How to buy and use mobile phone in China

Updated:Sep 20,2016 09:26 AM

Selecting a mobile phone

1. If you wish to use your own phone from home, make sure to bring a compatible GSM/GPRS 900/1800 dual-frequency mobile phone. The phone must be an "unlocked" phone, you can find out if you phone is locked or not by calling your home service provider. Some but not all locked phones can be unlocked.

2. If your phone does not fit the description above, here are some tips on purchasing a cell phone in China:

+ purchase it at a licensed China Telecom, China Mobile or China Unicom Service provider

+ purchase it at a licensed mobile handset store

+ please keep the VAD receipt and warranty statement for refunding or repair, in case of any defects found prior to use, or any damage which occurs during use

Choosing the apt service plan, applying for a mobile phone number and mobile internet service

In China, there are three main mobile service providers, namely China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom. They offer different service plans to meet the needs of different customers. You'd better go to the service hall or log on their online business hall (China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom ) to search the best service plan for you.

You can apply for a mobile phone number and mobile internet service with your valid passport at the service hall of a mobile service provider. If you need more services, please call the customer service hotline (China Mobile 10086, China Telecom 10000, China Unicom 10010 ) of the mobile service provider.

How to use mobile phone services

Making calls 

A. Making an international call

First make sure that international call service is available from your telecommunication/mobile service provider. When calling a landline, first dial the international prefix (00) + country code + area code + telephone number. For example, to call the landline number 042-740-7520 in Tokyo, Japan, dial 00 81 42-740-7520. To call a cell phone, dial the international prefix (00) + country code + cell phone number. For example, to call the cell phone number 090-6488-1405 in Tokyo, Japan, dial 00 81 90-6488-1405.

B. Making long-distance calls in China

To call a landline number, dial the area code prior dialing to the telephone number.

To call a cell phone number, dial the cell phone number directly.

C. Public service phone numbers

Police: 110

Fire Department: 119 

Ambulance: 120 

Local Directory assistance: 114

Traffic Accidents: 122

Weather Forecast: 121

Accessing the internet

You can access the internet through wifi provided in shopping malls, restaurants, buses or other places by asking service staff for password, but some of the signals are poor. You can also surf on the internet through 3G or 4G network if it is available from your mobile service provider.