Best iPhone Plan in Canada

Update: this blog post still gets a number of hits, so I thought I should post a note stating that the post below is dated now, the specifics of the plans offered now no longer may be correct.  I also believe that Telus no longer offers free Visual Voicemail. For what it’s worth, I went with Telus, and am happy. My current plan (as of July 2012) is $60 and includes 500minutes, 5GB, My 10, free local evenings(5pm)/weekends, unlimited sms, voicemail, and callerid.

With the iPhone coming out, you may be wondering what carrier to go with. If you are already locked into a carrier, or live in the USA this is a moot point. But from a Canadian perspective, you currently have a choice of 5 national carriers.

Carriers do their best to obfuscate what you are getting and paying for in a plan. Generally, it seems that Canadian carriers have conveniently (or conspiratorially) made all their prices the same. But this is not true when you add common options to a plan, which is exactly what we are going to do today.

Because all five carriers offer different options within the same plan, which means there are literally over 100 options. So I am going to take my requirements min and max requirements, and price those out highlighting the differences. I suspect my requirements are very similar to most people except that they may not have any long distance requirements.

Common needs:

· Talk Time: 200-300 minutes

· SMS: 100-unlimited outgoing

· Caller ID: name and number

· Voice Mail: minimal

· Data: 500MB-1GB

· Long Distance: National My5 or 300-500 within Canada.

Note: All of the following comparisons were done using a contract. The price was the same with or without a contract for all the carriers, but the main difference was what time evenings started became quite late without a contract.

The 500MB Plans

Bell, Telus, and Virgin all offer a $50 plan, with various options that comes close to my requirements. With all the requirements added as extras the costs come to:

VirginSmartphone Combo 50 $70 * Take included SMS as option* Add VM/CID ($10), My5 ($10)* Evenings at 7pm
BellCombo 50 for iPhone $65 * Take My5 as free option* Add Bundle 15 ($15) to get VM, CID, SMS* Evenings at 6pm
TelusiPhone 50 $65 * Take My5 as included option* Add Package 15 ($15) to get SMS, CID* Evenings at 6pm
Fido3G 65 $95 * Included VM, SMS* Add CID ($10), Unlimited LD ($20)* Evenings at 7pm

All three plans had 200 minutes, and 500MB of data. To see the full chart, go to the full chart I generated using comparecellular.com.

The 1GB Plans

These plans generally come with 1GB of data; while 500 is likely ok for a casual user, 1GB allows for more freedom. Unless otherwise indicated all plans come with 250 minutes. Also, at this point Rogers and Fido enter the game.

VirginSmartphone Combo 65 $85 * Take included SMS as option* Add VM/CID ($10), My5 ($10)* Evenings at 6pm
VirginNationwide 50 $85 * Includes SMS, VM, CID, unlimited LD!* Add 1GB data ($35)* Evenings at 7pm
BellCombo 65 for iPhone $80 * Take My5 as free option* Add Bundle 15 ($15) to get VM, CDD, SMS* Evenings at 6pm
TelusiPhone 65 $80 * Take My5 as included option* Add Package 15 ($15) to get SMS, CID* 300 minutes included* Evenings at 6pm
Rogers3G 65 $100 * VM, Local My5, 75 SMS included,* Add National My5 ($20), CID ($10), SMS ($5)* Evenings at 9pm!
Fido3G 80 $110 * Included VM, SMS* Add CID ($10), Unlimited LD ($20)* 500 minutes (billed by the second)* Evenings at 7pm

The 1GB plans varied much more in price, and in the number of included minutes, with Telus and Fido offering more. It should also be noted the Fido plan, and the second Virgin plan are not limited to your favourite 5, but unlimited long distance anywhere in Canada… though you are using up your minutes if you talk before 7. Check out the full chart I generated at comparecellular.com.

Conclusion

In the 500MB plans, there is little difference between Telus, and Bell, same price, same towers. If you don’t have a personal preference here, Telus does come with _visual_ voice mail, and has a better customer service rating.

If you are looking to go the 1GB route, Telus, and Bell are again tied, so again it is a personal preference, or a customer service choice. The interesting option here is Virgin’s plan with unlimited long distance. If you could be careful not to use the phone before 7, it is worth the $5; Virgin offer 5pm evenings for an additional $7 and should protect your minutes a little more.

It is worth noting what a gem of a site comparecellular.com is. Very convenient and very accurate (I checked). I am in no way affiliated with it, but have certainly bookmarked it.

But… just watch, as soon as these carriers officially announce their iPhone plans they will roll new plans. Like Roger’s famous 6GB for $30 option that was only available at iPhone launch last year. If Rogers brings back that plan, you can be sure the other carriers will do something similar. Regardless of whether the new plans are coming or not, most carriers allow you to change your plan mid contract, so the only risk of committing early, is the loss of the ability to say “Carrier X will give me this, what will you give me?” Canadians pay some of the highest wireless rates in the developed world, so don’t feel guilty about negotiating.

If you know of a great plan I have missed, let me post it.

EDIT: It seems that Telus has now dropped their iPhone Combo 65 down to $60, so subtract $5 off of the values I have posted for their 1GB plan.

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