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Public Mobile Review

 

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If you don’t want to read the details, skip straight to our Recommendation

Once your done reading this, be sure to check out our comparison: Lucky Mobile vs Public Mobile vs Chatr Mobile

 

Public Mobile History

Before we begin on our Public Mobile Review, we feel it’s important to give you some background information – Who are they? Where did they come from?

Public Mobile’s beginning’s really came from the federal governments push to increase competition between the wireless carriers.

We all know that there are a number of dominant players, however this didn’t mean that it wasn’t worth a shot to start a new mobile carrier.

Public Mobile acquired wireless spectrum around 2008 and launched their network in Toronto and Montreal in 2010 along with opening several retail stores.

Consumers were embracing this new carrier as they saw great growth and momentum as they got started.

However, the good times didn’t last very long.

By 2013, they were not seeing eye to eye with the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.

They also agreed to have private equity firms that were invested in them to take larger stakes in the company with discussions of using the capital to further fund growth.

All things said and done, Public Mobile ended up being sold to Telus towards the end of 2013 and within a few short years, we were right back where we started.

 

Public Mobile Overview

Public Mobile is essentially a discount brand, competing with the likes of Rogers’ Chatr Mobile and Bell’s Lucky Mobile.

They are prepaid only and just like Koodo Mobile, leverage Telus’ strong 4G LTE network. However, Public Mobile takes the word ‘discount’ and ‘self-serve’ to another level:

No Physical Stores
Yup, the day has come where we have mobile carriers without actual physical stores.

But then again, what’s the need for them? You can go on Public Mobile’s website and order a sim card – once it arrives, you can activate it online, and you’re own your way.

Sounds pretty good for those of us who don’t want this to be a complicated process!

 

No Support Number
They do not have a support phone number you can call.

Yes, we know you might think that’s crazy, but in this day and age I guess it’s possible.

For account changes, all of the self-serve options are available when you log into your account online.

For support, they actually have a impressive online community where chances are someone has already had the same issue as you and the answer is sitting there waiting for you.

Interesting concept and way to deal with support.

If you’re really stuck, you can Submit A Ticket and a moderator will review it.

So if you have the need to talk to someone to make account changes or for support reasons, Public Mobile may not be right for you.

Why is this their approach you ask? Well, to keep costs low, you need to cutback on certain things, and they’ve decided that this is one of those areas.

 

No Subsidized Phones
They do not sell any phones.

Yes, again we know you might think this is crazy as well, but it’s not.

You can buy an unlocked phone from a ton of places these days so do just that.

You can check out Kijiji and the other online marketplaces.

Buy the phone you want, within your budget, you own it out right and use it on Public Mobile.

No contracts, no ‘tabs’, it’s all up to you as to how much you want to spend on a phone.

 

Helping You Save Even More
Heard of all their ‘Ways To Save’?

Technically, it’s possible to get your plan down to $0 per month.

Have we heard of anyone like that?

Few and far between.

However, we have heard of many people cutting their bill down significantly by leveraging Public Mobile’s Ways To Save.

More details on that below!

Keep in mind, with this level of simplicity that means LOWER PRICES!

In addition to that, there are:

  • No credit checks
  • No contracts
  • No surprise bills since it’s prepaid
  • No one trying to upsell you on phones or plans

 

Public Mobile Coverage & Network

Public mobile leverages the Telus network so just like both Telus and Koodo it operates on the following frequencies:

  • HSPA: 850 MHz and 1900 MHz frequencies
  • LTE: 1700/2100 MHz (AWS)
  • LTE Advanced (LTE-a): 2600 MHz and 700 MHz

Since Public Mobile does not sell any phones, you’ll have to make sure you bring a unlocked phone that can work on the frequencies noted above.

Public Mobile has made it easy by adding a Phone Compatibility checker on their website, check it out here before you sign up to ensure your device is compatible.

Alternatively, ask us in the comments below.

 

Public Mobile Coverage Maps

Since Public Mobile leverages the Telus network, you can expect strong 3G and 4G LTE coverage across the country!

Update: There are no longer any 4G talk and text plans available, just a 4G data only plan remains.

Their coverage is pretty solid and rarely hear of customers having any issues.

It’s best to check their coverage map to get an up to date idea of what coverage in your most frequented areas looks like.

 

Public Mobile Plans

Public Mobile offers:

  1. Ready-Made Plans
  2. Build Your Own Plans

We’ll go through the Ready-Made Plans below, however lets quickly discuss their Build Your Own Plans.

Update: Public Mobile no longer offers Build Your Own Plans, they now only offer Ready-Made Plans.

They also no longer have 4G data options in their talk and text plans.

This option is actually quite unique in the industry and is pretty good as you can add exactly what you want in your plan in addition to being able to change components of your plan every 30 days or 90 days so you can adjust it to adapt to your lifestyle, reinforcing the fact that you are in control of your plan! A Build Your Own Plan works as follows:

Please note the below plan prices may vary in Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Price Length Talk Text Data Voicemail & Call Display AutoPay Bonus
$15 per month 30 Days 100 Minutes Canada Wide & Unlimited Incoming Calls Unlimited International Text & Picture None Yes 250 MB at 3G
$25 per month 30 Days Unlimited Canada Wide Unlimited International Text & Picture 500 MB at 3G Yes 500 MB at 3G
$30 per month 30 Days None None 1 GB at 4G No None
$35 per month 30 Days Unlimited Canada Wide Unlimited International Text & Picture 1 GB at 3G Yes 500 MB at 3G
$40 per month 30 Days Unlimited Canada Wide Unlimited International Text & Picture 4.5 GB at 3G Yes 500 MB at 3G
$50 per month 30 Days Unlimited Canada & US Unlimited International Text & Picture 8 GB at 3G Yes 500 MB at 3G

 

Public Mobile 4 Ways To Save

A key feature of Public Mobile is the numerous Ways To Save they offer which essentially help you bring the cost of your monthly service down.

Let’s analyze each of them:

$2 AutoPay – Difficulty: Easy
This one is an easy win, set up pre-authorized payments from your credit card and you can automatically save $2 per month.

Don’t have a credit card? Get a Visa debit card tied to your bank account and you can do the same! Beware that some plan prices already include this discount.

 

$1 – $20 Community Contribution – Difficulty: High
This one requires you to go into the Public Mobile forums and contribute to the conversations going on there.

While this may seem easy, your reward fluctuates based on your contribution relative to overall contribution.

This one is not for everyone so we suggest you spend some time trying it out for a month or two to see how you perform.

 

$1 Per Friend + $10 One-Time – Difficulty: Moderate
This one is definitely possible.

Refer a friend and receive a one-time reward of $10 however receive $1 off per month for each friend for as long as that friend uses Public Mobile.

So if you are happy with your service with Public Mobile and want to advocate/convince your friends who are on the fence to sign up with them, there’s a pretty good reward here.

Apart from the one-time credit, if you refer say 3 friends, family members and/or colleagues, that’s another $3 per month cut off of your bill!

 

$1 Per Month For Your Loyalty – Difficulty: Easy
This one really doesn’t require you to do anything.

After 1 year of staying with Public Mobile you’ll receive $1 off per month.

And this continues and increases – $2 off per month after 2 years, $3/3 years, $4/4 years and $5/5 years.

This reward is capped at $5 off per month.

We like that Public Mobile is rewarding loyalty, something rarely seen in service businesses (not just mobile carriers).

 

Keep in mind that your account must always remain in good standing to earn and use rewards and there are obviously terms and conditions which can be found in the Public Mobile Community.

 

Public Mobile Roaming

Unfortunately, being a discount carrier, Public Mobile does not offer a EasyRoam like option where you can use your plan pretty much as is from $7 – $12 per day.

They do however have talk, text and data roaming add-ons that can be purchased and used if you’ll be travelling.

Here are the current add-ons for roaming in the US:

  • US Talk, Text and Data: $20 for 10 days
    Unlimited Talk, International Text and 250MB Data
  • US Talk and Text Bundle: $15 for 10 days
    Unlimited Talk and International Text
  • US Unlimited Talk: $8 for 10 days
  • US Unlimited International Text Only: $8 for 10 days
  • US Data Only for 10 days
    250MB Data for $10
    500MB Data for $15
    1GB Data for $20

 

Public Mobile Phones

As discussed earlier, Public Mobile does not sell phones.

You’ll need to bring your own unlocked device and purchase a sim card from them for a one time fee of $10.

There sim card is a triple punch meaning it can be used as a standard sim card, micro sim card or nano sim card – essentially covering off every type of phone.

What phones will work on Public Mobile?

All iPhones are compatible with Public Mobile so you can use an older one if you have one laying around.

If you’re looking to purchase a used phone, our friends at Orchard sell used iPhones (and some Samsung models).

They’re based in Toronto, ship the same or next day and offer a 90 day money back guarantee!

You can also check out Kijiji and the other online marketplaces.

While there are a large number of phones that will work on Public Mobile’s network, here’s a list of some popular devices which will work:

 

iPhone X iPhone 8 Plus iPhone 8 iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 7 iPhone 6S iPhone 6 iPhone SE
Samsung Galaxy S9+ Samsung Galaxy S9 Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Samsung Galaxy A8
Samsung Galaxy S8+ Samsung Galaxy S8 Samsung Galaxy A5 Samsung J3 Prime
Google Pixel 2 XL Google Pixel 2 HUAWEI P20 Pro HUAWEI P20
LG Q Stylo + LG Stylo 3 Plus LG G7 ThinQ LG G6
LG X Power 3 LG X Power 2 Samsung Xcover 4 Alcatel GO FLIP
Blackberry Motion Blackberry KEYOne Blackberry KEY2  

 

Recommendation

  1. Best for those who want to build their own plan – Public Mobile lets you pick exactly what you want in your plan and pay for that and only that – no frills
  2. Those who need fast data will be happy with Public Mobile’s 4G LTE capabilities – This is a huge difference compared to Lucky Mobile and Chatr’s 3G only service – Talk and text plans with 4G are no longer avaialble
  3. For those motivated to cut off a few more dollars from their monthly bill, you have 4 ways to do so
  4. No contracts, no credit checks

Any downsides?

  1. If you’re the type of person that needs a human touch to feel comfortable, you won’t get that with Public Mobile – They have no customer service number nor any physical locations – Everything is done online, from plan changes to problem resolution. Be sure you’re comfortable with never being able to talk to a person ‘live’ to ask questions or express concerns.
  2. They don’t sell any phones so you’ll have to go get one on your own – make sure it’s unlocked and it works on the bands that Public Mobile operates on

 

Public Mobile FAQs

 

  • Does Public Mobile have subsidized phones?

  • No, Public Mobile does not sell phones at all.
  • Is Public Mobile’s reception good?

  • Yes, Public Mobile leverages Telus’ strong network with nationwide coverage – You will get great reception almost everywhere.
  • What is Public Mobile’s phone number?

  • Public Mobile does not offer phone support. Account changes and support requests are all done online.

 

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Shawn Gant

Shawn is a passionate techie particularly interested in the fintech space. He loves to dig into the ever evolving number of apps and SaaS platforms available to Canadians. In his free time, catch him on the mountains shredding some powder.