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More Canadian carriers to unlock off-contract iPhones

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]



By Electronista Staff
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  1. sunman42

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-09-11

    I don't want to sound like a schoolmarm, but in the US, at least, "substantive" means important or meaningful, so I found its use jarring here. I believe the word you were looking for was "substantial." Compared to the difference in price between the plan-subsidized phones coming off contract and the factory-unlocked ones, I'd call the fees, either $50 or $76, "nominal."

  1. Koda

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-29-03

    Telus only charges $35 to unlock iPhones. Not $50.

  1. legacyb4

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 05-07-01

    Actually it is quite a lot; when a carrier like Virgin Mobile is charging $75 to unlock the phone, that is equivalent to an extra month of their top-tier contract plan, nearly two month's of one of their budget plans, or basically 10% of the cost of the unsubsidized hardware which is a total money grab. Can you imagine a bank charging you 10% of your original mortgage cost just to release you from your contract AFTER your house is paid off???

  1. bleee

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 03-28-02

    Canadians really have no reason to complain since you can order the unlocked iPhone from day 1 unlike the US. Don't like it buy unlocked

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