My boyfriend had been telling me for years that he wanted to show me around his home country, Hong Kong (and Indonesia), early on in our relationship.
And I thought that would be a great idea – being guided by a local.
That way, you can see the city-state from a different lens than as a regular tourist.
Unfortunately, the pandemic hit, and the city-state was closed off from the world.
Following its neighbor up north, it imposed a strict zero-COVID policy, so we had to postpone our plans for a while.
Until the country announced it would reopen (without quarantine requirements) in December 2022.
So in January 2023, we went to Hong Kong and stayed for two weeks.
And my boyfriend, and many repeat Phone Travel Wiz readers, know that I do not go to a country without testing its SIM cards and various travel eSIMs before I recommend them.
So I tested out eight travel eSIMs, including Airalo's Hkmobile eSIM, four Hong Kong SIM cards & one travel SIM card to be used here.
This resulted in me spending about 2560 HKD (≈ 326.15 USD) for my Hong Kong SIM card and travel eSIM review series – yeah… I went all out for you 😎.
In many countries, getting a local SIM card will be the most cost-effective way to stay connected.
But in the same countries, getting a travel eSIM will be much more convenient because you do not have to deal with SIM card registration requirements (which can be stringent).
As of March 2022, SIM card registration rules came into effect in Hong Kong after avoiding it for many years, making the country the final East Asian country to do so.
So, is the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM a good option? Is it cheap compared to the local options and its travel eSIM competitors? How is its reception? And is it fast?
I will answer all those questions in this review. Let's do this.
Original publication: 29th of January 2023. Last updated: 19th of September 2023.
Table of Contents
Which Phones are Compatible with Airalo eSIMs?
Before discussing the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM to be used in Hong Kong specifically, you must know whether your phone can even support Airalo's eSIMs.
Sure, your phone may support eSIM, but the local mobile operator and travel eSIM provider, like Airalo, first needs to certify a phone before the users can use their products.
As of August 2023, the Airalo eSIM compatible phones are:
With that out of the way, let's talk more about the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM!
How Much Does the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM Cost (for Hong Kong)?
You can get the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM to be used in Hong Kong for as little as 5 USD for 1 GB (7 days) and up to 19 USD for 10 GB (30 days).
Below is an overview of how much each Airalo Hkmobile eSIM costs:
- Hong Kong/Hkmobile 1 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing 5 USD
- Hong Kong/Hkmobile 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 8.50 USD – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Hong Kong/Hkmobile 5 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 13 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Hong Kong/Hkmobile 10 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 19 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
Note: Phone Travel Wiz reader popularity ranking was updated in September based on data up to the 7th of September (2023 data only).
Regardless of the currency used in your country, Airalo will always charge you in USD (US Dollar).
If your credit/debit card charges you foreign exchange fees, get yourself a Wise Borderless Account and Debit Card.
Their fees are MUCH lower than banks and credit card companies charge you (and Wise is transparent about their fees, unlike banks).
I have saved literal THOUSANDS of Australian Dollars and Euros, my main currencies, when using Wise abroad when traveling compared to my debit and credit cards.
Moreover, regardless of which Airalo Hkmobile eSIM you choose, you can always top it up for the same amount of data and prices as listed above.
For example, suppose you buy the 5 GB Airalo Hkmobile eSIM (30 days, costing 21 USD) but realize you need more data.
You can top it up with the 3 GB top-up (30 days, costing 14 USD) or the 10 GB top-up (30 days, costing 31.50 USD).
Many eSIM providers out there do not allow you to top up or extend the validity of your eSIM, so it is cool that Airalo allows you to do so.
My Airalo Hkmobile eSIM in Hong Kong Experience
I used my Airalo Hkmobile eSIM in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon & New Territories.
As Hong Kong does not really have cities (in the sense of the Government of Hong Kong not using them for administrative purposes and only as geographical limits), I could not visit multiple ones.
Before we continue, I do want to let you know how travel eSIM providers like Airalo work.
It is impossible for Airalo, or any other mobile operator, to operate in every country (and do not trust any company saying otherwise), so they set up roaming agreements.
What Airalo does, and basically all (actual) mobile operators do, is partner up with a local mobile operator so that their customers can still stay connected when abroad.
In the case of Hong Kong, the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM uses the CSL Mobile network with the help of Singtel from Singapore (so your phone, some apps, or sites you visit may claim you are using a Singtel eSIM instead of an Airalo one – that is correct).
Note: in some countries, Airalo uses multiple local networks (which often applies to regional or global eSIMs, like the Airalo Asialink eSIM).
Just like how I tested the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM on my Hong Kong trip, I also tried all the local Hong Kong SIM cards excluding the MVNOs (China Mobile Hong Kong Mobile, CSL Mobile, 3 Hong Kong & SmarTone Hong Kong) and various other eSIMs (Airalo Asialink (in Hong Kong and various other Asian countries), Airalo Discover Global (in Hong Kong and worldwide), Holafly, Nomad (in Hong Kong and various countries in APAC – Asia and Oceania), Simify & Ubigi + the 3 (UK) Travel SIM Card by Holidaysimcard in Hong Kong Review (also used in Australia and Singapore)).
Yeah, I went all out 😏.
Because of this, I could also assess how CSL Mobile performed compared to its competitors.
Well, not entirely. CSL Mobile did not allow prepaid customers to use its 5G NR network (but that may have changed now).
So in reality, I could only compare CSL Mobile with 3 Hong Kong… and it was more than twice as fast!
When looking at 4G/LTE availability in Hong Kong, the four mobile operators cover practically all of the country (mostly because it is a small city-state), with an availability of more than 98.6%.
4G/LTE reception is so good in Hong Kong that I thought 3G did not exist anymore (until 3 Hong Kong was stuck at 3G a handful of times 😩).
In terms of speed, CSL Mobile has the second-worst download speed, with a median download speed of 45.95 Mbps, ahead of 3 Hong Kong (Three – 32.52 Mbps) but behind SmarTone Hong Kong (48.14 Mbps) and China Mobile Hong Kong (66.11 Mbps).
Okay, that is enough background information – let's compare the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM to CSL Mobile in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon & New Territories.
Airalo Hkmobile eSIM Speed Test Results in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon & New Territories
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated countries, or Special Administrative Region (SAR) if we want to be correct, worldwide behind Macau (also a SAR), Monaco & Singapore.
There are not many countries where you struggle to walk on the pavement because there are so many people around as Hong Kong without getting constantly pushed.
And I was there during the winter and when the China-Hong Kong border just opened – imagine how crazy it is during summer 😳.
But the country has a lot to offer: fantastic food, Ocean Park (attraction park) & even Disneyland for those who want it.
And of course smaller attractions, such as the Central–Mid-Levels escalator – the longest outdoor covered escalator in the world, The Peak (with the peak tram) & the Big Buddha (Ngong Ping) cable car.
The latter is 5.7 kilometers long and takes 25 minutes – and you even have a clear (called crystal) car option if you dare.
I am not fond of heights… but I actually enjoyed being in the crystal car… so I bet you will too!
Anyway, let's finally talk about my Airalo Hkmobile speed test results, right?
Decent speeds with the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM in Hong Kong.
Because most travel eSIMs I used in Hong Kong used the CSL Mobile network too, I shared the results of the relevant eSIMs too in the image above.
And what makes these results even more interesting is that the Hkmobile and Asialink eSIMs are powered by Singtel from Singapore.
In contrast, the Discover Global eSIM is powered by FL1 from Liechtenstein (formerly Mobilkom Liechtenstein).
So I guess the two mobile operators have similar roaming agreements on the CSL Mobile network.
Anyway, I had an average download speed of 37.01 Mbps and a median download speed of 19.13 Mbps with the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM: it passed the 4K video streaming test in Hong Kong (minimum of 25 Mbps).
The same can also be said for the HD live streaming test in Hong Kong – the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM had an average and median upload speed of 18.55 Mbps and a median upload speed of 15.63 Mbps, making it pass the HD live streaming test (minimum of 10 Mbps).
The Airalo Hkmobile eSIM performed at its best at Kennedy Town Station, with a download speed of 243.60 Mbps.
No other travel eSIM I tested had a faster speed than the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM (the Airalo Asialink eSIM came close with 209.70 Mbps at the same location).
And when looking at Hong Kong mobile operators, the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM swept the floor with 3 Hong Kong, as its top speed was 77.14 Mbps… sad 🤡.
For fast uploads, you want to stay in Kennedy Town Station too, as I got an upload speed of 61.58 Mbps there.
Once again, no other travel eSIM was faster (although the Airalo Asialink eSIM came close with 60.52 Mbps at the University Library of the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Ma Liu Shui).
Surprisingly, CSL Mobile's top upload speed was slightly slower than the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM (51.63 Mbps at Ocean Park in Wong Chuk Hang).
In terms of slow places, the eSIM does not generally perform well in the following neighborhoods or districts:
- Central District
- Cheung Chau Island
- Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)
- Sha Tin
Even though you will experience snail speeds at these locations, you will have reception.
My Overall Experience with the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM – Is It Any Good?
I would recommend the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM, and it would be one of my top recommendations for anyone wanting to buy a Hong Kong travel eSIM.
Getting the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM, and any other Airalo eSIM for that matter, is easy and straightforward (even though I did not spend any time on how to install Airalo eSIMs – you will manage… promise!).
Airalo's Hkmobile eSIM is also one of the most affordable eSIM I tested on my trip while having various options (1 GB, 3 GB, 5 GB & 10 GB).
In Hong Kong, it uses the CSL Mobile network, which has practically excellent 4G/LTE availability (just like the other Hong Kong mobile operators… so CSL Mobile ain't special 🤪).
The other two Airalo eSIMs that cover Hong Kong (Asialink for Hong Kong and 13 other Asian East- and Southeast countries and Discover Global for Hong Kong and 84+ other countries globally), also use the CSL Mobile network.
While your speeds will often be fast enough for general data browsing and video streaming, you should not expect too much.
Taking all 56 speed tests into account, I had an average overall download speed of 37.01 Mbps and a median download speed of 19.13 Mbps with the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM.
When looking at upload speeds, I had an average upload speed of 18.55 Mbps and a median upload speed of 15.63 Mbps with the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM.
CSL Mobile did not allow prepaid customers to use 5G NR yet, so it was a good opportunity to see how much slower Airalo, and any other travel eSIM using the CSL Mobile network, perform to see if the eSIMs get throttled or not.
The Airalo Hkmobile eSIM was a bit slower than CSL Mobile itself (37.01 Mbps vs. 53.01 Mbps).
Usually, I consider a margin of 20% or 10 Mbps-15 Mbps similar and acceptable (because the travel eSIM roams on the network of the local mobile operator, which is almost always slower).
The only issue I noticed with the tests I did was that the app kept connecting to a server in Singapore (Airalo uses the Singtel network from Singapore).
I kept changing the location back to Hong Kong (unless I forgot about it).
One time, I let the test continue on the Singapore server because I was not really paying attention.
I re-did the test with a local server… and realized the result was significantly slower! – and that is unusual.
So if I was aware of this issue, the Airalo eSIMs, including Hkmobile, probably would have a slightly higher average download speed
Either way, the speeds are fast enough, and you should not often have to deal with sluggish speeds, let alone lousy reception.
By using a near-perfect 4G/LTE network, offering affordable data plans & offering reasonable download speeds, you should have a smooth browsing experience with the Airalo Hkmobile eSIM.
- Interested in using an Airalo eSIM in another country or countries? Check out my Airalo eSIM reviews from across the world!
Other Hong Kong eSIM Reviews (Airalo, Holafly, Nomad, Simify & Ubigi)
As mentioned earlier, I also tried out (other) eSIMs from Airalo (Asialink and Discover Global), Holafly, Nomad (Hong Kong and APAC), Simify & Ubigi + 3 (UK) travel SIM card by Holidaysimcard.
You should read those reviews too.
>>> Airalo Asialink eSIM in Hong Kong Review | Airalo Discover Global eSIM in Hong Kong Review | Holafly Hong Kong eSIM Review | Nomad Hong Kong eSIM Review | Nomad APAC eSIM in Hong Kong Review | Simify Hong Kong eSIM Review | Ubigi Hong Kong eSIM Review | 3 (UK) Travel SIM Card by Holidaysimcard in Hong Kong Review (also used in Australia and Singapore) <<<
- Check out my eSIM reviews page if you want to read all the other eSIM reviews I have written, including other eSIM providers in Asia.
I also tried out various local Hong Kong cards: China Mobile Hong Kong, CSL Mobile, 3 Hong Kong & SmarTone Hong Kong.
If your phone does not support eSIM (but felt like reading this Airalo review in full anyway – awesome) or want to have the best network experience possible, you want to go directly with the local mobile operators instead of roaming on their networks (as you do with travel eSIMs).
So I encourage you to read the Hong Kong SIM card reviews too.
Check out my reviews page if you want to read all the other reviews I have written, including other Asian SIM cards.
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