Doing it with 2 bigger phones sounds like such a pain.
  • This would've been my suggestion as well. Have the iPhone SE as your iMessage, Airdrop phone and use the Android phone for everything else. The SE is no slouch even in 2018.
  • This is my current setup. Basic/Main/Personal phone is the iPhone SE and everything else is the S9
  • Dual SIM's is just about the only must have feature for me.
    Never going back to two phones.
    Are you listening Google?
  • Pixel is technically dual SIM (one is an esim) it's the carriers that's giving problems allowing it to be activated in their Network
  • Yes I know. If we had FI in the UK it would be fine.
  • Lol as of lately, I rather carry 0 phones!
  • It's a pain. I did it for a few years but it became too much. I have a separate phone for work but just forward all calls to my own phone and have an SMS Forwarder app to do the same with messages.
  • I was thinking about doing this. What forwarding app and which number does it reply from? The other issue was you can't ORIGINATE a call from the other number.
  • I did it for years while it was required, and when it was no longer required, I stopped. I still carry a backup phone in my laptop bag for emergencies or testing, but not in my pockets. I did pick up another iPhone for diversity as well (I used to carry both), but it's been sitting at home collecting dust. Yeah, I know what you mean about "potato quality" MMS messages. Are they all the same though? Seems to have gotten better, and my best friend sent the below photo via MMS, and it came out pretty good considering... https://photos.app.goo.gl/vCWGuS5MTjyHSKhC2
  • MMS is a standard, iMessage is a closed protocol.
    Please stop this misinformation.
    @iOs folks: guess what, you don't get any illness by installing Whatsapp*, and can still enjoy non-potato quality by doing so, not only with your iOs friends, but with everybody else, too! How cool is that?
    * Whatsapp or Signal or Telegram, you name it...
  • The problem is that a good number of Americans are too lazy to install another app. Or they can install it and never use it.
    Since iMessage is already built into iPhones, that makes it seem like less work. Just like people who only use the ios mail and calendar apps but no others because it's already there and installed.
  • andreaippo - I'm aware that MMS is a standard, and was not comparing it directly to iMessage. My question was if all MMS clients handled photos the same. I get some that are garbage, and some that look like the one I linked to above, which I consider to be of decent quality. The limit is supposed to be 300kb, however, it appears that it is also carrier dependent. The photo I received is 188 kb, so it falls under the limit.
  • Luckily Google is working on getting the carriers on board with RCS
  • Google should have bought WhatsApp and pre installed it on Android.
  • I don't want anything pre-installed. If I want an app, I'll DL it.
  • I am trying to slim down the need to even carry a wallet or keys around. I only want to have one thing per pocket. That's my next goal. I am sure that there is a necessity for some people to have 2 for work/casual and there isn't getting away from it. I pity your struggles for those of you out there with this problem.
  • I'm amazed by your goal of ditching the wallet and I wish you good luck.
  • I only carry my mil ID and driver's license cause I just use Samsung pay for payments. It works every where I go even at gas pumps.
  • You can add your driver's license to Samsung pay under "membership cards", also your auto proof of insurance, health insurance cards, and Costco membership. I've found gas stations tricky without a dummy card to slide but you can prepay inside with Sampay. When not using my Samsung phone I have a gear S3 watch that I can use Sampay with but keep driver's license in car.
  • I carry two phones both are dual SIM ones is pixel 2 XL the other OnePlus 5T but I do change my phone's quite often I have a project fi account and so a data-only SIM from Project fi works in the OnePlus 5T so I have project fi on both phones also have a FreedomPop account on AT&T network with two different phone numbers so I have a FreedomPop Sim also in the pixel 2 XL and as my primary Sim in the OnePlus 5T I have three Google Voice numbers that's including the project fi number which is not my primary number and I have these three numbers all set up in Google Hangouts with Google Hangouts dialer and so I also receive my SMS and MMS messages in Google Hangouts and I have no problems with this setup two phones two Sims three numbers I do not use the FreedomPop phone numbers or do I put the FreedomPop messaging app on my phones FreedomPop is just for data as is essentially project fi
  • Does FreedomPop have 2 different types of SIM cards? One for Sprint and one for AT&T? If so, how do I ensure I get the one i want?
  • I have multiple phones but at any time I only carry one phone at a time. I'll switch sim regularly between various phones. All my stuff is in the cloud so just switch sim and good to go. I also use Google voice so messages are backed in the cloud, WhatsApp I'll just restore backup from Google drive when I switch sim. Photos, music and all are in the cloud. Pretty simple for me to move around with different devices by switching sims to my daily driver.
  • So what I read is this : "I can't leave my iPhone X at home, it's my primary phone". "I don't like having two phones so I'll use just one". Now tell me why I would consider any recommendations from you if you only phone is an iPhone and I want info on Android devices? I know, one doesn't negate the other but for me, your credibility is pretty much nonexistent now.
  • I agree with you. I don't think you can be an expert on a product if you don't use it as much or more than power users. Hayato has no credibility on Android phone opinions.
  • I think it's still possible to use iPhones and know a lot about Android. Changing between them kind of forces you to know about it. I do it very often and I feel like I know a lot.
  • You can. For example, I know a lot about Macs but I use PC. But don't ask me to recommend a Mac. I can troubleshoot it and help you with it, but I'll never work for a Mac oriented website while using only my PC. That would not make sense.
  • Gotcha. That is a valid point.
  • Sorry, I'm really not sure where any of that's coming from. I've been using Android since the HTC Inspire back in 2011. I've written almost exclusively about Android for four publications and handled almost every major Android flagship of the last five years. That's all invalidated because I've been using an iPhone alongside Android phones for a few months?
  • Did you stop reading there and ran to the comment section to complain? If you kept reading you would've saw this. "I've finally backed away from iMessage and moved my main SIM to the current phone I'm reviewing — which is the HTC U12+, in case you're wondering."
  • I did. If I said; I always drive my Toyota and really dislike using two cars but I just decided now that I'll start using my Hyundai for a while... will that suddenly make me good with Hyundai overnight?
  • No it would not.
  • I carry two and have no issues. Note 8 is my primary driver and I use it 85% if the time and iPhone X is my 2nd. The battery life on the X is so amazing that with how little I use it, I only have to charge it once every 5 days or so.
  • It depends on one's environment. I carry 2 dual SIM phones. Currently using 3 out of the 4 available slots. It's a pain but also a necessity.
  • I carry 3 with me daily. Work iPhone 7, Galaxy S9+, and either my Essential phone or Pixel XL. iPhone and Galaxy on my front right pocket, keys on my left front pocket, wallet on my back left, and one of the 3rd phones in my back right pocket. It does get annoying that whenever I sit down anywhere, I have to take out the 3rd phone and put it on the table somewhere. Lol
  • God forbid. This is android and the BlackBerry KEYᵒⁿᵉ is all I need. SIM card for main number and two whatsapp apps.. Original and gbwhatsapp. I can use my second number on the gbwhatsapp I have installed.
  • I don't see the big deal is. I've been carrying three devices every time for years, 2 phones and a tablet. Main phone for all the main workflow, 2nd phone as a backup but only my family and closest friends know the number and is where they contact me when main line is unavailable and it also works as my music player and lastly my tablet for multimedia and game stuffs. Main phone is what I pull out most of the time and the other two usually stays in my small bag till I need them.
  • I have 2 phones, but not because I actually want to have 2 phones. My company's security policy for accessing work email on personal devices (outside of Outlook 365 web access) requires running the Microsoft Intune Company Portal app and giving the IT department permission to remote wipe not only the work sandbox, but the entire device. I didn't want to do that, and my company provides phones, so I took the second phone (an iPhone 6S) from them. It doesn't bother me too much because I usually just work at my desk and I'm not carrying it with me during my personal time, like if I'm at the gym or out to dinner the work phone is on a shelf at my house.
  • OnePlus 6 doesn't allow data on 2nd SIM in 2nd SIM slot?
  • Carry a US phone, German phone, and work phone... I am sick or phones lol
  • One thing to be careful with: not all dual SIM phones are created equal, and this applies to the OnePlus 6. While it does offer dual SIM capability, you can have LTE services on only 1 of the 2 SIMs!
    In other terms, you cannot joggle LTE data connectivity between two carriers' SIMs without physically swapping the SIMs in the tray. The Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+ and newer Huawei devices (Int'l) support LTE on both SIMs.
  • Only problem I have with swapping phones every so often is that I'd have to reset my Asus zenwatch 3 watch everytime I changed phones. Are there any wear watches where I wouldn't have to keep doing that.
  • Not that I've found. You can pair two AW watches to one phone, but only one phone to an AW watch.
    Solution = get more than one watch. ;-)
  • I love having dual phones. I'm a believer in disconnecting from work, when travelling for vacations or just being home after hours and on weekends, and to me, turning the work phone off means I'm focused on home life.
    But were I to get a dual SIM phone, I think I'd be hard pressed to pick one, as one of the benefits of having two phones is two different carriers, which I use Sprint and AT&T. I have not seen a truly unlocked dual sim phone that has support for CDMA US carriers, which would allow a Sprint/Verizon SIM and a AT&T/T-Mobile SIM together for excellent coverage.
  • Here in the UK I've used a dual sim Galaxy S8+ and now a dual sim Huawei P20 Pro. Both have enough control of the SIMs that I can disable the work SIM at weekends / on holiday etc. My personal time can be just that without fear that the work number might ring :-)
  •  "In my aforementioned piece, I recommended Google Voice as a way to use one phone number across multiple devices, but that doesn't work with iMessage." Set up iMessage with your email address and it will let you use it on multiple devices.
  • No surprises here I've always stated this is not really an Android site more of a Android Apple site
  • Android for me
    iPhone for work
  • I carry two by choice. I have iPhone X and Google Pixel 2.
    I also have one on AT&T and one on Verizon. I love having 2 phones.
    And, I like being able to send pictures and videos which Android is totally useless for.
    Until Android can get rid of 1980 sms/mms tech, it will always just be a Toy instead of a real phone.
  • I'm in the same boat! I have a S8+ and a iPhone X (one on AT&T/One on Verizon). How do you balance using both phones (i.e. what apps go where)?
  • I will get the key2 and since I have s9...best of both worlds...why buy 2 slab phones? Key2 for business and s9 for enjoyment.
  • I like both platforms, and I've been carrying two phones for several years. It's convenient with so many family members, friends, and coworkers who have iPhones. If I decide to stop living the dual phone life, I'd probably ditch Android.
  • I carry an iPhone 6s and a Pixel 2 XL. I feel safer with 2 phones when out and about on my mobility scooter.
  • Dual SIM all the way
  • I have to have 2 phones. My Note 8 is personal, then recently, I got a job where I need a work phone (GS7). I didn't think about a dual SIM phone at the time. My Note 8 is TMO, and the S7 is AT&T. Once I pay off the work phone, I will port that number to TMO, and maybe get an international dual SIM S9 or another phone with dual SIM. Carrying two phone is becoming a pain in the ass. Work does give me a monthly allowance, so I have too many decisions to make. My head hurts.
  • I don't even like carrying one phone.