When I landed in Shanghai, I had a locked AT&T iPhone 4. Meaning that I was on international roaming and could not use a local carrier as my service provider. My aim is to explain how I was able to make my iPhone work on China Unicom’s network. I also hope to provide some information which may be helpful regarding getting your phone to work in Shanghai.
My first issue was how do i unlock my phone. iPhone gurus would recommend to jailbreak and then subsequently unlock ones’ phone. One issue my iPhone was one of the models that you could not unlock. So from an early stage I thought I was out of luck, but as Wayne Gretzky said ”You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. So I persevered and searched the internet for solutions. To my surprise i read an article on the net about how AT&T would unlock a customers iphone if they met certain criteria.
With the Wayne Gretzky attitude, I contacted AT&T support and inquired about getting my iPhone unlocked. I was astonished, they said my iPhone was eligible for unlocking and it would take one week for instructions to be sent to my e-mail on how to unlock the iPhone.
Well a week later I received instructions in my inbox on how to unlock my iPhone. I unlocked the phone following their instructions and went to buy a sim card for the iPhone.
To do this these are the things you will need
Phone: Make sure you know what kind of sim card you need Micro-Sim or regular Sim
Money: anywhere from 120-600 rmb or $18-$94 [All depends on the Plan You buy]
Passport: If you sign up at the China Unicom office you will have to present your passport
I first stopped by a small store selling sim cards and quickly realized that they only sold regular sim cards and my iPhone needed a micro sim. Of course you can go home and cut out a micro sim, but if it breaks then you have to by a new sim card. Also because of the language barrier I was unsure how many minutes and how much data I was getting.
I had heard that China Unicom has the best 3G network and best user experience for iPhones users. So I went to the China Unicom office located near the Huangpu river in Pudong. The staff there worked hard to help me and showed me the different plans and rates. The pre-paid plan i chose had almost two thousand minutes and 2 gb of data. I knew that I would be on the phone a lot over the next few months and would need a lot of data as well.
There were different plans as well, some only for calling and texting. I would primarily be calling and use the internet so I chose that one. Furthermore they included 14 rmb of text messaging at the rate of .1 rmb per sent text so 140 total. The cost was 600rmb or 94 USD.
So far i have been very happy with China Unicom’s service. I have service everywhere in Shanghai and my 3G data speeds have been extremely fast. Data rate are always between 1.5-4.5 Mbps.
Other Good to know information:
You can buy a sim card many places without showing your passport but if you go to the China Unicom office you have to
If you have an unlocked phone from abroad you may need to change your carrier settings to get your data to work.
If you need more data i believe you can get 1gb for 100 rmb 2gb for 200mb