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Discussion Starter #1
I have always used a work-provided Blackberry: Right now I have the BB 9000.
It's great for the occasional personal phone call, chatting with friends via email only (since IM/SMS, etc. is locked down from work). Furthermore, I can't check certain websites because they are blocked by work; I can't surf the net to check things very easily because there's no ability to load apps, and I find the BB browser really bad.
I've never had a device where I can easily use the neat apps (iphone or android) that exist when you are out and about to locate things that are close to you, gps/live traffic updates, etc. This part of a smartphone is what is really making me crave a personal smartphone.

Haven't yet decided if it's gonna be an iPhone or android device, but I'll figure that one out on my own.
What I do need help with is understanding the different and best options for plans, etc. based on what I want to use it for.

What I think I'll mainly use it for is:
1. Some local and some LD phone calls, but nothing huge on this. I do need to make the occasional call though that I don't want work to know about.

2. I do need some data, but I can't imagine I'll use more than 500mb/month. I'm a gadget guy, so what intrigues me the most about this is the mobile ability to check on anything I want while I'm out and about, including making use of all of those neat types of apps that give you info about what's around you (stores, products, etc.).

3. One thing for sure, I need to have voice and data access on the phone at my cottage: that is it's north-west of Huntsville, Ontario. Thus, whatever carrier I choose needs to assure me that I can have access from there.

4. Finally, since my wife has an iPad (wifi only), I'd ideally like to be able to "tether" the data between the phone device I select and her iPad so she can also check sites on the internet on the iPad while at the cottage.

It's really kind of a toy, since I could use the work BB for what I need. However, I'm starting to do some personal business outside of work that I'd like to keep on a separate phone line and emails separted too.
Furthermore, the whole access to the internet thing while out and about is something I've never really had and am really craving.

Questions:
1. What's the best type of plan to get for my uses?
2. From which company?
Some of my friends have an iPhone and picked up like 6GB data plans for $30/months when, for example, Rogers came out with the iPhone. Are any of these kinds of plan rates available now?
3. Should I buy the phone out-right, or go for a phone bundled with a 3 year plan? What are the pros/cons with going one way or the other?

If there are any good newbie articles/blogs/discussions that would help me understand how mobile phone plans work in Canada, please point me in that direction.
 

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3. One thing for sure, I need to have voice and data access on the phone at my cottage: that is it's north-west of Huntsville, Ontario. Thus, whatever carrier I choose needs to assure me that I can have access from there
For Huntsville, you're limited to Rogers, Bell, or Telus. Here's a couple of links to view the cell phone towers in the area:
http://www.ertyu.org/steven_nikkel/cancellsites.html
http://loxcel.com/celltower

You also should check the forums to see how the voice/data coverage is for Rogers, Bell, Telus for the Huntsville area.

4. Finally, since my wife has an iPad (wifi only), I'd ideally like to be able to "tether" the data between the phone device I select and her iPad so she can also check sites on the internet on the iPad while at the cottage
You cannot tether an iPhone to an iPad without jailbreaking your iPhone. I don't know of any way tether an iPad to non-rooted Android phone.

2. From which company?
Some of my friends have an iPhone and picked up like 6GB data plans for $30/months when, for example, Rogers came out with the iPhone. Are any of these kinds of plan rates available now?
3. Should I buy the phone out-right, or go for a phone bundled with a 3 year plan? What are the pros/cons with going one way or the other?
Rogers usually offers 6GB for $30 for a couple of months when they introduce new iPhones (summer).

I personally always get my phone subsidized with a 3 year plan (iPhone with Rogers). Since they had the iPhone, I've been able to upgrade (from 3g > 3gs > 4) every year for the same price as a new activation. Again, Rogers offers upgrades at new activation prices for a couple of months when they introduce new iPhones. I don't think Telus did not offer this when the iPhone 4 was released (a couple friends could not upgrade their 3gs phones) - I'm not sure about Bell.

I've given my old iPhones to my son and wife, but I could have easily resold them when I upgraded for $200-$300 - the market for no contract previous gen iPhones is quite hot.

If there are any good newbie articles/blogs/discussions that would help me understand how mobile phone plans work in Canada, please point me in that direction.
While I like the iPhone (and I can share apps between iPad and son's/wife's iPhones), the Samsung Vibrant Galaxy S and Nexus S Android phones look very nice.
 

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I don't know of any way tether an iPad to non-rooted Android phone.
I can't confirm this since my phone is rooted, but I think if you are running Android 2.2 the built in Wifi hotspot does not require root. That would allow you to connect the iPad via Wifi to the Android.

I agree with the recommendations of the two phones. If you go with Bell/Telus, the HTC Desire is a very good phone as well.
 

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If you are adventurous...

People have gotten Android 2.3 Gingerbread working on the old HTC Touch. The Touch can be picked up for $50 without contract from Bell and is compatible with the unlimited mobile browser option (iirc $10/month).
 

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I just bought a used Nokia 5800 on ebay and am very happy with it. Wifi, dual camera, 3.5G, Bluetooth, S60 OS. It's technically a smartphone but is compatible with the $10 a month unlimited browsing. GPS, Gmail, Opera browser all can be used at 3.5G speeds for a flat $10! Only reason I bought a phone as I get free calls on my work one! Plus the Ovi GPS maps are now free updates forever on nokia phones!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Few questions:

1. In the case of getting the Nexus S: what's the best way to get it since it's not sold by a carrier in Canada? Should I go down and buy it from BestBuy USA and then use it on a compatible network like Wind up here?

2. As for the plan deal of $30 for 6GB: while I certainly don't need that much data (but of course always nice to have), is there any carrier that I may get that kind of deal with after negotiating right now? Even if say it was $30 for 1GB including 200 local minutes I would be happy.
 

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Bear in mind that with the Nexus S, you will be limited to Wind & Mobilicity (or using it in EDGE mode on Rogers/Fido). There isn't a version of the Nexus S that supports Bell/Telus/Rogers' 3G frequencies yet. (edit: looks like you knew that.... whoops) :)

That being said, I will admit the Nexus S is a nice phone. I had the chance to play around with one a week ago and really liked it (noticeably faster/more responsive than my Galaxy S).
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I may just get an iPhone 4. Mainly because while part of me does like the tweakability of android (especially a nexus s), as I get older I really just want something that works well all the time (lack of patience with tweaking...lol).

So let me see if I understand this properly (again, I'm a newbie at this personal smartphone business):
1. I pick up a 3 yr contract from (let's say) Rogers and I get an iPhone 4 32GB for $270.
When iPhone 5 comes out this summer, do I have the option to upgrade to it for a discounted rate that's less than what others will be getting it for on a subsidized plan (i.e. in the current state of things, an iPhone 5 32GB would be less than $270 when upgrading?)

OR

2. I pick up an iPhone 4 directly from Apple. I get a Wind $40 plan that gets me unlimited everything (I think they have something on right now to Jan 16th, please correct me if I'm wrong). When iPhone 5 comes out this summer, if I want to upgrade I will be forced to buy it again and then sell my iPhone 4. HOWEVER, this does not get me the connectivity I need at my cottage up at Huntsville (i.e. because it's Windmobile).

OR

3. Same as #2, but I go with Rogers instead of Wind and pay more per month but get connecitivity at the cottage. When iPhone 5 comes out I'll have to do the same as #2 above (sell it and buy iPhone 5).

If this is all correct, which option is usually best if money is not an issue to buy the device out-right?
 

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Wind will not work with an iPhone. The iPhone does not have the AWS frequencies required for Wind or Mobilicity.

If you get an iPhone now on contract it will likely be at least two years before you're eligible for a hardware upgrade.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
So I guess I should either wait for the iPhone 5 (do you think it's features will warrant waiting?); or I should buy the iPhone 4 in full and then just sell it later when iPhone 5 is available?
 

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1. I pick up a 3 yr contract from (let's say) Rogers and I get an iPhone 4 32GB for $270.
When iPhone 5 comes out this summer, do I have the option to upgrade to it for a discounted rate that's less than what others will be getting it for on a subsidized plan (i.e. in the current state of things, an iPhone 5 32GB would be less than $270 when upgrading?)
With each iPhone release, Rogers has always offered hardware upgrades to existing iPhone users for the same price as new activations.
2. I pick up an iPhone 4 directly from Apple. I get a Wind $40 plan that gets me unlimited everything (I think they have something on right now to Jan 16th, please correct me if I'm wrong). When iPhone 5 comes out this summer, if I want to upgrade I will be forced to buy it again and then sell my iPhone 4. HOWEVER, this does not get me the connectivity I need at my cottage up at Huntsville (i.e. because it's Windmobile).
You won't be able to use the iPhone data on Wind's network. I was tempted get Wind's $40 plan to use with a Samsung Galaxy S or Google Nexus S, but I didn't want to get dinged for data roaming due to Wind's limited coverage areas (i.e., along the 401 when travelling or when I'm in Montreal). On Wind, I would be roaming if I drive 10 km west.
3. Same as #2, but I go with Rogers instead of Wind and pay more per month but get connecitivity at the cottage. When iPhone 5 comes out I'll have to do the same as #2 above (sell it and buy iPhone 5).

If this is all correct, which option is usually best if money is not an issue to buy the device out-right?
I would go with #1 if you want an iPhone. If you want an Android phone (and get coverage in Hunstville), good options to consider are the Samsung Galaxy S Captivate (Rogers, $99 with a plan), the Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant (Bell, $99 with plan), and the Samsung Galaxy S Fascinate 3G+ (Telus, $99 with plan). FYI, I've read that APGS is/was broken on the Samsung Galaxy S Captivate and Galaxy S Vibrant (the WiFi based location service doesn't always work to supplement the GPS.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for that and great reply.

I think I am going to go with option #1 and get a BB, likely from Rogers. Do you really think that I would be eligible for an upgrade to iPhone 5 when it comes out at a reduced price even though I would have only signed up with iPhone 4 a few months before?

This is contrary to what TorontoColin suggested that I would likely have to wait 2 years to be eligible for a hardware upgrade.
 

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There is still a statute of time before you get the full subsidy. When the iPhone 4 came out Rogers was offering early upgrades but the amount of subsidization varied based on how long you had left on your contract. With over 2 and a half years remaining, your subsidization would be virtually nothing if anything.

To be clear, not only would iPhone data not work with Wind, neither would voice or text. All existing iPhone models are unable to connect to Wind's network at all.

Nobody knows what the next iPhone will bring. It's possible that there will be a Wind compatible version. It might be thinner, get better battery life, be more powerful. It will likely include NFC support, if that means anything to you. It will probably include some changes we haven't thought of yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I think I'm going to wait for iPhone 5, then try and get one of the (hopefully) great plan deals that one of the major carriers will offer (i.e. 6GB for $30, or something like that).

I'll want the 5 when it comes out if I get the 4 now, I know it. Plus 500MB for $50 just doesn't seem worth it compared to what I could get if I waited.

I'll just pick up a cheap pre-paid phone for now and just use it for voice to serve my immediate needs.
 

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There is still a statute of time before you get the full subsidy. When the iPhone 4 came out Rogers was offering early upgrades but the amount of subsidization varied based on how long you had left on your contract. With over 2 and a half years remaining, your subsidization would be virtually nothing if anything.
Yes, I agree, this is their current policy. However, when the 3gs and 4 were released, Rogers offered hardware upgrades to all existing iPhone users (irrespective of duration left on their contracts) for the cost of a new activation.

Users who upgraded had their contracts extended to 3 years (from the date of upgrade). For the iPhone 4, this offer available until the end of Sept or October. Everyone I know with an iPhone 3gs upgraded to an iPhone for new activation price ($159 for 16GB and $269 for 32GB).

It's entirely possible that they won't be offering this when the iPhone 5 comes out. My personal opinion is they will to retain customers from going to competitors (Bell and Telus) that will also have the iPhone 5.
 

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hmm...

It'll be interesting to see what happens to the at&t wireless plans once the Verizon window opens up for the iphone...:rolleyes:
 
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