Two top smartphones may finally be available on an official basis in Canada before the summer, according to separate reports. The Toronto Starcites industry contacts who tell the newspaper that the country's lone major GSM cell provider, Rogers, aims to launch the iPhone in time for it to be included in a campaign promoting touchscreen phones at the company, which will include the upcoming LG Vu and likely earlier devices such as the HTC Touch. The marketing effort will begin sometime between May and July and is allegedly supported by evidence that Apple and Rogers were nearing a finalized deal earlier this year for the latter to carry the iPhone.
For practical purposes, Rogers' campaign would likely need to start no sooner than June. Apple plans to hold its Worldwide Developer Conference in the middle of that month and is believed by analysts to be readying the introduction of an iPhone at that time that will be capable of supporting 3G cellular Internet access on some networks, including Rogers' service.
Although Rogers has been frequently criticized for having some of the highest-priced mobile data of any cellular provider in Canada, the provider has taken steps that appear to prepare the company's network for devices such as Apple's. Rogers earlier this year launched an unlimited data bundle similar to AT&T's for the iPhone that gives users both unfettered browsing on most of its devices as well as a set amount of MMS/SMS messages and voicemail. The company is also ahead of AT&T in offering more advanced 3G features on its network, which include both two-way video calling on supporting devices as well as 7.2-megabit HSDPA downloads on portions of its network. The 3G iPhone is understood to use a newer Infineon chipset that would support both normal HSDPA service as well as its faster variety on Rogers.
However, the Star report doesn't explain whether Apple has cleared an ongoing trademark conflict between itself and Ontario-based service provider Comwave that many see as a crucial obstacle to the iPhone's sale in the country. Apple is known to have filed for an iPhone trademark before Comwave but has been challenged for doing so three months after Comwave launched an iPhone-branded VoIP calling service, preventing ready adoption of the iPhone name by Apple. First findings by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office aren't anticipated until late June barring an agreement or settlement before that timeframe.
A successful iPhone launch in June or July would be potentially damaging to Canadian cellphone designer Research in Motion, whose first HSDPA BlackBerry is rumored to be delayed until August for technical reasons.
Meanwhile, another often-touted rival to the iPhone is expected in Canada ahead of either of its competitors, says a separate rumor. The Nokia N95 is purportedly due on Rogers' network by May 2nd and should include all the features of the reference N95 North America Model, including true GPS, Wi-Fi, and Rogers-compatible 3G data. If the report is proven true, the device will be available for $699 without a contract (likely less when subsidized) and would both come bundled with a video output cable for viewing on a TV as well as support Rogers' video calling feature.
Rogers has never officially mentioned the N95, but has listed the device as supporting game downloads from its online store alongside carrier-sanctioned handsets.