Don't, under any circumstance, buy an unlocked iPhone 4
Come on, Apple. Come onnnnnn, Apple.
Long praised for its ingenuity, more recently slammed for its arrogance, the world’s hottest tech company is at it again.
In the wake of its ongoing iPhone 4 “Antennagate” debacle that prompted some to wonder if Canadian legislators would ever let the faulty device into our country, Apple announced this week that the iPhone 4 would indeed be coming. Even unlocked if you want.
What’s unlocked, you ask? It’s where consumers can purchase the phone directly from its manufacturer (Apple) instead of having to go through one of its Canadian providers (Bell, Telus, Rogers, etc.)
Sounds pretty good, right? Eliminate the middle man. But does it still sound so enticing when the price of the phone – without the subsidized cost wireless carriers offer because of your long-term commitment to their service – is more than a 1987 Honda Accord?
Yes, Apple said it will sell its unlocked iPhone 4 in Canada starting Friday for the staggering cost of $659 for its 16-gigabyte model and $779 for its 32-gigabyte model, prices so apparently absurd they preface one important question: who the hell will actually buy one of these things?
Let’s break down the numbers here, just to see if Apple is totally void of reality or they’re onto something that should have Canada’s wireless providers steaming.
If you were to buy an unlocked iPhone 4 this Friday (let’s say it’s the $659 16-gigabyte model to be safe), chances are you’re doing it to avoid two things: a lengthy, expensive contract with a wireless carrier and a pricy data plan, which providers like Rogers will force you to sign in exchange for covering somewhere near $500 of the cost of your iPhone.
In the long term, is this worth it?
Using a three-year plan, the norm contract for devices such as the iPhone, you’re likely to pay about $50 per month for unlimited nights and weekends, unlimited text messaging, 200 daytime minutes and 500 megabytes of data. Add to this a $199 price tag for the phone* and you’re looking at about $1,999 before tax for 36 months of iPhone 4 use.
(*As an example, data used is from Rogers. Also, while Canadian carriers have not yet set their subsidized phone price, $199 is the general consensus on what they will charge for the iPhone 4 with a three-year plan.)
If you were to, instead, buy an unlocked phone and pick out a cheaper, no-frills plan from a carrier of your choice, how would that play out? Using Rogers again, a similar plan by the minutes offers unlimited nights and weekends, unlimited text messaging and 200 daytime minutes for $35 per month. Add to that a $659 cost for the handset itself and you’re looking at about $1,919 before tax for 36 months of iPhone 4 use.
So, if you’re scoring at home, you’ll pay about $80 less over three years if you buy an unlocked iPhone, but that will be one without any data coverage from your provider. For just over $2 more per month, by my calculation, you can get the iPhone 4 with 500 megabytes of data, which is more or less unlimited for the lion’s share of users.
Under other scenarios, consumers would buy an unlocked iPhone 4 to use a) with a pay-as-you go plan or b) just as a cool, Wi-Fi-enabled device – like a computer.
But the obvious retorts slam those circumstances just as well. Many Canadian pay-as-you-go plans charge about 40 cents per minute, meaning your monthly cost for comparable minutes as listed above would soar upwards of $80. And, if you just want to use the iPhone as a Wi-Fi-enabled tablet, why wouldn’t you just get an iPad, which is cheaper ($549 with free shipping from the Apple store), bigger and better for computer-like use?
The moral of the story: 99 times out of 100, Apple’s unlocked iPhone 4 price is too high to make sense for Canadian users. And now we have the breakdown on why.
By Jason Buckland, MSN Money
Posted by: BillyBoy | Jul 29, 2021 10:19:11 AM
Just get the phone from Rogers at for $150 (negotiate with them) and then go and get it unlocked for $50.
Posted by: my 2 cents | Jul 29, 2021 11:57:34 AM
Step 1: Smash your head against a wall and hopefully knock some sense into it;
Step2: Get a pager and pay $5 per month without contract;
Step 3: Use pay phone to make 50 cent phone calls to answer pages;
Step 4: Grin as you watch all the retards paying $2000 to own a piece of crap made in China for $2.
Posted by: MoSH | Jul 29, 2021 11:57:57 AM
ok... the article writer forgot to consider two things....contract = iron shackle and in 36 months is a long time...a lot can change!
Posted by: Ryan Waddell | Jul 29, 2021 12:17:55 PM
While I don't think it's a shitty article (wtf?), I like the math here. However, it *does* miss out on the important point that if you want to upgrade your phone or switch providers in a year, you can then re-sell your iPhone 4 for roughly $400-500, depending on the market (this is just ballparking based on what unlocked 3GSs are going for on eBay right now. What you're really paying for is being able to switch providers at the drop of a hat - which I would appreciate right now, since Bell seems to be coming out with the Galaxy S and Rogers is showing no signs of doing so any time soon.
Having said that, I'm perfectly happy buying me an iPhone 4 and locking in for another 3 years. :)
Posted by: Garry | Jul 29, 2021 1:44:11 PM
Lets not dismiss the fact that with an unlocked phone you can slip in a sim card with a pay as you go on any other compatible network in the world and use it for all your travel needs. Something you cannot do with an locked phone that came with your 3 year contract. I use it to book hotels and find restaurants, attractions and just find my way around and wouldn't be without it. When a new update locked my old iphone again and I wasn't able to unlock it for months I gave it away and bought an unlocked nexus one.
Posted by: James Holtom | Jul 29, 2021 2:50:17 PM
A main advantage of an unlocked phone is you can use it internationally. Just buy a sim card in Thailand for 9$ and your phone will work in Thailand, without roaming charges. Same thing anywhere in the world. No lock = total flexibility.
Posted by: Adam Gunn | Jul 29, 2021 2:59:51 PM
Ummm, if plans are priced to reflect the reduced cost of the locked device. Why are folks not asking for better priced plans for their unlocked device. Supposedly the reason plans are priced so high is the deep discount you get for the hardware, although we know there's no such thing as free. So, if I have an unlocked device that I paid full price for, why do I have to pay full price on the voice and data plan that's priced to reflect discounted hardware that I didn't buy?
Posted by: mike stweart | Jul 29, 2021 3:23:34 PM
yeah bring your rogers phone to new york or anywhere you have to pay roaming then you will see how much a phone locked would cost. Get the unlocked if you travel its worth it
Posted by: leo | Jul 29, 2021 3:33:44 PM
I phone is useless go for a HTC is unlocked already, has a better apps, and it has WiFi. so in the end I phone is useless for Canadians for more reasons alot of apps need data plans HTC most of the apps dont use data
Posted by: jatan | Jul 29, 2021 4:13:13 PM
Yes, but let's say in the scenario I lose my job and can't afford to pay the above $50 + $12 pack for caller id etc + $5 for some fees + $1 for 411 & 911 + HST atleast I can cancel without having to shell around $500 which I don't have or don't want to lose at that time. I can switch to maybe a $15 plan per month.
It's just having a peace of mind that I don't have to shell out $75 each month for a cell phone if I don't feel like it. Let's say you want to go out of the country for 2-3 months as an example. Cancel it. You save $225 in those 3 months and you can use your phone in the country you are travelling, which generally would be cheaper than anything in Canada.
Posted by: Ian | Jul 29, 2021 4:30:59 PM
$50 a month from Rogers ... yipee! sign me up! My wife's Roger's iPhone is costing me like $100 a month and my son's is about $105 for the same features quoted in the article ... wft?
Posted by: Shawn | Jul 29, 2021 5:45:29 PM
I travel to the US 5 to 6 months of the year. Last year I unlocked my current Canadian i phone and had nothing but problems with it. I would rather pay the extra $300 have it factory unlocked and not have to worry about issues. And I am still better off paying the extra money then having two devices when I only need one. If you travel a lot buy the unlocked one.
Posted by: Gil | Jul 29, 2021 6:26:36 PM
Obviously this author just quickly looked at rogers price plans and didnt identify the two that are ONLY available for iphone. And those dont include the unlimited text messaging or call display. The author is obviously schilling for rogers because currently the "deal" I'm getting from rogers costs me almost 1000 a year. This is sloppy writing and an attempt by a hack writer to earn some extra money from rogers. Its a shame this article was even published...
Posted by: Corrado | Jul 29, 2021 6:41:20 PM
You are lookiing at an unlocked phone the wrong way in my opinion.
The phone is bought so you can take it with you abroad.
Swap sim cards and use the local telephone service providers.
Other countries have much cheaper and better rate plans.
Works great if you are a traveller or on vacation for a week or two.
Now calculate the roaming charges with your Bell or Rogers plan!
Posted by: brrrrrr0612 | Jul 29, 2021 7:47:05 PM
Corrado July 29, 2021) is right. It seems this reporter do no have any idea about Canadian Mobile prices. The roaming tag (just receiving text messages) can be as high as $1,000 in 15 days.
Posted by: Swanson | Jul 29, 2021 8:12:56 PM
Its all a business write off, so who cares!!
Posted by: anthony taylor | Jul 29, 2021 8:51:44 PM
boy oh boy this sounds like a mess i took care of five years ago.i went to the usa signed up with verion wireless,two year plan 59.99.1,400 mins total no roaming no long distince.i talk in canada just like i was in the usa.its great.i used to have a 300.00 per month home phone bill,and 140.00 cell bill every month.i did have roaming and cell set up bills up the ask if you know what i mean.im getting the iphone by xmas.unlocked no two year plan,free to come and go.guys look to the usa for good phones and plans.no hassle when something go's wrong with it.they just give you a new one when you are under contract.this go's for the phone,charger,case,batt.like i said its a win win.just my two cents worth.
Posted by: WirelessMind | Jul 29, 2021 8:53:03 PM
Unlocked is over rated tis true. All canadian cell phone providers have travel packs you can add when you leave the coutry so the sim card thing is a waste of your efforts. Take 5 minutes and call to get travel pack and you will have no surprises. Unlocked phone and your provider will not help you troubleshoot conection errors because the phone wont have there network software installed. Get your phone cheap then unlock it if you need to switch. 50% of the people in canada know how to unlock phones. The other 50% will probabaly go pay this rediculous price to apple then have nobody to back them up if there is a problem. Atleast if your phone comes from a wireless provider you might still get tech support if you unlock it because they cant tell over the phone! (call center techs) Research is done and it looks like Fido/Rogers is the way to go for this release. Both carriers have had the apple product the longest and will be best suited to help with any unexpected technical errors.
Posted by: Hmm | Jul 30, 2021 12:50:23 AM
Well. unlocking may be an option for those in the USA. Recent posts online suggest people will be camping out to buy the i4 unlocked and selling them on Ebay for $1000 or more becaus there is no unlocked iPhone 4s in the USA. There are tonnes of Apple and novelty fanboyz and girls out there that will love to brag in other people's faces they're one of the few who have a legitately and fully unlocked iPhone.
Contrary to what Billyboy wrote (his ignorance shows) you arent able to unlock an iPhone after the 3GS. And with a fully unlocked unit you wont have to worry about having to get it unlocked again when you update the firmware through iTunes. Billyboy, there is a difference between unlocking and jailbreaking. And you can't negotiate on teh iPhone (again an ignorant comment) either. The iPhone will sell itself with or without the antenna issue.
What Jason has incorrectly stated is that 500 mb is more enough for most people. That's ludicrous. The iPhone sucks data like a sponge. If you just want to check your email and that's it, sure that may be enough. If you want to use 30-50% of the capabilities of the iPhone such as streaming music or radio such as LastFM, Flycast, Sirius, or AOL radio, you're going to suck more than 500 mb in a month. Depending on the bitrate, you suck around10 MB per minute of data when you stream audio. If you're not going to use much data, you dont need a data plan unless you're a business person who must have access to email at all times.
In any event, I wont be wasting my money on the i4, unless I can get some Yank to buy it unlocked from. I'll be waiting for the iPhone 5 next July (2011).
Posted by: AC | Jul 30, 2021 1:25:20 AM
There are a few issues with the writer of this article. What he spelled out (although I agree with what alot of ppl have already said - he's estimates of monthly phone plans is grossly under) will work for the person who lives in Canada and stays in Canada and doesn't go anywhere.
As many have mentioned, for people who travel (for work or play) and especially for extended periods of time (i.e. spending a year abroad) the whole cell phone contract makes your phone completely useless when you're abroad (and I would personally want to use my iphone while travelling for everything, especially just google maps to get around in foreign land!!)
The issue with the cell providers and these contracts really is the fact that you don't have options. Up until now, you could only get an iphone if you locked in for 3 years (unless you decided to pay out the contract early which ain't too great either. And then what? you're phone is useless in the rest of the world or on any other provider unless you jailbreak - no thank you). There's no 1-year option, 2-year option. What if you're from overseas and come to Canada and want an iphone but you're only here for 1 year - you can't get one unless you want to pay out the contract after 1 year.
And the worst part is, up until now everyone looks at you like you're a criminal if you ask if your iphone can be unlocked - someone said it great. there is a MAJOR difference between unlocked phone and jailbroken. I want a phone that will work with itunes, be covered by warranty, not require me to reset/reload all the time, and have the flexibility to take it anywhere in the world. I have wanted an iphone since it came out but have been limited by it being locked. So I buy other phones, which are unlocked and give me flexibility. Thank goodness this option with iphone will finally exist.