How To Use A Mobile Phone in Chinese📱Your Pocket Guide

Experience True (Mobile) Immersion and Change Your Phone to Chinese

HOW CAN I POSSIBLY USE MY MOBILE PHONE IN CHINESE?” (capitals emphasising genuine shock from our students).

It’s that thing we always tell our students to do but 95% are too scared until we re-assure them! Changing your mobile phone to Chinese.

This is a full-proof, winning technique for helping improve your Chinese, 100%. Take it from someone who made the leap, it works!

Today we want to help make that transition easier and teach you some useful terms you’ll stumble across when using your mobile phone in Chinese.

But first and foremost, why change your mobile phone to Chinese? Here’s why:

  • It’s immersion like you never imagined
  • You learn super useful vocabulary
  • You are forced to overcome hurdles
  • Your reading of Chinese characters will improve hugely

Having a mobile phone in Chinese allows you to open doors you probably never quite expected. If you are an avid Chinese studying student, this is a step we recommend ALL students to make.

And that’s the beauty of it, your level of Chinese is irrelevant, anyone at any stage can make the switch. Sure for beginners the jump is bigger, and more daunting but after some time and patience, the change is NEVER as bad as you thought!

In fact, beginners are the people who benefit the most because everything you see is new, you never stop learning

Oh and before we start, probably best to learn the word for Mobile Phone in Chinese!

手机 shǒu jī

Mobile Phone in Chinese – The Basics

Mobile Phone in Chinese – Settings 设置 shè zhì

Mobile Phone in Chinese – Apps

Mobile Phone in Chinese – Using the Camera 相机 xiàng jī

Mobile Phone in Chinese – Messaging 短信 duǎn xìn

Mobile Phone in Chinese – Using Social Media 社交媒体 shèjiāo méitǐ

Mobile Phone in Chinese – QUIZ

Mobile Phone in Chinese – The Basics

Let’s some some of the basic vocab to get you on the road to success!

After this we’ll dive into some screenshots of my actual phone to make it appear a little more real

  • Display – 显示器 xiǎn shì qì
  • Button – 按钮 àn niǔ
  • SIM card – SIM 卡 sim kǎ
  • Battery – 电池 diàn chí
  • Dead battery – 没电 méi diàn
  • Charger – 充电器 chōng diàn qì
  • Settings – 设置 shè zhì
  • Select – 挑选 tiāo xuǎn
  • Calculator – 计算器 jì suàn qì
  • Voice mail – 答录机 dā lù jī
  • Alarm clock – 闹钟 nào zhōng
  • Contacts – 电话簿 diàn huà bù
  • SMS (text message) – 短信 duǎn xìn
  • Subscriber – 用户 yòng hù
Mobile phone in Chinese

You’ll likely see these words pop up on your mobile phone, but not just then, also commonly in spoken Chinese and of course in all kinds of different environments.

Your calculator can appear when studying Maths in Chinese, your subscriber could refer to a tonne of different social media, your charger perhaps as you pack for a holiday… so these words are all super useful to learn, phone related of not.

57 Basic Chinese Phrases 🗣 LTL's Complete Guide to Chinese for Beginners Thumbnail

57 Basic Chinese Phrases 🗣 LTL’s Complete Guide to Chinese for Beginners

The Most Useful Basic Chinese Phrases You Have To Know. Download our basic Chinese phrases flashcards and learn the very basics for when you come to China.

Mobile Phone in Chinese – Settings 设置 shè zhì

Settings on our mobile phone is a place we go to personalise our phone, and this is where you’ll go to change the language to Chinese so it’s useful to see how it’ll look… and here’s how! Remember, DO NOT be scared!

Now of course many of the elements are obvious, because we have the icon next to it to help.

Case in Point #1 why changing the language isn’t that scary.

Additionally things like Airplane Mode are easy to place given it always includes the toggle button at the top of the screen.

However, with all that said, we want to learn what these things actually mean and get some new characters nailed down, so…

Let’s discuss some useful words from this part of your phone:

WiFi – 无线 wú xiàn

Ah yes the all important WiFi, nothing more important than landing in a coffee shop and hooking up to the WiFi!

This is the 2nd option of the 1st screenshot which displays 无线局域网

无线 actually means wireless and easily enough, for an actual wired connection you say 有钱 with 有 meaning to have, 无 meaning to not have.

Bluetooth – 蓝牙 lán yá

I like this one a lot because the translation is simply, blue tooth!

Couldn’t be any easier than that!

Just in case you don’t know the colours in Chinese… here they are.

Notification – 通知 tōng zhī

A very useful word to learn related, and non-related to phones.

In fact, on a lot of local community boards in China you will see a document titled 通知 – straight away you know it’s a notification to the residents of sorts.

Of course, whenever you get a new notification on your phone, you’ll see these two characters.

I’d say you’ll see 通知 more than any other character on your phone, so learn it!

Email – 邮件 yóu jiàn

Of course, one of the main features on the phone many of us use daily. Email.

Inside the Email settings (邮件设置) you can change the notifications and Wifi settings, words we’ve learnt already.

See how it all pieces itself together so quickly.

Language – 语言 yǔ yán

We saved this one until last because we don’t want you using it all things considered!

Nevertheless, it’d be cruel if we didn’t teach you how to change your phone back to your favoured language.

语言 means language, but there’s one final twist – all the languages are listed in Chinese, so you need to learn your language in Chinese before you can transfer it back!

Hey – it’s another word to learn! Everyone wins!

Mobile phone in Chinese

Mobile Phone in Chinese – Apps

When you change your phones language, sometimes your apps change to that language also (if not you can manually change them inside that specific app).

Mobile Phone in Chinese - The Apps

However, the names of the apps themselves tend to stay in English, but this depends on the app and it’s origin.

All the Apple apps on the iPhone for example, change to Chinese, but the apps you download from your App Store that are not Chinese will be listed in English, but inside the app it’ll be Chinese.

Here are some popular app and social media names in Chinese to help you along the way:

  • WeChat微信 wēi xìn
  • Ali Pay 支付宝 zhī fù bǎo
  • Tao Bao淘宝 táo bǎo
  • Jing Dong – 京东 jīng dōng
  • Mei Tuan – 美团 měi tuán
  • Baidu Maps – 百度地图 bǎi dù dì tú
  • Mobike – 摩拜 mó bài
  • Weibo – 微博 wēi bó

And now for some of the apps already on your phone when you receive it which include:

  • Health/Steps – 健康 jiàn kāng
  • Camera – 相机 xiàng jī
  • Wallet – 钱包 qián bāo
  • Music – 音乐 yīn yuè
  • Safari Browser – Safari 浏览器 liú lǎn qì
  • Notes – 备忘录 bèi wàng lù
  • Weather – 天气 tiān qì
  • Calendar – 日历 rì lì

PSST – want to discover how to use a Chinese keyboard on your phone, we’ve got a blog for that!

  • Mobile phone in Chinese
  • Mobile phone in Chinese

Mobile Phone in Chinese – Using the Camera

Now of course one of the most opened apps on anyone’s phone is the camera!

You maybe shocked to see those familiar lingo in your language be replaced by Chinese, but here’s another great chance to learn the following:

  • Picture/Photo – 照片 zhào piàn
  • Portrait – 人像 rén xiàng
  • Video – 视频 shì pín
  • Square – 正方形 zhèng fāng xíng
  • Slo-Mo – 慢动作 màn dòng zuò
  • Panoramic – 全景 quán jǐng
  • Time Lapse – 延时摄影 yán shí shè yǐng
  • Selfie – 自拍 zì pāi

USEFUL HACK – Another great word I learned using my phone was the word to EDIT which is 编辑 biān jí.

When you go to modify a picture you’ll see 编辑, allowing you to crop your picture or change a filter for example.

From my experience one of the most useful words to learn because it pops up everywhere.

Mobile phone in Chinese

Mobile Phone in Chinese – Messaging

Ah yes, the reason the mobile phone was invented. How times have changed!

We spend a lot more time with our heads in WeChat, Whatsapp and iMessage than we probably think, so again, why not learn something with it.

Here’s some useful words you’ll pick up when using a messaging app:

  • Dialogue – 对话 duì huà
  • Cancel – 取消 qǔ xiāo
  • Forward – 转发 zhuǎn fā
  • Chat – 聊天 liáo tiān
  • Location – 位置 wèi zhì
  • Contact Card/Person – 联系人 lián xì rén
  • File – 文件 wén jiàn
  • Complete/Finish – 完成 wán chéng
  • News/Information – 信息 xìn xī
  • SMS & MMS – 短信 & 彩信 duǎn xìn & cǎi xìn
  • Display – 显示 xiǎn shì
  • Media – 媒体 méi tǐ
  • Multimedia – 多媒体 duō méi tǐ
  • Avatar/Profile Picture – 头像 tóu xiàng
  • Image – 图片 tú piàn
  • Select/Choose – 选择 zuǎn zé
Cell Phones in Chinese

Honestly, get these nailed down and you’ll be absolutely fine.

This is the joy of it, pick up as much of as little as you want.

If you so wish, you can then expand your knowledge further.

As you go you start to see the same words and characters appearing in all kinds of apps.

It gets to the stage where you wonder why you ever really felt nervous about making the switch!

Mobile Phone in Chinese – Using Social Media

Fishing for likes? Love sharing the breaking news? Keen observer in this day and age where everyone has an opinion?

Whoever you are there’s a strong chance you have some form of social media.

The great thing is, as mentioned above, when you learn some basics, you can apply them to all of the apps… because like on Twitter, means like on Facebook!

  • Other – 其他 qí tā
  • Comment – 评论 píng lùn
  • View – 查看 chá kàn
  • More – 更多 gèng duō
  • Like – 赞 / 喜欢 zàn / xǐ huān
  • Share – 分享 fēn xiǎng
  • Feel – 觉得 juédé
  • User – 用户 yòng hù
  • Hour – 小时 xiǎo shí
  • Recommend – 推荐 tuī jiàn
  • Post – 帖子 tiě zi
  • Friend – 好友 hǎoyǒu
  • Retweet – 转推 zhuǎn tuī
  • Translate – 翻译 fān yì
  • Tweet – 推文 tuī wén
  • Answer or Reply – 回答 / 回复 huí dá / huí fù
  • Publish – 发表 fā biǎo
  • mobile phone in Chinese
  • mobile phone in Chinese
  • mobile phone in Chinese
  • mobile phone in Chinese

So hopefully this little guide gives you an idea of how much you can learn by having your mobile phone in Chinese.

It’s not scary but it is super, super useful, and not just for Chinese but for any language!

Go on, take the plunge and if you are stuck, comment below, we’ll help you out!

Mobile Phone in Chinese – Quiz

Welcome to the Chinese Brands quiz! Enter your First name and email to begin. Don't worry you can unsubscribe at any time!

First Name
百事可乐 (bǎishìkělè) 

汉堡王 (hàn bǎo wáng) 

雀巢 (què cháo)

可口可乐 (kěkǒukělè)

三脚马 (sānjiǎo mǎ) 

谷歌 (gǔ gē)

赛百味 (sài bǎiwèi) 

喜力 (xǐlì) 

星巴克 (xīng bā kè) 

大众汽车 (dàzhòng qìchē)

路易威登 (lùyì wēidēng) 

古驰 (gǔchí) 

沃尔玛 (wò’ērmǎ) 

麦当劳 (màidāngláo) 

捷豹 (jiébào)

奔驰 (bēnchí) 

Mobile Phone in Chinese – FAQ’s

How do I change my phone to Chinese?

Go to SETTINGS > GENERAL > LANGUAGES (for iPhone) and change your phone to Simplified or Traditional Chinese, depending on which you are studying.

How do you say “Facebook” in Chinese?

Facebook in Chinese is 脸书 liǎn shū (literally Face Book)

How do you say “Like” in Chinese?

When spoke you’d use 喜欢 xǐ huān but generally on social media you see 赞 c zàn used.

How do you say “Message” in Chinese?

A text message, or message in general in Chinese is 短信 duǎn xìn

How do you say “Photo” in Chinese?

Photo in Chinese is 照片 zhào piàn

How do you say “Twitter” in Chinese?

Twitter in Chinese is 推特 tuī tè

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  1. Yvette

    Amazing guide. This is the sort of content I love, different to the usual “how do you say hello” kind of stuff.

    Honestly, I’ve always been too scared to change mine, but I might try it for a day and see.

    Thanks LTl

    1. Max Hobbs

      Lovely to hear Yvette – yes we always try and provide something different! Anymore requests just let us know.

  2. This is incredibly handy, time for me to make the jump with my cellphone I think.

    1. Max Hobbs

      The time is now Isla! Good luck and any questions just comment!


  3. Jasper

    I changed my phone, helped me a lot. Some difficult moments though not guna lie

    1. Max Hobbs

      Fantastic, we love to hear it!

  4. Macca

    I changed my phone language when learning Japanese, it is scary and I signed up to some things I didn’t want to (like linking a new Instagram to my Facebook) but would I do it again? Absolutely, I learned so much from it.


    1. Max Hobbs

      This is exactly what we love to hear. It can be annoying at times especially in times of immediate need, but these moments make you stronger.

      Well done!

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