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5 best translation apps to use in Hong Kong

By Celia Lee 12 May 2023

Header image courtesy of Armin Rimoldi (via Pexels)

Hong Kong is a city of many languages. But sometimes you find yourself not knowing how to translate your words in a way that best retain their impact and essence. Google Translate only does a mediocre job at textbook translations, so what else can you turn to in times of need? We’ve compiled a handy list of the best translation apps to use in Hong Kong for the next time you want to sprinkle a few puns into the conversation or simply wrap your head around slang!

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Photo: Binko Chat
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Binko Chat

For an app that went viral on Subtle Asian Traits—one of the largest online Asian communities with members from around the world—you know you can rely on Binko Chat for quality translations. The app is available in almost all countries for iOS and Android, and supports almost all languages.

Downloading the app on your device allows you to chat with multiple people in as many languages with instant translations. This means you can send a text in your preferred language, and a translation of it into another language will follow in a separate text. The same applies to messages you receive in other languages.

The best thing about Binko Chat is that it also translates text speak into coherent sentences. For example, “TY” will be picked up as “thank you” and “prob” or “probs” will be understood as “probably.” A little footnote of explanation will also be provided for more complicated translations to make sure nothing is lost in translation!

Photo: SayHi
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SayHi

If you’re looking for an accurate speech translator, SayHi is your best choice. Supporting as many as 101 languages and dialects, the app has been dubbed a universal translator by many users. Simply select the input and output languages in the app and you can have a conversation in two languages! Speak into your device in one language and the app will translate your words and replay the audio in the other tongue. Not only does the app have in-built automatic speech recognition technology that can identify a language, but it also provides a transcript of your conversation in two languages so all parties can make sure they’re on the same page.

Photo: DeepL Translate
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DeepL Translate

DeepL Translate is one of the better translators for interpreting long-form texts and has been praised for its accuracy and nuance in translation. Got your hands on a document written in a language you don’t understand? Simply click one button in DeepL and the entire text will be translated! You can also customise the tone and formality to fit the context and target audience as you see fit. If you’re not happy about how certain words in your text is translated, DeepL lets you find your own voice with alternatives instantly by clicking on the word or phrase!

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Photo: Hello CJK
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Hello CJK

Although a relatively new app, Hello CJK offers accurate translations of text- and speech-based inputs. As indicated by its name, the app only translates three languages into English, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Japanese, and Korean. Although this is a limited range of languages compared to other apps on this list, the translations given are accurate down to an idiom or a slang phrase, so it can be quite helpful in Hong Kong. CJK is also a great tool for language students wanting to improve their pronunciation and interpretation, as the app also offers meanings of individual characters whilst romanising phonetics and reading the text out loud.

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iTranslate

iTranslate has a series of translation apps on offer that can help you out in any situation. The Translator app offers interpretation services for text, voice, and images online and offline that supports over 100 languages—the perfect tool for travellers abroad. The Converse app allows you to chat in real time even if the other person speaks a tongue you don’t understand, and the Voice app offers transcripts of your conversations to optimise mutual understanding alongside handy phrasebooks compiled with sentences for every situation!

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Celia Lee

Staff writer

Born and raised in Hong Kong and educated in the UK, Celia is passionate about culture, food, and different happenings in the city. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her scouting for new and trendy restaurants, getting lost in a bookstore, or baking up a storm at home.

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