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Use cell phone in China: How to do it?

When traveling to China, you'll need to use your cell phone, so we'll explain all about how to use it and stay connected to the internet.

6 września, 2023

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There are so many things you can learn when traveling to other countries, for example it’s history, its culture and so much more. So if you intend to travel to China soon, you will find an Asian culture that will surprise you, as well as amazing places like the Great Wall of China or the Forbidden City. To enjoy your trip to China, you need to know how to use your cellphone in China and capture every moment. 

That’s why throughout this article, we will be talking about how to use your cellphone while you are traveling. Also, you will learn about the different options you can use to connect to the internet once you are in this beautiful Asian country. 

You probably have many questions in mind, so we invite you to continue reading this article, where you will most likely find the answers to all your questions regarding how to use your cellphone in China. 

Unlimited data eSIM for China with VPN

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Will my phone work in China?

This is the question most people ask before traveling to China, and the answer is: of course, it’ll work! If you have a cellphone with open bands, you will most likely be able to use it while you are in China. 

However, we recommend you check the band frequencies that your cellphone works with and those currently available in China. That way, you will know how good your phone connection will be once you are in China. China’s network frequencies are the following: 

  • 5G bands: n1 (2100), n41 (2500), n78 (3500), n79 (4700)
  • 4G bands: B1 (2100), B3 (1800), B5 (850), B34 (TDD 2100), B39 (TDD 1900), B40 (TDD 2300), B41 (TDD 2500)
  • 3G bands: B1 (2100), B8 (900), B39 (TD 1900+)
  • 2G bands: B3 (1800), B8 (900), CDMA BC0 (800)

On the other hand, we recommend choosing a service that includes a VPN to be able to continue using all of your apps on your cellphone with no issues. That way, you will not have any inconveniences when using certain apps. 

Do I need an international plan in China?

Currently, there are plenty of alternatives with which you can connect to the internet while you are in China. However, if you wish to avoid the high international roaming fees, then you will need an international plan for your trip, which is required for your phone to function with cellular data in China.

Services like eSIM, SIM cards, or Pocket WiFi will offer you international plans, allowing you to stay connected to the internet at all times. However, we will talk about these in more detail later. 

What are the International plans options for using my cellphone in China?

So far, we have already told you about some of the alternatives that will allow you to have an international internet connection plan to use your cellphone in China. Among them are, firstly, the eSIM, a relatively new option that has been revolutionizing cellular provider companies. On the other hand, prepaid SIM cards are slightly more familiar options which you should be familiar with. 

Likewise, we will also talk about one of the oldest options to stay connected to the internet while traveling: Pocket WiFi. In addition, we’ll also mention how to get free WiFi in China. Read on and find out more about each of these options. 

Unlimited data eSIM for China

eSIM with unlimited data in China. Source: Holafly.

As we have already told you, eSIMs are a somewhat new product that was created to work digitally. This means that they are very easy to buy, activate, and use. The eSIM works mainly to keep you connected to the internet, as you can enjoy cellular data with this type of service. 

Nowadays, there are numerous online stores where you can buy an eSIM. However, we would like to recommend the Holafly eSIM for China, which besides having many advantages, you can choose from the following plans with unlimited data, depending on the number of days that fit your trip: 

  • Unlimited data for 5 days at $19
  • Unlimited data for 7 days at $27
  • Unlimited data for 10 days at $34
  • Unlimited data for 15 days at $47
  • Unlimited data for 20 days at $54
  • Unlimited data for 30 days at $64
  • Unlimited data for 60 days at $84
  • Unlimited data for 90 days at $99

As you can see, with this eSIM, you will have unlimited data, so you won’t have to worry about running out of internet. Likewise, you will enjoy benefits such as a quick and seamless purchase flow, 24-hour technical support from the Holafly team, and connection to the best internet networks in China!

International SIM Card for China

On the other hand, we’ll talk about prepaid SIM cards. This is the perfect option if your cellphone is not eSIM compatible. Since SIM cards work with any phone, they are also very easy to purchase. As you can imagine you can find them in online stores as well, with the difference that they must be delivered with international shipping. You must confirm that the store has shipping to your country.


You can also buy a prepaid SIM card in China when you arrive, local operators have options for tourists. In this case, you should take into account that there are fewer plans available and that language may be a barrier to purchase. The three main operators in the country are China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, so you will have to look for a physical store or authorized agent of one of them.

Pocket WiFi for China

Now we will talk about Pocket WiFi, a more traditional option, which was very famous a few years ago. Today Pocket WiFi is still the option of choice for many travelers. This small device has certain advantages, the first being that you can connect several devices to the same Pocket WiFi at the same time. However, other services, such as the Holafly SIM card, also allows you to share data. 

On the other hand, Pocket WiFi has become an expensive service, similar to that of international roaming, as the rental of Pocket WiFi could range from $60 to $300 for just one week. 

Travel WiFi is a European company that offers Pocket WiFi rentals for travelers. With this company, you can rent one of these services for your trip to China, which will cost around $60 a week. However, you will also have to add the shipping fee, extra accessories, and sometimes an insurance for the device is needed. If you lose it, you will have to pay a high penalty to the company. 

Free WiFi in China

Finally, we also want to mention how you can get free WiFi in this Asian country. Once you are in China, you will see that it’s common to find plenty of free WiFi hotspots throughout airports, train stations, restaurants, coffee shops, and even shopping malls. Also, if you are staying at a hotel in China, it will most likely have free WiFi available.

However, it is important to remember that free wifi may not always be available. These networks may also be slow at times, and even your personal information may be vulnerable. So, we recommend you to have this option as a last resort. 

On the other hand, also consider that when connecting to free WiFi in China, many of your applications will be censored, and you will need a VPN to be able to use them. It is better to take precautions and use the free WiFi option as an emergency one. 

Will my local Internet work in China?

If your local operator offers international roaming, then it will most likely be available in China. However, before activating the roaming from your domestic operator, consider that this service can be quite expensive. If you are not careful with your consumption, you could return from your trip with very high bills. 

Below we will mention the roaming costs of some famous international operators so that you can compare prices and get an idea of how much it could cost you to use your operator’s roaming service. 

Use cell phone in China with T-Mobile.

T-Mobile is one of the most renowned phone companies in the United States. This operator offers its users international roaming services through different plans, each with different benefits. These three plans are Magenta, Magenta Plus, and Essentials, and travelers can sign up for them with prices ranging from 29 to 47 USD.

Use cell phone in China with AT&T.

On the other hand, AT&T is also a very well-known operator. If you are a customer of this company, you can use international roaming by purchasing the International Travel Pass, with which you can enjoy your phone services by paying $10 a day. 

However, if you prefer the pay-per-use alternative offered by this company, then consider that you will have to pay for the final amount of consumption you have. The prices with this option are $2.05/MB and $3 per minute of call. 

What is the best option for using a cell phone in China?

Holafly eSIM home
Holafly home website.

It is important for us that you can know everything about each of the alternatives that will allow you to stay connected to the internet once you are in China. That way, you can choose the best option for you. 

However, after evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of each service, we can recommend Holafly’s eSIM for China or SIM card as the best option. With these services, you can have unlimited data from the eSIM. As well as personalized technical service available 24 hours a day. 

We hope this article has been helpful and that you can enjoy your trip to China to the fullest. See you soon!