Cell Phones

What do other frequent travellers do for cell phone/plans?

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 6th, 2020 9:34 am
[OP]
Sr. Member
Jun 19, 2007
780 posts
742 upvotes
Halifax

What do other frequent travellers do for cell phone/plans?

Currently have a BB DTEK50 about 4.5 years old which I bought from Blackberry as I had a friend working there at the time. Anyways the battery is starting to go, 8 hours of light use is doing very good, closer to 6 hours is average even with battery saver on.

So I need to buy a new phone. I'm reminded of the same headaches that I encountered years ago, and how truly backwards the system is here. Walmart said they had all of *two* phones they could sell me, Superstore only had flip style phones, and Best buy only had 2 google pixle phones to buy normally. Everyone wants to lock me into a 2 year plan, and "finance" an overpriced phone compared to online vendors.

While obviously less now, I've travelled and moved around a lot in the past, would like to again in the future and don't want to be constrained by silly cell phone rules. Accordingly buying a phone, and going with public mobile has given me the most freedom in that regard. I just didn't think it would be this bloody difficult to buy a new phone when the time came.

Basically I'm just looking for a phone/plan that say lets me up and leave on a days notice, suspend service, fly to Australia or Cape Town, stay there for two months, pop a sim card in, and not get dicked around with silly fees or compatibility/locking issues. What do other frequent travellers do? Buy a phone from eBay or Amazon? A lot of the ones I've seen there say "US warranty" so would that be an issue here? A lot are also refurbished, so that raises more questions. I genuinely don't understand why Canada is one of the few places in the world where it's so hard to buy a phone normally. It's like not being able to buy a car unless you also commit to buying 10 years worth of gas from Esso.
8 replies
Sr. Member
User avatar
Mar 11, 2011
887 posts
363 upvotes
Toronto
Staples sells phones. Motorola, Samsung, Asus. Costco too. By the way, all cell phones sold today are unlocked.
Deal Addict
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Nov 14, 2003
4522 posts
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Gotham
Get a dual Sim phone that works everywhere. Mine is a dual sim Samsung Galaxy S9. I don't worry about warranty. I've never had a phone to go bad on me. If it did I would just get another one.

I use prepaid SIM cards from different places around the globe. I roam when I'm in Canada because I do not have Canadian mobile service. My phone number is from Google voice I also have a second VoIP with a Canadian number. This setup allows me to use both numbers wherever I am.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Jun 19, 2007
780 posts
742 upvotes
Halifax
I was actually leaning towards the international dual sim version of S9/S10, where did you get it? And fair point. For the $3-500 a phone costs, the depreciated value when/if it breaks, and given the reliability of electronics, and the hoops most companies make you jump through, costs for shipping, and time for warranty stuff, it's almost not worth it.

I thought they could still lock phones that were part of plans given that you haven't fully paid for the phone yet? If you're on a 2 year plan, what's to stop someone from absconding with the phone after a month? In a situation like that, I could see the logic of locking the phone to a carrier, but at the end of the day, it's a solution to a problem that shouldn't exist in the first place. Buy your phone, buy your service. If you need to finance the phone, finance it through a phone dealer. Just like pretty well everywhere else in the world. Why is it that Indonesians, many of whom make like $6 a day can shell out the full price of a phone, but Canadians can't?
Deal Addict
Mar 18, 2015
1947 posts
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Antarctica
Phones are sold unlocked nowadays and there are plenty of outright options too. B&H is selling a one plus 7t for $299USD. Costco sells the moto phones for $150-250 and LG G8X for $449. Google has the pixels 4a and 5 from their own store. Samsung allows you to buy a S20 FE for around $650 I believe? And for iPhones there's always the apple store.

No need to finance if you don't want to but yes, it is the default choice of most subscribers here so that's how the stores will try to push the device on you. Also I don't know which phones are the Indonesians buying. Could be some of the same devices are priced lower there or they are buying the Xiaomi/Oppo/poco devices which you can import into Canada through AliExpress etc for cheap prices too, just takes time though.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 14, 2003
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Gotham
seadog83 wrote: I was actually leaning towards the international dual sim version of S9/S10, where did you get it? And fair point. For the $3-500 a phone costs, the depreciated value when/if it breaks, and given the reliability of electronics, and the hoops most companies make you jump through, costs for shipping, and time for warranty stuff, it's almost not worth it.

I thought they could still lock phones that were part of plans given that you haven't fully paid for the phone yet? If you're on a 2 year plan, what's to stop someone from absconding with the phone after a month? In a situation like that, I could see the logic of locking the phone to a carrier, but at the end of the day, it's a solution to a problem that shouldn't exist in the first place. Buy your phone, buy your service. If you need to finance the phone, finance it through a phone dealer. Just like pretty well everywhere else in the world. Why is it that Indonesians, many of whom make like $6 a day can shell out the full price of a phone, but Canadians can't?
I bought it from a local retailer where I live outside of Canada. I guess if I needed service I could get it. It's three years old now and it is not worth fixing. I've never had a phone go bad on me so I don't really worry about the warranty and if it does I'll just buy a new phone as I think they are pretty cheap. I also don't want to go without a phone for a period of time.

Canadians think they are getting a phone for cheap but they're not because it is being subsidized by higher monthly service plan costs.

They definitely still lock phones in other countries until the phone is paid off. In Canada and elsewhere carriers will blacklist phones if the subscriber does not pay their bill.
Member
Apr 25, 2019
344 posts
564 upvotes
seadog83 wrote: I was actually leaning towards the international dual sim version of S9/S10, where did you get it? And fair point. For the $3-500 a phone costs, the depreciated value when/if it breaks, and given the reliability of electronics, and the hoops most companies make you jump through, costs for shipping, and time for warranty stuff, it's almost not worth it.

I thought they could still lock phones that were part of plans given that you haven't fully paid for the phone yet? If you're on a 2 year plan, what's to stop someone from absconding with the phone after a month? In a situation like that, I could see the logic of locking the phone to a carrier, but at the end of the day, it's a solution to a problem that shouldn't exist in the first place. Buy your phone, buy your service. If you need to finance the phone, finance it through a phone dealer. Just like pretty well everywhere else in the world. Why is it that Indonesians, many of whom make like $6 a day can shell out the full price of a phone, but Canadians can't?
Get the S10, you can get 2 more Android updates up to Android 12 where the S9 won't get anymore updates other than security.
OR, get the Samsung A51 you can get OS updates up to Android 13. Or the Pixel 4a, as it has dual SIM (one physical, one eSIM.)
Lucky Mobile 3.5 GB $25
Deal Addict
Oct 23, 2017
1849 posts
1359 upvotes
GTA West
seadog83 wrote: I was actually leaning towards the international dual sim version of S9/S10, where did you get it? And fair point. For the $3-500 a phone costs, the depreciated value when/if it breaks, and given the reliability of electronics, and the hoops most companies make you jump through, costs for shipping, and time for warranty stuff, it's almost not worth it.

I thought they could still lock phones that were part of plans given that you haven't fully paid for the phone yet? If you're on a 2 year plan, what's to stop someone from absconding with the phone after a month? In a situation like that, I could see the logic of locking the phone to a carrier, but at the end of the day, it's a solution to a problem that shouldn't exist in the first place. Buy your phone, buy your service. If you need to finance the phone, finance it through a phone dealer. Just like pretty well everywhere else in the world. Why is it that Indonesians, many of whom make like $6 a day can shell out the full price of a phone, but Canadians can't?
Yeah, they cost too much, they can fail, people sometimes steal them, warranties are limited, and cell phone companies get to choose their business practices. Frequencies, coverages, and phone plans are different in every country. And it is so much work to order an unlocked phone directly from Google, Apple, or retailers like Costco, Amazon. Why go through all that hassle?

Given your high level of indignation and frustration with cell phone providers and retailers, I would agree that for you it is not worth having one. Stick to using the phone in your hotel or look for a phone booth.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Jun 19, 2007
780 posts
742 upvotes
Halifax
Dealmaker1945 wrote: Yeah, they cost too much, they can fail, people sometimes steal them, warranties are limited, and cell phone companies get to choose their business practices. Frequencies, coverages, and phone plans are different in every country. And it is so much work to order an unlocked phone directly from Google, Apple, or retailers like Costco, Amazon. Why go through all that hassle?

Given your high level of indignation and frustration with cell phone providers and retailers, I would agree that for you it is not worth having one. Stick to using the phone in your hotel or look for a phone booth.
No need for the glib remarks. My frustration has to do specifically with Canadian cell phone providers. I've had probably a dozen different numbers across 5 continents, and hands down, Canadians pay the highest rates, and have the least selection. My friend from France pays like 25 euros a month, and gets 20 GB and free roaming in Canada with her +33 numbers. Effectively it's cheaper to get a plan in Paris, and just use it here.

While S10s seem to be going for $5-$600 on ebay/amazon, the phone dealer I was talking to wanted close to $1000. Or, they said I could get a "free" S10, $55/month, $300 in PC points, or effectively $1020 over 2 years. Which is only like $70 more than it would cost me to buy the phone outright, before even taking into account the $1080 for 2 years of service. It's literally double the price to not be financially reckless and own the phone and plan on your terms. Even buying a cheap second hand S10 for like $450, then 24 x $30 on public mobile works out to be more expensive.

That's the crux of my frustration. On a 2 year term, it's more expensive for 1.5 GB of 3G service and a used phone than it is for a new one, and 4 GB of 4G on contract. The market is broken. It's an effective oligopoly when your only options are "$1000 for 2 years of service + a phone" or "$1000 for 2 years of service and no phone". Somewhere in that equation it means that either the phone or the service is vastly overpriced. It's like if the only way to buy eggs was to buy a dozen or $299 but comes with 99 extra dozen for free. If you only need 1 dozen, well it's still $299, then every grocery store and small shop following suit.

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