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Optimal cell phone strategies in China

Optimal cell phone strategies in China

Old Nov 28, 2023, 9:25 am
  #121  
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Originally Posted by narvik
Yeah, you're better off to decide beforehand if you want to get a Chinese SIM or not.
For a short trip to China, I can't see it being worth it, IMO.
If you can get Alipay/WeChat setup before coming to China by using a foreign SIM, and you have decent call/data rates, you're probably better off just doing that.
One of my best friends visited the Mainland for the first time in five years last month, and getting a new SIM card was an agenda item. He wanted pre-paid, but I'm not sure those exist any more, and I'm also not sure if it really matters (i.e. just get the cheapest post-paid plan on offer and add data/top up, as needed via WeChat or Alipay. Suffice it to say, another friend of ours brought him to a China Mobile store and they tried to sell him a really dumb plan (I would have taken him a Unicom store instead because I know they are cheaper), and we concluded over chat that he really wouldn't derive much value from having a local SIM because he was already set up on Wx/Ap, daily roaming charges on TMobile weren't egregious, and he had no problem receiving voice calls from Didi drivers (i.e. they don't dial foreign numbers directly; the system puts them through).

So, in his case, TMO proved to be an okay enough solution for 10 days in Shanghai and neighboring cities. He complained to me several times that TMO's data was slow, but it's not like he was attempting to do Zoom calls during subway rides.

That having been said, getting a local SIM certainly isn't a bad thing, as long as you don't allow yourself get scammed by middlemen (airport kiosk people usually qualify as such) or lock yourself into a plan that doesn't work for you.
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Old Nov 28, 2023, 10:47 am
  #122  
 
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NiHao Mobile was the go-to during Covid as they offered fast delivery of the SIM to the hotel.
No idea if they are still worth it though (I never used them): https://www.nihaomobile.cn/
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Old Nov 28, 2023, 10:59 am
  #123  
 
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Not sure where you are based, but wonder if CMLink global is an option https://global.cmlink.com/Store?coun...&mcc=460&LT=en
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Old Nov 28, 2023, 11:01 am
  #124  
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Originally Posted by moondog
One of my best friends visited the Mainland for the first time in five years last month, and getting a new SIM card was an agenda item. He wanted pre-paid, but I'm not sure those exist any more, and I'm also not sure if it really matters (i.e. just get the cheapest post-paid plan on offer and add data/top up, as needed via WeChat or Alipay. Suffice it to say, another friend of ours brought him to a China Mobile store and they tried to sell him a really dumb plan (I would have taken him a Unicom store instead because I know they are cheaper), and we concluded over chat that he really wouldn't derive much value from having a local SIM because he was already set up on Wx/Ap, daily roaming charges on TMobile weren't egregious, and he had no problem receiving voice calls from Didi drivers (i.e. they don't dial foreign numbers directly; the system puts them through).

So, in his case, TMO proved to be an okay enough solution for 10 days in Shanghai and neighboring cities. He complained to me several times that TMO's data was slow, but it's not like he was attempting to do Zoom calls during subway rides.

That having been said, getting a local SIM certainly isn't a bad thing, as long as you don't allow yourself get scammed by middlemen (airport kiosk people usually qualify as such) or lock yourself into a plan that doesn't work for you.
TMO is definitely not very fast since data has to route back to the US. I just got back from Santiago, Chile, and my experience roaming in London, Paris, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Tokyo is that the service is indeed usable, but not as responsive/snappy as I would have liked.
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Old Nov 28, 2023, 11:55 am
  #125  
 
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Originally Posted by lsquare
TMO is definitely not very fast since data has to route back to the US.
But as a strategy in China, using a foreign roaming SIM card (at reasonable cost) and having your traffic route back to your network of origin is a distinct advantage if you need ongoing access to western internet resources that are otherwise blocked. Unless you want to mess with VPNs
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Old Nov 28, 2023, 3:15 pm
  #126  
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Originally Posted by plunet
But as a strategy in China, using a foreign roaming SIM card (at reasonable cost) and having your traffic route back to your network of origin is a distinct advantage if you need ongoing access to western internet resources that are otherwise blocked. Unless you want to mess with VPNs
Oh, for sure. This is absolutely an advantage for China. I was just saying it's a bit slow. I haven't roamed with TMO in China before, but I'm quite sure the experience will be similar to my other visits around APAC earlier this year.
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Old Nov 28, 2023, 4:25 pm
  #127  
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Originally Posted by lsquare
TMO is definitely not very fast since data has to route back to the US. I just got back from Santiago, Chile, and my experience roaming in London, Paris, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Tokyo is that the service is indeed usable, but not as responsive/snappy as I would have liked.
1. TMO is certainly not fast, but if you can accept this shortcoming, you'll be in decent shape.
2. I am going to call Unicom in order to downgrade my plan in about 10 days (because I'm heading back to the US for several months); when I do so, I promise to inquire about the occasional visitor use case for the benefit of you guys
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Old Nov 28, 2023, 5:58 pm
  #128  
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Originally Posted by moondog
1. TMO is certainly not fast, but if you can accept this shortcoming, you'll be in decent shape.
2. I am going to call Unicom in order to downgrade my plan in about 10 days (because I'm heading back to the US for several months); when I do so, I promise to inquire about the occasional visitor use case for the benefit of you guys
I recall you saying something like that a while ago...
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Old Nov 28, 2023, 6:19 pm
  #129  
 
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Originally Posted by moondog
1. TMO is certainly not fast, but if you can accept this shortcoming, you'll be in decent shape.
2. I am going to call Unicom in order to downgrade my plan in about 10 days (because I'm heading back to the US for several months); when I do so, I promise to inquire about the occasional visitor use case for the benefit of you guys
My uncle was in town, first time in China since before COVID. He went to Unicom and got a prepaid SIM. RMB99 for 5 gigs to start, and monthly minimum of 5RMB to keep the number.
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Old Dec 17, 2023, 6:23 am
  #130  
 
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Arrived at Daxing this afternoon, it was easy to get a local SIM card at the airport. Unicom has a shop right as you exit customs. 3 plans for tourists : 7 days, 15 days, and 30 days for 150 RMB, 250 RMB, and 350 RMB respectively with domestic calls, sms, and data inclus.

Passeport, visa, and they take a quick photo of you. Done in 5mn maximum.
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Old Dec 17, 2023, 9:09 pm
  #131  
 
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Got a eSIM from eSIM4Travel. They use the China Mobile network unlike most other foreign roaming Sim cards which use Unicom. Works fast and reliable, traffic is routed through Hongkong.
BTW I can use my own VPN from hotels wifi, connect to my home network with IPsec protocol. It's not blocked.
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Old Dec 20, 2023, 2:13 am
  #132  
 
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Tried a couple of wifi networks, could connect from everyone to my home network over IPsec. Haven't expected that's possible from everywhere without blocking. Seems only the paid VPN services are blocked.
Connection of my Roaming SIM sometimes disappear, than I have to put my phone in flight mode for a second and connection comes back. Solved that with selecting the network manually now.
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Old Dec 21, 2023, 12:51 am
  #133  
 
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Originally Posted by 31570324
Tried a couple of wifi networks, could connect from everyone to my home network over IPsec. Haven't expected that's possible from everywhere without blocking. Seems only the paid VPN services are blocked.
Connection of my Roaming SIM sometimes disappear, than I have to put my phone in flight mode for a second and connection comes back. Solved that with selecting the network manually now.
I've had issues with roaming and automatic network selection across multiple countries recently when I don't remember this being an issue previously. Oh, well, it's an easy fix as long as you know what network you need to roam on.
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Old Dec 21, 2023, 3:21 am
  #134  
 
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I manage to live without Google services during the day when I'm not on a wifi that permits vpn. Surprisingly, Whatsapp seems to have some limited functionality (no pictures, occasional delayed messages). The rest I manage on Weixin and local applis. Microsoft services are less affected so I use that for email and search and maps, although I also downloaded some maps in advance.
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Old Dec 21, 2023, 9:31 am
  #135  
 
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I believe if you have a device which supports ESIM that is the way to go to get local simcards anywhere in the world. I know from my own operator here in Norway I can buy a data package for China 4 gigabytes for around 48 USD and it lasts for one weeg. Getting an esim is a cheaper option I guss.
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