Poll: Should smartphones in Canada be unlocked for free?


  • HiKsFiles

    That’s pretty much the same thing as asking “Would like 100$ … legit and no obligation?” 😉

    • Alex

      ya…. but there needs to be a 4th. If phones should come unlocked.

    • It’s Me

      Yup. That’s the only legitimate option.

  • That’s stupid. You’re stupid.

    If you’re not in a contract and/or you purchase the device outright, what gives a carrier the right to hold that device hostage on their network still?

    As someone who paid $800 for my phone so that I wouldn’t be locked into a contract, I OWN THIS PHONE so I shouldn’t have to pay even more for the freedom to use it on whatever carrier I choose.

    • Russ

      If you’re paying full price, I think you’re right that the phone should be unlocked when you get it. Keep in mind that carriers receive the phones pre-locked in sealed packages, so they’d have to go through the motions to unlock it. I prefer buying unlocked phones (not from carriers) to avoid the hassle.

      Honestly, I think phones should just all be unlocked. Fees should be attached to breaking contracts, not unlocking phones.

    • It’s Me

      Phones are locked only if the carrier’s request that they be locked when they order them. There is no legitimate reason to lock them, contract or not.

      And you are exactly right. Your side of the contract obligates you to make your monthly payments regardless of whether the phone is locked or not. If you are going to default on your contract and payments, you will do so regardless of whether your phone is locked or not.

      The only thing a lock does or was ever meant to do was to ensure that any extra revenue, outside of what is covered by the contract (i.e. out of country usage) must go through the original carrier, even though that falls way outside of what is allowed by the contract.

    • Philosoraptor

      Not to mention that if you break your contract and don’t settle the final bill, the carrier can (and will) blacklist the phone. So there’s no real reason to enforce a locked device policy aside from pure corporate greed.

    • Theo

      The Wireless code forbids cancellation fees even if breaking contract, so that would have to be changed if the lock fee/locking was to be removed.

      To my knowledge, Rogers does not blacklist phones on delinquent accounts, but I’ve heard bell does

    • It’s Me

      No really. The cancelation fee is the tab, as it always should have been. If you terminate then you own your balance as the termination fee, as it should be. No change needed to prohibit locks other than to prohibit locks.

    • Brad Fortin

      Some devices don’t even lock until you insert a SIM card, then they reboot locked to that network.

  • Grumpel

    Only buy unlocked devices and tear the system down..

    Side note, its costs 10-20 dollars to unlock an android phone.. not a big deal. Its Apple presenting the problem as per usual, $100 for an unlock? Suck my D.

    • Jason van de Laar

      Yikes $100 is insane.

    • It’s Me

      Mostly because it’s not generally that high. $50 from any carrier. As low as $10 from a 3rd party having a promo.

    • Philosoraptor

      Apple does not set this cost to you. Apple deals directly with carriers. CellUnlocker sells iPhone unlocks for $30 for AT&T phones. To unlock a Canadian iPhone, you’re looking at $100+ with 3rd party unlockers.

      Samsung phones are now in the $30-50 range to unlock, so it’s not like all Androids are cheap to unlock.

    • ChrisPollard77

      Depends on the phone/carrier. I unlocked an S6 for a friend, who was unlocking it for the daughter of a friend who died … $55 was the best price I could find on it. The LG G4 was much less. I think it was $23 after tax. It’s a serious scam – for the 15 seconds it takes to type a code into your phone and actually do the unlock.

  • Sandro

    It makes absolutely no sense have to pay to unlock the phone after the 2-year contract.

    • mxmgodin

      Even during your contract, if you want to cancel your contract to switch to another carrier, you still have to pay whatever balance’s left on your phone + other applicable fees. It’s not like they’re losing any money.

  • Russ

    It’s amusing how much people complain about the for-profit businesses who set prices for mobile phones and plans.

    If you agree to a contract for a phone and plan, don’t complain when they charge you fees to break the agreement and unlock the phone…fees that you probably agreed to in the contract.

    If your carrier changes your plan cost without your consent, yeah, you should complain. But maybe check your contract terms first, because you probably agreed that they can do that.

    Bottom line: don’t complain if you didn’t read the contract before signing it.

    It’s often more cost-effective to buy an unlocked phone at full price and then have your choice of plans in the $40-60 range, rather than being limited to the $70+ plans that are available on contracts. If you can’t afford to buy the unlocked flagship phone up front, then maybe it’s out of your price range.

    • It’s Me

      Contract never covers the phone being locked. After the wireless code the do now state that you will have to pay to have it unlocked, but the lock itself has nothing to do with the contract. And unlocking has nothing to do with breaking the contract. You might want it unlocked to use it with another carrier, while still paying your monthly contract fees. You might want to use it out of the country with a local carrier, which still paying your monthly contract fees. And that is what locks were meant for, to prevent you from doing those things, so that revenue from your phone flows only to the original carrier, regardless of contracts.

    • Russ

      Great points. I will say, though, that I can’t fault for-profit companies for doing things that are within the boundaries of the law. If I dislike their methods, I’ll just choose to take my business elsewhere.

    • It’s Me

      They’ll do whatever they can get away with, that’s for sure. That’s why I think another option for the poll is required, that locks shouldn’t be allowed by the law/regulations. There is not one legitimate reason for a lock.

    • Russ

      I fully agree on regulating unlocked phones. Until that happens, I think it’s fair to say that “making a quick buck” is a legitimate reason for a carrier to order locked phones. It’s just not consumer-friendly.

    • It’s Me

      Certainly it’s a legal reason. But I don’t see “just because they can” as adding any legitimacy to their reasons.

    • Russ

      Shareholders would disagree. A for-profit company has a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of its shareholders, not its customers.

      From a shareholder perspective, companies should squeeze out the unlocking fees until it harms business to do so. Since every carrier charges a fee and the number of people who buy unlocked phones is so small, there’s currently no incentive to reduce their profits. This is a short-sighted profit motive, though…in the long term, it can do more harm to reputation and brand.

      Alternatively, for-profit businesses can champion their reputation and customer loyalty in order to satisfy shareholders, which is more of a long game in terms of profit. However, that only works if customers won’t flock to a cheaper competitor at the drop of a hat. So, it’s a harder approach to commit to, due to the easily perceived risk associated with it.

      Thinking about this more, I suspect that one of the big three will see the winds changing and suddenly announce that they’re dropping unlock fees entirely, enabling them to claim the high ground. When that happens, the others will all get in line quickly to nullify the competitive advantage.

    • It’s Me

      They might drop unlock fees for out of contract phones. But they won’t stop locking phones unless mandated. Locks ensure extra revenue outside of the terms of the contract.

      They could also just start adding extra charges to customer bills. $5 here, $10 there. If no one questions it and the regulators ignore it, that wouldn’t make it legitimate. And if they all do it, there’s no incentive to stop. Just because they can and because it’s extra revenue, doesn’t make it legitimate.

    • gremlin0007

      Where would you take your business to? These companies collude and rig prices so that they are all even and offer the same thing. Same same, but different…

    • Russ

      Well, the first option if you really can’t stand any of the providers is to go without. Mobile data is a choice, not a basic necessity.

      As for me, I use Public Mobile. It’s a Telus sub-brand for unlocked phones, and the pricing model is a little different–instead of monthly plans, they offer increments of 10, 30, or 90 days, so you can adjust your plan as often as you want. It’s definitely cheaper on a monthly basis, and the trade-off is that there’s very little customer service and support. I’ve been on it for more than a year with no issues.

      If you’re not on a contract, you might want to check it out. Right now, you can get a 90-day plan with 6GB of data (spread over the 90 days, so ~2GB per month) for $135. That’s $45/month, plus tax. They also give you credits for referrals, auto-renewal, and posting in the community forums, so it’s actually even cheaper than that.

      FYI, I have absolutely no connection to Public Mobile other than being a customer. Now that I’ve used it myself with no hiccups, I’m wiling to recommend it to others.

    • ChrisPollard77

      Exactly!! I unlocked my contract phone myself, at half the cost the carrier wanted to charge, and that wasn’t with using one of the ‘cheap’ options out there. I paid more for a code source that was reputable. I use my phone out of the country, and I can buy a full month of AT&T with 3GB of LTE for less than my carrier’s most basic US roaming plan with a whole 100MB of data!

      I’ve only ever had one locked phone, and that was more than enough .. even though I unlocked it myself the week I got it. I didn’t break my contract – because I still need my regular phone service! And if I wanted to take it to their competition – I’d still have to pay off the buyout on the phone, as per my contract! So this is just a way to lock people in who don’t know any better … so they can charge them INSANE out of country roaming fees.

    • gremlin0007

      Was this a long time ago? Rogers has roam like home in the US for 5$/day for a max of 50$+tx a month which is comparable to their 40$USD monthly plan

    • If you see an iPhone at the Apple store for near $1k (or over depending on the storage) then you see Rogers selling that same thing for half the price, do people really not think there is some catch? I’m not asking that rhetorically, its an honest question. If any company was selling me a thing for significantly less than the MSRP I would definitely expect that there’s some catch.

    • It’s Me

      There is a catch. In exchange for the subsidy you agree to a 2 year term with the highest monthly wireless rates in the developed world and an expensive termination fee. That’s the catch. That’s a helluva catch. That’s the agreement. That’s the exchange. That’s the contract. Both sides have their obligations, both sides have their benefits. Quid pro quo.

      The lock has no relationship to and no bearing on the contractual obligations of either side. In fact it’s only purpose to forcibly extract additional revenue explicitly not included in the contract or prevent another carrier from dealing with their customer for that extra. Extra revenue like out of country usage. Or extra revenue like having a fall back carrier at home. Not revenue they are automatically entitled to and not revenue covered by the contract. And that’s all a lock does.

    • The lock, the bloatware, in some cases the removed software are all things the carriers have done and continue to do to extract extra cash from you. But my point is, when you buy something from a company you should check what they’re actually selling you. It’s like buying an alarm from an alarm company, on top of locking you into the contract, the hardware you by through them is likely going to be locked down in various ways that it wouldn’t be if you bought the unit outright from Honeywell or whoever.

      If these things are hidden then I agree it should not be allowed, but if they are known then it’s part of the deal when you agree to by the hardware from the person trying to sell you a service.

    • It’s Me

      I’ve never had a salesman mention the phone is locked. Ever.

    • I haven’t had one either. But I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone who was selling me anything outline it’s negative aspects during the sales pitch. You’re never going to have the car dealer tell you his car has worst in class fuel economy. Isn’t it expected that a salesperson in any industry isn’t going to be an accurate and objective source of info?

    • It’s Me

      So therefore it’s not something that was agree to, as far as knowing what you are agreeing to. Can’t say to know what you ars agreeing to in order to justify this, if it wasn’t part of the agreement.

      It’s not part of the formal agreement and not part of any implied agreement. It’s not related to the contract or the subsidy. You agreed to buy a fully functional phone,at a discount in exchange for a long expensive contract but it turns out you bought one with an intentional defect that handicaps your ability to use your own property. Still have to pay your contractual fees though. Oh, right, they’ll fix it for a fee (like those guys that fix your legs from being broken for a fee).

      How does that make it legitimate again?

    • I think there is some implication on the buyer to know about the product. Take the car example. If the salesman didn’t tell me the model in question has poor fuel economy, it wouldn’t invalidate the purchase.

      In most cases, if it ever got that far, it would come down to a subjective interpretation as to what the purchaser could have reasonably expected and whether or not the product was within that realm.

      The problem with phones is that most people have the intrinsic expectation that a phone will only work with a given carrier based off a prevision history of incompatible frequencies, and more recently 99% of all phones sold locked.

    • It’s Me

      I don’t think there is any such intrinsic expectation from most people. I think most people have never cared to find out. If they did think about it, most would probably think it would work and might find it as ridiculous to conceive of it not working as expecting their car wouldn’t work once they cross the US border or that their landline phone wouldn’t work if they moved to a new house or their TV wouldn’t work with another cable company.

      The car analogy would be more like finding out that because you financed your car the dealer installed malware that would disable the vehicle if you tried taking it anywhere else for service. Although not covered by your financing or purchase agreement, they feel that any money you spend on or with the vehicle should go to them and them only. They feel entitled, after all they financed your car. You could pay them 5% of the car value extra, after say a year, and they’d remove the service lock. As long as all cars are sold like that, would it be acceptable? Would that be legitimate? I have doubts it would even be legal but that’s almost exactly what carriers do with locks.

    • If anyone thought they could prove that, it could easily be taken to court and have precedence established.

      At the end of the day it comes down to what could be reasonably expected. If a product cant do something that a buyer should reasonable expect it to do, then there are grounds to say the product was misrepresented.

      I think the problem you’d run into is most judges being older, and from a time when the major networks were completely incompatible (eg GSM vs Bell’s old CDMA network). For them the idea that phones wouldn’t automatically be considered inter-operable might seem as more of a given.

    • It’s Me

      Nah, those older judges would remember when the telcos used to force you to use only phones purchased from them on their networks and had to be ordered to stop that scam. They might even be old enough to remember when the cable ready standard had to be forced on cableco to prevent intentional Balkanization of physical cable hookups. Ironically, these are the same companies behaving badly today. Those judges would also be bright enough to understand that the carrier behaviour in this matter would fall outside of their purview and instead was a matter for the federal regulators under whom the carriers operate. The same regulators that acknowledge behaviour like price coordination or extortionist pricing for mandatory domestic roaming rates, and yet fail to even provide a slap on the wrist.

      A bright judge would recognize these same companies behaving as dirty as they always have and then would have dismissed the case as it is a matter for the neutered regulators.

    • Those examples differ a bit. They are all situations of a service provider limiting access to their service to the devices they sell needlessly. The equivalent of that would be the big three blacklisting any IMEI that wasn’t bought through them, forcing you to purchase their phone.

      This is more an example of them selling you something at less than market value (which you could by elsewhere), which is intentionally gimped in a way to make you more likely to stick with them.

      I don’t really care if they lock it or not since I’m not going to buy a phone from the carriers anyway (for me it’s because of bloatware and delayed updates). If other people want it that doesn’t really affect me, but you know they’re just going to tack that amount to the phones purchase price. Exactly like what happened when they were mandated to 2 year contracts, then people whined that the subsidized price increased.

    • It’s Me

      Maybe a better example would only being allowed to use the long distance service of your phone company just so the can get that extra revenue outside of you contract. Oh, wait, regulators had to put an end to that too.

      None are prefect analogies. They were examples of regulators being forced to finally step in to prevent anti-competitive behaviour that inconvenienced customers and enriched the companies through unnecessary artificial restrictions. They were simply to show a long history of such abusive behaviours without any legitimate reason other than because they can and it’s more money.

      No one honestly thinks the increases we’ve seen over the last 3-5 years were because of 2 year terms. People expected prices to rise with 2 year terms, and they did. $4-$7 of the massive hikes were due to shorter terms. The other $20, $30$, $50 or $60 increases were just because. Just because they could because of market power. That’s the nice part for a cartel that coordinates, they can do wherever they like, just because.

    • gremlin0007

      People see it more as a finance option where they can pay for something they can’t afford upfront over a long period of time. It’s the main reason why people are in debt, they buy things they cannot afford because companies create these options for them but that’s besides the point. Phones should be unlocked when you buy them because one way or another, you’re paying for the phone in full. Either it’s upfront of through your termed contract.

  • Eluder

    If you’re unlocking during the term, it should cost you something nominal.
    If you are unlocking after your term is done, it should be free.

    Very simple to implement and makes total sense that way.

    • It’s Me

      Why allow locks at all? Not like the lock is related to your contract to begin with.

    • GaDgEtMoN

      I don’t agree. It should be unlocked from the onset. Reason I believe that is, you have to honour a contract for the term of the contract or pay for the phone in full to exit the contract. The carrier isn’t out any additional money if you leave except for the potential to earn revenue from their service fees.

    • Jaden Drysdale

      Assuming everyone is being honest and not “farming” contract phone and selling them outside the country where providers can not track. $900 phone for $200 instore, sell it for $600 outside the county and never pay your bill. That is why locking needs to be in place.

    • gremlin0007

      I don’t understand what you’re saying, can you please explain it?

      Are you saying phones need to be locked otherwise people would pay 200$ for 900$ phones and then selling them for 600$ and no pay for their subsidy/penalty?

    • It’s Me

      Apparently that is what he is saying. Apparently the carriers can’t just blacklist delinquent phones. Apparently people can’t easily obtain unlocks if they really wanted to.

      Doesn’t make any logical sense but some people do think that.

    • Jaden Drysdale

      Carrier black lists only apply in the country the carrier operates in. I work at a cellular dealer, we have had people come in purchase devices and then never pay a bill. They have just obtained a $900 device for $200, stealing form our store and the service provider. Unlocks can be obtained sure, but it is currently the only deterrent we have.

    • It’s Me

      Nope. They report their blacklist to the CEIR. Any carrier in their world that subscribes and contributes to the CEIR can add IMEIs to the database and block IMEI from the database.

    • Jaden Drysdale

      And with a rooted device and a text editor I can change my imei and get past a block. It is a deterrent for those looking to make a quick buck, not for the well versed and educated criminal. “Locks only keep honest people out”

    • Rony

      actually blacklist works only in north america if done in canada or the us. phone works no problem in europe. the same apply visa-versa .

      but ya,locking should not be at all. for some who wants to not honour their contracts they will do it no matter it’s locked or not.

      and for rest of us we have contract which we have to pay no matter we use the phone or exchange after few months.
      that’s why i love nexus/pixel phones . Never locked!

    • It’s Me

      All network operators can gain access to the GSMA maintained CEIR. The major North American and European operators all subscribe to it and upload their own EIR updates almost daily. You’re right, they have no obligation to be reciprocal and block phones from other networks (UK is an example) nor an expectation of other networks blocking theirs. But it is one big international black list. Completely their own call whether they utilize it. But if they don’t, if they won’t use tools they already have to protect against fraud, that even further diminishes their excuse using easily circumvented locks to combat fraud, which only serves to inconvenience their own customers and doesn’t deter fraud.

    • Jim__R

      Unlock codes for most phones are cheap and easy to apply. Hence, having a device locked is no real deterrent to the type of person you’re describing.

      BTW, can’t you just refer the delinquent buyer to a collection agency who’ll make his/her life miserable?

    • Omis

      I was going to steal the phone for $200, but now that I have to pay someone an extra $20 to unlock it, it’s just not worth it.

    • It’s Me

      You actually believe that? You really think locks keep people from breaking contracts?

    • If the phone is purchased outright, then I agree it should be unlocked immediately.

  • David Brideau

    I don’t feel we should have contracts in the first place. Mind you, not many people can pay full cost for an iPhone. Or maybe full cost divided into 24 monthly interest-free payments.

    Disclaimer: I work for Rogers, but my opinions are my own. (And I have *so* many…)

    • Adderbox76

      Full cost divided by 24 monthly interest payments. And how do you suppose they are going to make sure someone stays with them long enough to get back all 24 payments? Would there be some sort of…oh I don’t know…written promise that they have to sign saying that they will be there for the whole 2 years?

    • CheeseAvatar

      Well they do it now.
      If you cancel before your term you pay the difference owing.

    • Laer

      It’s called an unsecured loan and it is an extremely common practice in the final world.

      Think credit cards, but there are lots of others.

      So no the really is no compelling financial reason to lock phones, we already have all the tools we need to do business.

      Phone locking is a cash cow, nothing more.

    • gremlin0007

      Interest free payments?! What are we, in a communist country? Why not tax free too while we’re at it?

    • David Brideau


    • David Brideau

      In Soviet Russia, phone unlocks YOU!

    • There aren’t any contracts. You’re free to pay off the device balance and leave within minutes of getting the phone.

    • ToniCipriani ✓pǝᴉɟᴉɹǝʌ

      Well technically that is still a term agreement, and paying off the phone is an exit condition.

  • formulaphone

    Locked until device is payed in full, or immediately if purchased outright.
    Simple as that.
    If you’d want it unlocked during the term, then charge a minimal fee.

    There has to be something in it for the carriers, or else why be in business at all? Thinking they’ll do it for free is naive.

    • TheTechSmith

      The phones shouldn’t be locked in the first place. And the updates shouldn’t be held back by the carrier. All the carriers do is make take away value from a good product. I buy unlocked without a carrier only because of this BS.

    • formulaphone

      And the market allows you to do that.
      All I’m saying is that thinking they’d do it for free when a device isn’t even paid off is foolish.
      I don’t know a business owner out there that isn’t in it to make a dollar.

    • Laer

      As a business they can’t protect themselves with the locks which are easily removed privately.

      They have other avenues to recoup losses for delinquent accounts.

      They are in it to make a dollar. They’ve made many millions actually, as was recently reported by the CRTC.

      As a previous comment said, carrier locks do nothing but remove value.

    • ToniCipriani ✓pǝᴉɟᴉɹǝʌ

      That and locking the phone is to ensure you have to go through them for roaming instead of getting a local SIM for much cheaper.

    • It’s Me

      They already make massive amounts of money. The contracts and high service rates ensure them of that. Locks are just a way to extract additional money they have no right to expect.

    • ToniCipriani ✓pǝᴉɟᴉɹǝʌ

      OK put unlocking fee aside. Give me a justification why the phone should even be locked in the first place. The carriers are already locking you in to the contract with a financial obligation, that’s what the early cancellation fee is for. It’s none of the carrier’s business on what I’m doing with the phone on contract if the service contract (which they are primarily selling) is being fulfilled.

    • It’s Me

      There is something in it for the carriers, with or without a lock. They get a locked in customer on contract for 2 years paying the most expensive wireless rates in the world. A phone lock and unlock fees don’t have anything to do with that.

    • ToniCipriani ✓pǝᴉɟᴉɹǝʌ

      The lock is for locking in roaming income, nothing else.

  • Raj Singh

    After you’ve paid the subsidy, yeah, of course they should unlock it without any additional administrative fees.

  • Chris

    I really don’t get how some people are just so narrow minded.

    These 3 big communications companies in Canada are complete bullies who take huge advantage of their position, yet some people still want to be “fair” with them and say phones should have a fee to unlock or at least until their “fair” contract is complete.

    Haha what a joke.

    These 3 companies are making more profit than ever and way overcharging for their services which are now cheaper than ever for themselves.

  • Laer

    Where’s the option, “It should be illegal for phones to be carrier locked”?

    • It’s Me

      I’m not sure mobile syrups advertising revenue would allow such an option.

  • It’s Me

    They reversed it kind of. They jacked up their rates and then made those new and more expensive plans into the BYOD price. If you want a phone discount, then add $15 or $20 to the BYOD, which is already higher than what used to be the price with a phone. I guess you’re supposed to feel like you’re still saving with BYOD.

  • MoYeung

    33% voted “Yes, but only after you’ve completed the contract.”

    Are people sheeple here, or there are so many shills trying to influence public opinion? Tell me this isn’t a regime…

    • beyond

      I voted that because the alternative (locking for free at anytime) makes locking the phone at the beginning kind of pointless. A better solution is to NOT lock the phone in the first place. But if they are going to lock it, then having a reason for doing so (like while still on contract) at least give the locking process some meaning – otherwise its just pointless and they shouldn’t do it at all.

    • Garrett Cooper

      But they shouldn’t be locked from the start, I think that’s the point of the option saying of course they should unlock them.

      If I’m in a contract paying for the device, the idea is that I will be using said service and device ongoing and the device is mine. If I travel outside of the country, I should have the option to use another SIM.

      This said, I would never pay the price carriers charge to unlock devices, as I recall it’s around $50. If you have an iPhone, that may be worth it. But for most Android devices, a $3 unlock code off eBay works great, takes about an hour and I don’t even have to leave the house. Which is the main reason phones being locked doesn’t overly bother me anyway.

  • unichips

    If you buy from some of the big 3’s brands (eg Rogers flagship, Bell flagship, Koodo from Telus), then you’ll pay the same with BYOD as you would with the lowest tier of device subsidy for the equivalent level of service. Higher tiers of device subsidy may lead to more expensive monthly fees.

    If you buy from some of their secondary brands (eg. Fido from Rogers, Virgin from Bell, Telus flagship), then you can get a BYOD price plan that is between $5 and $20 less expensive than the equivalent plan with a minimum-tier subsidy.

  • RjPiston

    Why are they even locked in the first place? what benefit does locking a phone have for the consumers?