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Question: buying a smartphone in Shanghai?


jchina09
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I am planning to purchase Pleco's Chinese learning software, and I want to buy a smartphone or handheld device to run Pleco while I'm in Shanghai this weekend (I live in a remote corner of northern Shaanxi Province). I'm concerned about a couple of issues, though, and any advice or recommendations would be appreciated.

1. What should I expect to pay relative to U.S. prices? I want something reasonably good quality, not cheap and flimsy. Will a quality device cost roughly the same in Shanghai as it does in the U.S., or should I be able to find something for less?

2. Where's the best place to buy this kind of thing in Shanghai? "Metro City" is mentioned a lot online. Is that the best bet? Alternatively, given the risk of ending up with a shoddy product and/or being ripped off, would I be better off buying from a place where products are guaranteed to be genuine and the price is non-negotiable?

Thank you for your help.

Sincerely,

J

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If you are looking for a Microsoft Windows Mobile smartphone, among which Dopod (known as HTC outside of China) is the most popular, then you can pretty much buy them anywhere. Any electronics store like Gome or Suning would have a few models.

If you are looking for an iPhone (a smuggled in 水货 model with Wifi), then Metro City (美罗城) in Xujiahui is probably the best place to go.

For approximate prices, check out Zhongguancun Online: http://detail.zol.com.cn/203/202221/price.shtml.

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I just bought a HTC HD in Shanghai two days ago. I paid around 3500RMB for mine and it looks all good.

There is a place near the main train station that have 8 floors of people selling phones. Sorry i don't know the name of it, but its about 5mins walk from the station. I did look at a lot of fake stuff, but if you know what you are after you should be right. (well that is what i am hoping for!!)

Good luck

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For pricing and product comparisions, you might also want to look at the eXpansys website:

http://www.expansys.cn/

The eXpansys China website is about 50% English (and has an English-speaking telephone number) while the Hong Kong site is 100% English:

http://www.expansys.com.hk/

I also wanted to run Pleco so I bought one of the cheapest Windows Mobile cell phones out there, a Toshiba Portege. As a telephone, it's terrible (although it looks good). As a device to run Pleco, it's fine. However, I was very happy with eXpansys's service and delivery. I have purchased other smaller things from their China and United States websites.

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I second xiwang, probably cheapest to get it from HK.

China, seems to not be so cheap for electronic goods maybe because of the tax.

Another option is to go on the ebay equivalent or HK or Taiwan ebay (search for HTC), where second hand devices are pretty cheap. As in sub 1500 rmb for a HTC that will run pleco.

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Hey Everyone,

Thanks for the good info. I'm in Shanghai now, and there's a Suning store not far from my hotel. I'm planning on buying a Dopod there, but I have one last question: one of my friends in Shanghai swears that I should bargain at Suning. I was under the impression Suning was a "set price" store. Am I mistaken?

Thanks again.

Jamie

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I've never tried bargaining at a big store like Suning or Gome, but maybe you can and it doesn't hurt to try (except maybe they'll laugh at you. hehe).

I bought a video camera at Gome not too long ago and the sales person volunteered to give me a carrying case and a tripod for free, so I think they do have some discretion to make a deal.

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Hey Everyone,

Thanks again for all the great advice. As it happened, I went to a Suning near Metro City, but they didn't have that many models, so I decided to take a look in Metro City and see what was there. After a long time bargaining and comparison shopping, I got an HTC Touch HD for RMB3680. I'm not sure if that was a great price, but it seemed in the ballpark based on what I'd seen online. I checked the device as thoroughly as I knew how to, and everything looked fine (knock on wood).

I now have Pleco installed and I love it. The character recognition saves endless amounts of time compared with looking up radicals in a book, especially for complicated characters.

Thanks again.

Jamie

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  • 4 months later...

I have a question for the people owning HTC Touch HD - I want to get it in order to install Pleco. The phone comes with menus all in Chinese and the guys at the shop said that they can flash (刷机) it and get me English menus. The only trouble is that, according to them, once they have flashed it and installed the English menus, I won't be able to write Chinese. Is this true? Suppose it is, and I install Pleco, does it have some sort of option to import Chinese into tex messages and contact names?

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Once you flash a new rom all the menus etc will be in English. To display and input Chinese characters you'll need to download and install some software. I would do a search of http://forum.xda-developers.com/ i'm sure you'll be able to find what you need on there. I think sunglobe is the name of the software. I did the same thing with my HTC touch 3g.

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Mine is in English but have no problems using (typing and reading) Chinese.

Using Pleco on the HCT HD is great and the main reason for buying the phone. But I think windows mobile 6 software is sh*t. And I plan to never buy a phone again with Mobile 6 software.

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Yea they'll flash the phone to English when you buy it. Make sure to look up software and stuff you want. When I bought my phone, one of the deals was was that he would hook me up with all the software I wanted upfront. After that, I had to pay 10 kuai per program. They installed a Chinese input program that let me handwrite, type characters, and read with no problems. It was called CE-Star.

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I have both an iphone and a HTC. Honestly the iphone is easier to use for people not used to using a computer or who are computer/electronic illiterate. Easy to use and easy to browse the web etc.

HTC obviously has a bit more power and features. A good thing to have is the low cost for GPS running with the GPS software. Helps you if you get lost or to avoid getting scammed by taxis'.

Comparing dictionaries - iphone is fairly useless when it gets to advanced users. However, it's fine for simple stuff but a lot of words are missing. Kind of like a toy. This might change in the future as more iphone users drive better dictionaries. I heard pleco is going the iphone route too.

For now, my personal thoughts is that even some of the dictionaries i have seen on people's phones are better than the iphone's.

I think the pocket PC is the way to go for now. In the future might be the iphone.

But for now iphone = better buy a separate electronic dictionary

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Pleco's already on iPhone:

http://www.pleco.com/pleco2ip.html

The flashcard module is still in beta-testing but should (finally!) be out very soon, but all of the dictionaries from our old software except Oxford are available in our iPhone version right now. (and that flashcard update will also add support for user-created dictionaries)

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When I bought my HTC Touch (at the electronics "market" in Shanghai), the saleswoman let me choose between one with Chinese Windows Mobile and one with English Windows Mobile. She didn't say anything about "flashing." Pleco worked perfectly on it, and there was no need to download any other software or input modules in order to write Chinese.

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