CHINA ESIM – STAY CONNECTED WHEREVER & WHENEVER IN CHINA

If you plan to take a China trip, have you prepared all the necessary things in your luggage? Personal items, visa, plane ticket, and an important thing – internet connection. eSIM for China travel is one of the most convenient to stay connected in China.

If you were to use roaming data, you could be charged high fees. Secondly, they are very easy to acquire and you do not need to physically interact with any mobile service provider of an eSIM in China, keeping your travels as streamlined as possible! you could buy a physical China SIM card or even better a China eSIM with a prepaid data plan.

WHERE TO BUY SIM CARD IN CHINA

You can easily purchase a SIM card at the airport, convenience stores, or sim shops throughout the country.

N THIS POST, WE WILL GUIDE YOU THROUGH ESIM FOR CHINA TRAVEL WITH LOT OF CONVENIENCES

The latest type of tourist SIM card for China offers you a lot of advantages, including;

  • You are NOT required to ask for wifi passwords of your destinations.
  • You are NOT required to wait in any queue to get a physical SIM card  – activate your eSIM data plan via email and use it immediately!
  • You get INSTANT connectivity after receiving your QR activation code sent straight to your email.

However, before buying an eSIM China, please ensure your mobile device is eSIM compatible.

  • What is exactly an eSIM Card? What are its Pros and Cons?
  • Is eSim available in China?
  • What are eSIM Compatible devices?
  • How much does a China eSIM cost?
  • How to use China eSIM?
  • How to buy China eSIM?
  • FAQs about China eSIM?
China-mobile-operator-esim-sim

WHAT IS ESIM? WHY ESIM FOR YOUR TRAVEL?

An eSIM stands for Embedded Subscriber Identity Module, is a small chip digitally embedded on your phone.  It works as a SIM Card but you cannot hold it with your hands, see it with your eyes or remove it from your phone.

With this feature, rather than inserting a new SIM Card to join a new mobile network, you can instead download an eSIM profile, install it on your phone and then join the mobile network.

An eSIM can hold multiple eSIM profiles, but it’s advisable to have up to 3 eSIM profiles in one device. However, only 1 eSIM profile will be active at any given time.

As you cannot do anything with the eSIM chip, but eSIM profiles. Additionally, users are now widely referring eSIM profiles to as eSIMs, so, we will use eSIM in the meaning of an eSIM profile hereinunder for your easy follow.
More and more devices support eSIM now, including phones, ipads, laptops, cars, etc. But in this post, we will guide you through eSIM for phones.

There are two kinds of eSIM, which are:

  • Data eSIM, and
  • Voice, SMS, and Data eSIM.

In this post, we will guide you through the DATA ESIM which is currently preferred by a lot of travelers.
First of all, let’s clarify what are the PROs and CONs of a data eSIM to be installed on your device:

PROS

  • Keep your original SIM for calls – The eSIM is digital, so your original SIM will work as usual if you need it.
  • No queue at any physical store & No show of passport for registration – Get the QR code via email immediately after your payment for installation on your phone.
  • Get connected immediately – Activate your eSIM when landing in China and get connected immediately.
  • Cost-effective: Save money on international roaming charges by using eSIM at a reasonable price. Multiple networks: Automatic switch to the strongest local networks. Stay connected everywhere.
  • Get your full trip covered by Unitel / Star Telecom network – One of the biggest mobile network operators in China.
  • Keep your WhatsApp number: You can make calls or send messages to all contacts on your WhatsApp, like you are at home.

CONS

  • No data sharing: normally the data eSIM does not come with tethering/hotspot, but China eSIM do.
  • Your phone must be compatible with the eSIM: Make sure that your phone is unlocked and listed in the supported devices below.
  • No local phone number: Normally, the data eSIM includes data only. It does not allow you to make cell phone calls or send SMS messages. You can still use WhatsApp, Viber or Skype to call your contacts. However, please remember that China  eSIM comes with a local phone number whose functions vary by the plan.

IS ESIM AVAILABLE IN CHINA?

Yes. All big mobile network operators in China, consisting of China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom are offering eSIM.

China has 03 major mobile network operators, which are China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. All of them are state owned and controlled. China Mobile is the largest mobile operator in the world with about 920 million clients and about 60% market share, China Unicom 20% and China Telecom 20%.

In addition to the telecom market leaders, there are also cheap Internet carriers in China, such as Dragon Telecom, which uses the infrastructure of China Telecom. With this provider, the Internet speed in non-Chinese sites is slower.

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ESIM COMPATIBLE DEVICES

It’s great that more and more smartphones, tablets, and laptops are equipped with an eSIM card. If your device is included in the list below and unlocked, congratulations. Just buy an eSIM and go!

APPLE DEVICES

  • iPhone XR (model A2105, from 2018)*
  • iPhone XS (model A2097, from 2018)*, iPhone XS Max (model A2101, from 2018)*
  • iPhone 11 (model A2221, from 2019)*, iPhone 11 Pro (model A2215, from 2019)*
  • iPhone SE 2 (model 2020)
  • iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13 (dual eSIM), iPhone 13 mini (dual eSIM), iPhone 13 Pro (dual eSIM), iPhone 13 Pro Max (dual eSIM)
  • iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 14 Pro Max
  • iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max
  • iPad Pro 11″ (model A2068, from 2020)
  • iPad Pro 12.9″ (model A2069, from 2020)
  • iPad Air (model A2123, from 2019)
  • iPad (model A2198, from 2019)
  • iPad Mini (model A2124, from 2019)

*iPhones purchased from China or Hong Kong are dual sim, with no eSIM.

Iphone-apple-Thailand-esim

SAMSUNG DEVICES

  • Samsung Galaxy S23, Samsung Galaxy S23+ 5G, Samsung Galaxy S23+ Ultra 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S22, Samsung Galaxy S22+ 5G, Samsung Galaxy S22+ Ultra 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S21, Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G, Samsung Galaxy S21+ Ultra 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S20*, Samsung Galaxy S20+, Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20, Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Fold
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
  • Samsung Watch (through Samsung wearable application)

*The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 4G or 5G is not compatible with eSIM.

*Samsung Galaxy S20 Hybrid Dual SIM – Samsung produces both eSIM and no eSIM versions.

samsung-phone-Thailand-eSIM-Travel

GOOGLE PHONES

    • Google Pixel 2 (only phones bought with Google Fi service), Google Pixel 2 XL
    • Google Pixel 3 (not including phones bought in Australia, Taiwan or Japan. Phones bought with US or Canadian carriers other than Spring and Google Fi don’t work with eSIM), Google Pixel 3 XL
    • Google Pixel 3a, Google Pixel 3a XL (purchased in South East Asia)
    • Google Pixel 4, Google Pixel 4a, Google Pixel 4 XL
    • Google Pixel 5, Google Pixel 5a
    • Google Pixel 6 Pro
    • Google Pixel 7 Pro
    • Google Pixel 8 Pro

    *Pixel 3A purchased in South East Asia

google-pixel-Thailand-esim

HUAWEI PHONES

      • Huawei P40, Huawei P40 Pro
      • Huawei P50 Pro
      • Huawei Mate 40 Pro

      *Huawei P40 Pro+ has no eSIM support.

OTHER DEVICES

  • Motorola Razr 2019
  • Nuu Mobile X5
  • Gemini PDA
  • Rakuten Mini
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
  • Oppo Reno 5A
  • Oppo Reno6 Pro 5G
  • Microsoft Surface Pro X, Go 2, Pro LTE Advanced
  • Acer Swift 3, 7

OTHER DEVICES

  • Asus Mini Transformer
  • Asus NovaGo
  • Asus VivoBook Flip 14
  • HP Elitebook G5
  • HP Probook G5
  • HP Zbook G5
  • HP Specter Folio 13
  • Lenovo Yoga C630, 520
  • Lenovo Miix 630
  • Lenovo Flex 5G

Comparison of Best eSIM Providers for China Travel

When comparing different eSIM brands we must take into account all the features that will determine if the card fits the needs of our trip. That’s why we prepared this table with all the essential information about each brand to help you choose. Later on we will delve into all the important aspects so that you don’t miss any information.

Brand Plan duration Data sharing Unlimited data App GB per plan Support Price
Holafly 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 30, 60 and 90 days No Yes Yes unlimited In English and other languages, direct chat and WhatsApp 19€ -99€
Airalo 7, 15 and 30 days Yes No Yes 1GB, 2GB, 3GB, 5GB, 10GB In English, via a bot 5$ – 28$
Maya Mobile 30 days Yes Yes Yes 1GB, 3GB, 5GB, 10GB, unlimited In English, via email 5€ – 54€
Simoptions 8, 10, 15 and 30 days No No No 4GB, 6GB and 8GB In English, via chat 17,9$ – 39,9$
Truphone 1 and 30 days Sometimes No Yes 1GB, 2GB, 3 GB and 5GB In English, by email or the App 5€ – 15€

Holafly, eSIM for China with Unlimited Data, VPN network

Advantages They offer data packages by continents and for countries.
Holafly’s eSIM cards are easy to purchase and install with QR code or manually.
They offer a wide variety of eSIM cards with different price points and contract durations.
They have eSIM cards for 160 destinations.
Most of their eSIM plans have unlimited data.
Technical support 24/7 in Spanish, English, German, French, Italian and Japanese.
Very flexible prices.
Uses a VPN network.
You can pay in euros, dollars and Mexican pesos.
Flexible duration of data plans: 5, 10, 15, 15, 20, 30, 30, 60 and 90 days.
They have an App where you can check the consumption and the remaining days of the contract.
Inconveniences Their eSIM cards do not include calls or sms.
They are one of the most expensive options on the market, but it’s worth it because you don’t run out of data or have to recharge.
The Holafly eSIM card for China does not allow data sharing.
You can’t do the installation through their App.

On the website of Holafly you can find 8 unlimited data plans ranging from thes 19€ to 99€ depending on the duration of the contract, which can be 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 30, 60 and 90 days. It is perfect for long stays, digital nomads or express trips to China.

Data plan Price in Euros Price in Dollars Price in Pounds
5 days – unlimited data 19€ 19$ 19£
7 days – unlimited data 27€ 27$ 24£
10 days – unlimited data 34€ 34$ 29£
15 days – unlimited data 47€ 47$ 44£
20 days – unlimited data 54€ 55$ 49£
30 days – unlimited data 64€ 64$ 59£
60 days – unlimited data 84€ 84$ 77£
90 days – unlimited data 99€ 99$ 87£

Airalo, the cheapest eSIM brand for China

Advantages They offer regional, country or global data packages.
Airalo eSIM cards are easy to purchase and install.
It is one of the cheapest brands in the market.
They offer a wide variety of eSIM cards with different duration, price and gigabytes.
They have eSIM cards for 190 countries.
Their eSIM card allows you to share data with other devices.
They allow you to recharge the eSIM.
They have an App and you can buy and install the eSIM from it.
Inconveniences Gigabytes are limited to 10GB or less and do not have unlimited data cards.
Short-term plans have very limited gigabytes.
Their eSIM cards do not include calls and sms.
The duration of the data plans is limited to 7, 15 and 30 days.
Their services and technical support is exclusively in English and takes a long time to respond.

Airalo’s eSIM card data plans for China are for 7, 15 and 30 days, and prices range from $5 to $28.

Data plan Price in U.S. Dollars
7 days – 1 GB 5$
15 days – 2 GB 8,5$
30 days – 3 GB 11,5$
30 days – 5 GB 16,5$
30 days – 10 GB 28$

Truphone and their App

Advantages They offer regional, country or global data packages.
Truphone eSIM cards are easy to purchase and install in your App.
They have eSIM cards for 188 countries.
24/7 customer support both in the app and on the web.
Very affordable prices.
You can recharge data from the App.
No need to scan QR code.
Data sharing is only available on some devices.
They offer data plans for Apple Watch.
They offer 100 MB free trial for 1 day.
Inconveniences Gigabytes are limited to 5GB, they do not have unlimited data cards.
Short-term plans have very limited gigabytes (1GB).
Cannot be purchased on the web, only from mobile phone.
The duration of data plans is limited to 1 or 30 days.
Their services and customer support are exclusively in English.

Truphone is a UK company that offers eSIM cards to connect to the internet in over 160 countries. It was a pioneer in the industry and thefirst global operator to launch eSIM for iPad, Apple Watch and Google Pixel devices. In addition, it has been since 2016a technology partner of Apple, which gives it a great competitive advantage and makes it easier to install eSIMs on its devices.

For China the brand offers 5 plans; two with a duration of one day and 100MB and 1GB, and 3 other 30-day plans with 2GB, 3GB and 5GB. Prices range from€5 to £15. The 100MB plan is free for you to try their product for one day. The problem with this brand is that their data plans have very few gigabytes (maximum 10GB) and this means that you can run out of internet in the middle of your trip.

Data plan Price in Euros Price in Dollars Price in Pounds
1 day – 100 MB 0€ 0$
1 day – 1 GB 5€ 5$
30 days – 2 GB 9€ 9$
30 days – 3 GB 12€ 12$ 11£
30 days – 5 GB 15€ 15$ 14£

SimOptions

Advantages They offer regional, country or global data packages.
Sim Options eSIM cards are easy to purchase and install.
They offer a wide variety of eSIM cards with different length, price and gigabytes.
They have eSIM cards for 160 countries.
Some plans include calls and SMS.
Inconveniences Gigabytes are limited to 8GB or less and do not have unlimited data cards.
Short-term plans have very limited gigabytes.
eSIM features for the same country vary depending on the brand contracted.
The duration of data plans is limited to 8, 10, 15 and 30 days.
No eSIM card allows recharging data.
Technical support depends on each brand and good customer service cannot be guaranteed.
Your eSIM for China does not include calls and SMS.
Speed depends on each eSIM card brand.
There is no App to control data consumption.

For China you’ll find five data plans of 8, 10, 15 and 30 days with data limits of 4GB, 4GB and 8GB. Prices are a bit higher than average and range from $17.9 to $39.9. None of their plans include calls or allow you to top up the installed eSIM if you run out of data.

Data plan Price in U.S. Dollars
10 days – 6 GB 17,9$
8 days – 6 GB 19,9$
30 days – 4 GB 24,9$
30 days – 8 GB 34,9$
15 days – 6 GB 39,9$

Maya Mobile

Advantages They offer data packages by continents and countries.
Maya Mobile eSIM cards are easy to purchase and install with a QR code or manually.
They have eSIM cards for 194 destinations.
Data plans limited to 1GB, 3GB, 5GB, 10GB, which can run out quickly.
Flexible pricing.
They have unlimited data plans.
Possibility of internet sharing.
Rechargeable after 30 days.
Inconveniences Their eSIM cards do not include calls or sms.
They do not have an App.
The unlimited data plan has a 5Mbps limit.
Technical support only in English via a bot.
They only have data plans for 30 days.

This company offers eSIM cards for 30 days in China. In this case, the price of the data packages varies depending on the gigabytes. In total they have 4 packages of 1, 3, 5 and 10 gigabytes. China is also included in the Asia – Pacific plan with unlimited gigabytes, but its unlimited data is relative as the maximum browsing speed is 5Mbps and after having used 30GB of the plan, it drops to 1Mbps. The price ranges from €5 to €54.

Data plan Price in Euros
30 days – 1 GB 5€
30 days – 3 GB 8€
30 days – 5 GB 14€
30 days – 10 GB 24€
30 days – unlimited data* 54€

HOW TO USE CHINA ESIM FOR YOUR TRIP?

To use a China eSIM, please set up the eSIM profile on your device before departure and then activate it upon arrival in China to enjoy the internet connection. Please find the detailed setup instructions below. But, before starting the steps below, please keep in mind that:

  • Your device must be connected to the Internet when you install the eSIM on your device.
  • Your primary sim data should be turned off when your data eSIM is in use (you probably don’t want to pay the roaming fee).
  • Validity of your eSIM starts from the time you activate it, so don’t activate your eSIM until you are in China.

NOW, LET’S SEE WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO USE THE CHINA TOURIST ESIM:

1. USE CHINA ESIM ON IPHONES

To use a China tourist data esim on iPhones, you must complete the 2 steps below:

1.1 Install the eSIM on your iPhone

  • Go to Settings Cellular Data
  • Tap Add Cellular Plan
  • Scan the QR code
  • Add the data plan to your phone
  • Label your eSIM, and turn your eSIM off.

1.2 Active your eSIM

  • Go to your China eSIM, and enable Turn On This Line.
  • Turn on Data Roaming of your eSIM.
  • Activate the eSIM plan as guided
  • Go to Settings >> Cellular Data>> Select your China eSIM. Remember to turn the Allow Cellular Data Switching to avoid roaming charge from your primary number.
  • Turn the Airplane ModeON and then OFF, and enable the Mobile data to enjoy the internet in China.

1.3 INSTALLATION ESIM MANUAL METHOD

  1. On your device, go to Settings
  2. Tap Cellular or Mobile.
  3. Tap Add Cellular Plan or Add Mobile Data Plan.
  4. Select Enter Details Manually. You will be asked to enter:
  • SM-DP+ Address
  • Activation Code
  • Confirmation Code
  1. Choose a label or customized label for your eSIM.
  2. Under the Default Line page, select your eSIM for cellular data only
  3. You should see your new eSIM under your Cellular Data or Mobile Data Plans.

2. USE CHINA ESIM ON ANDROID DEVICES

You also need to follow 2 steps to use the eSIM on an Android device:

2.1 Install eSIM on your device

  • Go to Settings>> Network & internet
  • Tap +next to Mobile Network
  • Tap Don’t have a SIM Card? in case your phone has no other SIM card or Download a SIM instead?In case one SIM card is available on your phone.
  • Scan the QR code
  • Tap Continue to add this data plan to your phone.
  • Turn off your eSIM

2.2. Activate your eSIM

  • Go to Settings>> Network & internet>> your eSIM and turn it on
  • Activate the eSIM plan as guided
  • Turn the Airplane ModeON and then OFF, and enable the Mobile data to enjoy the internet in China

Please be informed that the steps above may slightly differ depending on the smartphone model & carrier. If you encounter any issues or have questions on how to install and activate the eSIM, please contact our customer support.

1.3 MANUAL INSTALLATION ON SAMSUNG PHONE (ANDROID)
  1. GO to Settings.
  2. TAP Connections.
  3. TAP SIM Manager.
  4. TAP Add eSIM.
  5. TAP Scan QR code from service provider.
  6. TAP Enter activation code.
  7. ENTER the activation code found in the eSIM details in the Airalo app.
  8. TAP Connect.
  9. TAP Add.
  10. Once the eSIM is installed, you will be brought to the Settings page.
  11. SCROLL down and TAP Mobile data.
  12. SELECT the eSIM you installed.

Frequently asked questions about how to have internet in China

How do eSIM cards work?

ESIM cards allow you to have internet on your mobile when you travel abroad without having to remove your regular SIM as is the case for SIM cards. This is possible thanks to a chip incorporated in the latest generation of cell phones.
The purchase of the eSIM data plan can be done through the web or the App of some brands. Choose your destination, duration and gigabytes of data plan and pay securely.

How to install eSIM cards?

The eSIM installation and activation is a really easy procedure that will take you just a few minutes.
Once you have verified that your cell phone is compatible with the product and chosen the data plan that best suits your needs, go to the mobile data settings on your smartphone and select “add data plan”. Then the camera will open so you can scan the QR code that you will have received in the mail after the purchase. Then the installation and activation of your card will begin.
This process must be carried out with internet connection, so it is recommended to do it before embarking on the trip or upon arrival at the hotel.

How do I know if my mobile is compatible with an eSIM?

Most models of common brands such as Apple, Samsung, Motorola, Huawei or Google are compatible as long as they are recent models. Several iPads are also supported. However, it is best to check on the website of each provider, where they will tell you all the compatible models.

What is the delivery time of the physical SIM card?

How do VPNs work in China?

VPNs are virtual private networks that allow you to connect to platforms blocked in China such as Youtube, Whassap or Facebook. There are eSIM cards that incorporate these networks, for example, China esim Travel

What is the duration of data packages in China?