How To Use Cell Phone In Hong Kong 2024: Traveler’s Guide To Stay Connected

How To Use Cell Phone In Hong Kong 2024: Traveler’s Guide To Stay Connected
How To Use Cell Phone In Hong Kong 2024: Traveler’s Guide To Stay Connected

Are you planning to use cell phone in Hong Kong? This article will tell you all about using cell phones in Hong Kong with useful tips to avoid roaming fees when traveling. Let’s find out together!

I. Highlights of Phone Compatibility, Frequencies, and Networks in Hong Kong

Use cell phone in Hong Kong
Highlights of Phone Compatibility, Frequencies, and Networks in Hong Kong

1. Phone Compatibility

Most phones sold worldwide are compatible in Hong Kong. Hong Kong uses GSM technology for cell phone networks. You just need to make sure your phone is unlocked and supports the common GSM frequency bands used in Hong Kong.

2. Frequency bands

The major GSM frequency bands used in Hong Kong are 900MHz and 1800MHz. 3G/HSPA networks operate on 2100MHz. 4G/LTE networks use 700MHz, 800MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 2300MHz and 2600MHz bands.

3. Networks

The three largest mobile networks in Hong Kong are CSL (China Mobile Hong Kong), HKT, and SmarTone. All three networks provide wide 4G coverage in urban areas. Moreover, prepaid and postpaid SIM cards for the major networks can be easily purchased from providers’ stores, authorized dealers, and convenience stores. Especially, you should remember to bring your passport for registration to use cell phone in Hong Kong.

Besides, if your home network has a roaming agreement with Hong Kong networks, you can use your regular SIM for coverage. Otherwise, purchasing a local prepaid SIM is a good way to get better rates.

All three major networks support WiFi calling, allowing calls/texts over available WiFi connections. This is useful for indoor coverage. More than 99% of Hong Kong’s population has 4G coverage from one or more operators.

II. Will My Cell Phone Work In Hong Kong?

Will My Cell Phone Work In Hong Kong?
Will My Cell Phone Work In Hong Kong?

Yes, your phone can work in Hong Kong if it matches the frequency bands here. Most phones sold worldwide will work in Hong Kong, as Hong Kong predominantly uses GSM technology for its cellular networks. However, you must ensure your phone supports the appropriate frequency bands.

The key frequency bands used in Hong Kong for 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE are:

  • 2G: 900MHz and 1800MHz
  • 3G: 2100MHz and 900MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 800MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 2600MHz

You can use the frequency checker to check specifically if your phone supports these bands used by the major Hong Kong operators like CSL, China Mobile, SmarTone, and 3.

If your phone is compatible based on frequency support, then you have some options to use cellphone in Hong Kong:

  • Contact your home carrier to enable international roaming, but be aware roaming charges can be expensive.
  • Buy a Hong Kong SIM card from one of the local providers, which will allow you to make local calls at much lower rates compared to roaming. SIM cards are widely available.
  • Consider renting a phone in Hong Kong if your device is not compatible with local frequencies.

Here is the frequency band table in Hong Kong for you to refer to:

Operator2G Bands3G Bands4G Bands5G Bands
CSL900MHz, 1800MHz2100MHz, 900MHz1800MHz, 2600MHz2100MHz, 3500MHz, 4700MHz
3 (Three)1800MHz, 900MHz2100MHz, 900MHz1800MHz, 900MHz2100MHz, 3500MHz
China Mobile1800MHz1800MHz, 2600MHz, TDD 2300MHz2100MHz, 3500MHz, 4700MHz
SmarTone1800MHz, 900MHz2100MHz, 850MHz1800MHz, 2600MHz, 900MHz2100MHz, 3500MHz

Notes: 

  • Technology bands are listed in their numeric form e.g. 2100MHz
  • China Mobile does not support 3G
  • TDD refers to Time-Division Duplex technology for 4G networks
  • 5G networks currently use n1, n78, n79 bands in Hong Kong

III. Do I Need An International Plan In Hong Kong?

Yes, you will need an international plan in Hong Kong to ensure experience a smooth trip. However, depending on your situation, you can consider whether to have it or not. Here are some points about international plans we would like to share with you:

  • You can use your existing cellphone plan, but roaming charges will be very high for calls/texts/data.
  • A better option is buying a prepaid SIM card from a Hong Kong provider like China Mobile or CSL. Calls/texts will be much cheaper.
  • Alternatively, you can rent a cellphone in Hong Kong if yours isn’t compatible with local networks.
  • For data, you can use available WiFi, which will save your budget because cellular data roaming rates are normally high.
  • International eSIM plans will be another ideal option for you because it provides affordable call/text rates without roaming fees.

In summary, while roaming may work, a local prepaid SIM, rental phone, or international eSIM plan will save you significantly on connectivity costs in Hong Kong.

IV. What Are the Options To Use Cellphones In Hong Kong For Tourists?

There are three main options for tourists to use cellphones in Hong Kong: eSIM, SIM Card, and pocket wifi.

1. eSIM Plan for Hong Kong

eSIM Plan for Hong Kong
eSIM Plan for Hong Kong

eSIM will be the top option for tourists to stay connected in Hong Kong. So, who will be suitable to use eSIMs? Travelers visiting Hong Kong for a short period (about 1-2 weeks) will be the most suitable ones to use eSIM if their devices are compatible with eSIM activation. Moreover, people who want to avoid roaming charges on their home cellular plan also suit this option.

Note: Only those with smartphones with iPhone/Google Pixel models can use eSIMs.

However, where to buy eSIM in Hong Kong? Tourists can buy eSIm via Online providers such as GIGAGO eSIM. Or they can visit some phone stores and kiosks in Hong Kong airports to buy eSIM plans.

Hence, why should tourists use eSIMs? Here are some pros and cons of using eSIM in Hong Kong.

Pros:

  • No need to insert a physical SIM card – convenient digital activation
  • Plans offer affordable local call/data rates without roaming fees
  • Easy to switch to a new plan online as needed during your trip
  • No waste of physical SIM cards

Cons:

  • Requires an eSIM-compatible smartphone
  • Limited options for in-person support if issues arise
  • Plans have expiration dates so you need to time renewal properly
  • May be slightly more expensive than a prepaid physical SIM card

2. International SIM card for Hong Kong

 International SIM card for Hong Kong
International SIM card for Hong Kong

Besides eSIM, an international SIM card is also another way for tourists when traveling to Hong Kong. Travelers who want to avoid high roaming fees on their domestic plan or stay for an extended period (more than 2 weeks) are suitable for this option. Furthermore, those who need a reliable cellular connection throughout their trip

Where to buy an international SIM card in Hong Kong? You can get to major telecom stores like 3, China Mobile, and CSL outlets here or visit convenience stores like 7-Eleven and airport kiosks upon arrival to buy SIM cards. Or, you can buy via online sites. These online shops will ship the SIM card internationally.

There are several pros of an international SIM card for tourists:

  • Very affordable local call/data rates compared to roaming
  • Reliable coverage via Hong Kong’s strong networks
  • Option to purchase multi-SIM packs for regional travel
  • No need for Wifi to stay connected on the go
  • Simple activation of physical SIM card

However, it also contains some cons:

  • Requires compatible unlocked smartphone
  • Need to purchase upfront rather than pay-as-you-go
  • Can only be used in the issued country/region
  • May need to provide identification for registration
  • Risk of the SIM card getting lost/damaged

3. Pocket WiFi

Pocket wifi in Hong Kong
Using pocket wifi in Hong Kong is a good option for groups.

Pocket wifi is the last option for tourists. Travelers, especially backpackers, who need portable WiFi for multiple devices like phones, tablets, and laptops will need pocket wifi to access the Internet. Moreover, pocket wifi is good for groups/families traveling together for a short period (1-2 weeks).

Where to buy pocket WiFi in Hong Kong? tourists can rent pocket wifi at the rental counters in the airport when they arrive or rent via online sites. Plus, they can buy directly at electronic stores in urban areas.

Pocket wifi will bring people several benefits:

  • Portable WiFi hotspot for multiple connected devices
  • Reliable internet access anywhere in Hong Kong
  • Often unlimited or high data allowance per day/week
  • Optional services like data SIMs for laptops are included

Nevertheless, it still has some cons of:

  • Higher upfront cost than SIM cards for short stays
  • Additional charge for each extra device connected
  • The security deposit or damage waiver is usually required
  • Potential for loss or damage during travel
  • It still depends on available WiFi networks/coverage

V. Will My Local Network Work In Hong Kong?

Yes, it is possible. Most local/domestic networks can work well in Hong Kong but the roaming data fee is extremely high. This is the most expensive option for tourists to use the Internet in Hong Kong. If you do not manipulate the data roaming well, you have to pay a lot for it.

VI. Gigago eSIM – An Alternative To Get Internet In Hong Kong With Your Cell Phone

Gigago eSIM – An Alternative To Get Internet In Hong Kong With Your Cell Phone
Gigago eSIM – An Alternative To Get Internet In Hong Kong With Your Cell Phone

GIGAGO eSIM is a good eSIM provider for tourists when traveling to Hong Kong. They will offer you several packages at a reasonable price. Moreover, when you buy an eSIM from GIGAGO, it is very easy to set up an eSIM via a QR code sent to your email.

There are some Hong Kong eSIM plans from GIGAGO that you can take a look at:

What is great about Gigago’s Hong Kong eSIM is that its plans’ costs are diversifying, varying between $5.00$89.50 . Thus, it does not matter how many Internet users you are and how long your trip is in Hong Kong, there is always an option for you with Gigago.

VII. Extra Tips To Use Cell Phone in Hong Kong

Here are some short tips to use cell phone in Hong Kong:

  • Download translation apps like Google Translate.
  • Check if your phone supports GSM bands used in Hong Kong.
  • Get a dual SIM phone for local and home SIM cards.
  • Adjust data roaming settings to avoid charges when abroad.
  • Disable call forwarding and check roaming fees.
  • Find emergency numbers and notify contacts you’re abroad.
  • Download offline maps in case you run out of data.
  • Use WiFi calling where possible.
  • Enable power-saving modes for longer battery life.
  • Check if your phone insurance covers abroad usage.
  • Review your carrier’s roaming policy website for charges.

VIII. FAQs about Use Cell Phone in Hong Kong

1. Will my phone work in Hong Kong?

To use cell phone in Hong Kong, let’s check that your phone supports GSM and the main frequencies used- 850/900/1800/2100 MHz. Also, you should confirm Hong Kong’s 4G bands if using data roaming.

2. How can I avoid expensive roaming charges?

You can buy a local SIM card, get a travel SIM, or enable WiFi calling to avoid using cellular data/minutes to avoid expensive roaming charges

What are the major phone carriers in Hong Kong?

The top ones are CSL, 3, SmarTone, and China Mobile. They offer SIM cards at stores, airports, and online.

IX. Conclusion

There are several choices for travelers to use cell phone in Hong Kong. However, to save the budget, you can consider buying a local SIM card or an eSIM for a cheaper and better price. Moreover, an eSIM will be a smarter choice if your phone model supports using it.