Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Destinations > Asia > China
Reload this Page >

Optimal cell phone strategies in China

Optimal cell phone strategies in China

Old May 4, 2023, 7:36 pm
  #61  
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Programs: Marriott Titanium (Lifetime Gold), Caesars Diamond
Posts: 1,354
I got the PVG wifi code. Current as of beginning of May 2023. Username is a + four zeros + six (no spaces), password is 654321 backwards.

yay 1000th post!
SPN Lifer likes this.
gudugan is offline  
Old May 4, 2023, 7:43 pm
  #62  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 41,407
Originally Posted by gudugan
I got the PVG wifi code. Current as of beginning of May 2023. Username is a + four zeros + six (no spaces), password is 654321 backwards.

yay 1000th post!
Congrats on 1000! I'm hoping to hit 40,000 this year, which should bestow me with a new badge. A few more discussion topics here would help me in my mission.

I received the same login credentials as you. However, I couldn't connect. The lady who tried to sell me the data SIM was well aware of this issue.
gudugan likes this.
moondog is online now  
Old May 4, 2023, 8:15 pm
  #63  
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Programs: Marriott Titanium (Lifetime Gold), Caesars Diamond
Posts: 1,354
Originally Posted by moondog
I received the same login credentials as you. However, I couldn't connect. The lady who tried to sell me the data SIM was well aware of this issue.
it worked for me, perhaps they fixed it in the interim
SPN Lifer likes this.
gudugan is offline  
Old May 14, 2023, 10:23 am
  #64  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Programs: Marriott Platinum, Hilton Diamond, IHG Platinum, Hyatt Explorist
Posts: 3,619
Does anyone know if it's still possible to get a prepaid number / SIM card on the street?

Years ago our US iPhone didn't work well in China coz the wireless frequency was different between US and China (or something like that). Does anyone know if a US iPhone 12 and above would have any issues? Have the 12 and thinking about buying the latest one as gift for relatives.

I have Google Fi, hopefully that still works and isn't subject to the firewall.
italdesign is offline  
Old May 14, 2023, 10:47 am
  #65  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 41,407
I haven't seen sim vendors in street side stalls for years (around the time the real name requirement was implemented), but I'm guessing you can still buy sims in some of the larger electronics markets. However, you'll still probably need to visit an actual Mobile or Unicom store to register, so why not just get a sim at one of those? Vanity numbers are pretty much a thing of the past anyway.

Fi works fine, but local sim + v is much cheaper and faster.
gudugan likes this.
moondog is online now  
Old May 14, 2023, 4:16 pm
  #66  
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Programs: Marriott Platinum, Hilton Diamond, IHG Platinum, Hyatt Explorist
Posts: 3,619
What would be you guys' recommendation for someone who is in China only 3% of the time (some years 0%) but wants to keep a permanent phone # for convenience when there? Do I understand correctly that some telecom companies will do so for ~10 RMB/month but it needs to be reactivated each time?
italdesign is offline  
Old May 14, 2023, 6:19 pm
  #67  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Programs: DL, OZ, AC, AS, AA, BA, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, IHG
Posts: 19,686
Originally Posted by moondog
I haven't seen sim vendors in street side stalls for years (around the time the real name requirement was implemented), but I'm guessing you can still buy sims in some of the larger electronics markets. However, you'll still probably need to visit an actual Mobile or Unicom store to register, so why not just get a sim at one of those? Vanity numbers are pretty much a thing of the past anyway.

Fi works fine, but local sim + v is much cheaper and faster.
Why? What happened?

Google Fi should be able to get around the firewall so that's a nice advantage.
lsquare is online now  
Old May 14, 2023, 8:01 pm
  #68  
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Programs: Marriott Titanium (Lifetime Gold), Caesars Diamond
Posts: 1,354
Originally Posted by italdesign
Does anyone know if it's still possible to get a prepaid number / SIM card on the street?

Years ago our US iPhone didn't work well in China coz the wireless frequency was different between US and China (or something like that). Does anyone know if a US iPhone 12 and above would have any issues? Have the 12 and thinking about buying the latest one as gift for relatives.

I have Google Fi, hopefully that still works and isn't subject to the firewall.
- I didnt see any on the street
- iPhones starting with the XS have specific models for China so it may not work. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202909
- Specifically the iPhone 14 (all US variants) is eSIM only and does not have a SIM slot. Chinese carriers do not currently support eSIM so it will be useless with local carriers unless you fancy buying temporary eSIMs with Airalo.
- Fi should work (last time I tried was 2019) but it was very slow and expensive. I dont use it anymore, they banned me for too much international roaming.

Originally Posted by italdesign
What would be you guys' recommendation for someone who is in China only 3% of the time (some years 0%) but wants to keep a permanent phone # for convenience when there? Do I understand correctly that some telecom companies will do so for ~10 RMB/month but it needs to be reactivated each time?
You have to do the drill I described above. Whether thats worth it is the question. The service person wondered if they would deactivate my service if I was out of China for awhile but I guess well see.

Vanity numbers are kinda useless because everyone just uses wechat. They offered me a choice of phone number but it honestly didnt matter.
lsquare likes this.
gudugan is offline  
Old May 14, 2023, 8:12 pm
  #69  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Programs: DL, OZ, AC, AS, AA, BA, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, IHG
Posts: 19,686
Originally Posted by gudugan
- I didnt see any on the street
- iPhones starting with the XS have specific models for China so it may not work. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202909
- Specifically the iPhone 14 (all US variants) is eSIM only and does not have a SIM slot. Chinese carriers do not currently support eSIM so it will be useless with local carriers unless you fancy buying temporary eSIMs with Airalo.
- Fi should work (last time I tried was 2019) but it was very slow and expensive. I dont use it anymore, they banned me for too much international roaming.



You have to do the drill I described above. Whether thats worth it is the question. The service person wondered if they would deactivate my service if I was out of China for awhile but I guess well see.

Vanity numbers are kinda useless because everyone just uses wechat. They offered me a choice of phone number but it honestly didnt matter.
I really hate how Apple made the US iPhones eSIMs only. I got around that by buying my iPhone 14 Pro Max in Canada. It has a SIM slot in addition to supporting eSIM. It works perfectly with T-Mobile. The funny thing is that my TMO account shows a purple iPhone on my account when I have the black version.
lsquare is online now  
Old May 14, 2023, 8:30 pm
  #70  
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Programs: Marriott Titanium (Lifetime Gold), Caesars Diamond
Posts: 1,354
Originally Posted by lsquare
I really hate how Apple made the US iPhones eSIMs only. I got around that by buying my iPhone 14 Pro Max in Canada. It has a SIM slot in addition to supporting eSIM. It works perfectly with T-Mobile. The funny thing is that my TMO account shows a purple iPhone on my account when I have the black version.
If rumors are right the EU iPhone might be the only one with USBC and sideloading so might have to buy it there. Then the ideal setup is

- EU iPhone 15 (hopefully this works with US cellular networks, otherwise I need to reconsider) with US App Store
- iPhone X A1865, the last international iPhone that works in China, with China App Store and Chinese apps

Building my own firewall
gudugan is offline  
Old May 14, 2023, 8:40 pm
  #71  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 41,407
Originally Posted by italdesign
What would be you guys' recommendation for someone who is in China only 3% of the time (some years 0%) but wants to keep a permanent phone # for convenience when there? Do I understand correctly that some telecom companies will do so for ~10 RMB/month but it needs to be reactivated each time?
I think that "no plan at all" might be possible as long as you maintain a positive balance, which is easy to do with both WeChat and Alipay


When you get your SIM card, just explain your situation at the store, and they'll point you in the right direction.
moondog is online now  
Old May 14, 2023, 8:41 pm
  #72  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Programs: DL, OZ, AC, AS, AA, BA, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, IHG
Posts: 19,686
Originally Posted by gudugan
If rumors are right the EU iPhone might be the only one with USBC and sideloading so might have to buy it there. Then the ideal setup is

- EU iPhone 15 (hopefully this works with US cellular networks, otherwise I need to reconsider) with US App Store
- iPhone X A1865, the last international iPhone that works in China, with China App Store and Chinese apps

Building my own firewall
My reading is that all of this year's iPhones are going USB-C. It is only the European models that may only have sideloading due to a new security mechanism built into iOS to determine a person's actual location. I'm going to upgrade due to USB-C alone as I want to carry one fewer proprietary cable.

Why do you really need a model that is fully compliant with the Chinese networks? IPX doesn't support 5G. Also, what is so special about the Chinese app store? What kind of apps that you need isn't available in other app stores?

If I were you, I would buy the iPhone in Canada. It is very likely to have a SIM slot and the hardware generally supports all US networks. It just doesn't support mm-Wave, which I don't care about as most of the time it's not even accessible. I've used my Canadian iPhone 14 Pro Max with T-Mobile roaming in Asia and Europe without any issues. I haven't tried China yet.

​​​​​​
lsquare is online now  
Old May 14, 2023, 8:48 pm
  #73  
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Programs: Marriott Titanium (Lifetime Gold), Caesars Diamond
Posts: 1,354
Originally Posted by lsquare
My reading is that all of this year's iPhones are going USB-C. It is only the European models that may only have sideloading due to a new security mechanism built into iOS to determine a person's actual location. I'm going to upgrade due to USB-C alone as I want to carry one fewer proprietary cable.

Why do you really need a model that is fully compliant with the Chinese networks? IPX doesn't support 5G. Also, what is so special about the Chinese app store? What kind of apps that you need isn't available in other app stores?

If I were you, I would buy the iPhone in Canada. It is very likely to have a SIM slot and the hardware generally supports all US networks. It just doesn't support mm-Wave, which I don't care about as most of the time it's not even accessible. I've used my Canadian iPhone 14 Pro Max with T-Mobile roaming in Asia and Europe without any issues. I haven't tried China yet.

​​​​​​
I would take EU iPhone for sideloading only
USBC is not that big of a deal for me. MacBook Pro still requires USBC to MagSafe cable for fastest charging.

I dont need 5g
Many apps for the domestic Chinese market are released only on that store and some are worth trying. For example 多闪 is a Snapchat/BeReal clone created by Bytedance

I want my China data physically segregated from the non China data. Similar to having a separate work and personal phone.
gudugan is offline  
Old May 14, 2023, 8:51 pm
  #74  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Programs: DL, OZ, AC, AS, AA, BA, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, IHG
Posts: 19,686
Originally Posted by gudugan
I would take EU iPhone for sideloading only
USBC is not that big of a deal for me. MacBook Pro still requires USBC to MagSafe cable for fastest charging.

I dont need 5g
Many apps for the domestic Chinese market are released only on that store and some are worth trying. For example 多闪 is a Snapchat/BeReal clone created by Bytedance

I want my China data physically segregated from the non China data. Similar to having a separate work and personal phone.
According to Bloomberg, you may not even get sideloading even if you buy the iPhone in Europe. iOS will detect that you're not in the EU and not enable the feature. Of course, no one will really know until iOS 17 is released.
lsquare is online now  
Old May 14, 2023, 8:55 pm
  #75  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: HKG
Posts: 1,288
Originally Posted by italdesign
What would be you guys' recommendation for someone who is in China only 3% of the time (some years 0%) but wants to keep a permanent phone # for convenience when there? Do I understand correctly that some telecom companies will do so for ~10 RMB/month but it needs to be reactivated each time?
I use China Mobile with the cheapest plan (Y8 per month). They now have an app that you can load onto your phone that lets you roam without actually inserting the SIM card. With the app you can receive/make calls and texts anywhere in the world. Receiving calls/texts is free with the app.
tauphi is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

This site is owned, operated, and maintained by MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Designated trademarks are the property of their respective owners.