Ciao, Roaming Fees - iPhone Finally Has a Dual SIM Solution
Lebanese entrepreneurs Nabil Nasr and Fouad Fattal are both frequent travelers – more importantly, they have been loyal iPhone customers since 2007. Sadly, their lifestyle wasn’t seamlessly compatible with their favorite smartphone brand. Until recently…
The main challenge that iPhone users face when abroad is the high roaming/mobile fees they incur. So far, there were only two solutions to this problem: either carrying a cheap secondary phone for the native line, while inserting a new SIM card in the iPhone; or replacing the iPhone with what Fattal describes as “a complicated, bug-riddled, user-unfriendly Android phone with a dual SIM system.”
For this reason, the pair launched their startup, Krimston, in 2013, and started looking for a better solution.
“Both of these workarounds felt very intrusive and impractical in reference to our iPhone comfort zone. What we needed was our iPhone and its apps up and running by being online at low cost while benefitting from a secondary GSM line, and to have that without intruding the neat design adopted by Apple,” said Fattal, co-founder and CEO of Krimston (website coming soon).
The result was the Krimston TWO, a dual SIM card solution for iPhones with an extended battery life solution, offering users a hotspot at all times.
An iPhone with a Dual SIM Solution
The Krimston TWO is both a hardware and app solution.
At first glance, the device looks like a sleek cover accessory for iPhones – even though it is equipped with all the components of a smartphone. Rather than working as a standalone device, it expands the iPhone’s functionality by accepting an additional SIM card – without affecting the primary phone’s SIM card. Users can then control both their native and new SIM cards from their initial phone.
Contacts are directly synced to the Krimston TWO app, giving users access to 1 database on 2 SIM cards. Fattal explained that when users insert a SIM card in the Krimston TWO, the full functionality of that card will be handled by the hardware, and will not affect the SIM card of their primary phone.
“Its main innovation resides in giving this dual SIM functionality to the iPhone, which currently does not offer this option,” said Fattal.
In addition, the Krimston TWO works as an independent hotspot, allowing users to remain online. It also provides backup power to the initial phone in case of emergency.
This combination of features consecrates the Krimston TWO in a class of its own when it comes to smartphone hardware.
a. Dual SIM solutions: Other available services include phone company plans offering special roaming bundles, global SIMs (still limited to certain countries and operators). Examples of available products in the market include the FreedomPop sleeve rocket (only in the US, operating on iPod), the Thumbs Up dual SIM cover (SIMs are not running simultaneously), and dual SIM phones.
“As for the Dual Sim Android phone solution, it does not answer the need of high-end Android phones such as the Galaxy S6 and S5,” said Fattal.
b. Chargers: “In the Apple industry, there is no direct competition. The closest product to ours are currently battery packs, and Apple-certified ones sell for around $100-$150, depending on battery capacity,” said Fattal.
c. Hotspot: According to Fattal, the only other providers of such a service are city hotspots.
I Want That One!
Rolling out the Krimston TWO is expected by end Q2 2016. Krimston will launch a crowdfunding campaign in February 2016 to fund the first batch of devices and size up demand. The device’s price is not finalized yet, as it will depend largely on planned production quantities.
The company is currently conducting focus groups and market research to set a final price. “We are confident that whatever the pricing outcome is, ROI to the end user will be extremely quick,” said Fattal.
He added that the device’s primary markets will be the US, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and the UAE as a start.
Drawing the Blueprint for Krimston TWO
When they first started out, Nasr and Fattal invested around $20,000 of their own money to develop a conceptual prototype. By the spring of 2014, they managed to raise $400,000 in angel investments to develop their MVP and have it ready for mass production.
By then, the Krimston family had grown to 14 members, with 8 partners playing a crucial role in the rollout of the project, whether in terms of strategy, financials, industry experience, or networking
Fattal explained that product development is split between 3 geographic locations: Lebanon hosts the company’s operations team; industrial design (appearance, material, practicality, etc.) is developed in the US (California); and the mechanical and electrical engineering is carried out in India, where mass production is most likely to take place.
More Innovation Coming Soon
Krimston was one of the runners up at the recent Hyundai Startup Competition organized in collaboration with ArabNet. The startup received a $1,000 reward for the Krimston TWO’s innovative concept.
For now, all the startup’s efforts are geared towards their product launch next year. But by then the Krimston journey will have only just started. “Krimston has several products waiting in the pipeline and will start their development the second that Krimston TWO is out in the market,” hinted Fattal.
For now, the startup has secured all the money needed for the healthy rollout of its operation, he said, adding that they might seek investment rounds afterwards, but not before a year or so.