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Many stores refuse to sell you a phone without signing up for a plan.
Since Wireless Code came into effect though there is an easy out.
Buy the phone, sign up for plan, and then call customer service to cancel plan immediately.
They will refund the plan monthly cost and line is cancelled same day you activate it.
There are some ok prepay handsets but I find most carriers save the best for the postpaid clients.
Just stumbled upon a couple of handy articles on Android Central:
The second link, in particular, breaks down all the LTE bands in use by all the Canadian majors! As PM uses the Telus network, here is the list of bands in use:
Band 17 (700Mhz),
Band 7 (2600MHz),
Band 4 (AWS)
Band 2 (1900Mhz),
Band 5 (850Mhz),
Band 29 (700Mhz),
Band 13 (700Mhz)
Now, not all of these will be in use everywhere in the country and so on, but it does give you an idea of what bands to look for when buying a phone. You will definitely need AT LEAST band 4 for any LTE coverage at all. Consider the rest optional. Very few phones seem to have band 13 or 29, but many have most or all of the others.
Newegg is a good place to buy unlocked phones (new and refurbished). My zenfone 2 came from newegg.ca and they offer extended warranty if you need it, and reviews from buyers, i recommend!
I purchased my LG phone directly through the official LG.COM website. LG factory default, unlocked, ready to go straight out of the box, I even got to (had to) choose exactly which variant submodel and firmware options/apps were included and excluded. The total cost (with shipping) for my "$300" phone was actually closer to $170. No contracts or financing or payments, all paid upfront and completely owned outright by just little old me (the guy with the original LG receipt and warranty).
Alas, I did this in late 2013 and it appears that LG no longer sells their phones directly: they only sell their phones through Telus/Bell/Rogers/etc, along with all the usual carrier-preinstalled bloat and junkware and lockouts and long-term service contracts and tangled billing. Sad.
However, for those who don't insist on limiting their choices to only the latest-greatest devices made by Samsung, LG, etc, there are actually quite a large number of foreign cellphone device manufacturers. I haven't tried to shop directly at any of their corporate websites, but I'd expect some of them must allow devices to be purchased direct from their factories. (And c'mon, think how cool it would be to have the only Polish Kruger&Matz LIVE3+ smartphone on our continent!)
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First: all phones are made in China, all. So when i read "buying guide for chinese phones..." think its not a good title. You could say how to buy directly from China, something like that.
Secondly: you must have to pay custom tax (20$~40$) here in Canada because the limit to import is 20$ (yes i know you could bypass this rule but suppose we are legal)
Most of all, Umi a good brand? No, no,no, stay away from this brand: elephone, ulephone, bluboo, leagoo, blackview, doogee, homtom, all crap phone. Try meizu, infocus, xiaomi, vernee or huawei if you want to have update and find some custom rom.
135$ - Infocus M560 (3g only with Public Mobile)
235$ - Xiaomi redmi note 3 pro prime (3g+4g\lte with Public Mobile)