Day 170 in Beijing: Calling All Cell Phone Carriers.

Jill, our friend Federica, and I went cell phone hunting.

Jill has an old Blackberry Bold 9650, and Blackberry seems to very outdated in in China.

In general, you have to use a specific company, and then do all kinds of weird registration hurdles that we were really confused about thought maybe it would be better to buy a new phone.

Since it was 4 years old, it was probably time for an upgrade.

I’ve been using an iPhone 4 that my brother gave a me a year or two ago and I’m not going to upgrade until it dies.

I’m just frugal that way.

Heck, before this phone, i only had a text phone without any internet service.

In regards to my family, I’m a luddite.

Speaking of frugal, my mobile phone contract is a pretty good deal.

I pay about 186RMB ($25 US) a month for 400 minutes of talk, 400 MB of data, and I don’t have a text plan at this point.

Still not a bad deal since the iPhone has iMessage and this allows me to text iPhone users for free.

I also downloaded WeChat which is almost universal here in Asia and quickly taking over the world.

By the way, you might be surprised how far 400 MB of data goes in China.

Pretty much every single store, restaurant, shopping mall or any other place you might go has free wi-fi.

In America, I always associated “free wi-fi” with the ideal that you have to buy something where you are sitting.

Not here.  You can just hang out and people don’t seem to mind.

I love it because it saves me money and time as the 3G networks aren’t nearly as fast in America but the wi-fi is usually pretty decent.

Federica said that she could get us a contract that would give us 100 minutes a month, 500 MBs of data, and 100 texts per month and it would cost us 200 RMB ($32 US) for a year!

We both decided to jump on it and get the deal.

However, since Jill’s phone is a blackberry, we couldn’t add it to China-Mobile’s system.

So, instead, we spent 700RMB ($85 US) and got a brand new phone.

She ended up getting the Samsung Ace and the guy at the store was incredibly helpful and nice.

He even spoke a bit of English and was nice enough to clean under the screen cover for the phone and make it shiny and perfect.

Then he downloaded WeChat for her and did the most important thing possible:  He switched it to English so we could actually use it.

So, to review, Jill and I both got a years worth of cellular service with data and texts and Jill got a brand new phone that works perfectly.

All for about $150 US.

By the way, we have to thank Federica for being so fantastic and doing all the translation for us.

As I wrote in the expatriate and friend’s blog, after only knowing each other for about a month, we are like family.

It just happens that way.

 

 

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