International SIM cards in the UK: do you need a 2nd phone?

International SIM cards in the UK: do you need a 2nd phone?

It is perhaps something of a surprise that so many people who call abroad from the UK still use a special second SIM card.  Services like the ‘O2 international SIM’ and the ‘Lebara international SIM’ have traditionally been very popular in offering cheaper, more convenient rates than domestic mobile phone providers, but what about now?

The last few years have seen drastic changes in the way we communicate.  Smartphones and internet technology make our lives so much more connected and the costs are constantly driven down.  So, let’s examine the pros and cons of the more traditional approach of a second SIM card, with a leading online service like Rebtel.

A recent study

A recent study conducted by Rebtel (on Nigerian calls from the UK) revealed that there are now 190,000 first generation Nigerians living in the UK. Furthermore, 99 per cent of these people call Nigerian-based mobile phones for an average of forty hours per year.

The research showed that 90 per cent of the Nigerian population in the UK have access to a smartphone, but that a staggering 81% ALSO have a second phone to call Nigeria; why? Well, the answer is simple. Taking your smartphone apart every time you wish to make a call to Nigeria is time consuming and doesn’t help the longevity of your phone. Also, these tiny SIM cards are so easy to lose that carrying one around to pop into your phone every time you want to call a Nigerian-based contact is impractical.

So the solution most Nigerian’s based in the UK have come up with is to have a second mobile device, which contains the SIM card that they need to call home.

Is this the best way to stay in touch?

So the question must be asked: Is this really the most practical and cost-effective way to keep in touch?

Sure, many UK international SIM cards offer decent rates (though not as cheap as many would like you to believe once all the hidden fees are added to the cost of a call). But what are the implications of having to carry and maintain a second phone simply to call one contact? Well, a quick review of the figures is astonishing. Not only do you double the risk of having your phone lost, stolen or damaged, you would need to insure double the number of phones, carry twice the amount of phones around and make sure both are kept charged…. Aaaarrrgghhhh!

While some people may simply brush off such issues as trivial they do have a clear and tangible impact. The Nigerian community in the UK alone, are using over 150,000 ‘second phones’, weighing as much as two London buses.  To keep them charged uses around 177,000 hours of electricity every week. When we lay it all out in black and white, the impact is really quite staggering.

-       Extra phone costs

-       Extra SIM costs

-       Phone maintenance and charging

-       Inconvenience of a carrying around a second phone

-       The environmental impact of electricity use

This list goes on.  So, if the second phone phenomenon isn’t the cheap or practical option, then what is?

The Solution

We already touched on the solution above when stating that figures of 90% (and growing) of UK based Nigerians have a smartphone. Immediately, this negates the need for a second SIM.

Recent years have seen such development with smartphone apps that there are a great range of services providing cheap rates (even cheaper than the SIM providers) for international calling.  Simply put, internet technology is cheaper to maintain for these new telecommunications companies – the cost savings are then passed on to the consumer.

By installing a smartphone/tablet app you have access to a whole bunch of great features.  One of the market leaders, Rebtel, has great rates for calls to Nigeria, and automatically uses your phone’s list of contacts to give you easy access.  Not only is it cheaper, it’s more convenient, less hassle, more enjoyable.  And isn’t that the point after all?... Calling loved ones back home certainly shouldn’t be a stressful scenario.

In conclusion, the phenomenon of carrying a second phone is a false economy.  It’s inconvenient, impractical and no longer the cheapest option. So why not ditch the second phone and make your life a whole lot easier by joining a company like Rebtel.  There’s plenty to gain and nothing to lose, except the extra baggage of that second phone!