Why Samsung just entered the dual-SIM smartphone game

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Updated. Samsung introduced its first two, dual-SIM Android smartphones on Thursday, the Galaxy Y Duos and Galaxy Y Pro Duos. The new handsets, one with a keyboard and one without, will initially launch in Russia next month and will roll out in other countries soon after. Each of the new Google Android 2.3 smartphones will support two phone numbers and simultaneous data with the 7.2 Mbps HSPA mobile broadband radios.

The new handsets may sound and look familiar to those who follow Samsung closely. The Galaxy Y lineup was first announced back in August, along with several other models, as Samsung decided to expand the Galaxy brand. Those phones with the “Y” label are described by the company as “entry models or strategic models for emerging markets or a younger audience more sensitive to price.” That’s why the specifications of the new Duo phones are skewed towards the low end: 832 MHz processors, 320 x 240 resolution displays and 3-megapixel, fixed-focus cameras, for example.

This combination of affordable features paired with dual-SIM capabilities, however, could appeal in countries where handset costs push some to share handsets, which is one of the uses of a dual-SIM device. One look at the targeted countries for the new Galaxy Y smartphones illustrates this: China, India, Latin America, and Africa, to name a few.

One phone can easily be used by two or more people thanks to the multiple SIM functionality: a feature Nokia has offered in the same regions. Nokia is still offering low-end devices with two SIM slots, but its move to Windows Phone opens the door for Samsung to broaden its audience in emerging regions. Essentially, the new Galaxy Y handsets allow Samsung to experiment in a new market to see if it’s a viable area for continued sales growth. In fact, I noted five reasons in June why Samsung will be the next smartphone king;¬†dual-SIM support could become reason no. 6.

There’s another opportunity afforded to Samsung, however: The growing trend of BYOD, or bring your own device. Corporate employees have begun to carry two mobile devices; one provided by their employer for work purposes and their own handset of choice for personal use. Carrying two phones isn’t optimal, so one device that can separate work activities from personal ones has appeal. A dual-SIM smartphone helps with the BYOD movement by separating voice and messaging communications between personal and work modes.

Will these new low-end Galaxy Y devices start appearing in the corporate world? That’s doubtful, because they lack the oomph needed in today’s tech world. However, Samsung could migrate the dual-SIM capability up the “food chain” of its Galaxy line into the higher end phones, and that feature could be supplemented with Samsung software customizations to allow for “work” and “personal” modes. During the workday, the phone environment would be geared toward corporate activities, while off-hours, games and social networking apps would be accessible. In both cases, the dual-SIM feature would ensure both work and private communications continue to flow.

Update: Clarified that these are Samsung’s first Android-powered dual-SIM smartphones, not their first dual-SIM smartphones.

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