An iPhone at the Apple store in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

An iPhone at the Apple store in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Apple’s iPhone 8 turns into bargaining chip in limited-time carrier promotion

TORONTO — Rogers Communications is using one of Apple’s newest smartphones, the iPhone 8, as a bargaining chip as it seeks to get customers to sign up for select service plans over the busy holiday shopping period.

In a limited-time offer announced Thursday, Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) began advertising an iPhone 8 with 64 megabytes of memory for $0 if customers sign up for a two-year plan that costs at least $2,280 before taxes over the contract

That amounts to about $95 a month for a plan that includes 300 local voice minutes, one gigabyte of regular data and two bonus gigs.

Additional features would push the monthly fee higher.

While it’s normal for carriers to offer older phones for little or no money to entice customers, it’s less common for a newer phone like the iPhone 8 to be available for $0.

“I think it’s a change in market dynamics,” IDC Canada mobile products researcher Manish Nargas said Thursday.

He pointed to a revised federal code of conduct, which went into effect Dec. 1, that requires carriers to sell unlocked mobile phones — making it easier for consumers to switch to another network.

“Now when you’ve got into a situation where everything’s unlocked and everybody’s on equal playing ground, you have to create new ways to resonate with the consumer,” Nargas said in an interview.

“You might be paying $0 up front, which is great for the consumer, but it does tack on a sizable amount to your monthly bills.”

Nargas noted that, last weekend, other carriers followed Rogers after it and its Fido brand began offering $60 per month big-data plans until Monday or Tuesday — an apparent answer to a Freedom plan announced a few weeks ago.

As of Thursday afternoon, Telus and Bell hadn’t matched the Rogers iPhone 8 temporary price cut. They were promoting $0 offers for Samsung Galaxy S8 and S7 smartphones and some older Apple phones.

Rogers hasn’t commented on its most recent pricing moves, but its executives have said the company competes with Freedom on price but has advantages in terms of network, distribution system and customer care.

“Freedom still has a ways to go in terms of having a network that competes with us and with the other two large players,” Rogers chief financial officer Anthony Staffieri told an industry conference on Dec. 5.

Shaw’s Freedom (TSX:SJR.B) — which has its network primarily in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia — wasn’t able to carry the Apple 8s and newer iPhone X until this month.

By contrast, Apple’s iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 plus have been available from Rogers and the other major Canadian carriers since September and they’ve been selling the iPhone X more than a month longer than Freedom, which has had to upgrade its network this year to carry the Apple products.

Last weekend’s price war spawned significant negative social media feedback for Telus, Rogers and — to a lesser extent, Bell — when their customer service phone and chat lines weren’t able to keep up with demand.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Whistle Stop Cafe owner Christopher Scott and his sister Melodie pose for a photo at the Mirror restaurant. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Alberta Health Services delivers ‘closure order’ to Mirror restaurant

Alberta Health Services says it has delivered a closure order to a… Continue reading

Flags bearers hold the Canadian flag high during the Flags of Remembrance ceremony in Sylvan Lake in this October file photo. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
New project to pay tribute to Canadians killed in Afghanistan

Flags of Remembrance scheduled for Sept. 11

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta vaccine rollout expanding to front-line health-care workers

More than 240,000 eligible health-care workers can begin booking vaccine appointments starting… Continue reading

File photo
The Red Deer Rebels will have three new assistant coaches when the WHL regular season starts on Friday. Brad Flynn (left), will be on the bench alongside fellow assistant Ryan Colville (right) head coach Brent Sutter (middle). (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Sutter steps down as Red Deer Rebels head coach

Red Deer Rebels Owner, GM and head coach Brent Sutter has stepped… Continue reading

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan is among those who have signed an open letter criticizing the government’s return to stricter health measures. (Advocate file photo).
Updated: Kenney tells UCP caucus COVID-19 dissent OK, breaking health rules means expulsion

15 MLAs released letter on Wednesday critical of new health restrictions

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Erin O’Toole says ‘I didn’t hide who I was’ running for Conservative leader

OTTAWA — Erin O’Toole assured Conservative supporters that he never hid who… Continue reading

Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau, second from left, celebrates his goal with teammates, from left to right, Matthew Tkachuk, Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson, of Sweden, during second period NHL hockey action against the Edmonton Oilers, in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
Jacob Markstrom earns shutout as Flames blank Oilers 5-0 in Battle of Alberta

CALGARY — It took Sean Monahan breaking out of his goal-scoring slump… Continue reading

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia's opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan's government, but they say Monday's throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province's economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

VICTORIA — British Columbia’s opposition parties acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented… Continue reading

A grizzly bear walks on a treadmill as Dr. Charles Robbins, right, offers treats as rewards at Washington State University's Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center in this undated handout photo. Grizzly bears seem to favour gently sloping or flat trails like those commonly used by people, which can affect land management practices in wild areas, says an expert who has written a paper on their travel patterns. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Anthony Carnahan *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Grizzly bears prefer walking on gentle slopes at a leisurely pace like humans: study

VANCOUVER — Grizzly bears seem to favour gently sloping or flat trails… Continue reading

FILE - In this July 27, 2020, file photo, nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y. Moderna said Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, its COVID-19 shot provides strong protection against the coronavirus that's surging in the U.S. and around the world. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)
The COVID-19 wasteland: searching for clues to the pandemic in the sewers

OTTAWA — When Ottawa Public Health officials are trying to decide whether… Continue reading

Researchers look over a map aboard the Finnish icebreaker MSV Nordica as it sets sail in the North Pacific Ocean toward the Bering Strait to traverse the Arctic's Northwest Passage on July 6, 2017. The Canadian government wants more study on the impacts of banning heavy fuel oil in the Arctic before it signs on to an international agreement to do so. It has been 16 months since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then U.S. President Barack Obama jointly committed to phase down the use of heavy fuel oils in the Arctic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, David Goldman
‘You cannot claim any more:’ Russia seeks bigger piece of Arctic Ocean seabed

IQALUIT, Nunavut — Russia wants to stretch out imaginary lines on the… Continue reading

The Queen, centre, Prince Philip, right, and Princess Anne relax as they sail to Victoria, B.C., on May 3, 1971 accompanied out of Vancouver harbour by numerous small craft. Prince Philip, the Queen's husband of more than 70 years, passed away at Windsor Castle on Friday, Buckingham Palace announced. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Croke
Andrew: Philip’s death has left ‘huge void’ in queen’s life

LONDON — The death of Prince Philip has left a “huge void”… Continue reading

A medical staffer works with test systems for the diagnosis of coronavirus, at the Krasnodar Center for Hygiene and Epidemiology microbiology lab in Krasnodar, Russia, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. Russia has closed its land border with China and suspended most train traffic between the countries. (AP Photo)
Official: Chinese vaccines’ effectiveness low

BEIJING — In a rare admission of the weakness of Chinese coronavirus… Continue reading

Most Read