Three and a half years ago I had a closer look at how a dual-SIM 3G mobile worked in practice and how both SIM cards can be used simultaneously, or not. Up to today, the two articles (see here and here) remain one of the most viewed ones so I'm not alone with my interest. These days, there are also dual-SIM LTE phones available, not only in the mid- and low-range market but also in the high-end sector. Time to have a look how these work in practice and if two networks can be used simultaneously.
By and large, the behavior of the dual-SIM LTE phone I had is pretty much identical to the Dual-SIM 3G phone from three and a half years back. The phone can receive (i.e. listen) to two networks simultaneously but can only be active (i.e. transmit and receive) in one at at a time. One can, for example, browse the Internet via one network (used with the first SIM card) while the device keeps listening for incoming voice calls and SMS messages on the other network (with the second SIM card). When a voice call comes in on the second SIM card, the mobile interrupts the communication with the first network during the phone call. In other words, it's not possible to access the Internet via one network and have a phone call over the other network at the same time. That means that, like three and a half years ago, it's still a dual-standby approach.
Also, like the device three and a half years ago, one transceiver chain is limited to GSM while the other chain is capable of GSM, UMTS and LTE. SIM cards can by assigned to one of those chains via the menu so its possible to switch SIM cards to and from the LTE chain for data transfers when necessary. This is useful, for example, when using one SIM card for Internet access in the home country and another SIM card for Internet access when traveling abroad. To get an idea of how that looks like in practice click on the links above. The user interface looks a bit different now but the steps to switch and select SIM cards are still the same.