Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

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Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby Free-Way » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:11 am

Hello,
Im arriving to china in a few days, planning to visit sichuan and yunnan.
I would like to buy a 3g pre paid sim card to use it mainly for internet connection and a bit of local voice calls.
I search a lot and all I could find are old posts related to the subject (this was the only site that seems to know what im talking about).

I have a GSM iPhone 3gs.
Which sim card should I get and where to purchese it? I would like one that gives the best coverege in the rural areas of sichuan and yunnan.
I do not want to register to a monthly plan and give my credit card. Would rather use pre paid cards which I will purchse as I go.

Thank you very much for your help!
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby tylerdurden » Mon Apr 23, 2012 9:39 am

Tough call. The prepaid-by-the-month cards (no plan) may not offer much in the way of data.

China Mobile's 3G does not work with iPhones so forget that one.

China Telecom also don't have a proper 3G network, although their Edge may be effective if a little slow. They may also have slightly better coverage in these rural areas.

China Unicom have the fastest 3G at the moment but their data-heavy plans generally require that you be personally registered to a local address and sign up for 12 months.

Sorry I can't be of more help.
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby Dallas_ » Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:42 am

The best place to buy a China Uncom Card that meets your needs is taobao.com

http://s.taobao.com/search?q=3G+%C1%AA%CD%A8&initiative_id=staobaoz_20120423

You can go to a local China Unicom store and buy a monthly prepaid card. Just stop feeding money into it when you no longer need it.
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby q708659 » Thu Apr 26, 2012 6:21 pm

In fact.....China Mobile SIM Card is easier to get(even at newstands).....and China Mobile EDGE(improved 2G data service) connection seems to be more reliable.....You really need 3G connection for a faster speed?then you can only choose China Unicom ....AND i'm not sure if the WCDMA network in remote areas is really available as China Unicom cliamed...

Note that not all the China Unicom SIM cards supports 3G.....CHOOSE "WO"(“沃”) branded sim card!

And choose the right bundle:Plan A or Plan B,which includes domestic(China mainland) calls and data services instead of Plan C,which includes domestic(China mainland) data services and Shanghai local calls in the bundle only.

3G Bundle information(in Chinese only):http://www.10010sh.cn/ywcp/grcp/ydswl/3gtc/index.html
I'm REALLY A Shanghai local resident! I really know the mobile phone SPs and Internet SPs well!My QQ number :312906418
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby Frappucino » Thu May 03, 2012 9:06 pm

A bit late, but for the other forum lurkers....
China Unicom Stores do have prepaid mobile internet packages.

Do go to a store if you don't know the neighbourhood....there logo is hard to miss...
Don't tell them how 'short' you stay. They will say you're crazy and its useless to buy such a card for so much data....and refuse to sell it....

http://shop.10010sh.cn/shltshop/shop/pr ... pagetype=3

I got me this 3G card:
Cost 300 RMB
Valid for 3 months/9GB which ever comes first.
Included extra is 1.5Gb roaming outside Shanghai

http://shop.10010sh.cn/shltshop/shop/pr ... 8a1a630001

I would also recommend to buy a local 3g stick at the shop or bring a mifi along with you.
Mifi units are kinda hard to find in Shanghai. (Hauwei E58x, ZTE MF60 for battery powered units)
I myself use the tp-link mr-3040 with a usb dongle inserted, as its one I can use in the hotel as local router as well. And with Mifi I can share the connection.

China Unicom Uses the European 3G bands.
China Mobile uses TD-SCDMA (chinese standard)
China Telecom uses GSM (GPRS/EDGE) also has prepaid packages with Hauwei E585 modems. My colleague got one 1500 RMB for 1 year, unlimited at a local phone shop.

*edit some corrections*
Last edited by Frappucino on Wed May 09, 2012 6:21 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby q708659 » Sun May 06, 2012 8:42 am

Frappucino wrote:A bit late, but for the other forum lurkers....
I got me this 3G card:
Cost 300 RMB
Valid for 3 months/9GB which ever comes first.
Included extra is 1.5Gb roaming outside Shanghai

http://shop.10010sh.cn/shltshop/shop/pr ... 8a1a630001


China Unicom Uses the European 3G bands.
China Mobile uses CDMA, so you limit it to edge, or get the applicable USB modem.
for 1 year, unlimited at a local phone shop.


Those 3G SIM cards you recommand can't make phone calls.....

And China Telecom uses CDMA!Not China Mobile!China Mobile uses GSM(GPRS/EDGE) for 2G and TD-SCDMA(mainly developed and commercialized in China) for 3G......
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby KnIgHtCoM » Wed May 09, 2012 8:29 pm

I plan on visiting Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai at the end of May. Which of the 3 mobile carriers sells a prepaid MicroSIM that will give me data for my iPhone 4S? Are there any kiosks at the Beijing airport with English speaking sales people?

Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks! =)
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby PureXTC88 » Thu May 10, 2012 12:32 pm

Just a word of advice, goto the actual telecom store and don't buy off a news stand. I've had friends that have been ripped off as they get a cloned sim instead of the actual one.
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby MoonOverMiami » Thu May 10, 2012 1:33 pm

Got a Unicom 3G 450min/500MB plan for testing purposes, and quite frankly, not impressed with the speed. Mostly getting an 'H' signal on my HTC (instead of E for Edge, or 3G for 3G). If this is supposedly 4G, then its extremely slow. Wonder if 3G would be faster.
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby chingiskhan » Thu May 10, 2012 2:12 pm

MoonOverMiami wrote:Got a Unicom 3G 450min/500MB plan for testing purposes, and quite frankly, not impressed with the speed. Mostly getting an 'H' signal on my HTC (instead of E for Edge, or 3G for 3G). If this is supposedly 4G, then its extremely slow. Wonder if 3G would be faster.


Just got the data only sim and it works well enough. I also use Unicom on my iPhone and generally it's quick and always 3G unless I'm deep inside a building.
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby KINetics » Fri May 11, 2012 12:33 pm

MoonOverMiami wrote:Got a Unicom 3G 450min/500MB plan for testing purposes, and quite frankly, not impressed with the speed. Mostly getting an 'H' signal on my HTC (instead of E for Edge, or 3G for 3G). If this is supposedly 4G, then its extremely slow. Wonder if 3G would be faster.


I don't think China has 4G yet, only 3G speeds.
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby jeffinflorida » Mon May 14, 2012 2:19 pm

Is your IPHONE unlocked????

if YES, then simply go to a China UNICOM corporate location.

Choose the plan you want. I use a 66rmb a month plan. (about $10.50 usd a month)

Gives me 300 mb a month download.

Phone calls and 2000 texts a month.

The initial cost was 100 rmb. That was it. No other money was asked from me.

When it is low I simply recharge it at a China UNICOM store.

They have more expensive plans for larger data transfer and I also use my home WiFi connection to reduce the mobile usage. There are months I went over the 300 mb as some of the stupid Iphone games I play download too much sometimes.

If you want info on the higher mb plans tell me and I'll stop by the local store and get a pamphlet with plan details and post the photo.

You will need to show your passport to get a sim card but just so they copy your info.

I recommend NEVER buy one at the airport as they are usually much higher priced.

There are China Unicom stores everywhere.

REMEMBER if your Iphone is not unlocked (typically USA phones) you need unlock it first.
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby jeffinflorida » Mon May 14, 2012 2:24 pm

KnIgHtCoM wrote:I plan on visiting Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai at the end of May. Which of the 3 mobile carriers sells a prepaid MicroSIM that will give me data for my iPhone 4S? Are there any kiosks at the Beijing airport with English speaking sales people?

Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks! =)


My mainland sim card doesn't work in HK UNLESS I pay more money so I would advise WAIT till you get to mainland to buy a sim and THEN not from the airport. Only from a real China Mobile or Unicom store.

Use Unicom is my recommendation for the Iphone.

I originally had China Mobil for my Iphone and the internet speed was terrible - call quality was ok.
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby tylerdurden » Mon May 14, 2012 3:22 pm

It's also worth pointing out that the later iPhones can be used as mobile tethering devices (aka "Personal Hotspot", but you would have to request that this be enabled by Unicom at the point of purchase. They did this for me. Then you have internet access for your WiFi laptop too, all from the one SIM card. (Just stay away from p0rn sites is all.)
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby ExpatNewbie » Mon May 14, 2012 4:05 pm

tylerdurden wrote:It's also worth pointing out that the later iPhones can be used as mobile tethering devices (aka "Personal Hotspot",

I never asked Unicom guys to do this for me, but I use it as hotspot all the time. Is there any difference ?
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby jeffinflorida » Mon May 14, 2012 4:07 pm

^ I think there are apps and / or function settings that allow you to do this easily. (or maybe not so easily.)

Cydia has this functionality however I never attempted to use it.
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby MoonOverMiami » Mon May 14, 2012 4:31 pm

chingiskhan wrote:
MoonOverMiami wrote:Got a Unicom 3G 450min/500MB plan for testing purposes, and quite frankly, not impressed with the speed. Mostly getting an 'H' signal on my HTC (instead of E for Edge, or 3G for 3G). If this is supposedly 4G, then its extremely slow. Wonder if 3G would be faster.


Just got the data only sim and it works well enough. I also use Unicom on my iPhone and generally it's quick and always 3G unless I'm deep inside a building.


Tried it again this past weekend on Nanjing Rd East, and it seems to have downloaded faster than before. Still gets stuck at times, but I think it has to do with the cellphone not being able to process it fast enough.
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby Stef B » Mon Aug 27, 2012 9:36 pm

erm- being a complete techno moron, and arriving next week with a samsung galaxy mini 2- why does it matter if its an I phone or not?

if I don´t have an iphone, but a galaxy, does that mean that the info in this thread is useless to me?

I need to buy a pre paid sim, that will be fine for 6months, for calling, sms, and internet connection.

any advice greatly appreciated, but please no techno babble, 3G, 4G, 2G I don´t know what that means, as long as I can drink beer, be happy, and occasionally call, sms and connect, thats enough for me :-)

Thanks.
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby mat » Mon Aug 27, 2012 9:40 pm

I'm on a China Mobile number. Same number for last 8 years. Is there a way to go 3G and keep the same number?
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby 3gchina » Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:25 pm

Stef B wrote:erm- being a complete techno moron, and arriving next week with a samsung galaxy mini 2- why does it matter if its an I phone or not?

if I don´t have an iphone, but a galaxy, does that mean that the info in this thread is useless to me?

I need to buy a pre paid sim, that will be fine for 6months, for calling, sms, and internet connection.

any advice greatly appreciated, but please no techno babble, 3G, 4G, 2G I don´t know what that means, as long as I can drink beer, be happy, and occasionally call, sms and connect, thats enough for me :-)

Thanks.


Just get China Unicom prepaid 3g sim card for your Galaxy phone and then choose a monthly plan. It is the best choice for you here. Everything will work well.
Last edited by 3gchina on Thu Jan 31, 2013 3:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby 3gchina » Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:30 pm

mat wrote:I'm on a China Mobile number. Same number for last 8 years. Is there a way to go 3G and keep the same number?


You can only go China Mobile's 3G keeping the same number, no China Unicom's 3G, for now.
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby Stef B » Wed Aug 29, 2012 6:00 pm

3gchina wrote:
Stef B wrote:erm- being a complete techno moron, and arriving next week with a samsung galaxy mini 2- why does it matter if its an I phone or not?

if I don´t have an iphone, but a galaxy, does that mean that the info in this thread is useless to me?

I need to buy a pre paid sim, that will be fine for 6months, for calling, sms, and internet connection.

any advice greatly appreciated, but please no techno babble, 3G, 4G, 2G I don´t know what that means, as long as I can drink beer, be happy, and occasionally call, sms and connect, thats enough for me :-)

Thanks.


Just get China Unicom prepaid 3g sim card for your Galaxy phone and then choose a monthly plan. It is the best choice for you here. Everything will work well.


Great thanks- for the help.
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby bgpower » Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:01 pm

Hi guys,

I'll be in Shanghai and Beijing for approx. 15 days in March 2013 and would like to use mobile phone, but especially mobile data services on my iPhone 5 (nano-sim). I will just unlock it with a sim adaptor.

Can some please update me of the exact name of the mobile operator offering the fastest mobile data connection? Should be used both in Beijing and Shanghai. I would be thankful if you could advise me on the appropriate phone/data package I should choose.

Thanks!
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby jeffinflorida » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:23 am

^ China Unicom. Buy the cheap plan of 66¥ a month. You get 300mb Internet plus calls and texts. It's prepaid so if you go over the limit they charge you but if you have $ in the account they simply deduct Fr the balance. It usually cost 100¥ to get the sim and activate. Go to a corporate store and stay away from the small shops
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby bgpower » Wed Jan 30, 2013 8:35 pm

Thanks, Jeff! Sound prett good!

I can buy it from Beijing as well, right? If I want to use more than 300MB data, how much money should I put in my accoutn right from the beginning (let's say I want to have about 1GB in total)?

Thanks a lot!
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby jeffinflorida » Wed Jan 30, 2013 8:54 pm

It's a universal plan, yes. There is a price list of different plans. I think I only went over the 300mb once and the overage wasn't much. When I go to the mall next to my house again I'll grab the Unicom pamphlet and tell you the different plans.

Remember, you need plunk down 100rmb for the sim and you get 100rmb credit. If you are only gonna be around for 15 days I think you'll be ok with 100 rmb of credit on the 300mb plan.
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby bgpower » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:26 pm

Thanks! Yep, I'll be in China for 12 days to be exact. I may need more data when I use it on my laptop (through Personal Hotspot). BTW: Should I specifically ask them to activate the Personal Hotspot option?
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby jeffinflorida » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:38 pm

bgpower wrote:. BTW: Should I specifically ask them to activate the Personal Hotspot option?


Sorry, I cant answer that. I do see Chinese people with laptop "dongles" (?) for internet but I never needed one so I never looked into it.

If you have an Iphone you can make your own hotspot.

And there are plenty of starbucks around (shitty coffee but nice sofas and free wifi :D )

When you heading to China? I'll see if I can get info from China Unicon tomorrow for you.
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby jeffinflorida » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:41 pm

Last edited by jeffinflorida on Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Which pre-paid sim card to buy ?

Postby bgpower » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:52 pm

Thank you very much man! That would be amazing! And yeah, I plan to use my iPhone as a Hotspot, but thought that China Unicom have to first "allow" me to do that viz. have to unlock this feature.

Regarding their pamphlet - I'm not in a hurry, as I leave on March 4th! Thanks in advance!
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