Finally, cellphone heaven in Canada!
With this week’s launch of the Telus and Bell HSPA wireless network, Canadians can finally enjoy, not just a blazingly fast network, but a great choice of new phones, previously available outside Canada, even North America.
Also known as 3G+, the new network will show a doubling of performance to previous networks, all things being equal. Like faster media downloads, faster mapping programs and for HSPA “stick” models, faster browsing on laptops.
But, some explaining on how the HSPA works, is in order. HSPA phones will only work on the new HSPA network, pretty much covering what the older existing Edge network does. In Europe, it will work with the growing HSPA network, and revert back to Quad Band Edge when not available.
This means when you go to a Telus or Bell store, you need to decide which network you want to be on. Your deciding factour will likely be based on the model phone. If you like the BlackBerry Storm for example and the yet-to-be officially confirmed Storm 2, you will have to forgo the HSPA network, which for a lot of folks is not a big deal.
But if you want HSPA for the fastest online experience, BlackBerry offers the new Bold 9700 available at Telus and Bell. They will still appeal to current RIM fans with its improved keyboard layout, smooth touch pad instead of ball, faster processor and more memory.
But more choices of phone models with more operating systems, will make choosing the right phone challenging.
Some HSPA phones are exclusive to either cellco. The new LG New Chocolate from Telus, for example, is exclusive in North America. This is not a phone for the timid. “This is the phone for the person who want’s to be noticed,” said Hilen Wong, director of director of Product Marketing at TELUS. It’s thin, narrow and long with a stunning 4.12” multitouch touchscreen that shows full width web pages. The HD video play impresses.
Competition between cellcos now is good for the consumer, especially on the popular iPhone 3Gs which now availabe in from three cellcos.
TELUS and Rogers, offer cheaper (but less data and voice) than Rogers. This competition is opening the doors to cool new and cheap services for consumers. Bell is offering the Video Calling service for just 5$ per month, or included in several plans. Users get Unlimited Video Calling with no data charges and it doesn’t come out of your voice minutes. Concurrently, Bell’s Facebook app lets users receive video calls from friends from anywhere in the world. All they need is a Web cam. There is no cost to the friend and there are no long distance charges. Sweet.
Folkd who live in rural areas will be able to have affordable and fast access on their PCS, by tethering their HSPA phones for speedy Internet access.
Here is a brief rundown of the new HSPA phones I previewed with TELUS before launch this week.
HTC Hero – This new version leaps ahead where it left off in its Rogers version. It has seven panels to choose from with lots of smart widgets for more personalizing. Running on Google’s Android, it has everything at your fingertips and lets you take all the great things about Google in your pocket.
BlackBerry Bold – This is an expensive phone , but it’s the BlackBerry flagship. It’s used by most of the RIM brass, with many big and small improvements that will likely be noticed and appreciated by current Bold users. The fret keyboard is slightly curvier and easier for most fingers (mosly thumbs) to hover over while the touch pad is awesome and looks like it will never break down. The screen is crisp and the battery life is longer. This is a fast phone that snaps on your command.
LG New Chocolate – As mentioned above, this a fashion and geek magnet. Unusually long, thin and narrow, it’s awesome on HD movies, great full width web experience, and even has room for dual frame display when handling your email. Nice.
Nokia E-71 – Similar to Rogers version this smartphone is indeed clever, an example of Nokia’s craftsmanship, engineering and practicality. It features two home pages, one for office and a switchable home version, each accommodating the demands or work and play. It has a crisp screen, a well laid out QWERTY keyboard even fat fingers can use.
Sierra Wireless 306 Mobile Internet Key – You know what this does. Plug into your laptop USB, the built-in software installs and you now have fast Internet. It even accommodates micro-SD cards, currently maxing at 32 GB, for carrying your digital stuff around.
BELL to come soon, as I get my hands on some of their phones.