January 5, 2011

John's Phone - Followup

This is a follow up to the John's Phone post a few months back, after I'd found the perfect phone for my grandmother that was advertised to work on any "3G GSM" network (exceptions didn't include Canada).

Now that I have my hands on the device and had my grandmother play with it, I can assert that it is the perfect senior phone. It's large enough and uncomplicated to work with arthritic fingers and doesn't require many instructions to work. Most actions can be completed in less than 3 steps.

The only problem? It doesn't work on most carriers in Canada. John's advertises advertised the phone as a "3G GSM" phone and even after some correspondance with a representative, questioning whether the phone would work on a pure HSPA/UMTS network (such as SaskTel or Telus), I was told that the phone would work without problems. The phone will connect to Rogers (that has a full GSM stack) but not to SaskTel (pure HSPA).

Update: Their site has been corrected and no longer mentions "3G GSM" it is listed as a quad-band GSM phone, which correctly identifies the requirement of a GSM stack.


  1. I noticed similar problems when I started shopping around for an unlocked phone that would work on Sasktel's "3G+" network. I wrote something about it. The situation is confusing. Sometimes you will see a phone advertised as GSM/HSPA 850/900/1900/2100. What it actually means is GSM on 850 and 1900 MHz and HSPA on 900 and 2100 Mhz.

    As I understand it, you need a phone that supports UTMS on 850 and 1900 MHz in order to make voice calls on the new Sasktel, Telus, etc. networks. You need HSPA on 850 and 1900 MHz if you want data services.

    Most US carriers use 900 and 2100 MHz so the phones are not compatible (AT&T is the exception). For example, the Nexus S does not support HSPA on 850 and 1900.

  2. Any idea if the John's Phone will still work with a Rogers SIM card?