Need a reliable app that can help you translate from Chinese to English and vice-versa?
If you plan on visiting a Mandarin-speaking country, such as China or Taiwan, having a translation app in your pocket will come in handy.
Some offer unique features, for instance, allowing you to input characters through handwriting.
Continue reading to explore the pros, cons, and features of some of the best Mandarin Chinese translation apps.
Best Mandarin Chinese translation apps
Here are my favorite apps to translate from English to Mandarin Chinese and vice-versa.
If you’re looking for something free and easily-accessible, Google Translate definitely checks all those boxes.
In general, Google Translate is pretty accurate in its Mandarin-English translations. It often aces its translations for single words or short phrases.
But if you’re looking to translate whole sentences, you’d have to be more careful with the results you get.
On top of that, its translations can be rather formal.
Some of the translations you get wouldn’t normally be said in daily conversations.
Overall, Google Translate can be a handy tool.
Its mobile app also has interesting features like handwriting and speech input functions. Additionally, there’s the option to translate from photos and a live camera feature that instantly recognizes and translates words that appear on your camera.
Google Translate would hold up decently well if you only need to translate simple words and sentences.
However, it’s not recommended as a sole tool for learning Mandarin Chinese because of its sometimes inaccurate and overly formal translations.
Price: Google Translate is free to use on your web browser or on the app.
Pleco is one of the best resources if you’re keen on learning Mandarin Chinese.
This app is loaded with features, including a Chinese-English dictionary and an English-Chinese dictionary that also allows you to input using handwriting or your device’s camera.
You can even look up the meanings of words in documents and separate apps you might be using.
Pleco is one of the best and most accurate dictionary apps that can support simplified and traditional Chinese translations.
The app also offers a built-in flashcard system, which you can use to create lists of new words.
This is a great way to learn new words and expand your vocabulary.
Price: The free version of Pleco consists of all its dictionary-related features. You can purchase various add-on features in their Basic Bundle (US $29.99) and Professional Bundle (US $59.99). Some paid add-ons include an enhanced handwriting input feature, “live” camera input, and the flashcards function.
Baidu can be viewed as the Chinese version of Google.
It also comes with a translation function similar to Google Translate. Baidu can be accessed through both the desktop webpage and mobile app.
In general, though, Baidu can be a little difficult to navigate for new learners as its interface is mainly in Mandarin Chinese.
Baidu scores higher in the accuracy department for Chinese-to-English translations than English-to-Chinese ones since it was designed for this primary purpose.
The Baidu app also allows you to key in words using the voice or camera function on top of the standard text input.
Price: Baidu Translate is free to use.
DeepL is a decent option if you’re looking for a translation program that can handle documents and large chunks of text.
It’s available on both the web browser and mobile app, so it’s very easily accessible, not to mention that its interface is simple to navigate.
It operates similarly to Google Translate.
You’ll enter your text, and the translation appears in real-time, along with three or so other alternative translations. However, DeepL does not display the Pinyin of the words like Google Translate does in its web browser program.
You can use the audio feature to have the translation read out, nonetheless.
Its accuracy is decent, though it does have a formal tone to its translations.
So if you’re looking to translate more formal text, like business-related documents, DeepL may be a good choice.
Price: DeepL can be used for free on the web browser or mobile app. The free version has a character translation limit and file size limit. If you wish to translate larger volumes of text, you can choose between three pricing tiers, which are about $8+, $28+, and $57+.
Waygo is an instant translation app that can handle three languages, which are Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.
The main feature of this app is its ability to translate words and text using your device’s camera into English text.
On top of that, the app does not require an Internet connection to function or translate texts, making it a handy tool if you wish to travel to Mandarin-speaking countries.
Because the app can translate multiple lines of text at a time, it is a great solution if you want to translate a menu, signs, tickets, food labels, and more while traveling.
This app would be better suited for traveling abroad than for learning Mandarin Chinese.
Price: Waygo can be downloaded for free, but the free version only gives you 10 translations per day. If you wish to unlock unlimited translations, you will have to make an in-app purchase for $7 to upgrade your account.
SayHi is a translation app that allows you to hold a conversation using two different languages.
You can input using text or voice, and the app will translate the phrase or sentence you say into the language of your choice.
The translated phrase is played out loud for the other party to hear. You can then input voice or text for the second language, which will be translated into the first language and played out loud.
This is how the app will facilitate a conversation in two languages.
The translation app works with both simplified and traditional Chinese. The app can decently capture audio inputs as long as you speak clearly into your device’s microphone.
Its translations are also pretty accurate, though a little formal sounding.
Price: SayHi is a free app for IOS and Android with no in-app purchases or advertisements.
This online translation tool can be used for simplified Chinese and English translations.
Its spotlight feature is its ability to translate big bulks of text, with a 10,000-character limit.
Due to this, you can use Yandex to translate websites and documents. But like many other translation tools, its accuracy typically drops when multiple sentences and long texts are translated in one go.
Text from images and speech input are some other features of this tool.
Because Yandex is a Russian-based company, its translated outputs may not be as accurate for languages like Chinese and Japanese.
Nonetheless, it’s a quick and intuitive tool for document and website translations.
Price: Yandex is generally free to use unless you plan to use it heavily for business-related matters.
This practical dictionary in your pocket is comparable to Pleco.
You’ll key in a Chinese word and have it quickly translated into English. The app will also tell you how the Chinese word is pronounced.
This app supports audio input for both Mandarin and Cantonese.
Apart from that, the app recognizes a wide range of simplified and traditional Chinese characters, so you can input words using the handwriting feature.
Because this app works offline, you won’t have to worry about needing an Internet connection to get things translated if you’re traveling to a foreign country.
If you’re looking for a free dictionary app with powerful features, Pleco might provide more value.
Many features of the Hanping Chinese Dictionary (like the English translation of example sentences) lie behind a paywall. And currently, the app is only available on Android devices.
Price: The Pro version of the app is currently priced at $4.99.
TrainChinese is another free dictionary and flashcard system app that supports users in their language-learning journey.
You can use this program on your web browser or by downloading the app that’s available for both Android and Apple devices.
You can translate English words into Chinese or have Chinese characters translated into English.
Each character you search for will be broken down into its respective radicals.
You will also be able to view its stroke order, and an animation showing you how to write each stroke in the right order will be displayed.
The app encourages learning through a flashcard system, where you can add your words of choice to a flashcard and organize them into lists.
Through the paid version of the app, you’ll be able to create more lists for your flashcards.
Like other dictionary apps on this list, it’s harder to translate longer phrases and sentences with TrainChinese.
Price: The app is free. There are in-app purchases starting from $15.99.
With over 10 million downloads and over 80,000 reviews averaging 4.6 stars, this app supports the translation of 13 different languages, including Chinese.
You can access Papago’s translation feature on your web browser or by downloading the app.
This app is similar to Google Translation, where you can key in a word, phrase, or multiple sentences at once for real-time translation. The Papago app allows audio, handwriting, and camera input.
You can even upload documents or a website’s URL for larger-scale translations.
The app’s interface is very simple to navigate, and Chinese in-app translations are displayed alongside their Pinyin.
Price: The Papago app is currently free.
This online website offers a range of tools to help Chinese learners.
Some tools offered on this site include:
- A Chinese-Pinyin converter
- A Chinese-English dictionary
- A Simplified/Traditional Chinese converter (convert simplified characters to traditional characters and vice versa)
Its English-to-Chinese translation feature can be a little more challenging to use compared to other apps on our list.
When you type in an English word, the website will display a range of phrases and sayings that include the word instead of the direct translation of the word.
In contrast, its Chinese-to-English translation feature is easier to navigate, as you can type in any Chinese character, and you’ll receive its English translation, Pinyin, stroke order, and example sentences.
If you want a program that provides various tools in one place, then Purple Culture might be the solution you’re looking for.
Price: Purple Culture’s translation features are free to use.
This free online Chinese-English dictionary can be accessed using your web browser.
You won’t be able to look up long phrases or sentences, but you will be able to receive quick translations of words and short phrases.
For each character you look up, MDBG will show its Mandarin Pinyin and Cantonese Jyutping.
You may also view the character’s stroke order and example sentences using the word, as well as listen to how it’s pronounced.
The example sentences displayed will also show you the Pinyin and the meaning of each word that makes up the sentence, which can be very helpful for new learners.
While it isn’t meant for translating large chunks of text, it is an excellent tool for anyone looking to build their vocabulary in Mandarin Chinese.
Price: MDBG is free to use.
Find the best Chinese to English translation apps for your needs
If you’re looking to travel to another country that speaks Chinese, I think a translation app like WayGo and SayHi would be perfect for your needs.
Those who need larger documents or chunks of text translated could opt for Papago or Yandex Translation.
Alternatively, if you need a helpful dictionary tool for learning new Chinese words, Pleco is definitely one of the best choices.
It might take some experimenting to find an app that suits you best, but keep in mind that none of them are 100% accurate.
If you’re keen on learning this language, they’ll likely work best as supplementary tools alongside other Mandarin courses.
🎓 Cite article