Heading to China and Hong Kong pay as you go sim

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Medoncology, Apr 15, 2013.

  1. Medoncology macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2013
    I am heading to China and Hong Kong next week. In Beijing can I purchase "pay as you go" sim card for unlocked Iphone 5 which allows calling and data? Can same card be used in China and Hongkong?
  2. dictoresno macrumors 601


    Apr 30, 2012
    im almost 100% sure you can. most airports have kiosks for travelers to buy and charge up prepaid sim cards. i would research what the main carriers are in the area, so you know which one is best/most cost effective.
  3. thelookingglass macrumors 68000

    Apr 27, 2005
    China and HK are two different places for all practical purposes. You won't be able to refill your China SIM in HK and vice versa. There are dual number SIMs which can be used in both places but I'm not sure how the data plan works for that.
  4. Medoncology thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2013
    Heading to China and Hong Kong pay as you go sim

    Thank you for your replies. I was hoping that someone actually had personal experience with pay as you go sim for making calls and data usage in China. From my experience in Europe, not all carriers offer pay as you go that offer immediate availability of data. For example, in Paris, one must wait up to 48 hours for data to be available via Orange. They are more suited for contracts of one year, not pay as you go.
  5. DEG1 macrumors member

    Feb 26, 2013
    N. Chicago Burbs
    Where in China are you going? Mobile phone kiosks are everywhere you look in the major cities. China Mobile is what I have used several times. But, I haven't done it with the IP5 this year as I haven't had it that long. Micro SIMs are easy to find, Nano SIMs will probably be more difficult, but I'll bet most places will cut a micro down for you on the spot.

    China Mobile SIMs bought in the mainland will work in HK, but will incur roaming charges.
  6. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    HK has a tourism site, check them out.

    HK does have pre-paid SIM, but whether they stock nano-SIM I dunno, and you have to research which carrier to use for both HK and China.

    Also try the travel forums. There are also a couple of HK Social (in English) forums, Google.
  7. Medoncology thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2013
    Heading to China a d Hong Kong pay as you go nano sim iPhone 5

    Thanks to all for your responses. I assumed that there would be no problem in Hong Kong. In China I will arrive in Beijing, then visit Xian, Guilin, Yangtze river cruise,cruise the three gorges, fly to Shanghai and then to Hong Kong. Hopefully, I will be able to obtain a nano sim card that includes both calls plus data. It is surprising that there is not much information about this question on the net.
  8. dextr3k, Apr 18, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2013

    dextr3k macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2012
    There are 2 options. I am a resident so you can pm me with more questions.

    Your unlocked phone will be able to work with both China Mobile or China Unicom. I use China Unicom as they use global HSPA+ so you get 3G up to 21mbps. China Mobile you will be stuck with Edge. Both services offer you pay as you go sims. I wouldn't recommend a corporate store as they want to sign you on yearly plans and try to sell you phones. Coverage however, china Mobile wins out, so it depends on how rural you are planning to go. In big cities both services are neck in neck.

    Your best bet is to get a China Unicom 3G card that will have both 3G data and voice calling. They use monthly charge plan much like Canada/US (but much cheaper) . You can opt for the ¥46 RMB ($8) monthly plan that will have like 50 minutes and 150mb of data. If you go over this, you will have the ability to refill money to cover overages, charged by minute/kb.

    Here is their official monthly plans http://3g.10010.com/ You can get sim cards from most places that offer "sim cards".

    All this does require some chinese communication skills, but you won't have to deal with APNs and crap. The other method is China Mobile, which is true pay as you go. You buy a sim, and you are under a ¥8-40 rmb plan (you choose which type of plan by which type of simcard you buy, changeable after the fact but useless to you as they change the next billing cycle). Then this plan dictates how much you are paying per minute. Then you can tack on a data plan (again, under edge, and you will have to fill in the APN - cmnet, no user, no pw), These range form ¥10-¥30, and you can tack on as much as you want, potentially getting ~1gb for ¥100rmb or more if you need. Again, both of these options do require you to tweak the plan over the phone a bit. But for easiest option, I recommend getting China Unicom, and just loading it with boatload of money (¥200+, works out to be ~$35), and just do whatever you want. Your phone service will just stop once you run out of money, and you can refill with more.


    Hongkong I have no experience as I just roam when I go there.

    BTW don't get Chinese logos mixed up. And any corner cellphone store which sold you the sim should be able to cut down to nano. Confirm first.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  9. smthkat789 macrumors newbie

    Mar 17, 2012
    In Mainland China, use China Unicom Prepaid 3G Sim Card the only sim card with 3G compatiblity with iPhone 5/ 4 / 4s / 3GS / 3G. China Mobile only provide GRPS / EDGE for iPhone. China Telecom doesn't support GSM so not work on iPhone

    China Unicom 3G Sim Card uses preferably UTMS / HSDPA / HSUPA 2100MHz frequency and GSM 900 / 1800MHz frequecies as backup. It works with most mobile phones / iPad / tablets / mobile Wi-Fi modems / USB modems only if they have 2100MHz band and all old GSM phones (with band 900 / 1800MHz). Please make sure your devices are NOT locked to your carrier

    Some compatible mobile phone / iPad / tablets models:
    iPhone 3GS & iPhone 4 - micro sim card(excl Verizon / Sprint CDMA models), iPhone 4S - micro sim card & iPhone 5 - nano sim card (incl Verizon / Sprint CDMA model)
    Samsung Galaxy S, S II,SIII (S3), Nexus, Note II
    Google Nexus one, S, Nexus 7, Galaxy nexus
    HTC One S, SV, X, X+, XL; Butterfly; Droid DNA; Desire SV; 8X, 8S and all series
    Motorola Razr, ATRIX HD MB886, Electrify M XT905 and all series
    Nokia Lumia, N9, 808, 603 and all series
    iPad 1 & iPad 2 - micro sim card (excl Verizon / Sprint model), iPad 3 & iPad 4 - micro sim & iPad Mini - nano sim card (incl Verizon / Sprint model). If require more data, check 3G sim card with data only
    3G / 4G Mobile Wi-Fi modem / MiFi / USB modem / tablet with UTMS 2100Mhz band included. If require more data, check 3G sim card with data only
    All of models need to be UNLOCKED

    Interactive coverage map of China 3g-
    Click to your travel area

    In Hong Kong, use local prepaid 3G sim card.
    As many recommend, Three or HK/CSL 3G Rechargable Prepaid Sim Card is good option
  10. thelookingglass macrumors 68000

    Apr 27, 2005
    Some great information here. Just to add my two cents: I'd go with Three or CSL in HK. They will definitely have nano-SIMs.

    In Beijing, the first thing you should do is get a prepaid SIM. I'd suggest China Unicom because you can only get 3G speeds using your model iPhone on their network. Not true that every store can cut your card down to nano size. The good thing is most China Unicom shops already have nano SIMs since China Unicom is one of the two official retailers of the iPhone. Once you get your SIM, you're good to go. There should be China Unicom stores everywhere you go.
  11. dextr3k macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2012
    Rereading your travel plans, looks like you are going to be in multiple cities.

    In China, the cellphone companies are run provincially. This means you would not be able to fill your Beijing telephone number with a normal refill card from Xian, as they are considered different companies. There are ways (internet banking, taobao, 3rd party websites, official corporate stores) but its generally a hassle for travellers. So I would recommend you overload your card, to avoid any refilling problems.
  12. James717 macrumors regular

    Jul 1, 2013

    Yes, this is true. You can ask for numbers that ARE able to be recharged in other cities within China as well. But for traveling/business purchases, just buy a new SIM card. Those are a penny a dozen. I've got like 200 numbers. Most are useless, but I need to call out, I always can. Having people recognize the number as mine, well, that's for those who stay in a certain place for longer than a few days.
  13. stillife macrumors newbie

    Nov 19, 2012

    I'll be going to Hangzhou, Anhui, Shanghai for two weeks. I would like to have internet access during my stay. I can bring along my Mobile router so that i can create a hotspot to go online. If i get a 3G prepaid plan...means I can use skype to call china local line right?

    Which data and mobile plan do you sugggest me to get?
    Please PM me if possible. thanks

  14. dextr3k macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2012
    Skype local lines in China are NOT free. You need to pay, with a chinese debit/credit card (internet payment enabled). So I do not suggest this way for you.

    If you are going to these 3 cities, I would recommend you get a card from the aforementioned China Unicom (3G) or China Telecom (Coverage). You will have internet with Telecom but only edge, unless you have a compatible iPhone 5S. I forget which version...
  15. stillife macrumors newbie

    Nov 19, 2012
    Hi Dex,

    Thanks for sharing. Is it readily available in Shanghai airport? I will touch down at Pudong and would need to call the agent to arrange pickup in hangzhou. So i need to call (no need long duration) and along my trip I would need internet access. I guess I have to use GPRS since there's no Pre-Paid 3G and Calling card as one.

    What's the amount of data i can purchase?
  16. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    Judging by the latest news, don't forget the oxygen cans! ;)
  17. dextr3k macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2012
    From what I remember, no they are not readily available. The ones at pudong airport will be official if not very expensive. I am sorry but I do not know of a good way unless you travel into the city.

    If you get china unicom, you will get 3G immediately with your iphone (assuming its a compatible model). There are internet capable 3G cards that you can buy for your mobile router, but I do not know which version you have.
  18. hgrimberg macrumors 6502a


    Dec 2, 2012
    Yes, at Pudong airport, you can get a Unicom sim chip right after getting your bag and walking to the outside. The problem is when you want to get more minutes and cant do it yourself if you dont speak chinese.
  19. arsupertec macrumors newbie

    Mar 21, 2014

    HK no doubt have more systems instead of "SIM" cards. It requires more comfirt.

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