Two weeks with an LG Xenon – Part ONE

Blackberry 7130g

LG GR500 Xenon

It’s been two weeks now that I’ve given up the ‘ol Blackberry 7130g that I picked up almost four years ago and turned on a brand spankin’ new LG GR501 Xenon that runs on Bell’s brand spankin’ new HSPA network!

If you recall it was not too long ago that I was agonizing over which phone I would be buying; well I let pure logic guide me and went with the Xenon. Admittedly it helped that the rep at Sans Fil etc. in the Trois-Rivieres Costco didn’t stop throwing in things before I even asked for them so once the ball got rolling it was hard to stop. My heart told me to go with the Nokia N97 but every review said not to and so did my own calculations.

First of: the initial setup cost. Costco and Bell had some great promotions going on during the holiday season – some I knew of, others I stumbled upon and that was what finally cemented my purchase.

Package Item Price
Mine LG Xenon $28.95
Extended warranty (deposit) $49.95
2 GB Kingston Micro SD card $19.95
Car charger $0.00
Roots belt clip $0.00
Activation Fee $0.00
Costco Gift Card – $100.00
Bell Credit – $50.00
Sub-total – $51.15
Wife’s Nokia 6350 $49.95
Extended warranty (deposit) $49.95
2 GB Kingston Micro SD card $19.95
Car charger $0.00
Activation Fee $0.00
Costco Gift Card – $100.00
Bell Credit – $50.00
Sub-total – $30.15
Total Initial cost – $81.30

YES, it’s true! Costco & Bell paid me $81.30 to buy and activate these two mobile phones along with all those accessories and a refundable extended warranty deposit! Of course these prices necessitate a 3-year contract, but none of the big-three are going to give you a break on the monthly services if you pay full price for the phone so you’d be stupid to pay the full amount for the phone and then pay them the full amount of the monthly service for as long as you use the phone (if you don’t buy the service your phone is useless, you can’t wander from carrier to carrier since the phone is still carrier-locked even if you pay full price, and three years is not that long to go with the same phone).

Nokia 6530

As you may guessed by seeing my wife’s Nokia 6350 the plan was a Family Share plan, and it worked out quite well.

One of the promotions that Bell was offering was Extended nights & weekends starting at 6pm (instead of 9pm). Essentially this meant I was getting two options on the Share plan instead of just one (options include Double minutes; 1,000 SMS messages; Fab 5; or Extended hours). Now my only beef was I still had to pay for Call Display, but with a Fun Bundle that I was going to get anyways the point was moot.

Package Feature Description Price
Mine Share 35 150 + 50 bonus minutes $35.00
Double Minutes Additional 150 minutes $0.00
Extended Evenings Unlimited local calling from 6pm $0.00
Member-to-member Unlimited LD between members $0.00
Calling Features Call waiting
Call Conferencing
Call Forwarding
Fun 20 bundle Call Display
Voice mail
Unlimited messaging
Unlimited mobile internet
Media pack
Municipal e911 tax $0.40
Sub-total $55.40
Wife’s Share 35 150 + 50 bonus minutes $35.00
Text messaging 1,000 outgoing and unlimited incoming text messages $0.00
Extended Evenings Unlimited local calling from 6pm $0.00
Member-to-member Unlimited LD between members $0.00
Calling Features Call waiting
Call Conferencing
Call Forwarding
Fun 12 bundle Call Display
Voice mail
Municipal e911 tax $0.40
Sub-total $47.40
Total Monthly cost $102.80

And remember, since this is a Share plan the minutes are combined. So we actually have 550 weekday day-time minutes per month. And our case day-time is from 7am to 6pm Monday to Friday.

In part two I’ll actually review the LG Xenon and it’s performance on Bell’s network. In part three I’ll try to review the Nokia my wife got, but if I can’t then I’ll just rant about you Wind Mobile suckers!

Cross-posted on Cameron-Schultz at Two weeks with an LG Xenon – Part ONE


  1. One question: did you have to sign up for a 12, 24 or 36 month term with these special offers or were you available to leave it open?

  2. You can assume that it's 36 months when I'm talking about Robelus unless I say otherwise. I'll update the article though for you masochists who want to pay full price for a phone and then still pay full price for the service you need to use the phone and that you'll probably keep for at least three years anyways.

  3. First of all, i would like to congratulate you for signing your soul away to Bellus for 3 years only a few months before : Public mobile and Videoblows launch their own respective networks.

    Not only this, but you're also being a smart ass when you call us “masochists” for wanting wireless freedom.

    Let's go back to you first mistake : Your monthly cost is 50$ for what is basically an extremely limited monthly plan. What will happen in a few months when Videoblows launches their network and offers potentially the same plan for half the price with NO contract and other BS ? Mind you, the chances of low prices from Videoblows are pretty low but it wouldn't have hurt stalling a few months to find out instead of signing a 3 year contract.

    The ONLY excusable way to sign a 3 year contract in today's cell reality in Canada would be for an exclusive handset like the iPhone but even those can be had for e-bay and similar sites while still avoiding a 3 year contract. (FYI the Xenon is 150$ on ebay right now so you signed up a 3 year contract for a 150$ gg)

    I may have to eat crow in a few months when Videotron and Public mobile launch their networks but until then you deserve all the flack you can get for signing that 3 year contract for such pos low end devices.

    Oh, and i can't wait to see the review on that LG phone. If it gets more then 1 star out of five, you're a fanboi.

    </rant mode>



  4. First of all, the only new entrant that matters is Videoblows. Public, Dave, Wind, etc. aren't coming to Montreal/Quebec any time soon so they're a curiousity to me at best. And currently Videoblows only offers their wireless service as an add-on for existing cable customers, so I'm not going to bank on their plans until I see what they have to offer, when they finally offer something besides their current belly-aching!

    Second of all, wireless freedom would be great! I'd love to buy my phone and then buy my service separately. But that's not the reality in Canada right now. Even Wind carrier-locks their phones for at least three months. The people I was calling “masochists” are the ones who insist on buying a phone for the “retail” price and then paying for services that includes a subsidy to pay for the phone over three years! Signing a three-year contract is currently the cheapest way to get a phone.

    Third, what's so limited about my plan? I have unlimited evenings & weekends, unlimited LD with my wife, unlimited messaging (SMS, MMS, & video), unlimited mobile internet, and unlimited streaming audio & video (media pack)? The only limit I have is the 550 day-time minutes I share with my wife; and my usage history (yes, I check my history) shows I only need at most 150 of those minutes so it's essentially unlimited too! And all that data is unlimited nation-wide!!! Not just in my home zone, or Videotron's service zone. So when I'm outside Montreal (I frequently am) how much extra is it going to cost me to use my phone – with Bell: nada!

    And finally, why would I buy a Xenon off some scammer on eBay when I get a brand new one, with a 3-year protection plan and 2 GB memory card, a car charger, and a holster for FREE at Costco (and an additional $50 back from Bell)?!

  5. “Public, Dave, Wind, etc. aren't coming to Montreal/Quebec any time soon”

    WRONG. Public Mobile IS coming to Montreal and very soon at that. And their plan is ALL you can eat unlimited everything including your sad excuse of “on device” data. Heck, if the phone doesn't matter to you (and it clearly doesn't seeing that you bought an LG Xenon), the offers from Public Mobile should suit you just fine. As for the plan ? How about unlimited everything.

    But wait, there's more ! You don't even know for a fact(and neither do I for that matter) whether Videoblows's plans will suck or not. You waited all this time with that 5 year old BB, why not a few more months ?

    You know, for a “linux” guy that likes the open source movement and the freedom it brings with it, you pretty much defend the evil 3 carriers and their way of owning you with 3 years of unheard of in the world contracts. And before you even mention the whole bs that the wireless reality is what it is in Canada so we should just take it and/or shut up, think for a second whether it really is worth it to get stuck in a 3 year contract for a 150$ device..

    my additional 2 cents


  6. I didn't want to wade in on this one just yet, but 20 years of being a lifeguard are hard to shake off. In a minute your gonna be drowning in a torrent of flames. So here goes:

    First of all? Can you even still get this Costco plan? It looks like a Xmas promo. If not why are we touting it as the end all be all of plans when it's clearly $10 more a month the Public Mobile Deal, that's $360 for the life of the contract. Which is probably the full price of your LG Xenon. I'm gonna pass on any judgment of the phone itself until I read your third installment.

    Second, in the article and in the comments, your bashing both new entrants and upholding El Trio de Crapo Telco Canucko! If you're getting a Bull kickback for this most obvious Coscto and Bull commercial, you had better be sharing it with the rest of us Dads!

    For once I totally agree with Adi here, you have got give these new players a chance, their aggressively going after the biggest Canadian market first (TO) and it looks like their hitting it pretty hard too. Let them clear a few checks and I'm sure the network will grow in due time. Besides why are you so worried for them, you just signed your Soul to Bull for another 3 years on a phone that might actually last that long, but I'm sure we'll learn more about this in your actual review of the device.

  7. My bad, I've just discovered that Public Mobile will be coming to Montreal in 2010. However, they won't initially cover the entire island (their coverage map leaves off Senneville, Ile Bizarre, and Ile Perrot) and my in-laws place isn't even covered by 2011. Smells like Microcell on CDMA!!!

    Their $40 plan is “talk and text” – they explicitly exclude data and roaming at launch but promise it “sometime in the future.”

    And Public Mobile's phone, the ZTE C78, is um, well, a phone I guess. gives it a 4.9 out of 10.

    The boxing day/end-of-year specials have ended. The time to change phones or plans is back-to-school or end-of-year. That's when you get the best deals. The time to switch was now – or risk another year on Robbers with an aging Bb.

  8. Oh yeah, as for the 3-year contract thing: I, we, everyone, has the choice of no-contract, 1-year, 2-year, or 3-year deals. I made the conscientious choice of a 3-year deal to reduce my total cost (phone was cheaper and deals were better) and because I have always kept my previous mobile phones for at least three years.

    By the time any of the new entrants get their new networks up and running, iron out the bugs, expand their coverage, get some decent handsets, win their final appeal before the SCoC, or get bought-out we'll be almost all the way to the end of my current 3-year contract (if not past it).

    I still see no benefit in avoiding the 3-year contract by paying more (a lot more) for a handset. They won't offer me any discount for bringing my own phone, I'm paying double – once for the phone and then again for a monthly service that includes a subsidy for a 3-year phone!!!

    And with no contract, if I'm paying month-by-month, then I have no protection if they decide to change their prices (granted if they go down I benefit, but if they go up I loose since I have no contract to stick in their faces).

  9. “Smells like Microcell on CDMA!!!”

    Are you trying to convince me that you wouldn't consider Public mobile because it's CDMA(and a very exotic version at that) ?! Pulease. None of the reasons that you mentioned so far have anything to do with whether the network is UMTS or CDMA.

    1) You bought a sad excuse of a phone for more or less 0$ and on a 3 year contract. Such kind of sad phone can be had on Public mobile for probably 0$ and no contract seeing that it would only work on their exotic frequency band. Again, pure speculation at this point but give it a few months and we'll have a more concrete answer.

    2) You bought a low end phone. This alone puzzles me. Had you signed up for that 3 year contract for something expensive, i would understand, but you bought a low end phone and signed away for 3 years. What happens if you won't need a phone after 6 months ? What happens if work gives you one for free ? You'll be stuck with either : HUGE ETF fees and a 0$ resale value phone or try and find some poor soul willing to share the plan minutes with your wife for the remaining of that 3 years..

    3) You never mentioned the advantages of a SIM card so this makes me think that should you hate your LG, you'd have no intention on replacing it with some unlocked device but rather continue to use it. And since you bought a low end device, surely you won't splurge hundreds of $ to replace it with something decent, will you ? You only other option is to be a the mercy of Hell and resign up with them for another 3 year contract at one point in the future in order to get a phone with a rebate. By that point, i hope you'll get a much better phone that you would actually enjoy spending quality time with for 3 years at a time. Going back to my initial point, since you don't need/want to replace your current phone for 3 years, there is no advantage for being on a UMTS network so the Public mobile CDMA version would have done just fine.

    In the end, the only potentially positive points that i see in your decision are :

    1) Big network.


  10. During a conference call with the Bell Mobility Wireless Technology group I was privy to some interesting information about the LG Xenon. In an excel sheet that spot graded voice quality for each device (where any device that gets approved by Bell falls either on or above the threshold) the Xenon was subsequently the highest rated HSPA phone for voice quality.

    The way a phone efficiently decodes, translates the digital information and transmits it to the amplifier in the phone is no small task and it appears the Xenon does it better then all the others.

  11. You're right, this was a seasonal promo, but that's my point: if you're patient and you shop around you CAN get a good deal, even from Robelus (and I'm sure the new guys will have student and x-mas specials this year too, it'll be a competition frenzy). But I had waited long enough (since August) and the offer met my criteria and I think it was a pretty good offer compared to what is CURRENTLY available. My patience has its limits and Robbers had gotten enough money from me over the last three years with my 7130g.

    You're wrong thought that I'm bashing the new entrants, I'm bashing the delusion that the new entrants are going to change the face of the mobile industry overnight (and cure the common cold too :) rather than slowly and with varying degrees of success.

    And I am giving them a chance, I'm giving them three whole years to get their networks in order, their handsets lined-up, their backroom deals with the Con-artist – I mean Conservative – gov't settled, and all the other fine points worked out. Hopefully that will be enough time to figure out who the winners and losers are going to be.

  12. “Smells like Microcell on CDMA!!!”

    Remember, this isn't the first time the incumbents have been challenged. It didn't work out too well the first time around and I'm afraid history hasn't taught us anything.

    I originally preferred CDMA since the penetration at my wife's cottage is better for CDMA phones (my wife used to be on Virgin Mobile/Bell CDMA) than GSM ones (my 7130g was on Roger's GSM network). But I've been promised by someone with a tower map that the new HSPA phones will be as good (or bad) as the CDMA ones were.

    1) The only phone we know Public will be offering is the ZTE C78, everything else is, as you say, speculation.

    2) I've had a mobile phone for over 10 years, so I assume I'll still need one three years from now. It is admittedly an assumption and a risk that I'm taking. Four years ago I got a phone from work (so yes, I have two mobile phones) but it's usage is governed by my office's policies – and any violation will cause the earth to open and hordes of accountants pour forth demanding justification in triplicate!

    3) Currently spending hundreds of $$$ on a phone is not for me; that may change, or I may find a phone I prefer for a reasonable price. Should that happen I'll be able to activate it simply moving the SIM card (assuming it supports Bell's frequencies and service configurations – which is a risky assumption for any North American carrier).

    Your initial assumption is correct, the underlying network technology was of little consequence to me – except there is a greater variety in GSM based phones than the CDMA based ones.

    And your positive point was a key deciding factor for me. Not only do Robelus have big national networks, but they were operational at the time I was shopping for a new phone. Their offers were concrete, not speculation. Their savings (vs. my current plan) were realizable, not pipe-dreams!

  13. The West Coast Critic
    January 13, 2010 at 1:11 am

    I have to say I read the articles read the comments and I am now ready for a drink. Here are couple of observations
    1) 3 years is too long, no contract too short. Why not compare on a 2 year contract, more realistic for those of us in the real world
    2) Can we stop using the various names for companies and just use there names. I find your (commentator and authors) comments hard enough to read with out manipulating the phone companies names 100 different ways. Or at least everyone use the same derogatory term – just easier for the lay person
    3) 102.80 seems a little high however I don't have unlimited internet. Once they new I was on a smart phone they turned it off.
    I guess I was interested in another post as well where there was some question about direct comparsion and how you would or would not want to do this. Personally I want to do this but the companies make it as hard as possible to do. Are they worried their product won't stand up to comparsion I don't know.

    Directly to Schultzer some sort of on going update would be nice. I now know what you can afford as a monthly cell bill. I know you have 51$ to spend at costco and your wife has 81$ (she can visit the liquor section) However after two weeks are you spending your 50$ on kleenex to cry OR on steaks to celebrate? Also are you aware that the rep at Sans fil was not giving you free stuff with out asking he was giving it to your MILF wife. Johnny Canuck of Sports something fame can explain how the retail mind works. Did he call for a code 99 while dealing with your wife and oh yes you. Again Johnny Canuck of sportssomething retail store fame can explain. Don't think you were getting anything free, your wife on the other hand. 😉

    Nice to learn about the LG look forward to hearing more

  14. This is fabulous! I love it! That they actually paid you to leave with the phone. I always wonder if somebody in process failed high school math when this ends up happening.

    Of course, there is a commitment… and I agree that is the only way to get anywhere with these providers these days. You had been paying them anyways for years even without the commitment, so it would be nuts not to reap the benefits of the contract.

    Now, maybe you can crack the OS (if it is blocked) and tether your laptop to benefit from that unlimited data.

    You forgot the option for unlimited calling to Krakow. 😉

  15. Very well, i guess we can agree to disagree. Must be my revolutionary anticommunist blood, but i would rather suffer the limited range of a new network than pay tribute to the abusing oppressor.


  16. I'll go over this when I actually review the phone but I have to agree – the sound quality is very good whether I'm on a phone call or watching live TV.

  17. Yeah, I assumed my “rebate” would max out at the price of the phone but at the cash they just took off $200 from the final bill!

    Since this is a phone – not a smartphone – I think the term “OS” is a bit generous. This will be in the review, but Bell's 3G network still has it's weak spots, especially when you're on the move, so I'm not sure tethering is really worth it yet. I don't know how those internet access USB sticks work but hopefully they get a more consistent connection.

  18. “You had been paying them anyways for years even without the commitment, so it would be nuts not to reap the benefits of the contract.”

    WOW, it feels like both of you have been brainwashed by the big 3 !! Here's the way i see it :

    Since you've been with them for 3 years already on no contract and have been paying the same $$ every month, they should give you a free phone as a thank you for being such a good loyal customer ! That's how Fido used to be back in the pre Robbers days.

    It doesn't make sense that they only give you a free phone only if you sign an additional contract. What about the past 3 years you have been paying your monthly fee, which as Schultzer mentioned, is the SAME whether you're on a contract or not.


  19. We spent the money on diapers. Although Costco has some very good steaks, and Kleenex was on sale last week (but I didn't buy any).

    If you are visiting the liquor section at Costco I have to say the Julia Cellars wines are pretty good. I just wish they'd name their varieties instead of using numbers.

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