Taking an iPad 3G to china?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by kevindosi, Apr 25, 2011.

  1. kevindosi macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2006
    Hey everyone, I have a pretty stupid question. I'm going to be traveling to china and Thailand this summer for two months. My work requires me to have Internet access every night, and I definitely won't be in places with Internet every night, and may sometimes be in rural areas. I'm wondering if I can get an iPad 3G to have Internet access while I'm there. Here are my questions, if this is possible:
    1- should I buy it in the US or china? Or should I get it in the US and then get a 3G card in china?
    2- where all would I have Internet access? Only in major cities?
    3- how much would it cost for the data?
    4- If this isn't the best solution, is there anything else you could recommend?

    Thanks much for the hep!
  2. nightfly13 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 17, 2008
    Ranchi, India
    I can't help answer all of your questions, but I'll do what I can to get things started:

    1. Buy in the US - it's cheaper (and launched). Buy the AT&T variant. You'll get a 3G sim card(s) easily in Asia, likely one for each country. The iPad is unlocked - easy to change sims out - just need the VPN settings (sometimes not even that). You will have to trim the sim down to micro-sim size. This isn't too hard.
    2. If India is any indication, it's pretty robust. I get Edge almost anywhere, and 3G in any city - not just the major ones. It depends a bit on which provider you choose, naturally.
    3. Can't speak for China or Thailand, but data is cheap here: $2.50 for 100mb and it gets cheaper slightly as packages go up.
    4. The iPad is a great solution. A BT keyboard might be good if you'll be writing long emails or if your work warrants a lot of typing.
  3. GMcGarity macrumors newbie

    Oct 14, 2010
    In Thailand you are looking at just an EDGE connection. I go fairly frequently and their 3G is not yet up and running even though they advertise it. There is some legal issue holding it back. You will find a good amount of wireless signals and internet cafes though. I recommend just buying a sim card in thailand and popping it into your ipad, you will save a lot of money doing this.
  4. tonyunreal, Apr 26, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2011

    tonyunreal macrumors regular


    Feb 25, 2010
    Buying it in the U.S. would be cheaper, since iPad 2 isn't available in China from Apple yet and the first gen models are almost out of stock. You will need an AT&T 3G model, because the Verizon models don't have the UIM slots needed for the CDMA carrier here.

    It is possible to buy from the Chinese scalpers though, cost about $50 more for the WiFi versions and $200 more for the 3G versions.

    China Unicom is the only carrier that provides UMTS(GSM 3G) network in China, so basically it is the Chinese counterpart of AT&T. From what I read about AT&T on these forums, China Unicom seems to have much better coverage, though the speed should be somewhat slower.

    About the answer to your question, I think it depends on how far you are from the major cities. If you're just dozens of miles away from a city of eastern China, chances are you will get 3G just fine, but if you're about to get into the mideast provinces or drive through the deserts of Inner Mongolia, I'm afraid you probably won't even get a signal.

    I'm sure it differs from city to city, but if you buy it in Beijing, the cost would be like this:

    What you need to pay: 1200yuan($180), up-front, mandatory

    What you will get:
    a mini-SIM card(not the micro-SIM used in the iPads, you'll have to cut it by yourself)
    1200yuan worth of credit on your account
    a Huawei USB dongle for your computer

    The data plans are 80yuan/mo for 1GB, 150yuan/mo for 3GB, 200yuan/mo for 5GB, 300yuan/mo for 10GB, 0.1yuan/MB for extra usage and the total data caps at 15GB per month.

    The only problem I can see is purchasing it probably requires local IDs, not sure if those plans are purchasable with a foreign passport, but the easiest way around would be asking one of your Chinese friends to buy it for you.

    4. If it's possible, I suggest you ask your colleagues who work on the same site where you would be, ask them about whether China Unicom got good 3G coverage there, because there is a chance that your workplace isn't covered, and in that situation you will probably need to find a DSL line and a WiFI router for your surfing.

    Oh and BTW, Twitter/Facebook/Youtube are all blocked in China, so are most western blog sites, porn sites and some news agencies. Wikipedia is partially blocked, the site still works but the images won't load. There are ways around the limitations and I can teach you some if you need them.
  5. thelookingglass macrumors 68000

    Apr 27, 2005
    The posts above pretty much covered it all. I'd just add that you can sign up with China Unicom just fine with a foreign passport. I've has no issues using 3G on my iPad in China. Works very well. Only thing is that data caps are sort of low (RMB80 only gets you 1GB. RMB150 only gets you 3GB)

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