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Apple iPhone with dual-SIM card slots coming soon, new patent reveals

The long awaited dual-SIM cards functionality may finally be coming to iPhones soon.

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Smartphones with dual-SIM functionality quickly caught the trend as soon as the functionality was introduced on Android devices. It allows users to have two different numbers — for personal and official use, without having to carry two different phones. In case of Apple iPhones, the expandable storage and dual-SIM card functionality has been missing. However, if the latest patent filing is to be believed, future iPhones may finally boast dual-SIM card functionality.

Yes, Apple has been granted a patent for dual-SIM technology by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). In another report on Forbes, a document filed with China’s State Intellectual Property Office also describes an iPhones with dual-SIM card feature. The details mentioned on the patent talk about the system, apparatus and the means of controlling access to different antennas with devices featuring multiple SIMs. The description also illustrates the use of two SIM cards and how the priority of SIM card is determined. For instance, if one SIM card is being used for making a phone call, it gets priority over the second SIM which is used for mobile data.

Ahead of the iPhone 7 launch, there were sketchy rumors that it could feature dual-SIM card functionality. While that did not happen, the latest patent granted does hint at possible developments. However, it is important to note that receiving a patent doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple could use the technology.

Dual-SIM smartphones have a great demand in Asian counties, especially India and China. According to Counterpoint Research’s Tarun Pathak, nearly 90 percent of India’s installed smartphone user base is dual-SIM enabled. “The penetration of dual-SIM smartphones is one of the highest in the world, 90 percent by installed base. During Q2 2016, 93 percent of the total smartphones sold were dual-SIMs. The trend is driven by large prepaid user base in India along with one of the cheapest data plans in the world. Users often avail services of multiple operators to benefit from differential data pricing of the telcos,” Pathak said. ALSO READ: Apple iPhone 8 to feature curved OLED display made by Samsung: Report

Earlier this year, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio entered the Indian telecom space by offering high-speed 4G LTE and VoLTE HD voice calling service. During the trial run, the company offered free Reliance Jio SIM cards customers, and soon after the commercial launch in September this year, the company has already reached 60 million customers. The company also aspires to reach the 100 million mark milestone by March 2017, and is still offering free SIM cards to subscribers. The icing on the cake comes in the form of bundled free, unlimited data services. ALSO READ: How Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio is cashing in on India’s dual-SIM market with ‘data-giri’

Dual-SIM functionality allows users to continue using two connections on one smartphone — one for calling and the other for Jio’s data services. With free unlimited data, majority of users may also stop using their data packs on their primary number, while using Jio connection exclusively for unlimited data. ALSO READ: Apple could be working on a Samsung Galaxy Note killer with a stylus toting iPhone

The likes of Samsung have already started offering dual-SIM card functionality via a hybrid setup on their flagship Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge smartphones, and it is really not that surprising seeing Apple follow suite. Apple, after all, has made it quite clear how important the Indian market is for its growth in the next decade.

  • Published Date: December 21, 2016 2:07 PM IST