The Differences Between China Landline Phone and Mobile Phone


Today, China does have a very large number of Landline Phone and mobile phone users, making it one of the countries with the most Landline Phone numbers and possibly the most mobile phone numbers in the world. This is due to its large population and rapid technological development and adoption. Mobile phone usage, in particular, has seen exponential growth in China over the past few decades, with a significant percentage of the population owning one or more mobile devices. This growth is supported by China’s expansive and advanced mobile network infrastructure, which facilitates widespread mobile connectivity.

China has a population of 1.4 billion people. The international area code for mainland China is “+86,” as determined by the International Telecommunication Union based on geographical location and time zones. Meanwhile, Hong Kong, Macau Special Administrative Region, and the Republic of China (Taiwan) use country codes +852, +853, and +886, respectively. Therefore, the use of Landline Phone numbers and mobile phone numbers in mainland China is particularly important today. This article will explore China Landline Phone numbers and mobile phone numbers in mainland China, their coding and allocation, and provide a guide on how to choose and use them effectively.

Why are China Landline Phone Numbers 7-8 digits?

In mainland China, Landline Phone numbers generally consist of 7-8 digits. Different provinces and regions have different numbers. The area codes for landline phones usually consist of two or three digits, depending on the population and density of telephone users in the area. Major cities and provincial capitals typically have two-digit area codes, while smaller cities and towns may have three-digit area codes. For example, the number of digits in a landline phone number varies by province. Major cities usually have two-digit area codes, while other areas may have three-digit area codes. For instance, the area codes in Hebei Province range from 310 to 335, Shanxi Province from 349 to 359, and Henan Province from 370 to 398. The area codes in Liaoning Province range from 411 to 429. In addition, Jiangsu Province has area codes from 510 to 527, Shandong Province from 530 to 546, with a new area code of 631. These details indicate that the number of digits in a phone number typically corresponds to the population and density of telephone lines in that area. In other words, areas with larger populations tend to have more area codes, while areas with fewer people tend to have fewer area codes.

For example, the area code for first-tier cities in China such as Beijing is 010, and Shanghai’s area code is 021. These major cities have shorter area codes due to their large populations and high telephone usage rates. These area codes are easy to remember and reflect the importance of these cities in the national communication network.

Conversely, smaller cities and towns, such as Shaoxing (Zhejiang Province) with the area code 0575 and Yangquan (Shanxi Province) with the area code 0353, typically have three-digit area codes due to fewer telephone users. This allocation method allows for more combinations and can serve more areas effectively.

How to use China Landline Phone Numbers

The distribution map of Chinese Telephone area codes highlights the distribution of provincial-level administrative regions in the People’s Republic of China, including 23 provinces, 5 autonomous regions, 4 municipalities directly under the Central Government, and 2 special administrative regions, totaling 34 regions. With these regions, the map helps people quickly find the area codes they need to dial.

  • Understanding the distribution of Chinese telephone area codes: The color classification in the image helps readers easily identify the area codes of different regions.
  • Understanding the importance of area codes: In China, when making long-distance calls across provinces, you must dial the corresponding area code before the phone number. For example, to call from Guangdong to Beijing, you need to dial 010 followed by Beijing’s phone number.

China Telephone Code Map

In different provinces of China, area codes vary based on geographical location and administrative divisions. For example, some northern provinces have area codes with smaller second digits starting with 0, such as Beijing’s 010, while Guangdong Province in the south is 020. This division helps with the management and organization of telephone networks.

You can focus on how to effectively communicate using these area codes, why each province has a unique area code, and the significance of these area codes for daily life and business activities.

Despite the Rapid Growth of Mobile Phones, China’s Landline Phones Remain Intriguing

With the increasing popularity and convenience of mobile phones, the use of landline phones in China has significantly declined. However, despite the growing number of mobile phone users, landline phones maintain their unique importance in certain areas. For instance, in business settings, landlines continue to be widely used due to their stability and specific features, such as conference calling and direct dialing. Additionally, although the prevalence of landlines in homes has decreased, some households still maintain a landline for emergency situations or because they are often used to receive promotional and telemarketing calls.

Nevertheless, due to the frequent disturbances from telemarketing calls, many people choose not to use landlines, preferring mobile phones instead for their higher privacy and portability. According to the Number Fixed Telephone Lines of China from 2023, the number of landline users in China has decreased from several hundred million a decade ago to around 173 million now, indicating a significant reduction in landline usage. However, in the business environment, the stability and functionality of landlines make them the communication tool of choice for many companies. Moreover, in some remote areas or areas with a higher population of elderly people, landlines continue to play a crucial role in emergency communications due to their reliability.

After the China Landline Phone Numbers, why are China Mobile Phone Numbers 11 digits?

Firstly, on average, almost every Chinese person has a mobile phone number. If you receive a call from or dial a number with “+86,” it represents a mobile phone number in mainland China. In other words, because Chinese primarily use mobile phone numbers, China’s mobile phone numbers have become the most widely used in the world.

In contrast, countries like the United States, Germany, India, Switzerland, France, and Australia use 10-digit mobile phone numbers. Why did China choose an 11-digit mobile phone number? It’s precisely because China has the second-largest population in the world and the highest number of mobile phone users in any country. Therefore, China’s mobile phone numbers, with 11 digits, are the longest phone numbers used in the world. Mobile phone numbers can be divided into three sections, each with a different encoding: the first 3 digits are the network identification number, the 4th to 7th digits are the area code, and the last 4 digits are the user number. Therefore, the correct way to read a mobile phone number is 1XX-XXXX-XXXX. So why did China pioneer the use of 11-digit mobile phone numbers globally? It’s because China has the largest population, necessitating the use of 11-digit numbers for its people.

Additionally, as a general rule, the maximum number of mobile phone numbers a single Chinese user can have with one operator is five, and currently, operators can issue up to 20 SIM cards.

China’s domestic mobile phone numbers are planned uniformly by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Initially, China’s mobile phone numbers were actually 10 digits long, but due to the continuous growth in the number of users, the 10-digit numbers became insufficient, prompting the switch to 11 digits from 1995. Initially, all 11-digit mobile phone numbers started with 13, with a capacity of 1 billion. Later, additional number segments such as 15, 16, 17, and 18 were added, creating a scale of several billion, making China the first country in the world to use 11-digit mobile phone numbers.

According to the figure above, the segment for mobile phone numbers indicated in the image is from 11 to 19, meaning that all mobile phone numbers in China will start with these digits. Specifically, different mobile service providers may be allocated different number segments to differentiate services. This allocation system helps users identify costs and service types when making calls and helps operators manage their networks and services. According to the legend, mobile phone numbers typically consist of three digits starting with 1, with the second digit being any number from 1 to 9. This segment is usually different from landline area codes, being nationwide and not dependent on geographical location.

Not like the China Landline Phone, this is a list of all Mobile Phone Operators in China

Chinese mobile phone numbers are divided among three major operators, each with its own number segments, and each province or municipality directly under the Central Government has a fixed area code.

China’s three major operators have rapidly developed from a few number segments at their inception to today’s 11-digit mobile phone numbers. Please refer to the figure below:

China Telecom number segments currently include:

133, 149, 153, 173, 177, 180, 181, 189, 199, with 199 being a new segment approved in 2017.

China Mobile number segments currently include:

134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 147, 150, 151, 152, 157, 158, 159, 178, 182, 183, 184, 187, 188, 198.

China Unicom number segments currently include:

130, 131, 132, 145, 155, 156, 166, 175, 176, 185, 186, 196.

In general, Chinese mobile phone numbers, although consisting of 11 digits, have different encoding directions for each segment: the first 3 digits are the network identification number, the 4th to 7th digits are the area code, and the last 4 digits are the user number.

With the advent of the 5G era, the three special number segments for the latest 5G era in China are 199 (China Telecom), 198 (China Mobile), and 196 (China Unicom).

Since Chinese people have customs regarding phone numbers, if you see a number with three or more identical digits, it likely belongs to a person of importance, as it’s easier to remember their phone number.

China Mobile Phone Map

What are the area Codes for China Mobile Phone Numbers?

Chinese mobile phone numbers can also be coded and divided based on their location. Each province or municipality directly under the Central Government has a fixed area code, which can be used to determine the location of a mobile phone number based on the area code digits at the beginning of the number. For example:

Beijing: 10 Shanghai: 21 Guangdong Province: 20 Hunan Province: 731

For example, the 11-digit mobile phone numbers in China have the first 3 digits as the operator’s number segment, followed by 8 randomly assigned digits. According to the rules of number segments and area codes, the location and operator information of a mobile phone number can be identified and queried based on the area code of the first few digits.

The Chinese mobile phone number attribution and operator query API is a cloud-based query system that works by identifying the location and operator information of a mobile phone number based on the first few digits of the number and the area code, as shown in the figure below.

Chinese mobile phone number API

What are China’s Virtual Network Operators?

Chinese virtual network operators, also known as mobile communication resale service operators, are new types of telecommunications operators that rely on renting traditional telecom operators’ communication resources to conduct telecommunications services.

As of August 2023, the number of users developed by China’s virtual network operators has exceeded 31 million, with 41 companies operating businesses. Among them, seven companies have surpassed one million users. However, by today, many Chinese companies that have been granted mobile communication resale business operation permits are basically about to close down, except for commonly used ones such as Alibaba Bao Card, Mi Fen Wang Card, Tencent Wang Card, etc. Moreover, all purchasers must undergo real-name registration before they can use the purchased virtual network operator’s number.

The three major virtual network operators are as follows:

China Telecom: 1700, 1701, 1702.

China Mobile: 1703, 1705, 1706.

China Unicom: 1704, 1707, 1708, 1709, 171.

China Satellite Communication Numbers

China Satellite mobile business numbers: 1349, 174, and other numbers.

If you are an adventurer in remote areas such as deep forests, deserts, or vast oceans without mobile communication network coverage, or in emergencies such as earthquakes, typhoons, or floods that cause mobile communication network interruptions, how do you maintain communication with the outside world? This has been a problem. With the establishment of “China Satellite Network Group ” in 2021, this problem has been completely and comprehensively solved. At the same time, China Telecom exclusively undertakes the operation of Tian Tong satellite mobile communication business, officially launching commercial services in early 2020, giving Chinese people their own satellite phones.

Additionally, it’s important to note that if a mainland Chinese company wants to connect to the network, it must submit qualified materials to China Telecom and can only be activated after approval by China Telecom.


In today’s world, China is rapidly leading economic development. The free use of mobile phone numbers also solves all the problems in society today. Today, people communicate more, receive more information, and transmit information faster. If you are a foreigner and want to travel, live, or conduct business trips to China or set up a company, the first thing to solve is how to make a phone call.

Please visit this article to understand: How do Get the China mobile phone numbers as Foreigners

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