!(https://hackernoon.com/hn-images/1*70dVnHE5YOfA3MCqSgdvPg.jpeg)\n\nIf you have many faces, how do I know which is the real one?\n\nOnce upon a time, I used to have just my iPhone and one number. But over the last few years, things have changed. Many Indians now have two numbers as most Android phones have dual SIM slots. There are also some gadget freaks who just like having two phones, or maybe carry an office phone and a personal one. I fall somewhere in between these categories.\n\n#### Toys for boys\n\nIt started a couple of years ago when my iPhone 5 crashed and flamed out. Truth be told, the end of the phone was actually quite tame as its display inexplicably went dead. I was completely taken by surprise as the phone hadn’t fallen or anything. Since I was connected on iCloud, my data was safe. However my iPhone was just two years old at the time of its untimely death. The local Apple dealer helpfully offered to give me a refurbished phone for a price that was just ₹1000 ($15) less than the price of a brand new iPhone 5S, which was a 64-bit, technologically advanced phone. Even in today’s nonsensical world, that didn’t make sense. So I quit Apple and went over to the Android side, getting myself a Nexus 4.\n\nBut I had a little issue. Since my iPhone was dead, my messages weren’t appearing on my phone. Of course, I could go on the internet and turn off iMessage. But I lived within an Apple ecosystem. This meant I was also getting my messages on my Mac and iPad, and I liked that convenience. Basically I was in a ‘I want to have my cake and eat it too’ scenario.\n\nThat was when I first considered carrying two phones. I had retired my old iPhone 4 as its speaker was malfunctioning. Calls had become inaudible if there was too much ambient noise, like if I was in a mall or walking down a busy road. But the phone would work well as long as I didn’t take calls on it. So I stuck the old guy in my left hip pocket, the new guy in my right hip pocket, and walked out, feeling all the world like one of those Wild West gunslingers, strutting around with a gun dangling off each hip.\n\nAnyway, after I got used to the initial discomfort of carrying an extra phone, I realised there were some positives. I had collected quite a few apps in my time with Apple, and I could now use it on the iPhone 4. Like I had a lot of my work files on the Pages app, and all were accessible with that phone.\n\nThe Nexus 4 was a good phone but I still preferred using the smaller iPhone 4, probably because I was used to iOS and iPhones. But I could explore weird stuff on the Nexus by rooting it.\n\nThe truth of the matter is I didn’t really need two phones. But boys like toys. And cellphones are acceptable toys for adults to play with in today’s society. So play with them I did, to my nerdy heart’s content.\n\n#### If you can dream it, you can have it\n\nSome time later, Apple launched the iPhone 6S series, and I couldn’t help but imagine myself typing on that big screen. It would be a lot more easier than my relatively tiny iPhone 4.\n\nThere’s a funny thing about imagination, or rather powerful visualisation. Sportsmen have this belief that if you can visualise yourself in minute detail winning a match, then it’s quite likely to come true.\n\nI think there’s something similar going on with the phones in my life. The moment I saw that big screen of the iPhone 6S+, I could see myself working on that screen like it was actually happening. This despite my having sworn off Apple, after the debacle of the dead display on my iPhone 5.\n\nSure enough, out of the blue, my wife gifted me an iPhone 6S+. Unlike me, my wife is a technophobe, and probably didn’t even notice that I had switched to an Android for some time. When she finally did notice, I saw an odd glimmer in her eye. She’s been trying forever to present me a gift that will thrill me, without much success. Now she had finally found my Achilles heel, and she gifted it to me despite my protests that I had a perfectly capable Android phone. Deep down, I was secretly pleased as I had been wanting to upgrade to the latest iOS, which wasn’t possible on the iPhone 4.\n\nThe iPhone 6S+ is quite a capable phone and I had no reason to carry a second phone anymore. So I put away the Android, and reverted back to my single status.\n\nThe thing is you can’t give a boy a toy, and then take it away, and expect him to forget it. There’s stuff the Android can do that’s just not possible on an iPhone. Like connecting a USB drive (OTG) and viewing files for instance.\n\nSo there I was once again, dreaming my Android dreams. And to my surprise, my visualisation powers for a second time, bent my universe towards a two phone scenario.\n\n#### When cartels lose control\n\nTo understand what I mean, you need to know a bit about India’s complex cellular network market. Till last year, this market was controlled by an unofficial cartel formed by all the major networks. Prices were kept artificially high with a miserly 1GB of 3G data costing around ‘₹300 per month’ ($5). Cellular phone calls were expensive. Roaming fees were the norm whenever you travelled between India’s 29 odd states. Things had reached such a state that people had accepted an average monthly bill of ₹1500 ($25) as normal. That is quite high to the Indian common man.\n\nBut what I really detested were the cunning hidden fees which would be applied at exorbitant rates. For instance, let’s say you have taken a data plan of 1Gb on your prepaid card, and you have another ₹200 of talktime. Logically, when your data runs out, you expect your internet to stop working. But that would not happen. Instead the network would start using your talktime credit to pay for the data at an exorbitant rate, like 1MB for ₹2. Let’s say you get a couple of emails with large attachments that total up to 100MB. This downloads automatically without you being aware of it, and in the process wipes out your entire ₹200 of talktime. This happened to me more times than I cared to remember, and it rankled.\n\nIn 2016, a new player called Jio disrupted the Indian cellular network market by launching a ‘₹300 for **1GB/day** for a month’ 4G pack as compared to the standard ‘₹300 for **1GB/month**’ at 3G speed pack. The cream on the Jio cake was phone calls and messages to any number in India were free, with no roaming fees. Just to rub it in, Jio also offered a six month free trial, and followed it up by what was in effect a ‘Pay for 1 month, Get 2 months free’ for the same plan. A couple of days ago, Jio announced the latest version ‘Pay for 1 month, Get 1 month free,’ as they slowly move away from promotions on the ‘₹300 for 1GB/day’ monthly plan.\n\nThe effect of all this was prices crashed all around in the India cellular network market. There was chaos as the fat cat networks suddenly found their bottom lines dropping, as their long suffering customers began giving them the finger.\n\n#### Stranded at the port\n\nI was one of those customers eager to jump ship to Jio. I mean why pay over ₹1000/month when you can get much better service for ₹300/month?\n\nHowever I needed to port my existing number to Jio as most of my contacts have this number. India makes it mandatory for cellular networks to allow porting between networks. But the Jio dealer informed me porting wasn’t working too well, especially porting from postpaid connections like mine. So I went over to my provider, and got my number converted to prepaid.\n\nBig mistake! It seems Indian government laws say porting is only possible for a new connection after three months. When I converted my SIM from postpaid to prepaid, it theoretically became a new SIM. So I had to wait for another three months before applying for porting. In the meanwhile, if I wanted to use Jio, the only option was to get a second phone as my iPhone doesn’t have dual sim capability.\n\n#### Apple and Android, hand in hand\n\nThe news of the iPhone 8 breaking the $1000 barrier has been causing waves internationally. But that’s old news in India. The iPhone 6S crossed the $1000 mark nearly two years ago. This is because India’s high tax system gives the country the dubious honour of having the world’s most expensive iPhones. My 64GB iPhone 6S+ cost around ₹75000 ($1160) when I got it. I was lucky as my wife, who can’t resist a ‘SALE,’ picked it up for around $750 in Dubai.\n\nAnyway, who wants two identical toys? Even if the iPhone wasn’t so expensive, I would have preferred an Android as a second phone. Of course, there was the issue of buying a new Android as my Mi4i (which had replaced my old Nexus 4) had itself become outdated and slow.\n\nBut I could afford to do this as Android prices are reasonable, unlike Apple. I managed to exchange the Mi4i for a newer Android, Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 4. The Redmi cost ₹13000 ($200). Since I got an exchange value of ₹3500 ($50) for the Mi4i, my total expense was only ₹9500 ($150). We are talking actual prices, as the phone contract system does not really exist in India.\n\nIn short, all the stars aligned with my dreams of Android, and I was once again a member of two-phone club. So that is where I am now. An iPhone with a Jio SIM in one pocket, and an Android with my old number in the other pocket.\n\n#### ‘One number, one person’ is passé\n\n!(https://hackernoon.com/hn-images/1*-Zrl_Tkvihp-4xk31ZrWeA.png)\n\nIt was only after I started using multiple phone numbers that I realised that I was getting a lot of calls from unknown numbers. On picking up the calls, it would often turn out to be friends. It seems I was not the only Indian who had got into promiscuous relationships with multiple phones and networks.\n\nThis is a typical entry in my phone book. I’ve received calls from this friend on several numbers, and have them all, as I habitually save incoming numbers from friends. To avoid confusion, I have tried labelling them as home, work, etc, and deleting those numbers which my friend does not call from anymore. But there are still four working numbers. The problem is when I want to call her, I have no idea which of these numbers to call, and end up making at least a couple of calls before I get through on a number on which she is available.\n\n#### Horses for courses\n\nWhy do Indians use multiple SIMs?\n\nFirstly, Indians use prepaid, which are basically pay-as-you-go services, which means you pay nothing if you don’t use the SIM. This is unlike the phone contract system which is prevalent in the West where you have to pay a minimum monthly fee regardless of whether you use the phone or not. This is why most Indians have many spare SIMs lying around the place.\n\nSecondly, each network offers some advantage to their customers to stop them from migrating to a competitor. Somewhere along the way, Indian customers figured out it makes more sense to have the best of all worlds by keeping multiple SIMs from competing networks.\n\n**Roaming** Before Jio entered the market, BSNL the state run network was the only one who didn’t charge roaming fees. As I often travel, roaming fees can add up. So I got myself a BSNL SIM that I would use on my iPhone 4 while travelling to save on roaming costs.\n\n**International calls** These days, most countries allow wi-fi calls. But there are exceptions like UAE. (The country has no income taxes, and compensates by getting revenue from state run enterprises like cellular networks which charge exorbitant rates for calls). So making a call from India to a Dubai phone is quite expensive, unless it’s a Skype call on wi-fi. I keep an Airtel SIM in an old Samsung feature phone just for this service. Airtel had or used to have the best mix of call quality and cost. A UAE call costs 12 paisa/sec or ₹7.20/min ($0.11/min). In comparison, Skype charges ₹12–17/min for calls to UAE mob/landline. However I’m not sure if Airtel’s is the best rate as India’s confusing call packages make it difficult to figure out things. That’s a business opportunity begging to be grabbed.\n\n**Better network** Some networks offer better coverage in certain places. Aircel connectivity is good in the place I stay so I have been with their service for some time.\n\n**Free calls within network** Most networks offers free calls to other phones on their network. So if most of your family on a certain network, and you make a lot of calls to them, then it makes sense to use a SIM from that network.\n\n**Local and STD calls** I make a lot of STD calls and this would routinely double my phone bill. Jio offers free local and STD calls, and free messages with their basic package of around ₹300 a month ($5). So Jio has become my primary number.\n\n**Internet** That Jio basic package also includes 1GB/day of 4G data. As most Indians have dual SIM phones, they keep a Jio in one of the SIM slots just for internet. Eventually, many of them end up switching completely to Jio, which may have been exactly why Jio strategically offered a 6-month free trial. Once other networks realised what was going on, they cut down their data rates to match Jio. All said and done, Jio’s disruptive tactics have made life better for the Indian customer.\n\n#### All my eggs in one basket is a bad idea\n\nIf you have been keeping track, you will have noticed that I have four numbers: one each from Jio, Aircel, BSNL and Airtel. I carry an iPhone and a dual SIM Android, which means I have three of those numbers active at all times. I’m not sure if all those radio waves are good for my health.\n\nI don’t really need the BSNL number anymore as Jio has taken away BSNL’s advantage of zero roaming fees. But I keep the BSNL number since it doesn’t cost me, apart from a nominal fee once a year or so. BSNL’s network in India is good, and they are offering data packs that are comparable with Jio though they are still mainly 3G. Beside one of my bank’s accounts is linked to the BSNL number, and I would rather play safe. What I mean to say is that if a hacker managed to get one of my phone numbers, and hacked into my bank account linked to my primary SIM, I would still not be fully exposed as the second bank account would be inaccessible.\n\n#### WhatsApp gets a lucky break\n\nSo how does one get in touch with anyone anymore? I mean you can’t go dialling three or four numbers every time you want to call someone.\n\nThis is where WhatsApp seems to have struck gold. WhatsApp is India’s most messaging app, and everyone is on it. So if you have a contact with many phone numbers, you just go over to WhatsApp and check out which number is active. In fact, WhatsApp actually shows when the person was last online which tells you if the number is active. Then you have three options. Make a WhatsApp call to that number, or send a WhatsApp message asking them to call you, or just call that number directly from your phone.\n\nWhat worries me is Mark Zuckerberg has access to all my info. Facebook has already once accessed my phone book to tap my contacts. It did this by doing a sneaky WhatsApp update, which had a ‘Share data with Facebook’ option turned on by default.\n\nThis is the major reason I prefer the far more innovative Telegram app to WhatsApp. But Telegram too has its issues with the Indonesian government banning it just today because terror networks like ISIS were using its channels for their ungodly activities.\n\nFor now, it looks like we are stuck with WhatsApp. Like my wife just now asked me for my nephew’s number. I checked his contact info in my phone book, and found he had two numbers. So what I did was go to Whatsapp to find his active number.\n\nIt’s a multiple phone world alright.