My experience using the iPhone in China

Earlier this summer I spent a few weeks in mainland China on a business trip. I used my iPhone 6 to communicate with local colleagues and people back home. In China, the iPhone has several advantages over an Android phone (at least the version of Android with Google Play that we're used to in the US). Here are a few of my quick thoughts and observations on the iPhone in China.

First, a few technical things... I have the unlocked/T-Mobile version of the iPhone 6, Model A1549 (GSM). I was able to use this on a local carrier's 3G network, but not LTE (I forget now if it was China Telecom or Unicom, but I know it wasn't China Mobile). Coverage and data speed was pretty good where I was, which wasn't in a major city. In fact, it was good enough to use Apple's FaceTime Audio most of the time...

Many of Google's services are blocked or unreliable in China, but Apple has several built-in apps that made my life easier. I used iMessage and FaceTime to communicate back home, Maps to find where I was going, and Yahoo for internet searches. At one point my contacts stopped working because they are synced through Google. I may have to change that if I go back. 

This isn't an issue for people buying phones locally because even Android phones in China don't rely on Google services. iPhone users may rely more on local messaging clients than iMessage or FaceTime, but it's an added bonus for someone doing a lot of business in China or communicating with Westerners.

I was surprised by the number of iPhones (and Apple Watches) that I observed while I was there. Perhaps I shouldn't have been given Apple's recent financial results in the country, but it was still interesting to see so many iPhone 6 Plus's where I was, which wasn't in a major city but in the area of a Tier-3 city. Clearly Apple has been very successful thus far, and there is still plenty of room for growth.