Summary of Why Dual SIM Phones Are Popular In China

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Apple’s new iPhone offers dual SIM support, allowing users to have two mobile numbers and providers on one device. The concept may be foreign to US consumers, but dual SIM has been a standard function in Chinese phone brands. In fact, as several tech observers claim, Apple may have added the function specifically to compete in the China market. So why do so many Chinese consumers need two phone numbers? Qiu Yihan, writing for NetEase’s WeChat wemedia account Wellestudio163, provides an eye-opening dive into how the development of China’s telecommunications industry led to this phenomenon. 

About the Author

Qiu Yihan writes for NetEase’s social commentary WeChat wemedia account Wellestudio163. 



Many Chinese people have more than one mobile number on the same device. Chinese companies introduced dual SIM phones 15 years before Apple began offering dual SIM iPhones in 2018. At the time, Chinese mobile phone manufacturers were hardly technologically advanced. Local brands were essentially copycat versions of Nokia phones and other Western models. But compared with other functions that manufacturers copied over the years, dual SIM was unique in that it flourished on Chinese soil, enjoyed continual high demand and remains popular today.

China’s telecommunications market was the cause for the high demand for two SIM card slots. Back in the 1990s, if you lived in Beijing and traveled to Shanghai, making calls would register with your Beijing mobile provider as a long-distance call – and these calls were very...