While there are different pay-as-you-go SIM cards available in Hong Kong, and a multitude of different Android phones, here what I used in my recent trip to Hong Kong, in case others find this helpful:
- In the US, buying a cellphone “out-of-contract” is not the same as buying a cellphone “unlocked”. All of the following only works for an unlocked phone. Make sure your phone is unlocked before you get on the plane.
- Different cellphone companies have different policies on this. AT&T declared that, despite my being a multi-year customer, with no contract, they would not unlock my phone per policy. T-Mobile said upfront that they would need ~40days from date-of-purchase of “out-of-contact” phone before I could ask to have it unlocked. On the 40th day, when I asked T-Mobile to unlock my phone, they sent me the phone unlock codes within 48hours.
- Make sure your phone supports GSM. Sounds obvious, but still needs to be said. Also, while in Hong Kong, I could only find pay-as-you-go SIM cards that supported 2G or 3G. The only 4G or faster that I could find were as part of monthly contracted plans; if you know of any that I missed, please let me know.
- At any 7-11 store in Hong Kong, buy a China Mobile pay-as-you-go SIM card. In my case, I bought the “IDD Talk Card“. It looks like the “Super Talk Card” has better rates but they were sold out.
- Disassemble your phone to swap out sim card, insert new ChinaMobile sim card and power up the phone.
- On the phone, enter “*#130#” and press dial (typically, the green handset button). This should send you a text message within a few seconds containing:
* your mobile number
* remaining balance on your SIM card
* expiry date of the credits on your SIM card
* whether or not you have a data plan set up (the default is “not”).
- At this point you should be able to make/receive calls, and check your account balance. If you dont get this text message, go back and check your work.
- Dont bother setting up the voicemail. No-one seems to use them; if you dont answer the phone, callers simply try again later or send you a txt msg.
- Once you have verified that basic calling works, the next step is to setup “Mobile Data & WiFi Package”, as follows:
* On the phone, enter “*#130#” and press dial (typically, the green handset button). This should send you a text confirmation prompt asking what duration you want the data plan.
** for 1 day, press “1” and hit ok
** for 7 days, press “2” and hit ok
** for 30 days, press “3” and hit ok
* to verify data plan status, enter “*#103#” and press dial.
* to cancel data plan, enter “*103*02#” and press dial.
* Note: be careful of letting data plan expire, yet continuing to use data, because the usages fees jump significantly.
* (I found these, along with a full set of commands, on www.hk.chinamobile.com).
- Next, to make sure that your android phone is correctly configured for 3G data, I had to do the following manually on my Android2.2 phone:
* on home screen, go into “settings”
* go into “wireless & network settings”
* go into “mobile networks”
* go into “access point names”
* if there is not already an “cmhk” (peoples.net), then create one as follows:
** Name = cmhk
** APN == peoples.net
** Proxy == Not set
** Port == Not set
** Username == Not set
** Password == Not set
** Server == Not set
** MMSC == Not set
** MMS proxy == Not set
** MMS port == Not set
** MCC == 454
** MNC == 12
** Authentication Type == None
** APN Type == default
…hit save, and go back to “access point names”.
- verify that this new “cmhk” APK is present, and is selected.
- In my case, I had to reboot my phone one more time, but that was it.
- When you need additional credits, buy a card at 7-11 (they are everywhere!) or online at http://www.hk.chinamobile.com.