Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My So-Called "Dual SIM" Hisense Phone

I have had a love-hate relationship with my Hisense HS-U970 phone. It's my first smartphone, and so I have enjoyed all the toys and goodies that come with Android. But it has also been a monumental disappointment in one crucial respect: it claims to be a "Dual Sim" phone. It isn't. It's a one-and-a-half sim phone.
If you look at the photo above, you can see it has slots for 2 sim cards, but only one of those slots is capable of 3G data. Nowhere on the Hisense product page or the press release or the Kalahari or Takealot pages does it say anything about this. Neither does the box:
The official Hisense product page claims under "Network" that the phone is "Dual SIM card, dual standby (HSPA/WCDMA/GSM)" and the press release waxes lyrical about how "Prime 1 has dual SIM capabilities, allowing users to simultaneously run two SIM cards from different accounts and networks off a single mobile device." But that's where the hype and the truth diverge. Badly. Sure, there are 2 sim card slots, and each of them can take a sim card, but only one of the slots has (HSPA/WCDMA/GSM) capability. The other slot is GSM only. That means it can do voice, sms messages, and EDGE internet data. EDGE can carry a bandwidth up to 236 kbit/s under ideal circumstances. In practice it's closer to 64k-128kbps.
HSPA provides peak data rates of up to 14 Mbit/s in the downlink and 5.76 Mbit/s in the uplink, twice that of WCDMA. So the difference between HSPA and EDGE is significant: HSPA is theoretically 60 times faster than EDGE. So its not the kind of detail that should be overlooked on a product description (see screen shot below). In my case the problem was even worse, because the phone was faulty and it would not accept my MTN sim card in slot 2 at all. A visit to the Hisense stand at Decorex convinced me that my phone was faulty, because their stand phone (the same model and software version) would accept each sim card in either slot. Not even a factory reset of my phone would fix the problem.
Here is a screen shot of my Telkom Mobile/8ta data connection speed when it is plugged in to slot 2 and only able to connect using EDGE. Not exactly awe inspiring. The same sim card in a USB modem gets excellent speed from the same location (my desk).
Hisense is a multinational company based in China, and the Chinese are notorious for poor quality control, so I knew there was a risk when I bought the phone. But still, I paid R2000 for the phone, so I expect the thing to work as advertised. Unfortunately Hisesnse are lying about the capabilities of the phone. They omit to mention to their prospective buyers that you can select between sim cards, but only one sim card will give you good internet speeds. The other one gives you v-e-r-y s-l-o-w internet speeds.
Note to Hisense PR department: lying by omission is still lying.The box says "HSPA High Speed Internet Acces", not "HSPA High Speed Internet Acces on slot 1 only". It should.
It's only when you open the box and insert two sim cards that you find out that one slot is GSM (good for voice and sms messages) and the other slot is good for voice, sms and data. If you are only going to use the internet for WhatsApp chatting and so on, then slot 2's internet will probably suffice. But don't expect your phone to work properly on the Internet.
The other problem I had with my phone was that whenever the signal strength went below 2 bars (as measured on my old Nokia phone) the Hisense phone lost connection completely. "No Service" it said. This happens in the gym change room (where other users on other phones could make and take calls), in Cresta shopping centre, and in my own office at home. In all these places I have not encountered any problems with the same sim card in my Nokia phone. I will wait and see what happens with the replacement phone.
Update Thuesday 4pm: The courier company has collected the faulty phone for return to Waybill no 600684278. In the meantime I am back to using my cranky 18 month old Nokia phone. At least it gets decent reception, even if it reboots at random.
Update Friday: I found a post on Google Plus for a Spanish retailer:
New Arrival @Select Mobiles
Hisense U970 Smartphone
• Model: HS-U970
• Sim: Dual Sim card
• Display: 5.0 inches TFT Capacitive touch screen
• Platform: Android v4.2 Jelly Bean
• Processor: Quad Core 1.2GHz CPU MTK6589
• Ram: 1GB RAM,4GB internal & expandable up to 32GB
• Camera: 8.0MP autofocus LED flash rear & VGA front camera
• Network: GSM/EDGE 900/1800/1900; WCDMA/HSDPA/HSUPA 900/2100MHz GPS: GPS/AGPS
• Connectivity: USB:Micro USB
• Wifi:802.11b/g/n
• Bluetooth: Bluetooth 3.0 EDR
• Sensors: Proximity sensor,Ambient light sensor,G-sensor
• Audio: Headphone: 3.5mm headset connector
• Additional features: MMS,Email,Push Email,Wi-Fi hotspot
• Battery: 2000mAh
• Dimension: 142 x 73.2 x 9.4mm
• Weight: 144g
It seems to me that Hisense global is not being entirely honest about the capabilities of their phones. Deliberately ambiguous specifications are deliberately dishonest.
Update Friday 22nd August: A month after buying the (faulty) phone, I have been told that Kalahari will refund me the full price within 5-7 working days. This is getting ridiculous. On top of that the marketing geniuses at Hisense have asked me to remove my blog post. They really don't "get it", nor do they understand the outrage of a customer who was sold a device that doesn't work, and can't work as advertised.
Update Friday 29th August: The refund from Kalahari finally came through. That was not a good buying experience. Fortunately we have had better experiences with them in the past, so we will be buying books from them in the future. And they can't be blamed for the poor quality control at Hisense.
Update Friday 5th August: I've had the new phone for a week and it seems to be working correctly, except for the slow speed on the second SIM. I'll post a review in a few days.


Swazi Server said...

Give it up and get a "real" Android smart phone from your service provider, such as a Samsung Galaxy or a Sony phone.

Danie Bredenhann said...

I don't agree Swazi, this phone outperforms the Galaxy S4 and has a anti reflective screen. Besides you can only have 1 3G connection.

Donn Edwards said...

You can only have one 3G connection on both the Samsung and the HS-970. The second HS-970 SIM does 2G only.

My wife has a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, which is roughly the same size as the HS-970, and I find it frustrating. When it get stolen or breaks down I'll buy her a HiSense instead.

Krystel Shayne Lantano said...

Hi! Can I just ask how did you do that screen shot? Thanks.

Donn Edwards said...

Press the power button and the volume down buttons together. It takes a bit of practice and you may end up changing the volume a few times, but you'll get the hang of it.

Kristian Shkoder said...

Does anyone know how to reset Hisense u-970 ?

Donn Edwards said...

> Great review. Do you have any idea
> where I can source a cover?

I bought mine from, but they no longer stock the phones or the covers. Maybe the Mweb stores can order one for you.

(Sorry I deleted the comment by mistake)

ashiraf nsubuga said...

My Hisense E601M doesn't even change from Edge to 3G, what should I do? I already tried it in settings and then using this code *#*#4636#*#* but it automatically goes back to GSM, who can please help me?

ashiraf nsubuga said...

My Hisense E601M doesn't even change from Edge to 3G, what should I do? I already tried it in settings and then using this code *#*#4636#*#* but it automatically goes back to GSM, who can please help me?

Andrie van Zyl said...

I have the same phone, Bought mine from GAME. I am also having signal problems, my clients complain my phone calls go to voicemail. I thought it might be Cell c so I moved to vodacom, The problem continued, the phone also randomly reboots, I visit clients the whole day and my phone is setup on each wifi network , my phone also not getting IP address from wifi unless I reboot my phone. Even when connected to wifi I see timeouts using the fling network tool. Recieved replacement - same problem. This phone cannot handle high volume phone calls / internet / email.

Donn Edwards said...

Gosh Andrie you really had a bad experience. I sometimes get calls going directly to voice mail but assumed it was MTN reception in my office, which isn't great. I do most of my communication via WhatsApp so it isn't usually a problem.

About 3 months ago I screwed up the software with a keyboard update and had to do a factory reset of the phone. It has worked a lot better since then, with much more free space for apps too.
My biggest gripe is that HiSense has not done a single update in the last year, and cannot say if/when they will provide a patch to fix the StageFright vulnerability.

Mr. Bwire Ally said...

My hisense hs-u961 has just gone black. Nothing is being displayed even when you turn it on.

Someone to help please.

Jimmy Verwer said...

Just bought the high sense hs-u602 because my 6year old lg is starting to play up. After 14 days with hisense using only one sim on 1 I find that all internet through cellc was great through opera browser. Call reception is bad, others can hear me but i can only hear callers intermitantly.
I am back on my 6year old for now till i can afford another branded phone.

Simeon Zgambo said...

I have a hisense smart phone. It has stopped sending sms. It has stopped displaying sms received and shows no update in its record for received or missed calls. How can I reset to factory settings. Pls help.

Desiree Olivier said...


I need help I have a Hisense U961 when ever I recharge my data and airtime disappears if the data is on. Why is it doing this I have changed my setting to wi-fi updates only but still this happens please help I like the phone but if this pisses me of really


marie wessels said...

I have a u602 and can not download anything. Pllllleeeeeaaase give me some advice. T.y.I.a

akon said...

i have a black sceen every time and must shutdown the phone

Kutlwano Malatjie said...

Hi, I bought a hs u-961 today and it does not want to download anything.... Please help ASAP

DjSpeedy said...

Hi, U-602 Dual sim but only see one sim slot and one memory slot. can this be or am i doing something wrong. plz can anyone help.

Me.... said...

Hi Dj Speedy, the sim slot 2 on the U602 is underneatth the memory card slot.

Thabang Motaung said...

Help me fix my hisense u602 front and rear camera. Please

Mpotseng Sebaka said...

Agree with you on that

Unknown said...

Mine have thr same problems it says gallery can't respond

thato mabela said...

I am having the very same problem as your, did you find the solution to this?

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