New Android phone in Toronto - Bell? Rogers? Someone else?
September 22, 2011 9:28 AM   Subscribe

New Android phone in Toronto - Bell? Rogers? Someone else?

Hi. After a few years on Fido with a now-ancient iPhone 3G, which is starting to not work so well. I am looking to switch to an Android phone, and probably a new carrier. I am looking for advice and tips.

I mostly use my phone in Toronto. But it's important to me to be able to use the phone (for both voice and data) when I am out of the city.

I would like to share my data with my iPad, and possibly a data stick (though I understand I can use the phone to tether - data stick seems more convenient).

I am thinking, most likely, of switching to either Rogers or Bell, because my sense is these are the only companies that have wide networks, and allow for data sharing.

I want to get a pretty good/fast Android Phone: The Samsung Galaxy S2 (available on Bell) looks very good to me from what I've read in reviews. I'm not sure if there's a comparably powerful phone with Rogers yet.

My understanding Both Rogers and Bell have very similar plans, that offer something like this:

- a bunch of weekday minutes (300 with rogers, 200 w. Bell)
- 10 "free" numbers across, with unlimited incoming/outgoing calls across Canada, even if I'm out of town.
- 6GB monthly data. Tethering allowed.
- An additional $10-$15 per month for voicemail and Caller ID
- Can share other devices for $10/month. (I think Bell may not allow the data stick...)

All this is $65 for the basic plan + $12 or so for voicemail + $10 per shared device. This seems okay to me.

Here are some questions:

1) Are there any differences between the plans that I have not noticed, that I should be aware of?

2) Everything else being equal - Are there any strong reasons to choose between Bell and Rogers? Does either have a substantially better network, for example? Some other feature that makes one preferable to the other?

3) Is there some plan from some other provider that would give me all this stuff (including good coverage outside of Toronto) that I am overlooking?

4) The Galaxy S2 is "coming soon" to Rogers. But I want to get a new phone soon (and don't want to miss out on the promotional plans that are expire on Sept 30). Would there be any way to sign up for a plan, and get the better phone when it comes out in a couple months?

Any advice very much appreciated!!!
posted by ManInSuit to Technology (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Rogers and Fido use the same network, so if you've been happy with your Fido coverage, you should be happy with Rogers.

I've also had a few friends complain about their support (or a complete dismissal of customer loyalty) from Bell, so I'd be reluctant to go with them. I was on Telus in the past, and was happy with the service (only switched because they didn't yet have the iPhone).
posted by backwards guitar at 9:47 AM on September 22, 2011

FYI, aparently Rogers is ending its 6GB data promo by September 30th. Odds are the other carriers will follow suit.
posted by smitt at 9:57 AM on September 22, 2011

Response by poster: smitt - I know! That's part of why I'm trying to make this purchase now. It seems like a good time, with all the carriers offering what seem to be me to be pretty okay deals on 6gb plans.

(Also - I see the Samsung Galaxy s2 is also on a limited-time sale of $45 at best buy and futureshop, with a Bell contract. I'm increasingly thinking the thing to do is get that phone, while it is on sale, and while the 6gb plans are around...)
posted by ManInSuit at 9:59 AM on September 22, 2011

I like my Samsung Galaxy S but have been entirely unable to install Kies (on Windows XP or Windows 7) so I can update the firmware, since apparently Bell refuses to do over-the-air updates. It is very easy to tether with the phone.
posted by jeather at 10:33 AM on September 22, 2011

Samsung Galaxy S II is the current king of the Android phone market. I can't recommend it highly enough. The next iPhones should be out next month as well.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:52 AM on September 22, 2011

Response by poster: Samsung Galaxy S II is the current king of the Android phone market

Yeah, that had been my sense. I guess it's not unreasonable to choose my carrier based on the current availability of that phone.

I like my Samsung Galaxy S but have been entirely unable to install Kies (on Windows XP or Windows 7) so I can update the firmware,

I am new to the Android world, so I had to google around to see what that means (Kies? Over-the-air updates??!!). That sounds annoying. Ah well.

I am increasingly thinking I will go to Best Buy today and get one of these. (And one for Mrs. ManInSuit). I think the $45 special ends today.
posted by ManInSuit at 11:00 AM on September 22, 2011

Not annoying - awesome. I rarely ever plug my phone into my computer. In fact, with my current Nexus S the only reason I've plugged it into a computer was to root/unlock its firmware.

The SGSII is the king right now, no doubt. But there are LOTS of great Android phones. HTC Sensation, Motorola Atrix, and Samsung Nexus S all spring to mind.

Frankly - go with the best plan you can get, on the shortest contract term possible. Bell, Rogers, Telus... no matter what people say, the big 3 are essentially the same in terms of products/service these days. The only real differentiators are the startups like Wind and Public Mobile, etc.
posted by smitt at 12:03 PM on September 22, 2011

As for tethering... I just use my Nexus S as a wi-fi hotspot. That way I can use my laptop, my e-reader, anything else can run off my phone.
posted by smitt at 12:04 PM on September 22, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, Smitt. Wireless everything does sound more awesome than annoying. I was just sympathizing with jeather's difficulties w. wireless updates.

The plans on the big 3 are all identical right now, and seem not so bad, as they are promotional specials. (the plans and wind and Public Mobile are better, but I want the network coverage of the big 3).

It is good to confirm my understanding that there is not much to discriminate Bell from Rogers...

I am off to Best Buy to get a SGSII on Bell. I am excited about this new phone!
posted by ManInSuit at 12:10 PM on September 22, 2011

I have a Rogers Nexus S (the Galaxy S in Google drag). It's by far the best phone I've ever had. Rogers is... Rogers, but I've got decent plan from them by threatening to quit. Bell isn't much better, IMO. At the moment, I think Telus is the best of the three---my wfie is quite happy with them.

I'd stick with Rogers if you intend to travel internationally. The Rogers phones are GSM/3G phones, and can work on most of the US and European networks. I'm not certain that Bell can offer that yet. Telus seems to offer only CDMA phones as well, which don't work outside of Can/US.

Telus seems to have better coverage than Rogers, in my anecdotal experience, particularly in rural Ontario. Rogers coverages maps tend to be optimistic.

Using the Nexus as a hoptspot means that you don't have to by an Aircard or a Rocketstick or a dataplan for your tablet, if you have one. It's a great way to save money.
posted by bonehead at 12:32 PM on September 22, 2011

All the android phones are GSM on Bell AND Telus. They made the switch last year when the went to HSPA+.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:18 PM on September 22, 2011

Samsung Galaxy S II is the current king of the Android phone market.

My girlfriend has the Galaxy S I. It's an awesome phone except for one MAJOR problem, which makes her regret having bought it: the headphones are proprietary, meaning you cannot use any headphones on the unit except the ones that came with it. Hers broke and she was rightly pissed when she found out she had to replace them with shitty earbuds all over again.

I have an HTC Sensation which was a Bell phone that I unlocked and use on Fido. Why? Because, as much as I hate Rogers/Fido, I LOATHE Bell and advise everyone to stay away from them.

Bell does absolutely everything in its power to fuck up the internet for everyone in Canada. Though I haven't been a customer of theirs since the 90s, they still fuck with my internet by proxy and they're trying to make everything even worse. They are trying to force companies that aren't owned by them to enact pricing schemes that the companies don't want to enact. They are throttling the internet connections of countless Canadians who aren't even their customers. They are fucking fucks and for making the internet worse across this country they should be punished by you. You should not give them your dollars.

Yes, Rogers internet is also evil, but they don't have the reach or power of Bell.

Here's what I have on Fido:

Unlimited (local) talk and (international) text - $35 (you can add unlimited LD for Canada for $10)
Value Pack (Call Waiting, Voice Mail, all that crap) - $10
500mb Data plan - $25

Why so little data? I feel it's all I need. I have wifi at home and work so the only time I DL via non-wifi is limited. I just set all my major DL apps (podcasts and such) to DL only when in wifi zone and I never go over my 500mb limit. Easy peasy.

If you're heartset on a Galaxy S II, just find out how to unlock it and you can use it on Rogers or Fido now (there are people who sell unlock codes on Craigslist for $20 or so--just search for the model and the word unlock).

However, if you want half-decent headphones, I'd check thoroughly into that issue. For the model my GF has, this information is NOT in the manual.
posted by dobbs at 10:08 PM on September 22, 2011

Where on the Rogers site is this 6GB plan?
posted by dobbs at 10:15 PM on September 22, 2011

I'd stick with Rogers if you intend to travel internationally. The Rogers phones are GSM/3G phones, and can work on most of the US and European networks. I'm not certain that Bell can offer that yet. Telus seems to offer only CDMA phones as well, which don't work outside of Can/US.

No. Wrong. 100% incorrect. Every mobility company in Canada is now UMTS, operating for 3G and HSPA+ on the 900/1800 bands for Rogers/Bell/Telus/Virgin and the AWS 1700 band for Wind/Mobilicity. It is almost impossible to buy a CDMA phone in Canada now- in fact even the cheapest pay and talk phones on the Telus site are GSM now.

Almost every phone you'd buy from every Canadian carrier is a world phone, and EVERY (not almost) smartphone you'd buy in Canada is a world phone. We even have several of the pentaband Nokia Symbian Anna/Belle phones that will operate on EVERY 3G band on the planet. Canada's not the US and we abandoned CDMA years ago.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:19 PM on September 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Where on the Rogers site is this 6GB plan?
Dobbs - I'm not sure if its' advertised anywhere on the Rogers site, but it's announced on Reboard (The "official" Rogers blog) here. You can buy a 6gb plan for $30. Or you can sign up for the $55 promotional MY10 plan, and upgrade it to 6gb for an extra $10. The offer expires Sept 30.

Bell has a plan that is virtually identical right now, also ending on Sept 30. I think Telus may have one too, but I am not sure.
posted by ManInSuit at 6:15 AM on September 23, 2011

My Galaxy S uses any old headphones I have handy. This is a Bell phone because Bell has the best group plans. I have no love for Bell, but they've still got by far the best rates for shared minutes/data.
posted by jeather at 6:23 AM on September 23, 2011

The Nexus S as well uses standard headphones.

Telus, at least, was still selling CDMA smarphones as of this spring (and I note that they have one old LG model still for sale). We switched to Rogers at work this March because they didn't offer the GSM model people wanted and IT was getting pissy about having Rogers phones for the international travelers only. I wasn't aware that Telus had completed their switch yet.
posted by bonehead at 7:40 AM on September 23, 2011

jeather, that's really weird. My girlfriend is also with Bell and no headphones but the ones that came with it work. Everything sounds ... encoded or something. She spoke with Bell and they insist they're proprietary. I googled it and found out one can buy a clunky adaptor.

ManInSuit, thanks for the link. Nice deal but 3 year contract is nuts in this day and age.
posted by dobbs at 2:24 PM on September 23, 2011

bonehead, the last CDMA smartphone that you could get from Telus was the BlackBerry Style, which was introduced last October. The fact that all of the big three and some smaller carriers have the GSM iPhone in Canada and NONE carry the Verizon CDMA version tells you what the state of things are here. You can get the GSM BB 9900 from all the majors but you can't get the CDMA 9930 from any carrier- not one. CDMA was buried in Canada two years ago.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 5:20 PM on September 25, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks all for the help!!

I went with Bell, because as near as I can tell, they and Virgin (their subsidiary) are the only people currently offering the Samsung Galaxy S2, which seems to be pretty widely regarded as the best Android phone out there right now.

Although it seems that people seem to have happier experiences with the customer support at Virgin than Bell, I chose Bell over Virgin because Bell offers data sharing and Virgin does not. I did all this now because I didn't want to miss the 6 GB promotional plan being offered now on all the major carriers.

Way too early to tell, of course, what my three-year-contract (ugh) experience with Bell will be like. But for now -the new phone is pretty amazing. To state the very obvious - smart phones sure have gotten better in the 3+ years since I got my iPhone 3g.
posted by ManInSuit at 6:55 AM on September 29, 2011

ManInSuit, I'm curious if it works with other headphones. Have you tried? Even try your iPhone headphones. Does it work?
posted by dobbs at 4:52 PM on October 5, 2011

Response by poster: ManInSuit, I'm curious if it works with other headphones. Have you tried? Even try your iPhone headphones. Does it work?

Dobbs - just tried now. My old iPhone earbuds seem to work fine with my new Samsung Galaxy S2 from Bell: The sound is fine, the mic works, clicking the button to pause playback works...
posted by ManInSuit at 12:32 PM on October 12, 2011

Response by poster: After around 3 months of use: All seems okay. It's probably not the Very Cheapest Service available, but I guess I'm still on the Louis CK Everything's Amazing Nobody's Happy school on this stuff: I have a pocket-sized computer that gives me instant access to multiple libraries' worth of information, lets me videochat with my friends, etc, etc. It is completely magical. If it costs seven dollars more a month that I might have hoped, I can deal with that.

Network covereage and service is pretty good. The phone is really great. iPad data sharing works fine. Tethering my latptop using the phone works fine. Kies works fine.

Customer support, when I've had to deal with it, has been predictably a bit on the crappy side. There have been multiple problems with the billing for my iPad data sharing plans, and they've taken a couple of phone calls to resolve. I'm probably more patient than the average person with this sort of stuff (I teach negotiation classes as part of my work, so dealing with bad phone support is a kind of a fun learning game for me), but problems to ultimately get resolved, even if they take a little longer than expected. The support people are generally friendly and reasonably well-informed. If stellar customer support is your main criterion, you probably shouldn't choose Bell, but thus far they have not been deal-breakingly bad... fingers crossed...
posted by ManInSuit at 8:12 AM on February 2, 2012

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