Public Mobile and iPhones: Everything You Need To Know

Founded in March 2010 and later acquired by Telus in 2013, Public Mobile is an online-only, self-serve carrier that offers cheap talk, text, and data plans.

Public Mobile is a true no-frills carrier: Canada-wide coverage (on Telus’ network), no contracts, and affordable monthly fees. However, the carrier has developed a reputation for frustrating customer service. 

TL;DR if you really value being able to walk into a store, pick up the phone, or write an email to get support, then you may want to reconsider. 

If you’re an iPhone user, here are 7 facts that you should know before making the switch over to Public Mobile Canada. 

7 facts about using your iPhone with Public Mobile

1) Public Mobile does not sell phones

Yup, you heard that right: a wireless carrier that does not sell phones of any kind — iPhone or otherwise. So, if you want to take advantage of their bargain-basement pricing, you’ll need to bring your own device (also known as BYOD).

Assuming you already own an unlocked iPhone, you can simply insert a Public Mobile SIM card into your device, and you’ll be able to activate your device right away. In case you’re unsure about whether your phone is unlocked, all phones bought after December 1st, 2017, are unlocked by default. If you bought your phone before that date, you’ll have to reach out to your carrier.

If you’re sold on this carrier but don’t own an iPhone, Orchard is a great and cost-effective place to pick one up!

2) The carrier does not currently have any retail locations

To help keep overhead costs as low as possible, and maximize the savings they can pass on to their customers, Public Mobile does not operate any branded retail locations.

As such, if you like having the option of face-to-face customer service, then this wireless provider may not meet your needs.

3) You can only buy their SIM cards online, at select Walmart locations, or at WOW! mobile boutiques

The only places to buy a Public Mobile SIM card at the time of writing (April 30, 2020) are online or at select Walmart locations or WOW! mobile boutiques across Canada.

You can get a SIM for just $10. If you choose to order it online from, they even offer live chat customer service to facilitate the process and answer any questions.

4) Coverage is on par with any of the major carriers like Bell or Rogers

As a perk of being owned by Telus, Public Mobile enjoys access to Canada’s largest mobile network — providing reliable service coast-to-coast.

The map below shows a snapshot of the carrier’s coverage. If you want to confirm whether or not your city is serviced by their network, refer to Public Mobile’s official coverage map.

public mobile canada coverage map

Image Source: Planhub

5) Phones older than the iPhone 5 may not work on Public Mobile’s network

The discount carrier’s network supports these frequencies:

  • 3G (UMTS/HSPA): 850MHz/1900MHz bands
  • 4G/LTE: 1700MHz/2100MHz bands
  • 4G/LTE: 700MHz band

Checking those against the frequencies supported by various models of iPhone, any model since the iPhone 5 (this includes the iPhone 5S, 5C and SE) will be compatible with Public Mobile’s network. If you’re not using an iPhone, use this tool to confirm whether or not your phone is compatible.

Techdaily also rounded up a list of popular smartphones that are compatible.

6) Public Mobile’s prepaid plans mean no contracts or cancellation fees

We know it’s hard to believe, but choosing Public Mobile as your carrier actually comes with no contracts or strings attached. (😮)

The reason this company can offer this flexibility is because all of its plans are pre-paid

That means you won’t need to go through any credit checks or anything like that — just pay upfront for the plan you want, and enjoy the luxury of being able to switch carriers or walk away without penalty!

7) Public Mobile does not offer phone-based support

You read that correctly. Not only does Public Mobile not have any offline retail presence, but they also do not offer customer service over the phone. The carrier does, however, offer online chat-based support in certain circumstances.

While this limitation could understandably be a deal-breaker for some customers, Public Mobile does have a very active online support community which should help you get any of your questions answered fairly quickly.

How cheap is Public Mobile versus other Canadian carriers?

By now you’re probably wondering just how much you can save by choosing Public Mobile over other Canadian wireless providers.

WhistleOut has a comprehensive article which details the best Public Mobile cell phone plans. Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Public Mobile provides the option to build your own custom plan, but their standard pre-configured plans offer better value.
  • The unlimited nationwide talk and text plan with 8.5GB of data (3G-speed) is arguably Public Mobile’s best value plan for most Canadians. 
  • If you’re looking for a data-only plan, Public Mobile offers a 1GB plan (LTE) for just $30.

To put the potential savings into perspective, to get a comparable BYOD unlimited talk and text plan with at least 8GB of data from a larger carrier like Rogers or Bell, you’d be looking at $75/month (versus $50/month with Public Mobile).

For some customers, the convenience afforded by these larger carriers with their retail infrastructure and phone support justifies this premium. But if you’re someone who doesn’t mind self-serve online alternatives, there’s no doubt that Public Mobile offers compelling monthly savings. 

If you haven’t already considered it, you might also want to check out some other discount carriers such as Freedom Mobile.

Ready to get started?

If you already own an iPhone, then you’re all set to make the move to Public Mobile! Just purchase a SIM and you’re in business.

If you’re ready to take the plunge with Public Mobile, but you don’t currently own an iPhone, then you can head over to Apple’s website and buy an iPhone for a price in the range of $599 – $1,999 CAD.

If you’re looking to save even more money, however, Orchard is Canada’s largest iPhone reseller, and we offer pre-tested, fully guaranteed refurbished iPhones starting at just $99 CAD. 

Depending on the model you choose, Orchard saves you up to 80% versus buying a brand new iPhone. What’s more, every order includes free Canada-wide shipping and a 90-day, no questions asked money-back guarantee. It’s 100% risk-free.

Here’s to your savings!


Are you a Public Mobile customer? Leave a comment below and let us know about your experience with this carrier!

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  • Tommy 9 May, 2020   Reply →

    Thank you for posting this review. Great insight into the business model and providing the map of the network is particularly useful. This one offers quite a decent level of coverage, unlike other low-cost operators. Definitely worth consideration.

    • Dylan @ Orchard 12 May, 2020   Reply →

      Thanks for the positive feedback, Tommy! 🙂

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