Cheap Chinese E-Dictionary Alternative

Every time I go to China or Hong Kong, I look for an e-dictionary and every year I pray that they have gone down in price. For those of you who might also be looking for a good Chinese/English electronic dictionary know, e-dictionaries in China are rather EXPENSIVE! A nice dictionary can easily put you back a couple hundred dollars all the way up to four hundred dollars (This is in USD!). Well needless to say I have never bought one because I spent a lot of money several years ago on a Korean/English dictionary and I hate to spend that much again on another e-dictionary.

A friend of mine showed me this iPhone app and this was one of the number one reasons why I bought an iPod Touch. The name of this app is called Qingwen 2.2, which is probably one of the best Chinese dictionaries for the iPhone OS platforms. I have tried a lot of different apps that were Chinese dictionaries and this is by far my favorite. This iPhone app does both Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese! So perfect for living in Hong Kong and then traveling to Shenzhen! 😛

Pros and Cons

Lets start with the pros! This app is extremely cheap, only five dollars. Now when you compare this to one of those electronic dictionaries, this seems like a good deal. A 200-400 dollar e-dictionary or a $5 iPhone app? It does not take a genius to work that out. This application will allow you to even write the Chinese word without pinyin. This means that even if you cannot pronounce the Chinese word, you will still be able to look up the meaning of the word.

Instead of having to carry around a different piece of electronic, you can just carry one device. An iPod Touch costs between $200-$300 and can playback music, watch movies, listen to internet radio, and a lot more than those e-dictionaries. So if you compare the functionality of both the iPod Touch/iPhone with an e-dictionary, I believe the iPod Touch would be the better buy.


Even though this app does Cantonese, it does not show the Cantonese pinyin of how the word would be pronounced for us English speakers. Jyutping is the form of Cantonese pinyin that I am most familiar with, but this application does not include that. Even though it does not include Cantonese pinyin, it does show the word in Traditional Chinese and has the option for hearing how the word is pronounced in Cantonese and Mandarin. I am praying that they will eventually add this feature in the next update!

The last con is that in order to hear the pronunciations, you must be connected to the internet. Unlike an iPhone which is always connected to the internet, the iPod Touch is limited in this respect by just wifi. I wish there was an option for just downloading the whole thing to my iPod. I have a 32 gigabyte iPod Touch, I do not really care about file size of the app.

Well thank you for reading my post. I hope this helped anyone interested in buying an e-dictionary. Hopefully I also helped save you all some money! I highly recommend this Chinese Dictionary App for your iPhone OS device.

Qingwen App Page
Qingwen iTunes App Page

~ by branhow on October 7, 2010.

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