My Favorite Chinese Mandarin Learning Apps

学中文 [xuézhōngwén] Learn Chinese Here are my favorite Chinese Mandarin learning apps.



This $4 app is easily the best Flashcard function out there. The Leitner Study Method algorithm works beautifully to introduce, rehearse and re-enforce vocabulary. The HSK levels are complete and well edited. Very nice and the best way to build your Chinese Mandarin vocabulary. Comes with both Traditional and Simplified characters.

There is an iPad version but I prefer to use it on the iPhone.

Sound function seems to work soso and the interface has a lot of functions that are somewhat hard to understand. But maybe that’s just me.

Highly recommended!


iHanzi Flashcards

A flashcard app with more than 15,000 words in (some 1200 available in the free version). iHanzi is an excellent tool to prep for HSK, TOCFL or BCT test or just to brush up on character recognition and pronunciation. The app also has vocabulary for popular Chinese study books such as My Chinese Classroom and Hanyu Jiaocheng.

All words come with sound, pinyin in accented form and English definitions and are available in either Simplified or Traditional form.

Chinese Mandarin is different from other languages in that a word or character cannot be pronounced by just looking at it (as in most Western languages that use an alphabet). Instead, a character’s pronunciation will have to be learned by reading the phonetical spelling which makes a Chinese flashcard three dimensional – hanzi, pinyin and English. iHanzi separates and tests the students memorization of this.

iHanzi Flashcard App for iPhone HSK TOCFL free        iHanzi Flashcard App for iPhone HSK TOCFL free

Chinese Writer

My favourite to practice  Chinese writing on the iPhone or iPad is Chinese Writer. Hands down the best little tool for learning or brushing up on (pun intended) characters writing.

If you make the wrong stroke you can go back later to see where you went wrong.

Truly well done, useful, captivating and totally Green. It’s got a good number of characters in the lite version and an extension pack can be purchased for a wider vocabulary.

Chinese Writer



As for Chinese-English dictionary apps, my favorite is nciku. Clean interface, extensive vocabulary and hand-writing function included – all free. Less good flashcard interface.




Google Translate

On a lighter note, I played around with Google translator recently and it has some nice speech recognition functions. One can say something in English and get the translation in Chinese. The outcome can be a bit funny though:

Mom's deep fried eggs



Quick introduction to some less useful apps:

All Translate – crude, hard to use

Chinese English Dictionary – needs internet, slow, unwieldy

Chinese Animated – shows stroke order, indexed by number of strokes

Chinese Audio Flash – well laid out, some characters are small $14.95

Chinese Character Trainer – flash cards, easy to read, good graphics. I use frequently

Chinese Flash Card with Sound – hard to read, limited number of words

Chinese Made Easy (TT Mobile) – hard to read

Chinese Pinyin – good audio, well laid out, index on initials or finals, nice pronunciation guide

Chinese TTS – hard to use

Chinese Word of the Day – 1 word / day, I often forget to check

Daily Chinese – easy to use, good audio, phrases & common words in 8 categories

E-son Putonghua – train for listening, game style – difficult to find matching picture

eStroke Animated Chinese Characters – includes Cedit, good if you want to be able to draw characters.

Financial Times FT中文网 – not a educational app but you can get Chinese and English news side-by-side.

Flashcard Deck – allows you to download HSK levels. Interface is somewhat simple. Not enough options.

Flashonary – Simple flashcard function with Right/Wrong answer options.

Guess Hanzi (Funtouch SW) – way too hard at my level, may be useful later

HanCard – lot of lists inside, unfortunately the interface is not really study friendly.

Hanping Chinese Pro – excellent dictionary, easy to use.

Hanzi Pro (Ikutu) – training or quiz modes, can select lessons. Font could be bigger using more of screen

Hanzi QC LT – too simple interface. Pretty useless in my opinion.

Hanzi Recognizer – algorithm is weak, must have right stroke order.

Hanzi Trainer (Bluering Mobile) – clean well laid out, interesting and educational

Intense Chinese – somewhat hard to read, good concept, work on 7 words at a time.

Language Learner Chinese (LangLearner LLC) – good graphics and audio

Learn Chinese Pro – useful for learning, audio is good. Shows pinyin and hanzi

Learn Chinese Game – confusing to use, many settings

Mandarin Flashcards – with pictures and sounds. Aimed for children of pretty young age.

ManManLai – have the old HSK levels. Not sure how this app will function as a study tool.

Numbers – helping beginners learn Chinese numbers. From the people. Not very useful for intermediate or advanced users.

One Click Chinese PRO (Tic10 Mobile) – select languages, free version does not have Chinese, paid version shows hanzi but not pinyin.

Pinyin Trainer ( – well laid out, easy to read graphics, good beginner’s practice for learning tones.

Pleco – too many settings and options for me to understand.

QuanWei ( – Excellent, flexible, good graphics, easy to use

Speaking Chinese Flash Cards – good visual, good audio, downloaded more lists, still limited number of words

Spoken Chinese – good graphics & audio, lots of phrases, easy to index

Talk Chinese ( – limited number of phrases/words, does not show tone marks on pinyin.

WordPower (Mobile Apps) – 2007 words, tied in with Innovative Language Learning, good program.

WordTracer – iPad, let’s you trace characters and see the result. A little slow and needs some level of stroke accuracy. Worth checking out.


Good luck with your studies and don’t forget to have fun learning!

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