Vocabulary List for Using Mobile Phones in China

Having a mobile phone is super handy when you're traveling around China. It's a great way to reconfirm reservations, get in touch with the guy who's supposed to pick you up from the airport, reserve a table for dinner at the last minute and call the tailor to find out when your next fitting is. You can probably even use your own mobile phone, just switch out the SIM card and away you go. Here's some helpful vocabulary to get you started.

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Phrase for General Purchase

using a mobile phone in china
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I want to buy a…
Wo yao mai yi ge
“Woh yow my ee ghe”

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Phrase for Asking if Something is Available

Do you have…
You mei you
“Yoh may yoh”

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How Much?

How much does it cost?
Duo shao qian?
“Doh shao chee-an”

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Mobile Phone

Cell / mobile phone
shou ji
“show gee”

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SIM Card

SIM card
SIM ka or shouji ka
“sim kah” or "show gee kah"
SIM卡 | 手机卡

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Adding Value to Your Phone

Cell phone card (to add value/minutes)
chong zhi ka
“chong jih kah”

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When You Want to Buy a Phone Card

I need to top up my phone (add value).
Wo yao chong zhi.
“​woh yow chong jih”

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Mobile Carrier

If you say the above phrase to the person from whom you are buying your phone card, they might ask you which carrier you're using: China Mobile or China Unicom?
Yidong huozhe lian tong?
“ee dong huoh jih leeahn tong?”
If you don’t know the answer, tell them or write down the first three digits of your cell phone number (e.g. “136” or “159”) and the seller will know which carrier.

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Convenience Store

The most obvious place to buy phone cards is a convenience store although they are available from small shops along the street that sell phone cards, long-distance calling cards, etc. convenience store
bian li dian
“beeahn lee deeahn”

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Mobile Phone Card Denominations

Cell phone cards usually come in denominations of 50rmb or 100rmb. 50 yuan / 100 yuan
wushi yuan (kuai) / yibai yuan (kuai)
“woo shih yooahn (kwye) / ee bye yooahn (kwye)”
五十(50)元 / 一百(100) 元
Note: rmb (renminbi) is the official name of the Chinese currency but you’ll usually hear people say “yuan” (or ”kuai” especially in Shanghai) when discussing the price of something.

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Battery Charger

You may have left your charger at home or need a new one: battery charger (cord)
chong dian qi
“chong dee-ahn chee”

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