As mobile phone use is an important part of our daily life. It seems that we almost cannot live without use of mobile phone. Foreigners coming to China can also enjoy good quality mobile phone services as in their home countries. Here I will introduce some tips about Mobile phone use in China.
1. Choose a mobile provider
Currently there are three main mobile providers in China:
- China Mobile
- China Unicom
- China Telecom
Among them, China Mobile and China Unicom are GSM providers, while China Telecom is CDMA provider. In china, China Mobile is the most popular mobile provider. However, since China Mobile’s 3G and 4G (TD-SCDMA and TD-LTE) are different from foreign mobile providers, you will find out that your mobile phone cannot use 3G and 4G, meaning you have to switch your mobile phone to the ones designed specifically for China Mobile or use the slower 2G or GPRS networks. Fortunately, China Unicom and China Telecom provide the same 3G and 4G services as in the rest of the world (China Unicom uses WCDMA, TD-LTE and FDD-LTE, while China Telecom uses CDMA2000, TD-LTE and FDD-LTE). Make sure you choose the right mobile providers for your mobile phone. Moreover, each mobile provider has its own advantages and disadvantages. Generally speaking if you're looking for true 4G services China Unicom offers 4G internet and call packages starting from 46RMB per month or you can use it as a pay as you go package and be charged for usage. China mobile is the most common amongst Chinese people , although feel free to go for China Unicom or China Telecom as call charges across networks are tiny.
2. Get a new sim card
In China, you have to bring your passport to buy a new sim card because they have to input your information on the computer. A new sim card can be bought at a lot of places in China, though it is recommended that you should go to main certified stores to do this. You can pickup sim cards off small street vendors on the main networks although they will generally only sell 2G cards even though they usually market them as 4G. The staff in official stores are well-trained and some of them know how to speak English. The price of a sim card depends on the number. Normally, the harder to remember and unlucky (China culture related) numbers are cheap. In addition, remember to check your mobile phone is compatible with what sort of sim card. Currently mobile providers have nano sim card, micro sim card and regular sim card available. In addition, if you're using a foreign mobile phone please check whether your mobile phone is unlocked. Mobile providers back home can unlock your mobile phone. Please contact your mobile provide before heading to China.
3. Use of mobile phone
You can choose pay as you go or monthly pay packages. Usually there are some packages containing a combination of data, text, and minutes. You can also sign a contract to get a new phone. Please check the price with the staff or on the official websites. If you exceed contracted limits, you have to pay extra rate and usually this is considerably higher.
4. Top up
There are many ways to top up in China. You can go to a local branch and write down your number on a small provided paper, then pay in cash. Or simply click on the official website to top up by your bank card. Also, you can buy a top-up card on convenience stores and newsstands as well. All seven eleven, Ok shop and Family mart stores can top up any cell phone network.
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