Prepositions are always a fun part to learn of a language. Right now, I'm running into the difficulty of trying to describe "On My Phone". I've heard people say "手机上“ but, after Baiduing I also know that you can say stuff like "手机里的照片“。 Could anyone give their opinion on which is more commonly used and/or any differences in usage?

A similar question was asked Is it correct to say “在手机”? here and the answer used “手机上”


Could this have been switched to 手机里?

3 Answers 3


手机上 describes the act is observed by something from outside of the cellphone through the screen. I guess most of the humanity will do this way.

手机里, in contrast, suggests something is really inside the phone, e.g. in memory, storage etc.

So, 手机里的照片 "pictures (stored) on the phone" and 手机上的照片 "pictures (found) on the phone" may indicate the same thing. But if you'd say 我在手机里玩游戏, I must assume you're a relative of Siri.


Interesting question, I have a short answer for this:

  1. 我在玩手机游戏 - Very commonly said
  2. 我在手机上玩游戏 - Less commonly said
  3. 我在玩手机里的游戏 - Less commonly said
  4. 我在玩手机上的游戏 - Less commonly said
  5. 我在手机里玩游戏 - Almost nobody says this

Both is not make senses. 我在手机里玩游戏 (I'm playing games in the HP) and 我在手机上玩游戏. (mean you stand on the phone and play game)

You could just say 我在玩手机里的游戏。(I'm playing HP's games).

  • Don't agree. 我在手机里玩游戏 totally makes no sense, which indicates you play games in a location inside the phone. But it is ok to say 我在手机上玩游戏, which means you play games in the platform of a mobile system.
    – onevcat
    Jan 7, 2015 at 5:28

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