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in Android Smartphones and Tablets

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Android logoMost smartphones and tablets with Android version 2.x or later have simplified and traditional Chinese locale support, which gives you Chinese fonts and the option to install Chinese input and even change the entire interface into Chinese.

If you're not sure Chinese is included in your device at all, see my FAQ on how to look for Chinese language support, and what to do if it's missing. But most of you can skip this.

Most Android devices can read Chinese websites and documents on your device right out of the box, so your only question may be how to write Chinese. That's easy: with just one or two quick downloads from Google Play, any Android device will have Chinese input methods.


Some manufacturers preinstall a Google Chinese keyboard or their own proprietary keyboard — in which case you could just skip to my page on how to switch input methods — but stay with us, because I think you'll want to know about other Android keyboards too.

Google Pinyin IME logo See my quick survey of free Android Chinese input methods, for feature summaries and direct Google Play links to these free downloads:

"GBoard - the Google Keyboard" with Chinese, Google Pinyin Input (谷歌拼音输入法), Google Zhuyin Input (注音輸入法), Google Cantonese Input (谷歌粤语输入法), or one of the many alternatives from Baidu, MessageEase, MultiLing, QQ, SCUT, Sogou, TouchPal, and others. Most of these include handwriting as well as regional phonetic and character-based input methods like Hanyu Pinyin, Jyutping, stroke, Cangjie, and etc.


Android Google Pinyin settingsAfter the IMEs have installed themselves, if they don't automatically guide you through setup, take yourself to Settings in the main menu (Android 2.x) or via the Settings gear icon (Android 4 and up).

Scroll down and press "Language & keyboard" or "Language and input" or whatever that's called on your device. Each input method you want to use must be selected on that Settings screen.

You can also set preferences for each input method. For example, if you want Google Pinyin to work in Traditional characters, press the Google Pinyin Input settings icon, and select the box next to "Traditional Chinese".


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