Getting a smart phone in Canada isn’t hard. Just hop on over to your nearest carrier and get one for free, right? Not so fast… here’s a summary of how it all works and the best way to get a smart phone in Canada.
Finding a smartphone and data plan in Canada is not exactly a challenge; you can find a telecom provider pretty much on every corner. There are a lot of choices, but who has the best deal? Understanding the basics about cell phone plans in Canada and how they work can help you make the most educated decision that helps you save money and determines which plan is right for you.
Before we proceed, it’s vital that you understand that when you buy a smartphone in Canada, the phone is “locked” which means you cannot use it until the carrier “unlocks” the device and allows you access to its features. To get the phone unlocked you have to set up a payment plan and get on a schedule for making your payments to the carrier.
Having said that, there are two main types of cell phone plans that most cell phone users can choose from in Canada, and they work as follows:
The first option cell phone users have in Canada is to pay the amount for the cell phone they are purchasing up front, which will allow the carrier to unlock their phone for them. This will require you to pay for your cell phone up front, which can get a bit pricey for many people. The top-of-the-line smartphone will generally cost around $700 and a lower-cost model will run you $300-500. Choosing to pay this up front means forking out a chunk of cash before you unlock the phone.
The other option is to make both payments on your phone and to pay for the data plan you use monthly. However, many of these plans require you to be locked into a contract which can get costly. There is usually the cost of the phone and the data plus a subsidy cost of $14-20 per month for the plan. This can add up to a bill of $60 a month or more that someone is paying just on their cell phone each month. Even more irritating is that many of these plans last 2 years until the device is paid off and you are forced to either pay that bill every month or pay a steep fee to break the contract early.
If you pay for the phone up front you can unlock the device which means that you do not need a monthly plan to pay it off. This helps you stay away from being “locked in” to an overpriced contract and can help you save money. This way the average plan will be a much more affordable $29 a month and will include perks such as 450 day time talking minutes, free and unlimited calls after 6pm or on weekends, Canada-wide calling (including long distance) at no added cost to you, unlimited text/picture/video messages, and 600 MB of data.
These plans are more affordable and meet the needs of the average cell phone user without “locking them in” to a long-term plan that drains their budget and forces them to overpay for their service.
Avoiding phone plans and “unlocking” your phone by paying up front can help you cut your monthly cell phone bill and helps protect you if your financial circumstances change over the next two years.