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pwilliams89 (Offline)
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Default prepaid phones for China - 09-06-2012, 01:18

I'm going to live in China soon for a year teaching English. I'm thinking of getting a prepaid triband phone because from what I've read I should be able to use this in both Asia and the U.S. So if I understand this correctly, I would be able to call or text U.S. numbers (just on occasion) from a China SIM card if I have a triband phone?

Second, is there any U.S. site I can order a China Mobile phone from? I'd like to buy a prepaid phone in the U.S. before I leave for China but I'm worried that something like a Tracfone won't read characters or pinyin.

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Default 09-06-2012, 02:08

You need a phone that supports GSM 900 and GSM 1800 in order to use it on China Mobile or China Unicom. In contrast American GSM network run on 850 and 1900 MHz. So what you need is a quadband phone.

Buying a prepaid phone in the US is a bad idea as it very likley would be locked and if it's a cheap one it may even lack support for GSM 900/1800. I would rather buy a phone in China where prices should be lower.


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Default 09-06-2012, 02:14

OK. What you probably need is an unlocked GSM phone with all four bands, 900 & 1800 for China and 850 & 1900 for the US. It might be helpful if you got an Asian version for easy access to the common Chinese characters. It would probably also be handy if it were a "smartphone" that also had WiFi and could support VOIP calling. From what you describe your needs being, you probably do not need a 3G phone. It's easy to find a phone that satisfies these requirements for under $150, except it's hard to be sure about easy access to Chinese characters. Maybe some others will have some advice.

At any rate, you could use this phone with a non-contract service while here in the US and then switch over to a Chinese carrier when you go there. There are also some options for keeping a US account active at very low cost.
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pwilliams89 (Offline)
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Default 09-06-2012, 02:25

well from what I've read, triband and quadband work in Asia and the US so it looks like I need those.

I also should have specified, I want a cheap prepaid. last time I used Samsung China Mobile, it worked fine, and was in both English and Chinese. I simply just want to have the phone when I get off the plane. I've already found some sites where I can buy a China SIM card before I leave too. my Chinese isn't so good so I'd rather just buy the phone here, rather than have someone screw me pricewise, which is very common in China even at major retail stores.
   
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pwilliams89 (Offline)
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Default 09-06-2012, 02:29

I've already found prepaid GSM triband and quadband phones online here. so basically I'd like to know three things: will these phones take Chinese SIM cards? can they read characters (I mean..it will have a Chinese SIM card inside)? and if it takes Chinese SIM cards, can I still call the US because triband is supposed to support both US and Asia?
   
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Default 09-06-2012, 04:24

First thing, "tri-band" can mean many things. It can be 850, 1800, 1900 or it could be 900, 1800, 1900. You want to make sure that your phone has 900 & 1800 for use in China. In this day and age it costs no more to get a quad-band which works on both US GSM bands and both China GSM bands.

You need to make sure that your phone is unlocked so that you can use any SIM. Right now, all GSM phones except the iPhone4S use a standard sized SIM. Some of the iPhones use a micro-SIM. Calling to the US is a function of your calling plan & carrier, not the band. If it works, it works. You can place and receive calls too and from any place your plan is authorized to call. In other words, if you are in China with a 900/1800 phone, you don't need to have US frequencies to call to the US.
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pwilliams89 (Offline)
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Default 09-06-2012, 04:56

If my phone could use any SIM card, so in this case it's unlocked, would it be able to read characters? So would a Tracfone bought in the US be able to read Chinese characters if it could use the Chinese SIM card?
   
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Default 09-06-2012, 05:32

Quote:
Originally Posted by pwilliams89 View Post
So would a Tracfone bought in the US be able to read Chinese characters if it could use the Chinese SIM card?

No, no, no. Tracfones are designed so that they can not be used on anything but Tracfone.

The use of chinese characters is a function more of the phone than the SIM. Buy the phone in China to ensurer you can use Chinese characters.
   
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pwilliams89 (Offline)
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Default 09-06-2012, 06:10

Tracfone's have quad band phones so that means theoretically it should be able to read an international SIM card, such as one from China
   
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Default 09-06-2012, 12:13

Quote:
Originally Posted by pwilliams89 View Post
Tracfone's have quad band phones so that means theoretically it should be able to read an international SIM card, such as one from China
It appears that you've already made up your mind to use a Tracfone. I'm afraid you are going to have to learn the hard way that it won't work.
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