If you look at the operators’ websites long enough, you are likely to go crazy.
Maybe that’s what happened to me. Maybe not. The jury is still out on this one. But I’m pretty sure Freedom has the best deal on the iPhone 13 in Canada right now if you want to get one for $ 0 up front.
The thing about carriers is that they do very complicated things with math. I don’t know whether to applaud or fear them, but the way they make the numbers dance is impressive. I recently wrote about how much more I would pay a Canadian carrier for an iPhone 13 compared to buying it directly from Apple. While the big three generally cost more than getting an iPhone from Apple, several regional carriers offered significant discounts.
SaskTel, Freedom, and Videotron offered discounts ranging from $ 50 to more than $ 500 when customers get an iPhone with a two-year plan. SaskTel generally offered the biggest discount and therefore the lowest price on an iPhone.
However, as with anything that involves a carrier, there is more than meets the eye. First, to take advantage of these offers, you also need to get a plan with the carrier, and that’s where the going gets tough. While SaskTel had the lowest cost for an iPhone, it also has the most expensive plans of the three carriers. Videotron had the cheapest plan, but the most expensive iPhone. That left Freedom in the middle, and when you count it all, it offers one of the absolute lowest costs to get an iPhone on a carrier plan.
There may be other lesser known carriers that I missed, but of these top regional carriers, Freedom is definitely the cheapest (except in Alberta and BC, which I’ll explain below). Also, if you want a plan other than the cheapest possible option offered by each of these providers, the lower total cost may change. I recommend doing the math to see which makes the most sense in the long run.
And, if I missed an operator with a good hidden deal, or screwed up some math somewhere, let me know in the comments!
Okay, let’s do some math
I will break down the calculations I did with each carrier to show the total costs it would pay for an iPhone. Since it is the most expensive option, I will start with the iPhone 13 Pro Max and include the prices of the other models below based on the same math (note calculations use 128GB prices).
Starting with SaskTel, the carrier offers a discount of about $ 500 on iPhone 13 models if you use their ‘Plus Price’. Customers can choose an upfront cost (I chose $ 0 for this and all other calculations), a monthly fee per device, and a monthly fee plan. SaskTel’s cheapest rate plan option with the iPhone 13 Pro Max was $ 80, which means the calculation looks like this:
$0 upfront + ($42.75 device cost + $80 plan) * 24 months = $2,946 ($1,026 for the phone and $1,920 for the plan)
It is worth noting that SaskTel also allows you to choose ‘Save on your plan’ and get a discount of $ 20 / month. However, doing so removes the device discount, which means that the cost of the device becomes $ 66.25 / month and the plan is reduced to $ 60. The total comes to $ 3,030 with the same calculation above, for what a little more.
Videotron is interesting because it currently offers a 50 percent discount on its lowest plan, which is $ 65 / 20GB. That makes it $ 32.50 for six months. However, for two years, the plan would cost you $ 1,365 ($ 32.50 * 6 months = $ 195 and $ 65 * 18 months = $ 1,170).
This is by far the cheapest plan, but when you factor in the cost of an iPhone 13 Pro Max with Videotron, the total cost over two years does not favor customers:
$0 upfront + ($61.25 * 24 months) = $1,470 for the phone, + the $1,365 plan = $2,835 total over two years
Note that the calculation is in a slightly different format to account for the changing price of the plan.
Also, for fun, I calculated the cost of Videotron if the 50 percent deal stayed for the duration of the contract. In total, clients would pay $ 2,250 over two years. Unfortunately, that deal does not exist.
Freedom / Shaw
Finally, Freedom offers a perfect balance between the iPhone and the price of the plan to become the cheapest option in two years. First, Freedom charges a Tab rate of $ 53 / month for the iPhone 13 Pro Max and requires a minimum plan of $ 60 / month. That works for:
$0 upfront + ($53 for the phone + $60 for the plan) * 24 months = $2,712 ($1,272 for the phone and $1,440 for the plan)
Also, it’s pertinent to note that Shaw, owner of Freedom, actually offers better prices in Alberta and BC, where it operates thanks to its incredibly cheap $ 45 plan. Shaw offers the same device cost as Freedom, which means you’d pay $ 2,352 for two years for the iPhone 13 Pro Max in Shaw mobile. However, I chose to focus on Freedom here due to its increased availability.
What about Apple and other carriers?
For the sake of comparison, I’ve also included the cost if you bought a phone directly from Apple using the company’s 24-month 0 percent APR financing. In short, for the iPhone 13 Pro Max, you would need a plan that costs $ 48.45 / month or cheaper to meet or exceed Freedom’s $ 2,712 full price for two years. I’ve listed my calculation and Apple’s financing costs below, along with the plan price required to meet or exceed Freedom’s total price.
$2,712 Freedom cost - $1,549 Apple cost = $1,163 plan cost / 24 months = roughly $48.45
- iPhone 13 Pro Max – Financing of $ 64.54 / month ($ 1,548.96 total) | $ 1,549 total | $ 48.45 or cheaper plan
- iPhone 13 Pro – Financing of $ 58.29 / month ($ 1,398.96 total) | $ 1,399 total | $ 48.70 or cheaper plan
- iPhone 13 – Financing of $ 45.79 / month ($ 1,098.96 total) | $ 1,099 in total | $ 49.20 or cheaper plan
- iPhone 13 mini – Financing of $ 39.54 / month ($ 948.96 total) | $ 949 total | $ 36.95 or cheaper plan
There is usually no point in getting an iPhone from the other carriers unless you are willing to make some concessions. My previous calculations found that you would pay more financing an iPhone 13 through one of the Big Three or its flanker brands than you would pay to buy the same phone directly from Apple. That calculation didn’t include the cost of the plans, but since most of the big three plans start at $ 80 + per month, they’re definitely down.
Things are a bit different with flanker brands, where you can get a plan as low as $ 45 per month. Also, if you don’t mind paying some money up front and can get by with a $ 45 / 4GB plan, you can actually save just a little bit with Fido, Koodo, or Virgin Plus compared to Freedom (except 13 mini). Anything over the $ 45 plan will cost more in the long run. Here is the math for the iPhone 13 Pro Max on Koodo:
$801 upfront + $792 over 24 months ($33/mo) + $45/mo plan ($1,080 over 24 months) = $2,673 over two years
- iPhone 13 Pro Max: $ 2,673 total ($ 801 upfront)
- iPhone 13 Pro: $ 2,519 total ($ 647 upfront)
- iPhone 13: $ 2,211 total ($ 339 upfront)
- iPhone 13 mini: $ 2,056 total ($ 184 upfront)
It’s worth noting that Fido and Virgin offer slightly lower start-up costs and slightly higher monthly costs, but the end result is within a couple of dollars of Koodo (for example, the 13 Pro Max costs $ 795 upfront and $ 2,675. in total with Fido and Virgin).
If you managed to stick with me through all this confusing nonsense, you should now have a pretty good idea how to get an iPhone 13 cheaply with a carrier in Canada. I’d say it shouldn’t be as confusing to calculate prices like this, but unfortunately, it’s not up to me.