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Set yourself up with the right plan for the right phone

Cell phone plans are made up of three particular parts: talk, text and data. Depending on the plan, there may be monthly limits on how many minutes are allocated to you for airtime during phone calls. The same can be true of SMS text messages, where a plan may provide a set number of outgoing messages you can send over a monthly period.

Data is often what differentiates one plan from another because the amount available can vary significantly. With a data plan, you can access the Internet through an LTE or 3G connection wherever you have access. That lets you browse, stream and connect with apps and services you like to use.

Many plans now offer unlimited talk and text, removing any limits or restrictions on phone calls and text messages. Data plans are also growing, with some carriers offering modified unlimited plans that lift caps on data usage each month.

Choosing a cell phone carrier

There are several carriers in Canada, starting with the largest providers in Rogers, Bell, and TELUS. There are also sub-brands, like Fido, Virgin Mobile, Koodo and Chatr, along with regional carriers that include Freedom Mobile, SaskTel and Videotron.

Each carrier offers a coverage map on their respective websites to show which parts of the country or province have optimal service. They have a variety of plans available that may offer unlimited talk, text and data, as well as nationwide calling and other incentives. Sharing plans also let multiple family members have separate lines, while sharing the same minutes, texts and data bucket between them. Shared plans can also include other devices, like a tablet or smartwatch, to give them data access.

Plans can also vary depending on whether you are looking to sign a contract or bringing your own device. Carriers will offer discounts for customers with their own unlocked devices, and often offer special deals for plans on contract.

Choosing the right phone for you

You can find a wide variety of smartphones that will work with most carriers. The most popular devices are available, with the latest iPhone and Android models to choose from. Premium phones are made to get the most out of all the services carriers provide, courtesy of vibrant displays that are great for streaming video, and wireless connectivity that makes keeping in touch easy.

There are also mid-range handsets with a lower cost of entry that can still work with the best carriers have to offer. These phones may not have the latest, or most powerful, specs, but they are designed to be user-friendly with good battery life.

Affordable smartphones and flip phones focus more on talk and text, with data as an optional extra. These devices are less about specs and more about convenience, where performance is lightweight and staying in touch with little fuss is a priority.