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Monday, January 17, 2011

Wind Mobile Cell Phone Buying Guide

So unless you've been living under a rock (or maybe not a complete nerd I guess) you've heard of Wind Mobile in Canada. They are trying to break into the cellular market and snatch customers away from the big 3 (Rogers, Telus, Bell). I pretty much hate all of the incumbents in the Canadian wireless market, and so just the idea of a new entrant was really exciting to me (keep in mind, Fido, Virgin, Koodo, etc... are all owned by one of the big 3). Up until the end of January 2011, Wind Mobile is having an INCREDIBLE sale, with a wireless package that gives you unlimited everything for only $40 a month. Unlimited talk Canada/US wide, unlimited texting Canada/US wide, unlimited DATA, seriously unlimited. So the question now is what phone to get that works with Wind? Wind Mobile uses the same frequencies as T-Mobile in the US, and is NOT compatible with any of the other wireless companies in Canada, except Mobilicity. One thing I need to make very clear as well, there is NO iPhone anywhere in the world that will work with Wind Mobile. It doesn't matter if it's unlocked, or even the new CDMA Verizon iPhone, it will NOT work with Wind. This may change this summer with the iPhone 5, but we'll see.

I have compiled a chart of compatible phones with Wind, their specs, general pricing, and where they are available. Notice these are all Android phones. If you like blackberries, you won't find much info here, but then again if you like blackberries you probably want them for the BBM (blackberry messenger) and business related stuff. I caught some flack when I posted this chart to a Wind Mobile forum ( because I left off a lot of high end T-Mobile Android phones like the G2, mytouch 4G, and Samsung Vibrant (Galaxy S). I did this in purpose because I was looking for the best budget phones, since i'm a graduate student (graduate student is synonymous with over worked and under paid). I am also of the opinion that the official Android developers phone, the Google Nexus S, is the only high end Android phone people should consider at this moment (at least until the new dual core tegra 2 based phones start rolling out). The reason for this is because it is the ONLY phone that reliably and quickly gets Android updates. 

(Google Nexus S - official google developer phone guaranteed to get the fastest Android updates)

At this stage in the life of Google Android it is basically an advanced beta operating system with many bugs, and for this reason each new version of Android brings many improvements in performance and stability. Most phones take many months (to a year) to get an update, and even then many of them are NEVER upgraded. For example the Sony Xperia X10 (available at Mobilicity) and the Motorola XT720 (available at Wind Mobile) are both running Android 2.1 and will NEVER be upgraded past that. Android 2.2 froyo has been out for half a year or so, and 2.3 gingerbread was just released last month. Both 2.2 and 2.3 brought some drastic 'behind the scenes' improvements to Android, and due to the greed of the two previously mentioned phone companies they will NEVER be updated. They would prefer if you went out and bought their new phones...

(please click on picture to see full chart)

Now having said that, i'm going to strongly recommend the LG Optimus T (from T-Mobile in the US, must be purchased off ebay and then unlocked) because it is cheap (I bought 2 off ebay and paid between $240-250 Canadian, including shipping, tax, duty, and unlocking, but many people pay up to $300). The Google Nexus S might be a higher end phone with guaranteed fast updates, but it also costs around $600-700 Canadian all said and done. The Lg Optimus T is a very nice and capable phone, and with some rooting and custom ROMs (a custom ROM is like a custom firmware that is tweaked to run faster) I've got mine overclocked from 600 mhz up to 800 mhz, and running VERY smooth. I will another blog post outlining the general process for doing this, and the resource I used to figure it out (mostly the XDA developers forums). One of the most important things here is that the LG Optimus T comes pre-loaded with Android 2.2 froyo, and Lg has promised to update it to Android 2.3 in the near future. On the other hand the Galaxy S Vibrant has JUST got android 2.2 and will probably never officially get 2.3 gingerbread. 

(T-mobile LG Optimus T, same hardware as the LG Optimus One, but using the correct frequencies to be compatible with Wind Mobile and Mobilicity in Canada)

One other phone that is not listed that should be considered for people wanting a higher end phone than the Optimus T, but that don't want to pay upwards of $700 canadian for it. I was recently informed that you can purchase a T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy Vibrant phone (high end Galaxy S phone that is nearly identical to the Google Nexus S) for around $350-450 Canadian from ebay. This is obviously a very good deal for such a fast phone, and if you are computer savy and able to root and install custom roms, you could continue getting future updates long after Samsung officially stops giving them out (and it looks like froyo 2.2 is where Samsung will stop, unfortunately). 

(Samsung Galaxy Vibrant for T-Mobile, compatible with Wind and Mobilicity and overall the best phone for Wind for the money. I opted for the LG Optimus T since I got it for significantly less ($250 versus $400-450))

The best Android phone that Wind sells is the Motorola XT720, and I have to say that for the price this phone is a terrible deal. It will NEVER be updated beyond 2.1, has only 256 megs of ram, and Motorola is an awful company that is known for abandoning perfectly good phones and leaving all customers in the mud. Wind is supposed to be releasing a Samsung Galaxy S phone very soon, and I was told by several people working at Wind that they are currently testing it.

I would not recommend buying any android phone from Wind at this time. 

  1. The best budget Android phone to use with Wind and Mobilicity is the Lg Optimus T from T-mobile, ordered off ebay. $200-300 Canadian including shipping, tax, duty, and unlocking.
  2. The best overall phone for Wind and Mobilicity is the Samsung Galaxy Vibrant. It costs a bit more at around $350-450 from ebay, but it is quite a bit more powerful than the LG Optimus T, and nearly identical to the Google Nexus S.
  3. The best android phone you can buy right now is the Google Nexus S, because as I said it is the official Google phone and gets updates. It gets ALL the updates, right away, and for Android that is really important. This will cost you $600-700 Canadian and so if money is no option this is great, otherwise I'd personally stick with one of the two previous options (I got two LG Optimus T phones for my girlfriend and I). 
  4. Things will change in the next couple of months when the dual core Tegra 2 monsters start rolling out (Lg Optimus 2X, Motorola Atrix, etc...).
Comments and suggestions are appreciated!

I will soon post my brief review of the Lg Optimus T, as well as a quick guide to rooting, and where to find the info you need to install fast, overclocked, custom roms. Click a few of the adds on this page if you found this useful!


  1. Good update man. I was always hesitant with WIND just because of some of it's restrictions. The Galaxy is def one of the better phones to get, and Androids itself I feel will slowly take over market share from bb/apple(wishful thinking)

  2. Thanks! I had to hold off Wind for a while because they didn't have service at UBC when they launched. With their holiday miracle plan ($40 unlimited everything) there was no way I could refuse. I was paying $80 a month with Fido for only 250 megs of data, nearly unlimited canada wide calling and texting, and that was about it.

    I've been with them for about 3 weeks now and it's great. Call quality is a bit worse than Fido, but not nearly bad enough to make me regret saving as much money as I am now! Also I can tether to my laptop with the LG Optimus T (rooted) and with unlimited data I don't have to worry about going over my limit.

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