Every expat should know about these useful and very cheap (or free) phone apps that make international communication within China much easier, whether you have a SIM card or not. Just make sure you are using these apps with WIFI and not your cellular data.
Whatsapp – Although not completely free, if you spend $1 to download this app, you will be saving yourself much more money than using iMessage or SMS abroad. Whatsapp offers a free messaging service, as well as the ability to share pictures, videos, audio notes, contacts, and locations. You can also update your status so your friends know what you are up to. Whatsapp will sync contacts with your Facebook account so you won’t have to add all your friends individually. However, this app does not offer a calling or video feature.
Viber – Similar to Whatsapp, but Viber is free to download and offers a calling feature. However, it is not quite as popular as Whatsapp.
Skype – Skype is now available on mobile devices! With this app you can make video calls for free to other Skype users. You can also use the messaging service, which is very convenient for professional purposes if you communicate often with Skype.
Wechat – If you want to use a free communication app that will help you be more integrated within China, you should download Wechat, or WeiXin. Almost every Chinese uses this app and many foreigners are jumping on board as well. It is the most convenient way to text and call your foreign and Chinese friends and it comes with a lot of fun messaging perks called “stickers”. It is free to use internationally as well, so even when you return home, you can still keep in touch with your Chinese friends and acquaintances. Albeit, it is not considered very professional so it may not be useful for work purposes.
Adrienne Farrelly is one of Shanghai’s most experienced expatriate Property Agents helping expats find new homes since 1994. You can reach her at +86 13122 810 421 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties