Samsung D880 Duos review: Pure-bred dual SIM
Dual SIM functionality
The pivotal feature of Samsung D880 is indeed the dual SIM capability. It is important to note that even though the two SIM cards are active simultaneously, there still are some limitations.
It starts with the master and slave SIM card hierarchy. The master SIM is the default (primary) one used for calls, messaging, GPRS/EDGE, etc, while the slave card has only calls and SMS capability. Of course, the master and slave cards can be swapped with a flick of a system setting, but in this case a reboot is required.
The crucial aspect of this subordination is the weird frequency band limitation - only the master SIM card has tri-band GSM support. The slave SIM is dual-band only - that makes the dual SIM functionality unusable in countries that use the 1900 Mhz band such as North America.
When you insert one or two new SIM cards in Samsung D880, you need to assign them names and priority to get started. Once you are done, you can start reaping the dual SIM benefits. If you need to make changes to that setup later, you can open the simple SIM management interface by pressing the dedicated key on the handset's left side. The interface is accessible from the Settings menu too.
The SIM management interface is rather simple, allowing the user to set the primary card, and to name or enable/disable one or both cards. While the enable/disable option is a matter of mere seconds, changing the primary and secondary card requires a restart of the phone.
Call management, phonebook and messaging specifics
When you want to call somebody, all you need is type or scroll the phone number and then choose which card to use for the outgoing call. The primary SIM is default and pressing the call key directly dials the number using it.
However, if you wish to call using the secondary SIM card, pressing the dedicated SIM management key switches the SIM card for the outgoing call. There are no delays or glitches whatsoever using this feature. We are particularly pleased with the Samsung implementation of this interface.
Upon an incoming call the caller number/name is accompanied by the name of the SIM card which is receiving the call.
The Call log is also very well geared to accommodate the dual SIM functionality. It displays the type of call (incoming, outgoing, etc.), the SIM card, the caller number/name and the number of calls. When you select a log entry, you can see the entire call history, including the time and date, the SIM card again and the call duration. You can opt to return the call using the default SIM card or the secondary one.
A new number can easily be saved in either the phone memory or on one of the two SIM cards. Bear in mind though that the contact list has three view options only: phone memory, SIM memory (which means both SIM cards) or phone and SIM simultaneously.
The phonebook itself displays the name, the default number (when a name is highlighted) and the memory used for contact storage - an icon to the right for SIM 1 and SIM 2 designates where the contact is stored.
Composing a new message doesn't differ from any other Samsung phone and is much like making a call. If a message is sent straight away it goes through the primary SIM card. However with a single press of the dual SIM key, you can channel it through the secondary SIM.
So, that's about all there is to know about call and message management in a dual SIM scenario. Again, as we already said in the beginning of this review, bear in mind that there are certain limitations to the technology, too. You can only use the primary SIM card for GPRS/EDGE connectivity and it's only the primary SIM card that benefits from tri-band connectivity. The secondary SIM card works in dual-band mode only.
Samsung D880 Duos is above all a handset of balance. It doesn't offer cutting edge solutions in external design, form factor, or interface capabilities. Yet it manages to deliver some style in looks (in a subdued and conservative way) and a snappy user interface. And besides it's the only handset produced by some of the major manufacturers to feature dual SIM functionality. The only test the Duos truly fails is web browsing and the lack of 3G.
That aside, Samsung D880 has a nice 3 megapixel camera, a large display and some nice connectivity options such as stereo Bluetooth and TV-out (the large capacity battery is welcome too). The FM radio is a nice bonus. Of course you can get those in more affordable models such as Samsung D900i, so the main selling point of the D880 Duos remains the dual SIM functionality.
Having two SIM cards in one handset is something many would appreciate. The only thing to beat that is a pair of Nokia 6500 classics, which pretty much make the same bump in your pocket (just kidding).
Now that Samsung D880 is more affordable than ever, it's a tempting offer - especially if it takes two phones to meet your communication needs. So if you don't mind the crippled secondary SIM card functionality (dual-band only), the lame web browser and the lack of 3G , you are all good to go with Samsung D880 Duos.