updated 01:00 am EST, Tue November 27, 2012
Bell, Virgin Mobile join Fido, Rogers, Telus in for-fee unlocking
Two more of Canada's larger mobile-phone carriers will now offer unlocking of the iPhone -- for a substantive fee -- joining with the largest three carriers in the country. The iPhones in question will still need to be off-contract, but can be carrier-unlocked for use in other GSM countries -- particularly the US, China, Mexico and other countries frequently visited by Canadians. This leaves only Koodoo, Sasktel and MTS (mostly regional carriers) as still not offering unlocking.
Interestingly, Virgin Mobile and Bell are both planning to charge $75 to unlock the phone for users, despite the fact that Telus and Rogers -- and Rogers' budget subsidiary, Fido -- charge only $50 for the same service. Many Canadian cell phone contracts last three years, a year longer than the US standard, making the unlocking of completed-contract phones worth less than an equivalent service in the US, where more recent models can be unlocked as soon as 90 days after purchase from some carriers, increasing their resale value.
Phones sold directly from the Apple Store (online or retail) in Canada can be purchased "factory unlocked," though that option is not yet available in the US, with prices starting at $450 for the iPhone 4, $599 for the iPhone 4S and $699 for the iPhone 5 (about $50 more than the leaked US prices when unlocked sales in the US begin). The unlocking process from carriers involves a simple signal sent to the device to the phone through a data connection. Bell and Virgin Mobile customers must be the sole owners of the device to be unlocked, with their accounts in good standing and must be post-paid plan customers. [Photos via MobileSyrup]