How to Get a Micro SIM?

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    I just arrived in Chengdu a few days ago. I have lived in China before but have been at home in England for the last few years. I have a smartphone (unlocked) that needs a micro sim card. Yesterday I walked into a China mobile shop expecting to be able to buy one and just slide it into my phone. They told me they didn’t sell them and I had to go somewhere else but my Chinese is not good enough to understand where exactly. Today I talked to my teacher and she said you can not get them and I need to buy a new phone!! Surely this can not be right???

    If anyone else has had this problem and knows of a solution I would be grateful if you could let me know.


    Ben Brown

    I’ve noticed that in China when someone doesn’t know for certain how to do something, the standard answer is often “it can’t be done”.

    The reality is not always the same.

    I came over with an unlocked iPhone 3gs that took a regular-sized sim, but I didn’t know it and so they pulled out a tool to cut my China mobile sim to a micro, then discovered it should’ve been regular size, so they glued it back together.

    I am nearly certain you don’t need a new phone. I would first ask through a Chinese speaking friend whether or not you can get a regular sim and cut it. Ask a couple of different places. Including those sketchy shops that won’t just tell you whatever the China Mobile dogma preaches.

    Also, go to a few places. China Mobile and China Telecom and China Unicom offer slightly different products and services. China Unicom, for example, offers the micro sims for ipads. It stands to reason that they will have phone number micro sims as well.

    Basically, don’t lose faith. China likes to say “it can’t be done”, which is ironic considering that in China the reality is usually some slightly twisted, jerry-rigged version of the opposite.

    Best – o – luck.


    Ben is right – micro sims are easy to get. As you know, they just cut a normal sim card down to micro (or nano) size. The place that they told you to go might be Taisheng Nanlu (太升南路), aka the cell phone street in Chengdu. But the tool that cuts sim cards is really small and easy to use, a lot of vendors inside Computer City have them as well.


    China Mobile cut it for me the day I walked in for a sim card with one of these:


    Pretty much every shop that sells smartphones normally should have one of these and will cut it for you for free (or 5 mao).

    If you’re scared of the outside world you can also just print out a micro sim template and cut it to micro with scissors.


    They told me they didn’t sell them and I had to go somewhere else

    Welcome to China. Expect to be told frequently that something can’t be done by someone who doesn’t have a clue, even though they’re being paid to know the answers to the seemingly obvious questions you might ask.


    By the way, I have the cutter tool myself, so if you happen to live nearby Tongzilin metro stop you’re welcome to drop by and I can do it for you. Only 5 mao.

    Ben Brown

    What if I’m scared of not only the outside world, but scissors and cutters as well? 🙂

    I LOVE that about China. I’ve been told at one point or another that every single thing I’ve wanted to buy / do in this country “can’t be done”. I had a shop owner once tell me I couldn’t buy a replacement charger cord for my laptop because “Gateway computers aren’t sold in China”. I turned around, disappointed, and bumped into a Chinese guy wearing a gateway shirt. I followed him to his kiosk. Turns out they DO have gateway computers here. haha. The other guy had been telling me I was simply going to have to buy one of his laptops. Capitalism at its best in Communist China.

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