3 Best Sim Cards In China And The Guide To Get Them

Communication is an essential aspect of life these days. Technology has made it very easy to reach out to people far away and access the internet even from our homes’ comfort.

What you need is a phone with a sim card from a service provider in your region.

If you plan on visiting China or could be a resident, this article will guide you on how to get and set up your China SIM card.

If you are hoping to get a sim card, you can choose from the top three commonly used telecommunication giants. You have the option to choose what suits your taste.

1. China Telecom

To use China Telecom services, you have to check that your phone is compatible with its services. This network is usually incompatible with a lot of phones outside China.

The reason for this restriction is, the sim uses CDMA. It’s only compatible with the phones made locally.


The country’s network coverage is not great, especially when you compare it to China Unicom and China Mobile.

It is compatible with few phones outside of China, so it might prove uncomfortable that’s why you must check before buying.


  • The brighter side of the telecommunication provider is that it offers lucrative data packages and services. If you are prone to data and using the internet, this is the company of your choice.
  • So if you have a small budget, China Telecom provides cheap services tailored to meet your needs.

2 .China Unicom

China Unicom has a large followership in the country. This large number of customers has made it ranked among the top two telecoms company in the country.

Don’t be so surprised about this, because they offer excellent services. Unlike China Telecom, it is compatible with many phones, even those from outside China.

Hence, you do not need to worry about compatibility or struggle to get a new phone made within the country.

You should check out their data services; they are designed in a way to suit all. The packages are sensitive to a wide range of users.

Another positive aspect to note that is that they offer both 2G, 3G, and 4G services.

You can be sure that with 2G, 3G 4G, the service provided will be excellent. In that case, it means a faster and more efficient way of using the internet and communicating.

The services are useful in almost all parts of the country, and it is reliable.


If you are a traveler visiting China, then this is the sim card to buy and use. Because its Sim card does not have 3G and 4G restrictions or compatibility problems with foreign phones, this means no network problems.

You will also avoid the option of having to buy another phone to get compatibility and access to quality services.

Hence this saves you from spending more money than you planned in your budget.

People prefer China Unicom because of its efficiency.

3 .China Mobile

Consider it one of the most dependable communication outfit in the country, making it very popular.

Its services are compatible with almost all foreign phones. Hence there is no need to panic about your phone’s compatibility.

China Mobile has the best package when it comes to international calls. You can make cheaper calls internationally.

If you are a big fan of calls, this network provider can cater to your needs at a cheaper rate. They have good coverage all over the country.


The country’s excellent coverage is due to its 3G and 4G upgrade, accessible around the country. Did I also forget to mention that it provides the best data plans?

Yes, they do, and they take into consideration the different needs of their subscribers.

As a foreigner, you might have the desire to make many international calls back with your family, friends, and business associates. It is the best and cheapest network option for making international calls.


Unlike China Unicom, China Mobile’s 3G and 4G services are not be compatible with a lot of foreign phones.

As a foreigner, you might find yourself stuck with the 2G services that are not fast and as efficient as 3G and 4G.

If you insist on using this network, you have to inconvenience yourself by buying a different phone during your stay.


It is worth mentioning that internet access in China is restricted and controlled. Hence it would not be possible to access some apps and websites with whatever Sim card you purchase.

Whenever you have to access websites and apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, you will have to purchase a VPN.

These VPN services will give you uncontrolled access to the internet, and you will gain access to these apps and websites without hassle and complications.

Also, it is equally essential to be sure that your phone is unlocked. If your phone is locked, it might be incompatible with China Sim Cards.

The best way to be sure that it is unlocked is for you to check your IMEI information.

Merely knowing what Sim service is most suitable for your phone can save you.

You might wonder how to get a Sim card; there are two ways to buy a China Sim card.

Buying Sim Cards Within China

First of all, if you are within China, you can get your sim card in any network provider outlet. Most of the communication companies have shops all over the country.

All you have to do is walk into these shops and order your Sim cards over the counter.

This method’s advantage is that you get to ask questions and get the first-hand experience about the process.

You will receive service attention in person, and the service delivery is good.

However, if you are a foreigner who is just spending a few days within the country, you might find this time-consuming.

No one wants to take time on the queue which is why you’d rather do other thing.

Pre-ordering Pre-paid Sim Cards

The second way to get your sim card is to get it before coming to China. These are prepaid Sim Cards that you can order and buy online. You can get them in places like Amazon.

The advantage is that it offers comfort. Your SIM card becomes activated immediately. You come into the country. If you are trying to order a taxi at the airport, this becomes very easy and convenient.

Also, from the airport, you can start looking for the best hotels to stay, or the best restaurants to have your meals.

You can reasonably decide to immediately contact your family and friends about your arrival, rather than having to wait for a while.

On the downside, purchasing a prepaid sim card earlier is that you’ll activate it long before entering China. The sim may become dormant.

To avoid this, you have to make sure you activate your Pre-paid Sim card only a few days before your travel date.

Registering your Sim card

Buying a Sim card is just the first step; you need to have the Sim card registered. You have to make sure that your SIM card is registered for it to be activated.

If you purchase your prepaid Pre-paid SIM card before coming into China, you will need to present a copy of your international passport and personal information.

To increase the ease within which the communication agency can have access to your details and identity.

This happens to be the most convenient way of registering because it saves you the stress of spending hours at the local telecom shop trying to get your details captured during registration.

On the other hand, if you buy your SIM card while in China, you will have to register at the local telecom shop.

Your biometric data, which includes your face, fingerprints, and passport details, will be collected during this process.

Therefore, this is the standard policy as stipulated by the government for all SIM card activation. After activation, you can begin to enjoy the different services.

Sim Card Deactivation

The telecom providers deactivate all sim cards that have not been in use for some time. However, the time frame for deactivation differs from one telecom company to the other.

Generally, to be safe, it is necessary not to leave your sim card dormant for more than a month.

It is vital to note that if you buy your prepaid SIM card before traveling to China, you must ensure that 30 days do not elapse between your time of registration and activation and your arrival in the country.

Having this in mind will help you avoid your SIM card’s drama to be deactivated even before you arrived in the country.

Topping up your Sim Card

This information can come in handy; it helps you when you are stranded. Also, there is no need to have a phone if there is no credit to make calls or connect to the internet. There are three ways of topping up your Sim card:

  1. For those who are into technology, you can top up by using WeChat and Alipay. It would help if you had these apps on your phone once your Sim card is activated.

The good thing about this option is that you can buy airtime from anywhere and at any time. You do not have to inconvenience yourself to wait until you get to a physical location.

The downside to this is that you need to connect your WeChat and Alipay to a bank account. Now, this might be difficult for a foreigner who does not have a bank account.

But you can go through this by giving money to a friend who has a bank account to help you with the payment.

  1. you can top up at a nearby telecommunication store. All you need to do is walk in there and get the services that you want. You will find these shops in different parts of the country.

The good thing with this option is that if you have only cash as a means of payment, it caters to your situation.

If you are out of data and cannot use online platforms like WeChat, you have a physical location that you can always visit and still get your services.

The downside to this is that you might not always be close to a physical shop. Hence in moments like these, there is a need for an online option.

Roaming Options

Some visitors to China, especially those who are not hoping to stay for a long time, chose to roam. Hence involves using the Sim card of their home network provider, activating their roaming options.

Pros of Roaming

It might be quite comfortable for you because you do not need to change numbers, and people can still reach you when you are away.


The downside is that roaming is costly and not usually the best option, especially if you plan to stay in China longer than a few days. The calls are more expensive, even using the internet.

While roaming, it is vital to note that it might be impossible to access the 3G and 4G services. Because you may be restricted to use only 2G depending on your network provider, this means you are going to experience slow internet access.

If you are on a budget, this is certainly not the best option for you. Therefore, the best option will be to get a Chinese sim card. By purchasing a China Sim card, you will avoid the hefty roaming charges. And it is a less expensive way of making calls and using the internet.


If you have no plans to make calls during your time in China, only making use of the internet, then you can purchase a Wi-Fi plan.

It is cheaper, and it will serve your internet needs. It will save you the cost and modalities of having to get a sim card.

You can walk into any telecom shop and ask about any available Wi-Fi options. Most places you will visit around the country have Wi-Fi access points.

Places like hotels, cafes so it makes this option worthwhile and easy to use.


It is worth noting that getting a China Sim card during your stay in China is the best option. It is essential to have your Sim card registered and activated and to avoid deactivation.

Also, it is essential to choose the best network provider that works best for you.

Hopefully, this article was helpful, and it helped address some of your questions. When you are purchasing a Sim card, you will be more informed about what works best for you.

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