Quite a few years back my dad and I made the change to Verizon from Telus. Yes, those companies are in two completely different countries. You see at the time the Canadian Dollar was at or just above parity with the United States and the phone plans offered by Verizon at the time were far, far, far more competitive than the any of the Canadian companies.
We made the switch primarily because we did a ton of US travel and the roaming charges (yeah roaming STILL EXISTS in Canada) were absolutely horrific. Being truck drivers, we both had to make the switch rather than spending half our paychecks on our phone bills.
At the time, my dad got a bland flip phone, and I bought a Blackberry Curve 8530. Yes, bought. Even on a plan they didn’t offer any discount on the 8530. You see, the iPhone was out by this time along with the very first edition of the Samsung Galaxy. Yes, we are jogging quite a ways into the past.
“Why?” you ask. Why did I buy a Blackberry Curve when I could have gotten a Samsung Galaxy or an iPhone? It came down to being Canadian. I am a proud Canadian and buying a Canadian product was important to me.( It still is, by the way.) I bought a Honda Civic, not only because it’s awesome, but because it was built here in Canada. Oh, and I really like the Blackberry keyboards. Seriously, people laugh at Blackberry users that have phones with physical keyboards today, but those are people that have never used a Blackberry keyboard. They’re amazing. I digress…
So I lived with that phone for about two and a half years when Verizon informed me that I could get a brand new phone. It was time, as the Curve was really starting to feel it’s age. So, while visiting a friend in Iowa, she took me over to the local Verizon store and I traded in my 8530 (yes, they actually gave me money for it) for a Blackberry Bold 9930. The guy at the store looked at me puzzled when I asked for the Blackberry Bold 9930 specifically, as I didn’t see it displayed anywhere. He even asked why I wanted a Blackberry when I could get a Samsung Galaxy for free. I told him that I’m Canadian and I want to support a Canadian company. He looked at me puzzled again, and after a minute of staring at me, he reluctantly went into the store’s back room and came up with a DUSTY 9930 box.
I survived with that phone for nearly five years now. Over those years, the Canadian dollar has taken a dive against the United States dollar making my phone bill extremely expensive. To a positive, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission) who is responsible for regulating our communications companies here in Canada pushed through some new rules for the media companies to follow. They forced the allowance of unlockable phones on all carriers. They also pushed through some rules for making phones plans simple to understand and lowering rates.
Thusly, my dad and I were forced to go Canadian once again. The hardest thing to do was find the right company with the right coverage. You see, here in Canada, you really have only three choices when it comes to networks. All the cell phone companies run on either Rogers, Telus or Bell networks almost exclusively. There are a few oddballs, but I’m not going to talk about them. All three of these companies now use 4G LTE networks near exclusively everywhere in Canada, so in that way they are pretty advanced. The problem is that they all cover different areas differently. Rogers typically has the smaller network everywhere and it really was not an option. That said, the Canadian roaming partner for Verizon is Rogers.
Earlier this year Rogers shut down a ton of their 3G towers killing almost all the phone network access in northern Ontario for my Blackberry, making it a rather risky endeavour if anything went wrong with my truck in northern Ontario. If you are interested in looking it up, I would lose service on the east side of Kenora and have nothing until I reached Thunder Bay. As soon as I left Thunder Bay, I would have no service until I reached Kapuskasing, and from there, have spotty service all the way down to North Bay. Thats nearly 1500km of no service. That’s a long distance to go without a phone for emergencies.
The other network options are Telus and Bell. Something else to understand here in Canada, is all the major companies have their own discount companies as well. Rogers has Fido. Telus has Koodo. Bell has Virgin Mobile. These discount services often offer cheaper bundle packages than their more premium parent companies while retaining the complete phone network of their parent companies. After a lot of consideration, we went with Virgin Mobile and I just finally got my phone set up for their service.
What is really nice nowadays is you can buy any phone that has compatible network radios, just throw a sim card in it and off you go. Again, in Canada this was unheard of until a couple years ago. The only company that really allowed that was Rogers as they used GSM technology but even then they really frowned upon it.
So I did a lot of research and came up with some phones I was interested in. Of course, the phone I really wanted all this time was the latest Samsung Galaxy, but to buy that without a plan is nearly 900 dollars. 900 DOLLARS! That, my friends, is insane. Don’t care who you are, but you don’t need a phone that expensive. So when my sister came back from Korea and found out her LG G3 was not compatible with any networks in Canada she found a phone by the company Blu. Her’s turned out great, so I bought a slightly cheaper version called the Blu Life One-X 2016. Yeah, that’s a mouthful.
For a $200 CAD phone, it’s absolutely fantastic. In fact, I don’t understand why more people don’t talk about this company. They offer all kinds of different phones for everyone.
What Blu does is essentially take Chinese built phones and rebrand them as Blu phones. That’s not a bad thing, in this case. My phone has a 1.4GHz 8 core CPU that does pretty good job playing most games out there. Certainly it’s not a powerhouse, but with the 8 core CPU, it multitasks alright even while being limited to 2GB of memory.
The 5.5 inch 1080p screen is a pleasure to use out and in the sunlight, while not being washed out in the latter. It also comes with a nearly vanilla version of Android 5.1 which is great, though I do not care for the keyboard that they installed as default alongside the regular Android keyboard. The only pre-installed apps are the default Google apps and a couple Amazon shortcuts, that includes a shortcut to the Amazon app store which I thought was interesting.
The Blu Life One-X 2016 is a truly great phone and I would recommend it to anyone.
It has taken me some time to get used to using Android as a phone. I have had an Android tablet for some time, but the actual phone functions of Android confused me initially. This, of course, comes down to me being used to my Blackberry.
So, would I go back to a Blackberry some day? It really doesn’t matter anymore. Blackberry has announced that they are not going to be producing phones in house any longer and are essentially moving to a model like Blu, buying Chinese phones and re-branding them as Blackberries bundled with their software and Android. I can basically do that by purchasing any Android phone and installing BBM.
What phone do you use? (Do you think the brand is equal to the price?)