The iPhone in Canada – Only for Outlaws
And as Waylon Jennings says, ladies love outlaws. But is it worth it? I’ve been looking into this because I WANT IT BADLY, and I thought it worthwhile to share the fruits of my research.
The iPhone is not officially available here. Why? Glad you asked, Jimmy! Rogers is the only network that could carry the iPhone, as it’s a GSM device and only Rogers and subsidiary Fido are GSM in Canada. So odds are the negotiations between Apple and Rogers have stalled. The arrangements Apple wants are not typical in the industry; Rogers does not currently have an unlimited data plan and is probably reluctant to offer one.
The iPhone trademark in Canada is actually held by a different company, so that could be an issue too, although I find the Rogers explanation more convincing.
All that said, you can still get an iPhone and use it in Canada. You can go buy one in the US and then unlock it via software, or take it to be unlocked somewhere (I’m looking at you, Pacific Mall), or you can buy an unlocked iPhone off Craigslist – at about a hundred dollar premium. Once the phone is unlocked, a Rogers or Fido SIM card can be put into it and it will work perfectly (well, visual voicemail won’t work, but everything else will).
There are downsides, of course. First of all, you will have to use the phone on Rogers, and the data plans are truly fearsome. There are no unlimited data plans; the “unlimited” browsing plan doesn’t apply to the iPhone; the top data plan (as far as I could tell) costs $80 for 500 megabytes a month, which you could crack pretty easily depending on what you’re doing with it.
Also, you will get no support from anyone, and if it stops working, you’ve got a very expensive brick. And it’s more than possible that future software upgrades will indeed brick the phone – it’s happened before.
Finally, there’s a decent chance a legit Rogers-version iPhone will be released in the coming months. There are currently rumours of a 3G iPhone coming in June to Rogers – not only would the data be much faster on such a model, it could very well come with a better data plan than your grey-market gadget would ever get. That would also mean your resell value would plummet.
Then again, rumours have been swirling for the past year that the Canadian iPhone release was imminent, and it has yet to happen. But I’d be surprised if it wasn’t released before Christmas this year, as that’s prime phone-selling season. Also, Apple wants to bring the iPhone to Japan around then, which would mean they’d have to make a CDMA model, which would mean Telus or Bell could grab the iPhone instead of Rogers.
So what should you do? Depends on what you want. Occasional Robot contributor Nigel wanted his phone and iPod to be one and the same, and didn’t care about the data stuff – so he got an iPhone and is thrilled with it. I’m more interested in the always-on rich net access, so I’m thinking of going with a Touch for the time being. If only HydroOne’s Toronto-wide WiFi network wasn’t such garbage, at $20 a month it would certainly put any Rogers data plan to shame. And if the legit Canuck iPhone is released, I can still sell the Touch or give it to my lady friend.
Maybe I’m just not an outlaw at heart.