Dual-SIM smartphones in South Africa – MTN and Vodacom are not interested

Having a smartphone with dual-SIM functionality can be a big advantage for South Africans.

Using a dual-SIM device, you can make use of the great data deals on offer at a certain mobile operator while using another network’s SIM card as your preferred number for making and receiving calls.

There is also quite a selection of these devices available to customers in South Africa, including Huawei’s flagship devices like the P20 and the more affordable P20 Lite.

However, you cannot get one of these smartphones with working dual-SIM functionality through the two biggest mobile operators in South Africa – MTN and Vodacom.

Upon purchase of a dual-SIM device on contract from MTN, customers will realise that they are unable to make use of the second SIM slot. If they purchase through Vodacom, they will notice that their device is in fact not dual-SIM at all.

The easiest way to ensure dual-SIM functionality is to purchase a confirmed dual-SIM device model from an independent retailer.

To find out more, MyBroadband spoke to MTN and Vodacom to determine the extent to which these mobile operators support dual-SIM functionality.


MTN SA executive for corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan told MyBroadband that it subsidises some devices on its contract packages, and subsequently blocks dual-SIM functionality on these smartphones.

“In our continued commitment to give more South Africans access to connectivity and the Internet, MTN has been subsidising 4G smartphones on some of our contract packages,” O’Sullivan said.

She added that many 4G smartphones include features that give customers a better experience on the MTN network.

“Some of these phones come with dual-SIM functionality,” O’Sullivan said.

“Because some of the dual-SIM devices are already being subsidised to bring connectivity closer to our nation, MTN has decided to disable the dual-SIM functionality in these phones available through our retail channels.”

MTN said that customers are still able to exchange primary SIM cards on any of the smartphones they purchase through the mobile operator when needed.


Vodacom told MyBroadband that it does not sell any dual-SIM devices, meaning that only single-SIM versions of dual-SIM smartphones are available through its retail channels.

“Vodacom does not sell any dual-SIM devices,” a company spokesperson told MyBroadband.

“There are no network restrictions placed on any of the devices that we offer on contract or prepaid.”

The company did not elaborate as to why it does not sell any dual-SIM devices.

Now read: The iPhone Xs launched on Friday – and the awesome eSIM feature won’t work in South Africa

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Dual-SIM smartphones in South Africa – MTN and Vodacom are not interested