Telco Choices to optimise your Dual SIM Phone as a Malaysian in Singapore – as at July 2020

So, you live in Johor but you work in Singapore, or you work in Singapore but you’re Malaysian and you frequently go to Malaysia to visit family/kids/partner. I know we’re in the midst of a once in a century global pandemic, but I write this in the hope that things will eventually normalise, and you and I will be able to continue our normal lives of shuttling between Singapore and Malaysia.

Your most likely ideal combination of telcos would be two of the options below:

Singapore

  1. redONE – $8/mth for 3GB in Singapore and Malaysia, as well as calls that can be used on both sides
  2. Grid Mobile – $25/mth for 40GB for Singapore and 1GB for Malaysia
  3. Circles.Life – $5/mth for 2GB, 50 mins, but crucially, no roaming
    • This is the only telco here that lacks roaming, and could be painful for times that you’re in Malaysia but need your OTP on your Singapore number.
  4. Vivifi – $8.80/mth for 3GB, 500 mins
  5. TPG – $10/mth for 50GB, 300 mins
  6. MyRepublic – $10/mth for 6GB (capped thereafter), 300 mins

Malaysia

  1. Yoodo – customisable plan, which, at the time of writing, can buy you 20GB for RM20, and can be maintained for as little as RM12/year
  2. Unifi – non-expiring Prepaid SIM

Given the point of this article is to highlight how useful a dual SIM phone can be for having two separate SIMs, I’m not looking for an all-in-one encompassing SIM that addresses your mobile needs on both sides of the Straits of Johor. That’s why I’ve neglected to mention the otherwise, pretty good value RM95/mth Digi postpaid plan which includes 30GB in Malaysia and 5GB for Singapore (amongst other countries).

What combination you choose depends on your habits. In other words:

  • Are you a heavy data user? On which side do you need more data?
  • Are you big on phone calls? On which side do you need more calls?

It’s 2020, so I don’t need to explain why I haven’t asked about your text messaging (SMS) habits.

If you live in Johor but work in Singapore, I’d imagine you’d be after a plan with a more generous inclusion of data and calls on the Malaysia side, while probably requiring a bit less data and calls on the Singapore side. If you’re in this scenario, I’d probably opt for a combination of Yoodo for Malaysia and redONE for Singapore. The redONE plan can be used on both sides, but there actually isn’t a cheaper Singapore plan at the time of writing that has a cheaper monthly cost which also includes roaming. I would imagine roaming is crucial for times when you need to receive OTPs from your Singapore-based services (banks, apps, services). Bear in mind – most banks are able to have your OTPs sent to a foreign number, but this is not always possible. For example, you cannot set your Singtel Dash number to anything but a Singapore number.

If you actually don’t require your Singapore number to have roaming, you could pick the $5/mth Circles.Life plan).

If you’re in the scenario above, but you actually make a fair amount of phone calls in Singapore, then instead of redONE, pick Vivifi, as the 500 minutes of calls included is substantially more generous than the 100 minutes of redONE.

If you need marginally more data and aren’t willing to look at the $18+/mth options, MyRepublic’s $10/mth plan for 6GB is quite competitive, while also includes a reasonable 300 mins of calls.

If you live and work in Singapore, but just frequently travel to Malaysia, then I would prioritise your Singapore mobile requirements and I would probably pick Yoodo over Unifi for your Malaysian requirements. I’ve outlined before the shortcomings of Unifi from a reception point of view, and this is the key reason why I struggle to “fully” recommend Unifi, even though I myself use Unifi. I’m just that much of a cheapskate, I guess, because it actually _is_ cheaper, from a maintenance point of view!

The market for mobile plans in Singapore has been getting increasingly competitive, especially with TPG’s recent launch of their $10/mth plan. Whilst from the options above, TPG sticks out like a sore thumb (in a positive way), I would also not recommend them unless your other SIM slot is occupied by another Singapore SIM. Unfortunately, this does not really fit the scenario I’m writing for. Similar to Unifi’s reception issues in Malaysia, TPG is still some way short of offering a reliable standard of reception in Singapore, with the most glaring issue being the lack of reception underground. You might think, “that’s fine! I never take the MRT in Singapore anyway!”, it’s not just a MRT issue. It’s generally an issue as long as you’re below ground level.

With that being said, you’re likely looking at the $18/mth plans from either Circles.Life or Grid Mobile, or if you’re a heavier data user, the $25/mth plan from Grid Mobile.

At the very least, you’re saving on the “effort” of having to change your SIM, which for Johor commuters working in Singapore, might be quite important. At best, you’re saving money because I’ve shown you how cheap dual SIM phones can be, and that there are some seriously good value plans in both Malaysia and Singapore now.

You just have to look outside the big players of Maxis, Digi, Hotlink, Celcom in Malaysia, or StarHub, M1 and Singtel in Singapore.

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