Free English-Chinese Dictionary for iPhone: Dian Hua

Continuing our series of mobile dictionary app reviews, Dian Hua is the first of two apps suggested by Shane in the comments of the previous iPhone dictionary review, and is also based on the CC-Cedict open source dictionary. The difference is that Dian Hua is not only packed with features, it’s also free.

Dian Hua comes with the following features:

  • Dictionary Search
  • Search History saved by default
  • Word Bookmarking (including bookmark categorising)
  • Bookmark Syncing with the Dian Hua website
  • Study mode featuring flashcards and writing practice based on bookmarked words
  • Separate section for numbers (including Anti-fraud/Banking “大寫” numbers)
  • Audio pronunciation can be added for a fee

Dian Hua Search
Dian Hua Search

Dian Hua Search History
Dian Hua Search History

Dian Hua Flashcards
Dian Hua Flashcards

The dictionary feature is fairy standard, and being based on the CC-Cedict dictionary the results are on par with other CC-Cedict dictionaries. The only thing that is lacking is a real-time search feature: for instance, in some other dictionary apps during character entry words that contain the characters will automatically start appearing below the search box. In Dian Hua the complete word must be entered and the search button pressed before any results appear. The dictionary does, however, allow searching of English, Chinese and Pinyin.

Sync Feature

One of the most interesting features of Dian Hua is the ability to sync word lists with the Dian Hua website. After registering for an account and entering your account details into the iPhone app, your bookmark groups and words can all be uploaded to the website and then exported into a CSV (comma separated values) file. At present there doesn’t seem to be a way to import word lists and sync them down to the phone, but I’m sure the developers are planning this.

The Study option features both Flashcards and Typing/Writing practice. Both are very easy to use and enable you to select a specific bookmark group with which to practice.

The numbers feature is a great addition for learning large numbers and also very useful for those trips to the bank to pay the rent when formal/anti-fraud numbers are required.

Make sure you don’t miss the master settings page, which is located within the iPhone’s main settings page. On this settings page you have control over the default search language, Simplified or Traditional character display and the size of fonts for English, Chinese and Pinyin in the search results.

Dian Hua is a great dictionary, and the fact that it’s free makes it all the more appealing. It features an abundance of settings and features that can be fine tuned to suit your needs. The ability to sync is very interesting and it’ll be worth keeping an eye on how this is developed in the future. Definitely worth the download (available in the iTunes store).

If you’re using any other dictionary apps, on iPhone, Android or any other mobile platform let us know why by leaving a message below:

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