Monday, June 15, 2015

Emergency Cell Phones (Canadian edition)

My friends kids are obviously at a certain age as I got the same question 3 times in the past couple weeks as everyone preps for more freedoms once school ends:

What are my options for an emergency phone for my kid?

There are caveats, but I like the data only option using a "share" plan for $10 month (no texting or voice), but imessage and voip works.  

For most people, 711 Speakout has variations for most low-end needs and pairs well with the Breeze phone from roam mobility (which you can get at London Drugs).

Details on plans and devices below.

Plan options for Text, Voice or Data

Emergency Only

Get a qwerty phone and signup for 711 Speakout.     Buy a sim $10 and an airtime voucher $10-100.   Need to add a voucher once per year to keep everything active.   This is the lowest cost option - $1.25/mo for 911 plus $10 to send a text, $0.25/min for calls.   Need to add a min of $10 a year.

$1.25/mo + usage

Text primary 

Option 1: Speakout. Same as emergency but add the $10/mo/texting package.  $11.25/mo w 911 fee.  Voice is $0.25/min, LD $0.20.  

Option 2: June 2015 price drop on Bell/Telus prepaid plans make these an option. $16/mo.   Unlimited texting.  Good if you already have a bell or telus locked phone.

Voice + text

If you want texting and > 40 min of voice calls or no texting and > 80 minutes of voice calls, then Speakout has an option for $20/mo that gives 100min of voice plus unlimited texting (and includes LD).  (the $10 price jump is equal to 40 minutes of talk time).

Voice+ Text + Data

If you want all 3, generally it's time to look at normal cell plans.   There is a $10/mo add-on for 100MB data option on Speakout that could meets some peoples needs.

So this could be as little as $11.50/mo for 100MB data (e.g. imessage) but $0.15/text $0.25 min or $30/mo for 100 min voice, unlimted texting and 100MB data - but at $30 a month you may have better options as "share" plans on your other cell phones.

Data only

This option is interesting. :)     Requires an iphone or android.    No texting, no voice.
You can get a tablet flex plan for or a data share plan for $10 month and use imessage or what's app (or equiv).   Need to be carful on this one as if irresponsible could result in a big bill.   (Don't watch you tube on your phone!)  Tested with Bell. YMMV with Telus or other.

Texting Devices

Unlock an old blackberry.  Good for text, no data, no BBM easily. $0

Breeze phone from roam mobility.  Unlocked dual sim qwerty phone. $50   No apps, no data required, good texting phone.  Bonus, comes with a US sim for roam mobility which I like as a US travel service.

Data Devices

Use an old iPhone - You can match provider to phone or get your carrier to unlock.  Usually $50.   (Speakout, Fido = Rogers, Koodo = Telus, Virgin = Bell)

Use an old android.   Cheap to unlock in the mall; your techie friends may be able to do for free (

Que4.5 Android from roam mobility.   Unlocked, $150

Speakout Android - $40-100. Locked to rogers; likely unlockable.

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