Though dual SIM card cell phones have been around for a while, I've only seen them while traveling abroad and at trade show booths. The premise is simple and very attractive: with slots for two SIM cards, a single phone can have two phone numbers. You can receive and make calls on both lines and the SIM cards can even be from separate carriers.
It's a great option for anyone who wants to combine their work and personal phone and it's perfect for frequent international travelers who want a local number while retaining their U.S. number.
With such advantages, it's no surprise that a lot of CNET readers have asked how they can get such a phone. But outside of a handful of unlocked models, and a few crude adapters for regular handsets, dual SIM card phones remain relatively scarce in the United States. No U.S. carrier sells them and you can bet that no carrier would give up that kind of control.
But leave it to National Geographic to come up with another option. The organization has partnered with Cellular Abroad to offer the Duet D888. Made by Beyond E-Tech, the unlocked Duet accommodates two SIM cards: one for the Cellular Abroad intentional SIM card and one for another card of your choice. You could use your own SIM card for a GSM carrier like AT&T or T-Mobile or you could buy a prepaid card during your travels.
The Duet's design is a standard silver candy bar. It's nothing special, but it's certainly not unsightly. Its features include a 2-megapixel camera, an MP3 player, an FM radio, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, a personal organizer, messaging, and a speakerphone. You'll also find a selection of National Geographic content like wallpapers and ringtones. One hiccup is that the triband (GSM 900/1800/1900) phone lacks supports for the GSM 850 band, which is used in North America. You should get decent coverage with just the 1900 band, but it will be spotty in places. Yet, the support for both the 900 and 1900 bands will get you great coverage outside of North America.
Though I just got the phone, I can say that it's already a huge improvement over the first National Geographic phone. Not only does the D888 have the dual SIM card functionality, but also it offers more travel-friendly features than the original Motorola V180. It's also a lot more exciting than National Geographic's much-too-simple Motorola Razr V3 domestic phone.
I'm using the Duet D888 on an upcoming trip to Australia. After I return (leaving Australia is very difficult), I'll report on my experience with the phone and the National Geographic/Cellular Abroad service. Stay tuned!