I start this post with a gripe. Mobile prices in Canada are to high. Actually, they are not in Manitoba and Saskatchewan which both have provincially owned mobile competition. You can get unlimited Canada wide calling and 5GB of data for under $60.00 in those provinces.
My second gripe, is with the phone manufacturers. Eight years ago when the iPhone came out, it was fat. Fat compared to today’s standards. Back then it was thin. Battery technology of the day gave you about 5 hours of heavy usage time vs today with super skinny, dare I say Anorexic phones which give you about 8 hours of heavy usage time. The thing is I would gladly accept an obese phone if it gave me at least a entire solid day of very heavy usage. Skinny isn’t always the most desirable thing, in people and in technology.
So here is the problem. I can pay nearly $100.00 a month in my province of British Columbia for a anorexic phone that puts out for half a day of heavy use. I can attempt to cheat the system by getting a phone originally intended for Manitoba and Saskatchewan and do a number change after the fact but still suffer from the terrible battery life of modern phones. Or I can kill two birds with two devices.
Recently I picked up a Chatr mobile phone and plan. I have had to find ways to live cheap and unlimited calling for $20.00 a month is about as cheap as it gets for calling. In addition I decided I was tired of bad battery life on a phone. And honestly smart phones have never been the best phone. They have not been the best internet device either. They are ok phones and ok internet devices. The form factor makes them convenient to carry. Have enough battery life for most of the day. Can do most internet things acceptably well with a small screen. And can preform as a phone acceptably well lacking tactile feedback and sometimes lag from forgetting to close apps or because you happened to be in the middle of something else like watching netflix or using GPS navigation. And this is all smart phones, blackberry, iPhone, Android and Windows alike.
So I bought a simple flip phone from back in the day with the plan. A ZTE Z222 to be exact. Its a nice phone that does exactly what it needs to do. It acts as a phone. It connects to my car via bluetooth for hands free calling. It has physical buttons for tactile feed back when you want to dial a number while driving in a province or state that allows it. Has built in short cuts that make it really quick to place a call. Like after partially dialling a number it auto fills the rest for the only possible number it could be in the address book. I forgot how wonderful purpose built phones are. Its designed to be a phone and thats all it is. Texting sucks but I will address that in a minute. And the battery life, well lets put it this way. I plug it in the charger every 3rd day.
So what about Facebook, iMessage, BBM, email, and millions of useless apps. This is where a cellular enabled tablet comes in handy. My flavour is a iPad because of the iOS ecosystem. Most of my friends are on iMessage and I prefer iOS. But regardless of if you use a iPad or Android tablet, as long as its in the 7″ form factor it is a great tool to carry around for all the internet needs. And more important the flex data plans start off as low as $10.00 a month and scale up to $35.00 a month for 5GB of data with Fido.
The larger screen makes a tablet a better internet device hands down for surfing the web and watching content. The bigger battery provides much more usable power for the device. I can go days with out plugging my iPad in just like my phone now. Every app you would have on a cell phone generally speaking works better on a larger screen anyways.
So I solved two problems with two devices. Each dedicated for its purpose built tasks making a great phone and a great internet device with great battery power for a great price. Instead of spending nearly $100.00 a month for a single device that can’t make it through a entire day on heavy usage I now spend between $30 to $55 a month with two devices that give me days of usage between charges.
For those that say well this isn’t a great plan, you have to carry more then one device. This is true. I actually carry 3 because I have a iPod for FM radio and music too. But I always travel by transit with my packsack. And when I drive the car can easily hold that extra device. So it has been no impact on me at all. The benefits of not worrying about battery life, and the better user experience has easily trumped any issues of carrying multiple devices. For the very light internet user a regular smart phone with a low data plan might make as much sense. For some one that only talks and avoids texting and does not use internet, I strongly advise a Chatr talk plan.
What about Wind Mobile and Mobilicity? Bluntly they suck. I can’t be any more blunt. The service coverage of mobilicity is lacking. I mean common, you don’t have coverage over Delta, parts of Richmond, parts of Surrey, a very narrow area of Langley is covered and forget Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. Its just not viable of most people who live in the lower mainland. And while Wind has coverage the phone call quality is poor from very high compression used to save bandwidth and data speeds are so atrocious I almost had a nervous breakdown. Chatr is Rogers. Its a solid network, solid quality and solid coverage. Nuff said about that. I do have high hopes that Wind will become a viable option down the road. But in order for that to happen the company needs access to more spectrum to have the bandwidth it needs to offer a good service. Currently they don’t have that.
So to recap, pay $100 a month for unlimited calling and moderate data options on a single device that is ok at being a phone and ok at being a internet device with just acceptable battery life or pay $30 to $55 a month for 2 devices that excel at being a phone and being a internet device with exceptionally good battery life.