The big three Aussie carriers have finally announced their iPhone 5 plans. But which ones are the best deals? We’ve broken the top plans down into five categories.
Best for chatterboxes
Vodafone’s $80 plan
If you spend more time talking on the phone than tapping on the touchscreen, then you won’t mind so much that Vodafone doesn’t have its 4G network off the ground yet (it’s due to launch early next year). You will, however, care that Vodafone’s $80 24-month plan (which includes the iPhone 5 16GB for free) is currently the cheapest contract plan for unlimited calls and texts in Australia.
Concerned about coverage? Vodafone’s new 850MHz network has certainly improved the beleaguered network’s performance, and if you’re prepared to take a gamble (if only because you’re more likely to get an iPhone 5 out of Vodafone than any other carrier), you can take advantage of Vodafone’s Network Guarantee if you decide you’re not happy. This means you can return the iPhone 5 within 30 days, pay for what you’ve used, and cross your fingers that you won’t have to wait too long to buy an iPhone 5 from a different carrier.
Best deal for data munchers
Telstra’s S $67 plan + $60 Mobile Phone Data Pack
If speedy mobile data is your first priority, this effectively rules out Vodafone, which isn’t due to launch its 4G network until “early next year”. This leaves Optus and Telstra, although neither offer 4G coverage all over Australia. This means it’s definitely worthwhile checking the coverage maps of each provider before signing on the dotted line.
Assuming you’re lucky enough to get 4G coverage with both networks, Optus offers the most data on its high-volume plans, with its premium $129 Timeless Plan coming with 4GB of data a month. Telstra has a ‘1GB data bonus’ on its M, L and XL plans, and while this brings the monthly data up to the same amount as the equivalent Optus plans, the bonus is only valid for the first 12 months of the 24-month contract.
But that doesn’t make Optus’ $129 Timeless Plan the best deal if you want heaps of data. The best deal we found was by pairing Telstra’s entry-level $67 plan (which comes with the iPhone 5 16GB for free, along with 1GB of data and $600 of credit) with a $60 Mobile Phone Data Pack, as this adds an extra 8GB of data per month. All up, this comes to $127 a month (slightly cheaper than the flagship plans from both Telstra and Optus) and a whopping 9GB of data to play with per month.
Best deal for power users
Optus’ $99 Timeless Plan
If you’re in this category, you’ve probably got your eyes firmly planted on the top-of-the-range iPhone 5 64GB, and you probably prefer unlimited plans so you don’t get any bill shock at the end of the month. Vodafone currently has the cheapest unlimited plan that includes the iPhone 5 64GB for free: for $100 a month, you get unlimited calls (including to voicemail, 13 and 18 numbers) and texts, plus 3GB of data.
But, as we’ve mentioned previously, you’ll have to wait a few months before you can take advantage of the iPhone 5’s 4G capability if you go with Vodafone. If you’d prefer full speed all the way, Optus offers the cheapest unlimited plan with its $99 Timeless Plan, which comes with unlimited calls and texts, unlimited social networking and 3GB of data. But only the iPhone 5 16GB is free on this plan – going for the 64GB model means you’ll have to pay an extra $9 a month, bringing your total monthly spend to $108 a month. Still, it’s far cheaper than Telstra’s unlimited deal, which costs $137 a month.
Best deal for penny-pinchers
Optus’ $35 plan
If you want to spend the least amount of money per month to get your hands on an iPhone 5, Optus has the best deals. Technically, its $30 plan is the cheapest – once you factor in the $18 a month handset repayments for the 16GB model, this works out to be $48 a month, and includes $200 of included value, 200MB of data, and unlimited social networking access.
However, if you pay just $3 more a month for the $35 plan (which works out to $51 per month altogether), you get the same value, plus the added bonus of unlimited SMS and MMS.
Best deal for commitment-phobes
Virgin Mobile’s Fair Go $49 BYO plan
Don’t want to go on contract? You’ll need to buy your iPhone 5 outright. Kogan is currently offering each iPhone 5 model at $50 off the recommended retail price, but this is subject to a few caveats. Kogan’s iPhone 5 stock appears to be grey imports, and it’s unclear whether Apple Australia will honour any warranty claims if a Kogan-purchased iPhone becomes faulty – you’ll have to deal with Kogan to get it fixed or replaced. Plus, the $50 saving isn’t so significant once you factor in delivery charges – sending it to our office in Sydney cost $19, and you’ll have to wait at least a week before you can get your hands on it, as current expected dispatch date for new orders is 28 September.
As for access plans, Virgin Mobile (the only mobile virtual network operator that currently offers 4G access, piggybacking off the Optus 4G network) offers the best value for average spenders. If you buy your iPhone 5 outright, you don’t have to sign up for a contract – it’s simply a month-to-month agreement that you can cancel at any time. Bringing your own iPhone also has the benefit of knocking $10 off the regular access fee, so for $39 a month, you get $400 of credit, 2GB of data, and unlimited text messages.