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Optimal cell phone strategies in China

Optimal cell phone strategies in China

Old May 4, 2023, 12:05 am
  #46  
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Originally Posted by moondog
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).
I'm not sure if I really understand you here. Are you saying that Unicom plans are usually in the 78 range? It doesn't get any lower than that?

More than a decade ago when I was studying in Shanghai, both Unicom and Telecom had a reputation for low prices and crappy networks. I'm surprised Telecom hasn't made any meaningful improvements going by what you have just stated.
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Old May 4, 2023, 12:07 am
  #47  
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Originally Posted by plunet
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.
I'm surprised the Chinese carriers haven't made any meaningful innovations with their plans. I'm guessing there are still roaming fees within China? Not a big deal if I get a Shanghai-based number and plan.
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Old May 4, 2023, 12:19 am
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I'm not too familiar with the history, but I think there used to be roaming fees within China, but they don't exist anymore. Someone else might know better.
The province locked thing isn't really a big deal for the average person because they don't travel that much.
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Old May 4, 2023, 2:32 am
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I would imagine provincial data limits aren't too big a deal for most, as you can just jump into WeChat for mobile top-up and buy a bundle of nationwide data, good for a week or month, for a couple dozen yuan.
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Old May 4, 2023, 2:44 am
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As noted above, the provinces are so large that for many people they would only travel outside of their province occasionally. But for those who are travelling then I understand there are tariffs available that handle that.
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Old May 4, 2023, 2:46 am
  #51  
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Originally Posted by plunet
As noted above, the provinces are so large that for many people they would only travel outside of their province occasionally. But for those who are travelling then I understand there are tariffs available that handle that.
Beijing and Shanghai are considered provinces, right? So any bucket of data or minutes are for those cities only?
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Old May 4, 2023, 1:18 pm
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Originally Posted by lsquare
Beijing and Shanghai are considered provinces, right? So any bucket of data or minutes are for those cities only?
I understand that it's possible for the mobile networks to be flexible about the home area, so if you live on the edge of an area and need coverage on both, or live in one and commute to work in another, these are possible combinations. I would imagine that there are home packages for the greater Shanghai area, Beijing and Tianjin combined, etc.
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Old May 4, 2023, 5:18 pm
  #53  
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A few years ago the carriers eliminated the local/national data difference and made all data national, but sounds like there's been some fallback on that.

In any event, plans and prices do vary in different areas, so what's available with CM in one city won't necessarily be available in another.
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Old May 4, 2023, 6:10 pm
  #54  
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Originally Posted by lsquare
I'm not sure if I really understand you here. Are you saying that Unicom plans are usually in the 78 range? It doesn't get any lower than that?

More than a decade ago when I was studying in Shanghai, both Unicom and Telecom had a reputation for low prices and crappy networks. I'm surprised Telecom hasn't made any meaningful improvements going by what you have just stated.
They both have cheaper plans, but 80 gets you a lot of 5g data.
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Old May 4, 2023, 6:28 pm
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Originally Posted by moondog
They both have cheaper plans, but 80 gets you a lot of 5g data.
Why do you need so much data when you said you use your HK prepaid SIMs? I rather not use a Chinese line any more than I have to since I want to avoid the firewall.
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Old May 4, 2023, 6:35 pm
  #56  
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Originally Posted by lsquare
Why do you need so much data when you said you use your HK prepaid SIMs? I rather not use a Chinese line any more than I have to since I want to avoid the firewall.
I haven't used my Goduck SIMs for quite some time because they now have a registration requirement (this isn't super cumbersome). If you are really into Wifi, you can away with less data, but I figure the extra ~30 per month is worth not having to deal with the login ritual every time I visit a Starbucks.
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Old May 4, 2023, 6:41 pm
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Originally Posted by moondog
I haven't used my Goduck SIMs for quite some time because they now have a registration requirement (this isn't super cumbersome). If you are really into Wifi, you can away with less data, but I figure the extra ~30 per month is worth not having to deal with the login ritual every time I visit a Starbucks.
Is WiFi easy to access now? I haven't had the need to use public WiFi or even visit one of those internet cafes since 2009. At the internet cafes, I also had to show my passport just for the right to pay and use the computers. The public WiFi didn't always work and had a complicated signup process. I have more than enough data to roam. I don't have to worry about the firewall.
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Old May 4, 2023, 6:49 pm
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I'll be completely honest, I haven't had too many problems with my phone which doesn't have a VPN on it. I forwarded all my Gmail to a Hotmail and switched Google to Bing. Flyertalk works fine.
Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram don't work which is annoying. I'm using all the local apps instead of the foreign equivalents (e.g. Gaode 高德 instead of Google Maps), and the Apple built-in equivalents work too.

Public wifi in airports either requires you to receive a SMS with local number OR pick up a paper number from a kiosk. Once you get the SMS it logs in instantly. I have not been able to locate a kiosk by casually looking but I assume they're there? Asking the lounge person for the code also works. I haven't used public wifi otherwise because I have enough data.
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Old May 4, 2023, 7:02 pm
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Originally Posted by gudugan
I'll be completely honest, I haven't had too many problems with my phone which doesn't have a VPN on it. I forwarded all my Gmail to a Hotmail and switched Google to Bing. Flyertalk works fine.
Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram don't work which is annoying. I'm using all the local apps instead of the foreign equivalents (e.g. Gaode 高德 instead of Google Maps), and the Apple built-in equivalents work too.

Public wifi in airports either requires you to receive a SMS with local number OR pick up a paper number from a kiosk. Once you get the SMS it logs in instantly. I have not been able to locate a kiosk by casually looking but I assume they're there? Asking the lounge person for the code also works. I haven't used public wifi otherwise because I have enough data.
S​​​​​​peaking about Messenger and WhatsApp, back when it did work, sending my location never worked properly. It showed my location elsewhere even though I was in China.
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Old May 4, 2023, 7:24 pm
  #60  
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Originally Posted by gudugan
I'll be completely honest, I haven't had too many problems with my phone which doesn't have a VPN on it. I forwarded all my Gmail to a Hotmail and switched Google to Bing. Flyertalk works fine.
Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram don't work which is annoying. I'm using all the local apps instead of the foreign equivalents (e.g. Gaode 高德 instead of Google Maps), and the Apple built-in equivalents work too.

Public wifi in airports either requires you to receive a SMS with local number OR pick up a paper number from a kiosk. Once you get the SMS it logs in instantly. I have not been able to locate a kiosk by casually looking but I assume they're there? Asking the lounge person for the code also works. I haven't used public wifi otherwise because I have enough data.
When I arrived at PVG in March, my phone was still on the Y10 (no data) plan, the kiosks were out of order, and my US phone could not receive the activation SMS. The lady at the Unicom desk tried to sell me a data SIM for Y50. Luckily, I called Unicom and they reactivated my Y78 plan instantly so I could pay them.

ETA: I could have gotten home without a working phone, but I would have had to withdraw cash from an ATM and take a taxi. I could have avoided the call to Unicom if I had paid them before I left the US. I didn't anticipate that the airport Wifi would be unusable for me (that was a first!).

Last edited by moondog; May 4, 2023 at 7:38 pm
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