Jun 202009

My iPhone Homescreen. You can see the icons for the software I’m reviewing here.

This is a review of iPhone Chinese-English / English Chinese dictionaries for the Apple iPhone. I’m writing this review for all those interested in using the iPhone as a Chinese language study aid.

I imagine some people will see this review because they are regular viewers of my site. Some viewers are regular visitors – in China and elsewhere. But because of the keyword “iPhone” and “Chinese dictionary”, many people will come to this who have never been at the Hard-Boilded-in-Suzhou site. So…an introduction. This is the Covner-family-in-China blog. I, Jesse Covner, am a management consultant. My beautiful wife Haga is currently working for a Japanese recruitment services company. For the last 4 years, the site has focused more on the development and antics of our sons Akiva and Kenaz. There is also a healthy mix of restaurant reviews mixed in. If you want to know about what noodle restaurants in China are the best, you have found the right blog.

Now, back to the topic of this post. I should add some disclaimers / background information that may or may not be relevant to this post.


i.Two bottom line pass/fail criteria. First, as this is written for students of Chinese language, the dictionary needs to have pinyin romanticization display. Second it needs to be able to translate both to and from English without needing an online connection. No skimpy widget interfaces to a web service for me.

ii. Top three things I look for are: a) depth of the dictionary database, b) stability, and c) speed

iii. Another important criteria is the look-up algorithm. Does the software look for all works / translations containing a text-string, or does the software bring up only the exact matching word. Also, does the software return partial results as a word is inputted, or does the software wait for a manual “enter” key-press.

iv. Extras are good, but not important to me personally. Extras include customer word lists, flash-cards, character-within-word search, and custom dictionary databases.

2. All software mentioned on this post was downloaded using 91助手 (91Helper AKA IPCsuite, AKA LazyPanda…not sure about how these guys want to market it… Look here). As I am using my first generation iPhone in China, so of course it is jailbroken. Software downloaded from 91helper only works with jailbroken iPhones. And much of it may be pirated. If you don’t mind this, no matter where you are, I recommend download 91helper.

3. A lot of software on my phone has stability issues. I assume that is because my phone is jailbroken. I do not know if other jailbroken iphone have the same issues. Soon I will upgrade the software to version 3.0 (Chinese version jailbreak software should be out by the first week of July) and that may fix some stability issues. Anyway, if the dictionary software is unstable on my phone, it may not be unstable on a non-jailbroken iPhone.

4. I feel like iPhone is a little too trendy…a little to metrosexual for my taste. I’m a masculine guy… in fact, when they were shooting the new Star Trek movie, the producers originally were going to cast me in the role of Captain James T. Kirk.

Then, someone idiot pointed out that my ears were too big so maybe Spock would be a better casting fit.

However, I’m obviously someone who is ruled by my emotions, so playing Spock may not work. What do you think?

Anyway, I would like to trade up to a new Android phone, but one which has a 3.5mm audio jack and 5 Mp camera (the Samsung i7500…due to hit markets in September…comes to mind). Some of the new Nokia S60v5 touchscreen Symbian phones are nice to, but software availability is limited and the UI is a little clunky; I don’t think they have much selection in dictionary software.

5. My Test. Sao1 – 骚 . All Chinese agree that one of the meanings of this word is “trouble”. Some Chinese say this also means “flirtatious, in a very sexy way”. Some Chinese say this means “slutty…basically only whores are Sao1”. So this makes a good test because its one of those Chinese words which Chinese people do not agree on the meaning.

Anyway, to the reviews.

KTdict C-E
Developer site: www.klausthul.com
This is a bare-bones interface to the open-source CC-CEDICT dictionary data. It has a huge database of words. On my iPhone, it is not always stable, but that’s maybe just my phone. It was very stable until recently. KTdict starts to look up words as you enter them. It has a longer load time than other programs, but once it runs, it seems to look up words quicker than some others. It also looks up all words which contain a given Chinese character.

Users are able to enter in real pinyin as well as “number pinyin” ie. shuo1 zhong1 wen2. The only reason I can see for doing this is if you don’t have a Chinese input system on your iPhone. And if you have not installed this, then your phone is a sub-optimal learning tool. But you can also enter in the non-tone pinyin (ie. shuo zhong wen) and it will give back a close-match pinyin results. The software displays characters in both traditional and simplified character sets.

Because this software uses the CC-CEDICT, the dictionary file is huge. However, because CC-CEDICT is open source, it sometimes feels that there are too many definitions listed for each character. If you are new to Chinese language study, it will sometimes be impossible to understand which definition is most relevant (because word meaning changes in different contex

Test: Sao1 – 骚 Trouble, Disturbance, Rumpus

I would recommend this dictionary if for no other reason that the dataset is large and contains many medical and industry specific words which is sometimes useful.

QingWen (请问)
Developer Site:
Not sure who develops this; I downloaded from 91helper. Qingwen loads fast and so-far seems very stable. It takes longer to look up individual words. It does not start to look up words until you hit the search button. It also does not look for partial English strings…or at least it does not look for as many partial strings as the KTdict software does. Qingwen looks for an exact match to English words. So you need to know how to spell an English word before you look it up…a problem for me because my spelling is bad.

It seems to me that the version of Qingwen has a smaller dictionary than cc-dict, but it is possible that Qingwen matches more exact definitions. My friend Gareth told me that Qingwen’s website says it uses CC-Cdict.

QingWen displays characters and English letters in a larger font than the KTdict program, so its easier for people who should wear glasses to read.

QingWen has some very good extra features. With Qingwen, after a single character is found, you can push a button to look-up: words containing the character, words starting with the character, other characters with the pronunciation of the character, and other characters with similar pronunciation of the character, but including other tones,.

Words and characters can also be added to one of multiple, editable word-lists. This is great for study. However, it does not make these wordlists into custom dictionaries. You cannot add your own industry specific words into the dictionary in this way.

Test: Sao1 – 骚: To have sex appeal.

The extra features and general stability and speed of Qingwen make it into an excellent tool for people who study Chinese.

CEDict Simplified
Interface just like QingWen, however it looks up words as it they are entered. Only one wordlist, in which every entry needs separate editing. Probably based on the CC-Cdict dictionary as well. I would say that this is the fastest loading of the programs I have used.

But it does not work well. I typed in “May”, and the first entry I got back was “May I ask?” This program’s algorithms don’t work well.

English Chinese Dictionary
Developer: PPCLink www.ppclink.com
This is easily the most feature rich dictionary I have tried so far. Has links to online look-ups so that you can get more information (online content displays within program). Grammar book for people who want to study English Grammar. Adjustable fonts. Word of the day feature (which picks words at random and is pretty useless…today I learned the word of Spotted Seal), history look up. The software looks up words as the word is entered.

Sao1 – 骚 Trouble, Disturbance, Rumpus. From this test, it would seem that the software also uses the CC-Cdict source.

I would recommend this software. However, it’s a little too much for me. I think Qingwen is a little better for me because it allows for multiple word lists and also character-within-word lookup. But this dictionary is pretty good for its extra features.

 Posted by at 11:42 am

  17 Responses to “Review of pirated iPhone Chinese English Dictionaries”

  1. Hey Jesse How about the possibility to buy a new Iphone from US and ship it to China by FedEx or UPS? Is't worth to do that? Let me know if you come over to Shanghai so I can buy you some drinks.

  2. hahahahaha
    Jess,you make me laugh a lot

  3. Awesome list, but I can’t find any of them! You can download them easily through itunes, but my phone is jailbroken and they aren’t in Cydia. Any idea where I can find them for DL, on the phone or on the comp? THANKS!

  4. The crux of your writing while sounding agreeable originally, did not work very well with me after some time. Someplace throughout the sentences you managed to make me a believer unfortunately only for a short while. I still have a problem with your leaps in logic and you would do well to help fill in all those breaks. If you can accomplish that, I could surely be amazed.

  5. This is a really exciting post, I’m searching for this know how. So you comprehend I established your internet website when I was looking for websites like my own, so please look at my internet site someday and post me a opinion to let me know how you feel.

  6. Review of pirated iPhone Chinese English Dictionaries » Hard Boiled Suzhou There are some attention-grabbing deadlines in this article but I don’t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There is some validity however I’ll take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want extra! Added to FeedBurner as well Regards, Teak Manufacturers

  7. some really good info , Gladiolus I noticed this.

  8. Whenever I at first left a comment I clicked the Notify me any time new comments are added checkbox and now each time a remark is added I get 4 email messages with the same comment.

  9. like this, but it really How much time do you spend updating this blog every day? Wow is all I can say. Thanks again.

  10. Rattling excellent info can be found on website .

  11. The next time I learn a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my option to learn, but I really thought youd have one thing attention-grabbing to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about one thing that you may repair should you werent too busy looking for attention.

  12. I’d have to examine with you here. Which is not something I normally do! I take pleasure in studying a publish that may make individuals think. Additionally, thanks for permitting me to comment!

  13. There are many ways to make money, even in this recession.
    To buy this license, the franchisee pays a heavy amount to the franchisor, and besides this,
    pays a monthly charge for keeping that name. It will not work for you as your
    strengths and weaknesses are very different from that of your competitors.

  14. It was hard to find your website in google.

    I found it on 15 place, you should build some quality backlinks ,
    it will help you to get more visitors. I know how to help you,
    just type in google – k2 seo tips and tricks

  15. I read a lot of interesting articles here. Probably you spend a lot of
    time writing, i know how to save you a lot of work, there is an online tool that creates high quality, google friendly articles in minutes, just type in google – k2seotips unlimited content

  16. I just like the helpful information you provide in your articles.

    I will bookmark your blog and test again right here regularly.
    I am fairly sure I will be told a lot of new stuff proper here!
    Good luck for the next!

  17. Great info you post on your blog, i have shared this post on my facebook

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.