Canada gets the iPhone

Canada has had the iPhone unofficially for as long as the U.S., with users unlocking the software restrictions and simply buying a cell service plan compatible with iPhone’s capability. In that sense it was no different than purchasing a Blackberry, then shopping for a plan after the fact.

However, the average person isn’t up to the technical challenge of unlocking an iPhone, and there is always the risk that unlocked phones will be bricked (locked out rendered about as useful as a brick) by Apple updates until you either reinstall the original software or load a software workaround.

As a result most Canadians haven’t bothered to get iPhones, and we can expect the official national release of the iPhone to be a big freakin’ deal — not because it’s the only kind of phone out there that does what it does (there are a dozen credible iPhone clones out there by now), but simply because the iPhone is so damn cool. Few companies design products that make you yearn for them like Apple does, or make tech geeks drool. At an Apple store in Hawaii last November I watched a grown man practically threaten to hold his breath unless his wife would let him buy an iPhone — she didn’t give in, but I’ll never forget his hangdog look as he left the store, giving the iPhone one last sad glance.

Here’s what we know so far about the Canadian iPhone launch. The cost of the next generation (3G) iPhone has been cut to $199 for the 8GB unit, and to $299 for the 16GB unit — a price drop of around $100.

The new iPhone offers e-mail support with Microsoft Exchange, and can read Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF formats. It will also only work on Rogers’ highspeed packet access (HSPA) wireless network, which means your service plan options will be limited to Rogers and Fido in the beginning. When you purchase a phone you’ll have to sign on to a three-year contract, and, like the U.S., there are probably stiff penalties for dropping out early — not that there’s anywhere else to go if you want to use your phone.

The exact details of the plan or the monthly costs are still unknown at this point, but three years is probably longer than most marriages these days and the plans could cost users thousands.

It’s also been rumoured that it will be illegal to unlock the phones, and that any unlocked phones will be regularly bricked.

Which leads us to…


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