nciku Chinese Dictionary Education App Review (iOS, $7.99)


Languages: English

Seller: Beijing DFHL Company

Fixed some bugs which were added in the previous upgrade:

- Traditional Chinese searches now work again

- Fixed problems with the keyboard and handwriting input on the iPad

- Also added support for the iPhone 5 screen

Version 3.4 added Chinese and English OCR, letting you look up Chinese text using your camera or saved photos

Customer Ratings

Current Version:
3 Ratings
All Versions:
41 Ratings


The nciku Chinese dictionary lets you look up Chinese and English words to see translations, pinyin, examples and stroke order animations, as well as listen to audio pronunciations of words and examples.

Features include:

* Over 163,000 entries, including 76,000 Chinese and 77,000 English words and phrases. Over 35,000 of our Chinese definitions for English words also have matching English definitions, to help you see which translation corresponds to which meaning of a word. If the word you're looking for isn't in our app, you can connect to's online database of over 3 million entries.

* Search for an English or Chinese word, its meaning or (for Chinese words) its pinyin, or do an example search to find all examples containing that word. Or use our new Sentence Mode to paste a Chinese or English sentence then tap on a word to see its meaning.

* Native-speaker audio recordings for over 50,000 Chinese and 25,000 English entries, and TTS recordings of all Chinese and English examples and their pronunciations [audio pronunciation requires internet connection]

* Stroke order animations and definitions for all Chinese characters in a word, or links to longer words containing a single character.

* Use the nciku Handwriting tool to draw Chinese characters you don’t recognize with your finger [needs an internet connection]

* Use flashcards and multiple-choice quizzes to test yourself on words you've looked up or vocabulary from the HSK and CET exams.

* Offline application: except for the handwriting and audio pronunciation as noted above, the app doesn't require an internet connection to use

* Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices
* Any feedback please send to

Customer Reviews

  • Very Strong App

    by Xie Xie

    I have been studying Mandarin for several years, in the US and abroad. Nciku is one of the most useful applications/websites I know of, and I have an entire folder on my phone of Chinese dictionaries. The endless examples are especially helpful and it is a very easy-to-use app overall. The only downside is the need for an internet connection. Well worth the money, though.

  • Great App for iPhone 4S

    by PKazley

    Works just like the website. Great for learning and practicing. Very helpful.

  • Sloooooooowwww

    by Hwanghwali

    This is a great learning but, the recent upgrade resulted in a zombie slow app. Don't the design managers think this would have been a major issue before releasing it?

  • Nice!

    by Qwerty1219

    Honestly, this is my favorite Chinese app that I own (and I have a lot), but the dictionary is sometimes slow, and quits randomly. As soon as you fix that, it will be perfect!

  • A good start

    by wally360

    This is a good start but if it had the functionality of the website it would be much better. The ability to search by stroke count as well as audible pronunciation would be nice.

  • Worth every yuan (penny)

    by KK Kua

    After enabling a Chinese keyboard (both pinyin method as well as freehand writing), this application is awesome. Now, I can look up words in both directions... super handy when in Chinese restaurants ordering exotic dishes off a menu not usually seen by American English speakers. Only drawback: I don't know how to search Chinese words by stroke count like I can with a traditional printed dictionary.

  • The only thing missing is the tool to write characters

    by Merlice

    I should be able to write characters like in the site.

  • Great!

    by nyceee

    This app is great -- I always use Nciku online as a dictionary but having an offline version is much quicker. Also it searches immediately as you type. You should lower the price and make an iPad version!

  • Nice start

    by Metaphork

    I only I love about this App are the many sentence examples for words and grammer structures. Unfortunately, that's where it all ends. No wordlists, very limited search methods, no flashcards, no active links. Besides the obvious holes I still love this app for what it is and can only pray that it will grow into a more complete study tool.

  • Server Always Down

    by duder101947302

    The handwriting recognition is the main reason that I paid for the app. It only works when you are online and connected to the nciku server. Unfortunately, nciku's server has been down half the time when I have tried to use the app. Nciku needs to make the feature available offline. Until then, two stars is generous.

  • i want My money back

    by Slowbutokay

    This paid app is very expensive. I bought it only because I need example sentence when I'm studying and have to access to internet. This is very important in understanding Chinese. However it only gives you one example sentence, whereas online gives you multiple pages. I want my money back. And in the future, be realistic with the amount of sentences you give as examples. This app is nothing as it describes in the description. Very disappointed and unhappy.

  • Bad app. Especially after updating

    by LoveChineseMovies

    It was already not good. But after the late test update, the writing character box got cut off, so now even less space to write, cannot even get pronunciation icon!!!

  • One Critical Bug

    by Pictograph input failure

    There is, perhaps only one good reason to pay for a Chinese dictionary--being able to draw in the character you desire a definition for. This single feature will save any avid Mandarin enthusiast hundreds if not thousands of hours of his or her short, singular chance of existence. Apart from this feature, any Chinese dictionary is just like the rest, allowing searches by pinyin, stroke numbers, or English translation. Luckily, the $7.99 nciku app has just such a feature. Disparagingly, however, the input box rarely functions to full effect. Perhaps 4/5 or 9/10 times you attempt to enter a pictograph, the input box cuts you off short, refusing to allow you to enter these entire character, which, of course, renders its image search useless. If it does happen to locate a definition for your partial character, it will be the definition of one of the significant you were able to complete in your partial character. In essence, this bug renders the app no more useful than any FREE Chinese dictionary out there, and is therefore in no way worth 8 of your well earned dollars.

  • Disappointment

    by 机器欧文

    Not nearly as many features as the website. Does not include Word definitions in Chinese. Character writing does not work on iPad. I hope nciku updates this app and adds all the same features that are on the site. Overall very disappointed. Just wasted 8 bucks.

  • Needs work

    by Landrewz

    Loved it in the beginning, but the update messed it up. It shuts down when you try and switch between search methods. Then I realized it doesn't provide the ability for me to save my word lists. It's also missing a LOT of words. For the price, you should just get free pleco unless they fix these issues!

  • Why can't I write on the bottom half of the character box??

    by RaginAsian55

    The app works well and gives good translations, but when I try to write a character in the handwriting box the bottom half doesn't recognize characters. At best it's two stars because of this huge flaw in the software. For some reason, the writing recognition works just fine on my iPhone. Glitch only works with my iPad. LAME.

  • Not very useful

    by Wintermute3

    This app is ok as a dictionary I guess but I thought I would be able to access my word list and test myself on my words on the go. It turns out I can't. This being the case, I wish I hadn't bought this app. It doesn't have 1/10 the functions of the website.

  • Not nearly as good as the website

    by Ryan Murray

    In its current form this app does not come close to justifying its $7.99 price tag. If the developers could duplicate the ease of use of their web based platform and if the app were a bit faster it would be worth it.

  • Slow in the latest version

    by richlin71

    Used to be quick, but the new design is super slow. :(

  • Maybe OK for iPhone

    by Han Dan Ni

    User interface is maybe OK for iPhone but does not appear designed for iPad. On my iPad it loads to portrait only, no landscape, to what look like an iPhone-sized display. There is a "2X" feature to increase the size of the display but the image quality of the characters suffers when the size increases. Disappointing.

  • Not worth the money

    by Nmwta

    Its really expensive and yet it doesnt have as many words as my Chinese dictionary that I downloaded for free. Not to mention that it gets stuck every single time I use it.

  • Slow

    by Spark0109

    I loved this app until the upgrade. The entire app is soooo slow it's unbearable.

  • Please just make this app as great as your website! (And add Retina and iPad)

    by Yoshi Cookie

    I guess I should be thankful that they finally updated this app after an entire year... (-_-*) Please make this app as amazing as your website! This application is nowhere near as good as it's website,, which might be the single best Chinese learning website in existence. But this app is weak an doesn't even support iPad or Retina.

  • Proceed with caution

    by DMZ in 203

    A good English to Chinese dictionary, including many proper nouns that other dictionaries might not carry. However, I am very disappointed with the Chinese to English dictionary. There are many entries on the website that are not to be found on this app! This surprised me, because I thought that at the very least I would be able to find on the app what I could find on the website. Also of note, the number of sample sentences are greatly reduced. In my opinion, one of the strengths of the nciku site is the breadth and variety of sample sentences, so to take that away is a great loss to say the least.

  • Needs work

    by kprkr

    Not at all as polished as the site. Quite disappointed. A major update is needed. Until then there are much better options for Chinese dictionaries.

  • Unsatisfied

    by JustCharlie

    The Nciku website is great which is why this app (especially at a high price) is such a bitter disappointment. Doesn't really have any redeemable qualities.

  • A good first step

    by amake

    I use the nciku web site all the time, so I was excited to see this app available, and that it works offline as well. At the moment this app is very limited, but if it ever matches the functionality of the website it will easily be one of the best tools for studying Chinese available for the iPhone. 2/13 update: version 2.0 I'm impressed with this update, which came so quickly and added some much-needed functionality. But now the "recently viewed words" function doesn't work! 7/17 update This app has been largely abandoned so far. The interface is unimpressive, and it has barely any of the great content available on the website. It's hard to recommend this when there are other, much better apps out there.

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