This post is just informative for those that are travelling to China. We did some experimentation and figured out what the charges are on our phone.
1. It’s free to receive calls and SMS messages.
2. It’s .60 Yuan (almost 1 cent) per voice minute.
3. It’s between .15-.20 Yuan (0.25 cents) per SMS message. (We were charged both of those rates, but haven’t figured out why. If you have the patience, then SMS messages really are the way to go. The skin on my fingers will start peeling off before I can run down my account with SMS messages.
Buying the low end Nokia here was about 200 Yuan ($30). Getting a SIM card (which is like buying a phone number and an account) was about $10. We’ve each put about 100 Yuan ($15) on our phones, and we’ve used about 2/3rds of it over 3/4 of a month.
There are companies where you can rent phones for $100+. That’s the foreigner tax. You can get your own phone, SIM card, and get plenty of talk time for about $50.