Recommendations for inexpensive dual-sim smartphone with a decent camera
March 17, 2014 6:04 PM   Subscribe

It's been suggested to me that I pick up a ~$100 dual-sim smartphone for my upcoming trip to Europe, and I'm looking for recommendations.

I'm going to Europe for a couple of weeks, and then having a multi-day layover in another province on the way back. I'm looking for recommendations on a good-but-cheap dual-sim phone for the trip. Unless I totally fall in love with it, this probably won't become my full-time phone, though my spouse may use it after the trip.

What I'd like to be able to do is:
- buy a data plan for the country I'm going to so that I don't get charged insane roaming fees
- take photos and post them to social networks
- use Google maps or something similar when we manage to get turned around and can't find our hotel
- check gallery hours and event times on the go
- get emergency calls on my Canadian number while I'm in Europe

I've been an iPhone user since smartphones became a thing and don't know what I should be looking for when looking at products outside the walled garden of Apple. Does the version of Android matter much? What are must haves? What should I avoid?
posted by burntflowers to Technology (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could get a dual Sim converter case for your iPhone for much less than $100.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:10 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't think you'll find a new phone that can do all of those things you want that's worth a damn for $100.00. Low end Android phones can be limited to being fairly slow and crufty out of the box.

I'd suggest that you unlock your current phone and swap SIMs/use the aforementioned dual SIM case if you need to stick in that price range.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:15 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah I agree, you probably can't find a phone that would be worth the $100 bucks that fits your needs. I am an American in Europe currently, and I unlocked my Android (Samsung Note 2) and bought a data plan for like 25 euros for 10gb for 3 months (in finland with DNA network). It's 4g, fast, and reliable. You can try unlocking your iPhone and using it in Europe with a data plan, or maybe get the dual sim converter stated above. FYI my data plan didn't work in Poland or Sweden, so you might wanna check on compatibility within different countries with the carrier you end up getting. Also, little known fact: you don't need internet access to use GPS on your smart phone, and you can data cache maps ahead of time, so that can be pretty convenient when travelling without internet access
posted by crawltopslow at 12:46 PM on March 18, 2014

Completely agree. In my experience cheap dual sim phones will not make you happy.

I actually got a cheap Samsung dual sim (Galaxy Y) about two years ago from my employer because I mentioned I got tired of walking around with two phones all the time, but I hardly used it because it was extremely slow, the screen was too small, etc. That was a phone that cost around 100-150 euros back then.

Currently, I have an Alcatel One Touch dual sim and though the specs are nice and it is faster than my old iPhone 3GS, it still is far from a good phone. Since the last firmware update is reboots occassionaly, it sometimes overheats/locks up, making a photograph of moving objects (people) inside is almost impossible. And this is a phone that was 200 euros (after cashback).

I am still content with it (because it is fast for browsing and mail and the Android user interface on this thing is much better than wat Samsung offered), but I would not recommend buying it unless dual sim is a absolute need.
posted by IAr at 2:59 PM on March 18, 2014

Best answer: if you've had your current phone for more than 90 days and have an account in good standing, you can have your carrier unlock your phone. It's $35-$75, depending on the carrier (and you have to restore the phone during the process so make sure you have a backup.)

I don't know of a way to receive signals from two network providers simultaneously, though—even that case above has you turn the phone off to switch sim cards, which is easier but not all that different from swapping the cards yourself. FaceTime audio might be a way around that, providing whoever is emergency-calling you has something with FaceTime on it, though.

also, if it's useful: Canadian, in Canada, with occasional trips to the US; my phone's unlocked and I tend to use Roam Mobility when I'm in the States.
posted by heeeraldo at 12:32 PM on March 25, 2014

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