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Optimal cell phone strategies in China

Optimal cell phone strategies in China

Old May 2, 2023, 7:44 pm
  #31  
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Originally Posted by gudugan
China Mobile had closer stores. If China Unicom had closer stores I would've gone there

US passport, 10-year L visa

I paid Y200 cash. Technically this is a setup fee but it looks like I have a Y200 credit on my account so it should last for 5 months. You can also pay with AliPay or WeChat Pay of course but you need the phone number to set those up (and bank account).

I don't have a residency permit and don't have any credit score.
​​​​​​I didnt realize the Chinese carriers have a surcharge for 5G. Is that the cheapest and viable plan for you? Since I have various options to roam in China, I won't need much if any data. I have read that China Unicom is better for Western phones than China Mobile. Not sure why.

​Which city did you set this up in?​​​​​​ Any advantages for a Beijing number over a Shanghai number?

Is there any way to pay with a credit card? Ok guessing if you're not always present in China, the only way to pay your plan is to have a bank account and use Alipay to pay every month? Any other way?
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Old May 2, 2023, 7:58 pm
  #32  
 
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Originally Posted by lsquare
​​​​​​I didnt realize the Chinese carriers have a surcharge for 5G. Is that the cheapest and viable plan for you? Since I have various options to roam in China, I won't need much if any data. I have read that China Unicom is better for Western phones than China Mobile. Not sure why.

​Which city did you set this up in?​​​​​​ Any advantages for a Beijing number over a Shanghai number?

Is there any way to pay with a credit card? Ok guessing if you're not always present in China, the only way to pay your plan is to have a bank account and use Alipay to pay every month? Any other way?
There's tons of different ones (e.g. ones that give you free data for specific apps like games and music). I didn't really want to bother and was just trying to get something cheap.
I have an iPhone X from this list: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202909. After iPhone X, Apple started making China-only iPhone models which I didn't want. Generally they have differences like two physical SIM slots but also FaceTime Audio is disabled. Since I know my phone is 100% supported, I don't have a problem.

I set this up in Chengdu which was probably a mistake. I likely won't come back here frequently. The 5G package is actually locked to Sichuan and can't be used outside it, hence why this is useless.

I really don't think it's possible to pay in most places in China with a credit card. I've tried and no one wants to deal with it.
The preferred method is: Alipay = WeChat Pay >> Cash with exact change > UnionPay local bank card (but why are you using this instead of AliPay/WeChat Pay?) >> credit card.
I plan to pay by using Alipay with a bank account. I assume you can also get your friend to pay for you.
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Old May 2, 2023, 8:03 pm
  #33  
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Originally Posted by gudugan
There's tons of different ones (e.g. ones that give you free data for specific apps like games and music). I didn't really want to bother and was just trying to get something cheap.
I have an iPhone X from this list: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202909. After iPhone X, Apple started making China-only iPhone models which I didn't want. Generally they have differences like two physical SIM slots but also FaceTime Audio is disabled. Since I know my phone is 100% supported, I don't have a problem.

I set this up in Chengdu which was probably a mistake. I likely won't come back here frequently. The 5G package is actually locked to Sichuan and can't be used outside it, hence why this is useless.

I really don't think it's possible to pay in most places in China with a credit card. I've tried and no one wants to deal with it.
The preferred method is: Alipay = WeChat Pay >> Cash with exact change > UnionPay local bank card (but why are you using this instead of AliPay/WeChat Pay?) >> credit card.
I plan to pay by using Alipay with a bank account. I assume you can also get your friend to pay for you.
What the heck? 5G plans are locked to the province that you signed up in? I think you should have signed up either in Beijing or Shanghai. That's what I would do if I were you. Was that the cheapest plan that met your needs? Is it easy to change plans after the fact?

Why is FT Audio disabled?
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Old May 2, 2023, 8:09 pm
  #34  
 
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Originally Posted by lsquare
What the heck? 5G plans are locked to the province that you signed up in? I think you should have signed up either in Beijing or Shanghai. That's what I would do if I were you. Was that the cheapest plan that met your needs? Is it easy to change plans after the fact?

Why is FT Audio disabled?
Well no kidding I should have signed up in BJ or SH, but I don't have other roaming plans. PVG airport sold traveler SIM on arrival (Y150 for 10 days) which is 4 months of postpaid service. I didn't buy one there because I assumed CTU would have traveler SIMs but they didn't. No one needs a SIM here apparently. The current plan is fine for me I guess, but I'll try to change plans today

No one knows except for Apple: https://www.macrumors.com/guide/facetime/
FaceTime is available in almost all countries around the world, with the exception of the United Arab Emirates. To use FaceTime in Saudi Arabia, an iPhone or iPad must be running iOS 11.3 or later, and to use FaceTime in Pakistan, devices must run iOS 12.4 or later.

Devices purchased in certain Middle Eastern countries will also block FaceTime if a SIM card from a non Middle Eastern country is inserted. FaceTime Audio is not available in China. All iPhones and iPads sold in China are limited to the standard FaceTime with video feature.

Note that if you purchase an iPhone or iPad in China or the United Arab Emirates and then attempt to use it in another country, the FaceTime features listed above will be disabled. Purchasing an iPhone from China or the Middle East is not recommended unless you live in those places.
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Old May 2, 2023, 8:15 pm
  #35  
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Originally Posted by gudugan
Well no kidding I should have signed up in BJ or SH, but I don't have other roaming plans. PVG airport sold traveler SIM on arrival (Y150 for 10 days) which is 4 months of postpaid service. I didn't buy one there because I assumed CTU would have traveler SIMs but they didn't. No one needs a SIM here apparently. The current plan is fine for me I guess, but I'll try to change plans today

No one knows except for Apple: https://www.macrumors.com/guide/facetime/
It sounds like FT Audio is disabled at the hardware level. That sucks!

Please let us know which plan you'll end up getting. It doesn't sound like the prepaid plans are a viable option. Are you heading to Beijing or Shanghai? Maybe switch to a number when you're there?
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Old May 2, 2023, 8:28 pm
  #36  
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The idea of me plugging Unicom was unfathomable just five years ago
-China Mobile is a little cheaper
-China Telecom is A LOT cheaper

The thing is we are only talking about 80, 78,and 30,,,all of which can drop you to zero.
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Old May 2, 2023, 8:35 pm
  #37  
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Originally Posted by moondog
The idea of me plugging Unicom was unfathomable just five years ago
-China Mobile is a little cheaper
-China Telecom is A LOT cheaper

The thing is we are only talking about 80, 78,and 30,,,all of which can drop you to zero.
The last time I got a China Mobile number was when I was studying in Shanghai. At the time, China Mobile had the best network even if it wasn't the cheapest. Now, I generally roam as times have changed. I was surprised to read that Unicom has improved and it's supposed to be better for Western phones, but I don't know why as no specifics were provided. FWIW, I have an iPhone 14 Pro Max and a Pixel 7.

80, 78, 30?
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Old May 3, 2023, 1:39 am
  #38  
 
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I went back to the store and got more clarification.

My plan is Y40/month:
5GB anywhere (not HK/Macau/Taiwan) data + 5GB Sichuan-only data + 2GB data that will start next month (also anywhere data)
So if you don't live in Sichuan it's 7GB only. If you are in Sichuan, it uses the 5GB Sichuan-only data first. You should ideally sign up in the province that you live the most in.
Everything is 5G but if your phone doesn't support 5G, it will just use 4G.

If I want to cancel the plan it's Y60 before one year and no cancellation fee after that. I don't really want to go through this process again anytime soon but perhaps will change it to BJ/SH after a year if I feel like it. In specific, this would involve cancelling the line and opening a new one. I'm not sure if you can keep the phone number if you do that, but I'll cross the bridge when I get there.
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Old May 3, 2023, 1:42 am
  #39  
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Originally Posted by gudugan
I went back to the store and got more clarification.

My plan is Y40/month:
5GB anywhere (not HK/Macau/Taiwan) data + 5GB Sichuan-only data + 2GB data that will start next month (also anywhere data)
So if you don't live in Sichuan it's 7GB only. If you are in Sichuan, it uses the 5GB Sichuan-only data first. You should ideally sign up in the province that you live the most in.
Everything is 5G but if your phone doesn't support 5G, it will just use 4G.

If I want to cancel the plan it's Y60 before one year and no cancellation fee after that. I don't really want to go through this process again anytime soon but perhaps will change it to BJ/SH after a year if I feel like it.
Yikes! I had no idea the Chinese cellular market operates like that. They sure make my T-Mobile and AT&T plans look so good. Everything is unlimited nationwide and in North America. Imagine if my data and minutes are restricted to a New York bucket and I get another for the rest of the country. I wonder if Unicom is any different.
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Old May 3, 2023, 1:46 am
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I'm on an AT&T family (non-unlimited) plan and just got charged $15 (twice!) for going over by 1GB of data. So...

I believe Unicom is the same because on their website (10010.com) there's a province/municipality selector at the top.
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Old May 3, 2023, 1:59 am
  #41  
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Originally Posted by gudugan
I'm on an AT&T family (non-unlimited) plan and just got charged $15 (twice!) for going over by 1GB of data. So...

I believe Unicom is the same because on their website (10010.com) there's a province/municipality selector at the top.
Get T-Mobile Magenta Max for your main line...

Did you check if there are cheaper plans that may meet your needs? Why pay more for a plan if you don't use all the features?
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Old May 3, 2023, 2:06 am
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Lol, the current plan is grandfathered in and pretty cheap but I might switch my US line soon anyway.

Anyway back on topic, I didn't think the plan would go much lower than Y40 and as moondog says marginal price difference isn't worth worrying about
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Old May 3, 2023, 2:26 am
  #43  
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Originally Posted by gudugan
Lol, the current plan is grandfathered in and pretty cheap but I might switch my US line soon anyway.

Anyway back on topic, I didn't think the plan would go much lower than Y40 and as moondog says marginal price difference isn't worth worrying about
The nice thing about my TMO line is that it just works when I land in any of the supported 215 destinations. That's why I don't want to overspend on a Chinese line. I guess you and moondog are loaded with money. I just hate wasting money on something that I'll rarely use.
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Old May 3, 2023, 12:15 pm
  #44  
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[QUOTE=lsquare;35219685

80, 78, 30?[/QUOTE]

80 and 78 are the prices for Mobile and Unicom.

China Telecom charges 30 for pretty much the same thing.

China Telecom is unusable in many places.

If you drop any of them to 0, you can still read incoming SMS, and retain your phone number for 12 months.

The Y10 plan (per month) plan is only marginally better (e.g. I can reply to those SMS messages).
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Old May 3, 2023, 10:24 pm
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China Unicom also does province / rest of China based aspects in their mobile contracts. Whether it's all contracts I can't say but the home province based usage does feature in their tariffs.
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