June 27, 2013 12:18 pm

What’s the best, cheapest Canadian cellphone plan out there?

The young Vietnamese creator of hit mobile game Flappy Bird has removed it from the App Store and Google Play saying it ruined his life.

Vytai Brannan / Global News

TORONTO – We’ve all complained about our cellphone plans: locked in a contract, too many hidden fees, not enough data…the list goes on.

But who has time to call every provider, wait on hold for minutes that crawl by, and engage in what could be described as a “challenging” conversation about the best plan available, then compare companies like Rogers, Telus, Bell, Fido, Virgin, Mobilicity, Wind, Koodo and the latest—PC Mobile?

Global News reporters do.

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Read more: Tools to help you pick the best Canadian cellphone plan

President’s Choice launched new cellphone plans with shorter-than-normal (18 or 30 month) contracts last week. The website lists their “refreshingly simple plans,” which include options to get text updates to track voice and data usage, as well as to limit mobile charges.

John-Kurt Pliniussen, marketing expert and professor at Queen’s University School of Business, said these plans provide “novel options” related to duration.

Pliniussen said typically Canadians have to choose from year-based plans with three-year plans priced to possess the most “perceived value since the phone is virtually free.”

“However, the real key for any consumer is less about the length, but more about the monthly charges she or he will accrue based on their usage needs,” he wrote in an email to Global News.

America’s Verizon Communications has reportedly made an offer to buy newcomers Wind Mobile and possibly Mobilicity, amid what Global News reporter Jamie Sturgeon describes as their struggle to meaningfully win over enough consumers to be viable long-term.

READ MORE: Are cellphone plan costs going down? Depends on your usage level

So why aren’t there line-ups outside these independent alternatives to the “Big Three” providers? Are their plans really better?

We wanted to know: how do Canada’s cellphone plans compare?

We used a price comparison study conducted for the CRTC in 2012 by Wall Communications Inc. to find the average use of phone minutes and texts per month, and created a script which was read verbatim to each of the nine companies listed above. When asked (only by Telus and Mobilicity) the user location was Toronto, Ont.

“I’m looking for a new cellphone plan. I checked my last few bills, and I use about 450 minutes a month. I send about 200 texts a month, and I’d need enough data to check my email and Facebook throughout the day. I have some friends in the U.S. so I make long-distance calls a couple times a month, as well. And I’d need to buy a new phone. So what’s the best, cheapest plan you can offer?”

Here’s an infographic that highlights some of the differences, followed by the details of the plans that were offered (before tax) starting with the most expensive:

Cellphone-infographic-2

ROGERS

Best plan base rate: $60 / month

1,000 local daytime minutes

Unlimited local evenings and weekends starting at 6 p.m.

Canada-wide calling add-on: $10 / month

North American calling (including calls to the U.S.): $25 / month

If no long-distance add-on: $1.45 per minute to the U.S.

Unlimited text messaging, call display, voicemail

Data: 500 megabytes

iPhone 5: Only available contract is $229 on a three-year contract

Samsung Galaxy 4: $229 up front on a three-year contract, but could also pay $699 for a one-year contract

Activation fee: $35

Current promotion: Refurbished iPhone 4S for $0 on a three-year contract

TELUS

Best plan base rate: $60 / month

30 minutes of U.S. calls add-on: $3 /month

1,000 local daytime minutes

Unlimited local evenings and weekends starting at 6 p.m.

Extra Canada-wide calls: 50 cents / minute

Extra U.S. calls without add-on: $1.50 /minute

Unlimited outgoing and incoming text, video and picture messaging

Data: 500 megabytes

iPhone 5: $179 with three-year contract

Samsung Galaxy  S4: $199 with three-year contract

Activation fee: None, but…

SIM card: $10 (for either device)

Current promotion: iPhone 4 on 2-year term at $63/month, $0 for phone, $10 for SIM card, includes unlimited Canada-wide talk and text plus 1 gigabyte of data (This was the plan the customer service rep recommended at the end of the call)

Perks: Telus doesn’t charge to ship your device, and you have a 30-day trial period to use it and send it back if you don’t like it (at no additional shipping cost).

BELL

Best plan base rate: $50 / month

1,000 local daytime minutes

Unlimited local evenings and weekends starting at 6 p.m.

Extra Canada-wide calls: 50 cents / minute

Extra U.S. calls without add-on: 50 cents / minute

Unlimited text, picture and voice messaging in Canada and U.S.

Caller ID, voicemail, call waiting, conference calling

Data: 150 megabytes “and unlimited wifi”

iPhone 5: $179.95 with three-year term or $700 up front and no contract (month to month option)

Samsung Galaxy  S4: $199.95 with three-year- term or $700 up front and no contract (month to month option)

Activation fee: Can be waived

Current promotion: Unlimited local calling for one month

KOODO MOBILE (owned by Telus)

Best plan base rate: $50 / month

Unlimited incoming calls anytime Canada-wide

600 minutes for outgoing calls Canada-wide

Unlimited calling Canada-wide evenings and from 5 p.m. and weekends

Calls to U.S. add-on: $2 / month long-distance saver, which makes calls 5 cents / minute

Calls to U.S. without add-on: 45 cents / minute

Unlimited text, picture messaging

Call display, call waiting, conference calling, voicemail

Data: 1 gigabyte

iPhone 5: Retail price at $670 but can pay $520 up front with $150 Koodo tab (pending credit check approval) – Koodo deducts 10 per cent of monthly rate charges to pay off balance that’s owing (so would take 30 months to balance)

Samsung Galaxy  4: Retail price is $625 but can pay $475 up front with $150 Koodo tab

Activation fee: None

No contract: You can cancel at any time by paying off your remaining balance

If bring your own phone: You need to buy $10 SIM card, but you can get a $150 tab on the positive side, accumulating 10 per cent of your bill as credit for a new phone in the future. 

WIND MOBILE

Best plan base rate: $40 / month

Unlimited incoming and outgoing calls Canada-wide

Calls to U.S.: 5 cents / minute

All incoming and outgoing texts, picture and video messaging unlimited in Canada and internationally

Data: Unlimited with “fair usage policy” – This means the monthly data capacity is 5 gigabytes for high speed internet access, and if you exceed 5 GB, there will be no extra charge, but you will experience slowing down on your data access speed.

iPhone 5: Must buy iPhone 5 elsewhere (no models below iPhone 5 compatible with Wind)

Samsung Galaxy  S4: Retail price is $699, but with this plan you can pay $399 up front and put $300 on Wind tab– Wind deducts 10 per cent of your monthly rate charges before taxes.

Activation fee: No, but must buy Nano SIM card at $25

No contract: You can cancel at any time by paying off your remaining balance.

Current promotion: If you bring your own Wind-compatible phone and you purchase an “add-on” such as voicemail, you can receive a bring-your-own-phone $300 credit.

Perks: If you stay with Wind for 36 months, whatever is left on your Wind tab balance e.g. $156 in this case – it will be cleared off by Wind, and you won’t owe anything after 37 months. “That is the beauty of the Wind tab,” said the customer service rep.

FIDO (subsidiary of Rogers Wireless Inc.)

Best plan base rate: $39 / month

450 Canada-wide daytime minutes

Unlimited Canada-wide evenings and weekends starting at 6 p.m.

Extra U.S. calls add-on: $5 / month puts them at 10 cents / minute

Extra U.S. calls no add-on: 45 cents / minute

On this, customer representative said, “The add on is only worth it if you’re using more than 20 to 25 minutes per month.”

Caller ID, voicemail

Unlimited text, picture and voice messaging worldwide as long as you are in Canada

Data: 600 megabytes

iPhone 5: No iPhones available with this plan –  “iPhones are not as good as they used to be, anyway”

Samsung Galaxy  S4: “Way too expensive with this plan…I would recommend the Galaxy 3” but S4 is $450 with two-year contract (none lower than 2 years)

Samsung Galaxy 3: $150 with two-year contract

Activation fee: “What’s an activation fee? We don’t have anything like that at Fido.”

Current promotion: $50 credit if you order via telephone; $25 credit if you have a Fido customer refer you

VIRGIN MOBILE CANADA (acquired by Bell Mobility in 2009)

Best plan base rate: $39 / month

450 Canada-wide daytime minutes

Unlimited Canada-wide evenings and weekends starting at 6 p.m.

U.S. calls: 50 cents / minute

Call display, voicemail

Unlimited texting

Data: 600 megabytes

iPhone 5: Retail price of phone is $700, but you pay $400 plus put $300 on a “tab.” Not technically a contract, but the $300 you get off the retail price goes on your balance, and the balance decreases by 10 per cent of your bill each month. So in this case, $4 / month means it would be paid off in just over 6 years. If you incur extra charges, your “10 per cent” might allow you to pay off the phone sooner.

Samsung Galaxy  S4: Same as above – $400 plus $300 on a tab

Activation fee: None

Current promotion: iPhone 4 for $0 up front and $300 on tab

No contract: You can cancel at any time by paying off your remaining balance

MOBILICITY (Telus offered to buy them but government rejected the proposal)

Best plan base rate is current promotion: $35 / month (usually offered at $45 / month)

Unlimited long-distance calls in Canada and U.S.

Unlimited North American text and picture messaging

Caller ID, call waiting, call forwarding, three-way calls, voicemail

Roaming: 30 minutes included

Data: Unlimited

iPhone 5: Mobilicity doesn’t sell it, but you can purchase it separately and bring it to them to activate (Only iPhone 5 model works with Mobilicity)

Samsung Galaxy  S4: $649.99

Activation fee: None, but need to visit kiosk to activate SIM card

No contract: You can cancel or change plans at any time

PC MOBILE (powered by the Telus network)

Best plan base rate: $35 / month

400 daytime minutes Canada-wide

Unlimited evenings and weekend calls starting 6 p.m.

Unlimited Canada-wide and international texts, picture and video messaging

Calls to U.S. free feature by request: 10 cents / minute

Data: 200 megabytes

iPhone 5: No iPhones available to sell, but you can bring your own unlocked iPhone and use it with PC Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S4: Retail price $625 with no contract OR $325 up front with 30-month contract OR $445 up front with 18-month contract

Activation fee: None

Current promotion: $100 President’s Card gift card for new contract activations as part of launch

Email the author at erika.tucker@globalnews.ca

© Shaw Media, 2013

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