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Optimal cell phone strategies in China

Optimal cell phone strategies in China

Old May 14, 2023, 9:03 pm
  #76  
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Originally Posted by tauphi
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.
What are the details of your CM 8/month plan?
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Old May 14, 2023, 9:52 pm
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In addition, whats the name of the app and how do I roam with it?
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Old May 15, 2023, 10:17 pm
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Originally Posted by gudugan
In addition, whats the name of the app and how do I roam with it?
https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...hl=en_HK&gl=US
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/%E6%97...2/id1037589370

After you've installed it, you first need to activate your account with your China Mobile SIM inserted (so this isn't going to work on an eSIM only phone unfortunately). Once activated you can remove the China Mobile SIM and insert your usual SIM. Everything is done over the Internet (WIFI or mobile data).
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Old May 15, 2023, 10:21 pm
  #79  
 
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Originally Posted by lsquare
What are the details of your CM 8/month plan?
The plan inclusion differs depending on the city where you get the SIM from. In general you get pretty much no data (mine gives 20MB, the Beijing plan seems to give 100MB), but fairly cheap calls (Y0.1/min for my Shanghai SIM to anywhere in China).
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Old May 17, 2023, 2:58 am
  #80  
 
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I am testing out my China Mobile SIM in TPE, for science.
TLDR: Do NOT use roaming data, it's a waste of money and you get firewalled. Receiving SMS is free though.

When I landed, I turned on the phone, and received some SMS messages.
  • First I needed to text GMKT to 10086 to activate roaming. This needs to be done within 4 hours. The description is for "国际/港澳台", which means International/Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan.
  • This gives you access to voice and 4G (畅享语音及4G高速上网服务)
  • If you don't use it after activation, they won't charge you (开通后不使用不收费)
  • Text messages e.g. verification codes, bank card spend reminders are free (并可免费接收验证码、银行卡消费提醒等所有短信)
  • If you want to unsubscribe you can text GMQX to 10086
  • It also supports VoLTE also known as Voice over LTE.
So now for the data part, it says:
  • If you need the Guoman data package, reply GM to 10086 or use the 无忧行Wuyouxing app with link in #78. 如需办理国漫流量套餐请回复GM到10086,或登录无忧行APP完成办理.
I didn't actually do this but just started using the phone. Now here are the details:
  • You get "unlimited" data with a cap of Y30 per day. The speed gets reduced if you use it too much. It works in 200 countries
  • If you use less than 30MB of data (LOL) you get Y3 back for every 3MB.
  • Calls: Y0.99/min to call the mainland, same price to receive
  • SMS: Y0.39 to send to the mainland, free to receive
  • Video call via FarEastTone or Chunghwa: Y5.99/minute to call, same price to receive
If you buy a data pack through the 无忧行Wuyouxing app then it's cheaper. The list prices are below; currently there's a 20% discount for May 1st holiday in China (so take 20% off these prices). The package applies monthly
  • Y10 for 200M
  • Y18 for 500M
  • Y28 for 1G
  • Y48 for 2G
  • Y108 for 5G
  • Y208 for 10G
  • Y398 for 20G
  • Y598 for 30G
You can also buy daily packages for 1 day, 2 days, etc. I'll write down the prices if someone really wants it.

Anyways all of this is to say that these data packages are a BAD DEAL because you are subject to the firewall. Google Search and Google Maps work (weirdly). Instagram, WhatsApp, Gmail, Facebook, and Youtube do not.
Specifically if you look at the T&C in the app:
  • 5) 本流量包支持访问中国内地的视频网络内容。This traffic package supports access to video network content in Mainland China.
  • 9)客户境外上网权限与国内相同,因此境外访问部分软件可能受限,如Facebook、YouTube等。 The overseas access rights of customers are the same as those in China, so overseas access to some software may be restricted, such as Facebook, YouTube, etc.
My IP address is in Shenzhen and all the traffic is routed through there.

Separately I'm trying to set up the receiving SMS in the app but it keeps failing the verification process. It says I need the data roaming package active if I'm overseas, which I have. Will keep trying.
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Old Jun 10, 2023, 8:24 pm
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I tried to get the 无忧行Wuyouxing app to work and couldn't get it to work in the 24 hour period, so I gave up. Not so interested in paying for roaming data.

Originally Posted by wlau
My local coworker taught me that all 3 carriers have a 8RMB plan that has minimal data like 100-200MB with either 0-10 min voice or free caller ID. Because how China treat mobile phone number as ID and porting number is difficult, many people keep their number on the 8RMB plan, and just add a second line when they jump from plan promo to promo, or carrier to carrier. I wouldn't mind pay 10MB for maybe 0 min/ free incoming SMS and 500MB of data. It would be enough to cover my data needs when I am in China for a trip, and cheap enough not to even have to think about it.

The 200MB of data a month is just enough for me to do a Baidu map search or tranceive some WeChat message. The issue all Chinese apps are are like ad-machine... Those ads use up soooo much data more than the actual task you are trying to carry out, so 200MB would go very quickly. I have my phone setup to restrict mobile data on everything except WeChat and AliPay.

Because of your previous advice, I did try get a few SMS while in the US, and havne't seen any extra money deducted. I will know for sure by the end of the month when the account cycles.
Can I switch to this plan while on a 1 year contract? How easy is it to switch plans?
My China Mobile app updates my bill on a daily basis, no need to wait until the end of the month.
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Old Jun 29, 2023, 9:49 am
  #82  
 
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I've been trying to do this with China Mobile. The plan is called "8元自由选套餐". It used to be called "飞享8元套餐“ but that has been discontinued.

There's a guide here: https://post.smzdm.com/p/an3vnmr3/

This plan can't be found directly in the app or website, so you have to talk to someone. There's a 30 minutes voice package or a 100MB data package; obviously you should choose 30minutes voice because you can buy data packages cheaply.

However I am not having success with the chat support. They know the plan exists but keep telling me that the lowest is Y28 and if I want the Y8 I need to talk to the complaint department. I think this is a little case of HUCA. In any case I will try to get this done ASAP because the plan starts at the beginning of the month...

Chat support is available 08:00-22:00 local time.
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Last edited by gudugan; Jun 29, 2023 at 9:59 am
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Old Jun 29, 2023, 10:55 am
  #83  
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Originally Posted by gudugan
I've been trying to do this with China Mobile. The plan is called "8元自由选套餐". It used to be called "飞享8元套餐 but that has been discontinued.

There's a guide here: https://post.smzdm.com/p/an3vnmr3/

This plan can't be found directly in the app or website, so you have to talk to someone. There's a 30 minutes voice package or a 100MB data package; obviously you should choose 30minutes voice because you can buy data packages cheaply.

However I am not having success with the chat support. They know the plan exists but keep telling me that the lowest is Y28 and if I want the Y8 I need to talk to the complaint department. I think this is a little case of HUCA. In any case I will try to get this done ASAP because the plan starts at the beginning of the month...

Chat support is available 08:00-22:00 local time.
Can't you call them? From outside of China, I think you can reach these companies by prepending their numbers with +86 10.
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Old Jun 30, 2023, 12:11 pm
  #84  
 
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Two steps forward, one step back.

I tried calling on my phone to the direct number +86 10086 or +86 138 00100186 but for some reason all of the calls failed. I don't really understand why. It wouldn't even ring once, just said "Call Failed". It's roaming on the AT&T network and I can receive texts fine.

The complaint department actually tried to call me twice but I never received the call. Since I can't call out, calling in equally doesn't work. I tried to call from a US number to my Chinese number and it gave a message from China Mobile about foreign numbers being dangerous and didn't even ring.
I can call support directly through the app (it calls over the Internet) but this is useless for receiving a call from the complaint department from a regular +86 phone number.

I tried again to set up the 无忧行Wuyouxing app and it actually worked this time. Didn't do anything different, maybe it doesn't work for the first month or something. I also didn't have to activate data roaming (wifi only worked) so saved Y30 there. I then tried to call my China number from a US phone number and it worked. I then took out the SIM card, called again, and it worked too.

The final problem is that I don't have my service passcode (6 digit number). I am not wholly sure that we even set this up when getting the SIM card. Unfortunately the automated reset system doesn't work except for with shenfenzheng. Now it's July 1 in China so I have another month to figure it out. Perhaps this could be reset by calling them.

So to summarize:
  • Unlike the guide above, they are stricter with the Y8 plan now.
  • Set up the 无忧行Wuyouxing app to receive calls outside of China. It may take some time to work. Does not require data roaming
  • When you get the SIM card, make sure you get the service passcode.
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Old Jul 2, 2023, 8:53 am
  #85  
 
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My experience with the short codes is that they are "mastered" in one particular city, so to call them from overseas you just need to which city it is and give that area code between your 86 and the short code. Unfortunately not all companies using a make it obvious which city it is.

Eg. For a short code 12345
+86 10 12345 if mastered in Beijing
+86 20 12345 if mastered in Guangzhou
+86 21 12345 if mastered in Shanghai
+86 27 12345 if mastered in Wuhan
etc.
​​​​​
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Old Jul 2, 2023, 10:41 am
  #86  
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Originally Posted by plunet
My experience with the short codes is that they are "mastered" in one particular city, so to call them from overseas you just need to which city it is and give that area code between your 86 and the short code. Unfortunately not all companies using a make it obvious which city it is.

Eg. For a short code 12345
+86 10 12345 if mastered in Beijing
+86 20 12345 if mastered in Guangzhou
+86 21 12345 if mastered in Shanghai
+86 27 12345 if mastered in Wuhan
etc.
​​​​​
I alluded to this a few posts up. IME, +86 10 works in most cases, even if the actual call center is somewhere else. If that fails, +86 21 is the next most common prepend.
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Old Aug 1, 2023, 5:15 am
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SIM Card - Before arriving in China

Travelling to China for the first time in September and arriving at 05:15 at Beijing Airport. Suspect most sim card shops will be shut at the airport and would ideally like to have a sim card to use straight away.
Is it possible to get a sim card prior to travelling? If so any recommendations. I do not mind paying more for the convenience.
Other option is just to roam with o2? Will this work, anybody had any problems.

We are just wanting to sort out as much as possible prior to getting there. Have already set up wechat and Alipay apps and hoping the foreign credit card will work.
Any tips or recommendations would be very much welcome.
Thanks
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Old Aug 1, 2023, 10:32 am
  #88  
 
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You could try an e-sim? You need wifi to set it up once your're in China, but it only takes a moment.

You can get $3 off a sim here ($5 for 1GB) : https://ref.airalo.com/2MBc
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Old Aug 1, 2023, 10:43 am
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I am afraid my phone does not accept esims, so it has to be a physical sim. Sorry
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Old Aug 1, 2023, 2:55 pm
  #90  
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Originally Posted by jlc9779
Travelling to China for the first time in September and arriving at 05:15 at Beijing Airport. Suspect most sim card shops will be shut at the airport and would ideally like to have a sim card to use straight away.
Is it possible to get a sim card prior to travelling? If so any recommendations. I do not mind paying more for the convenience.
Other option is just to roam with o2? Will this work, anybody had any problems.

We are just wanting to sort out as much as possible prior to getting there. Have already set up wechat and Alipay apps and hoping the foreign credit card will work.
Any tips or recommendations would be very much welcome.
Thanks
Using O2 roaming for your entire trip might not be a bad idea if it's ~7 days or less. Otherwise, you could get it for day one or not at all, and focus on buying a local SIM after you get settled.
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