Are you looking to compare Australian mobile plans ?
Our website is designed to give you the insider information you need, in order to be able to compare phone plans on the Australian phone market . Key to our advice is the suggestion that youcompare smaller phone companies ( in the industry, they’re known as MVNOs ( Mobile Virtual Network Operators ) among alongside plans from the bigger phone companies. We also recommend buying your phone outright ( unless you already have one you love ) instead of choosing a contract plan with a ‘free’ phone. We explain why, below.
Comparing mobile plans 2017 – why the trend is your friend
There are a number of factors combining to make 2017 the best year ever for people comparing a SIM Only or prepaid plan in Australia. Here’s a summary. We have further explanation and links to more information below. We’re using words to explain what’s going on. Don’t worry, below, we explain it all in images, using infographics and examples to (hopefully!) bring it all to life !
- SIM Only and prepaid are taking over:
When you see information like the content we describe below, it’s not hard to see why SIM Only plans are turning in to the majority. As well as saving a ton on the total cost of ownership with a new phone, having a mobile plan out of contract helps with the management of your rising data needs. We describe those circumstances, below.
- Comparing mobile networks ? Todays 4G networks are all the same:
Telstra spent a lot of money on marketing to get us all to repeat back to them that ‘Telstra’s network is great.’ And it is. But just to be clear, when it comes to comparing the accessibility and speed of 4G data the other networks (Optus and Vodafone are the only companies which run 4G networks apart from Telstra), the alternatives are pretty darn good too.
- The key point for mobile plans :
unless you are one of the 2-3% of people who live in the outskirts of Australia, whichever network you get, Optus, Vodafone or Telstra, the availability of 4G signal you receive and the speeds you benefit from will all be the same. You can find out more about Australia’s network coverage information on our dedicated page.
- Data price deflation:
Ongoing general reductions in the price of a GB (the unit) of data are part of the scenery in Australia. Where once you paid $30 a month for 300 MB of data, you can now get 3GB or more in a plan, for the same monthly spend. We have multiple year examples of this happening, below. And more information in this article.
- Entertainment as part of your phone plan:
Optus pipped Telstra to the post on entertainment inclusions as part of phone plans. Below, we lay the progress that was made in Auzzie telco in 2016, down the path of what might eventually (if the USA is anything to go by) turn the phone companies you ‘know and love’ in to phone and media entities. The effect on Australia is multifaceted. First, there’s a tiered system of phone plans, some with entertainment and some without. There’s also an ongoing war between Optus and Telstra over who can provide the right content. Comparing a mobile plan these days involves an important question. What entertainment options, if any, are important to you. The answer might completely alter the phone company you pick.
- The increasing presence of smaller phone companies:
As if competition between the big phone companies wasn’t enough to push down prices, here come the smaller phone companies. Collectively known as MVNOs, smaller phone companies generally, with the exception of OVO Mobile offer more basic phone plans than Vodafone, Telstra or Optus. They’re doing that successfully, as you will see from our chart, below. Their share of the market is large and growing.
- People are keeping their phones longer:
The average tenure of an iPhone has grown over 25% in the last year alone. That’s an average increase of around 6 months! Longer tenure lowers the total cost of ownership even more than buying a SIM and adding the phone yourself. Any why bother to upgrade when the major difference between the phone you have and the new one which is coming out is the jet black colour ?
But be careful!
- The amount of data that people are using increases each year:
Cisco say that data use on mobile phones, in our region is growing by about 80% per year. That’s huge. It means that if your phone plan comes with 1GB of data and you’re using most of it at the beginning, by the time your 2 year contract finishes, you could be paying an extra $20 per month to ‘top up’ your contract’s included plan data to meet your new requirements. Comparing phone plans now requires a view of your growing data needs and an awareness (we would argue a willingness to avoid) long term contract options – because of those rising data needs.
Comparing Australia’s 4G networks shows they are all on a par
We’ve been brainwashed in to believing that Telstra offer the best network, haven’t we ? Well, here’s a surprise for you. Both Optus’ 4G and Vodafone’s 4G network is on a par with Testra’s for both coverage and speed. It’s not just us who think it. Opensignal are one of two independent companies which have compared these networks in studies the Australian coverage of all 3 major phone companies. The results are consistent and remarkably clear. When it comes to 4G data, there is very little to pick between the phone companies.
The implications are clear. There is no need to pay the extra for the Telstra plan you think you need. Whether you take the Optus or Vodafone networks, statistically, you are almost certain of getting almost entirely the same network experience, especially when it comes to 4G.
Why you should never sign a contract with your phone company again
This is the major news for the phone buyer of the year ahead. The price of data is falling by 50% or more each year. If you bought a phone plan for $30 last year, and it had 1GB of data, a spend of $30 this year is likely to get you 2GB of data from the same phone company.
We’ve been watching this trend develop for years. It affects every alternative you face – that is – whichever network you choose, will provide you more data each year. This news has a counterpart. The other side of the equation is where your risk lies. Your usage of data is increasing at the same speed that they’re cutting the cost. That means if you manage your plan well, you will keep spending the same amount. If you don’t manage your spend well, you will end up paying more.
Imagine 2 people, Matt and Mel. Matt has his iPhone under contract with Optus. Dan bought his outright and now has a SIM from Amaysim. Over time, both Matt and Dan use more data. However, because Matt is in contract for his iPhone, the amount of data he gets is set for the 2 year duration of the contract. His contract includes 2GB of data which is fine for the first year. However, in the second year, he soon as to pay extra each month to cover his rising data use.
Dan on the other hand has been a bit smarter. Over time, the amount of data the phone companies provide their users increases. It happens irrespective of phone provider or spend level. In the example above, Dan has a SIM with Amaysim. For a consistent spend level of around $40 per month, Dan gets enough to cover his usage in the first year, the same as Matt. However, over time, the amount of data that Amaysim give Dan increases naturally. Because Dan is on a month to month contract and can move phone company at any time, Amaysim have to pass their increased data levels on to Dan.
This phenomenon is called ‘data price deflation’ and it’s the reason you should never buy a phone under contract again. You’ll notice you’ve never heard this from the phone company.
Comparing mobile plans means comparing entertainment services
Optus has led the way when it comes to Entertainment services sold as part of a phone plan in Australia. They added the EPL (English Premier League) to their plans (with a cost) in 2016. AT&T is one example of how widespread and international the desire of phone companies is to include data in their plans.
They are not alone as we explore below. And that means that assessing the alternatives, when it comes to mobile plans now, regrettably, involves consideration of another step.
If you buy a SIM only or prepaid plan from Optus or Telstra you will get some form of zero rated service. One example is internet radio. Optus offer it on their prepaid plans through Spotify, Pandora and other providers. Telstra offer streamed audio from Apple. The data you use to get access to these services is not charged to your data allowance. That means if you get an Optus prepaid SIM and listen to music 3 hours a day, every day, the data you used doing it will not be taken from your allowance.
What this means to you is that it’s worth thinking about how you use (or how you would like to use) your phone. If you have a long commute, if you listen to streamed music or have a service like Netflix at home, it could be that accessing it, across the mobile internet is something that would add value to your plan. If this is the case, you should be considering Optus prepaid, Optus postpaid, Telstra prepaid, Telstra postpaid and OVO Mobile plans. These companies lead the way when it comes to included entertainment in plans.
If, however, those inclusions don’t appeal, you might want to consider the phone services that a growing number of Australians use. Smaller phone company SIMS.
The increasing presence of small phone companies
With the bigger phone companies, Optus and Telstra diversifying what they offer as part of their mobile phone plans, to include sports, movies and TV shows, smaller phone companies are starting to come to the fore. Smaller phone companies are network resellers and they usually charge less than their bigger counterparts for the same thing. When you’re weighing up the bigger phone companies and the smaller phone companies side by side, don’t think you’re making a crazy bet. Small phone companies are used by a lot of people.
We’re here to help you compare mobile plans
Make no mistake about it. Last year was the biggest year in history for Australian telco. The future looks set to deliver no less dramatic change. 5G is just around the corner, scheduled for 2020 release. That could present the phone companies with an existential risk to their pricing options on data.
Optus poked the bear when it comes to entertainment services as part of phone plans. Telstra has already responded in kind. The result is likely to be an arms race between Optus and Telstra for a long time to come. Whether people are ready for TV, sport and music as part of their phone plan, we have not yet seen.
And, in to this mix, comes shortly, the eSIM. The eSIM / Soft SIM / electronic SIM is, itself, the biggest bit of technological progress which has yet been made in telco. It will replace the physical SIM we are all used to buying, with a software SIM. In simple terms, that means you will no longer need to go shopping to pick up a prepaid SIM. You can change your phone company like you change your TV channel, with the press of a button. In the future, to get access to their network, you will go to settings on your iPhone and pick them from the list of options.
There’s a lot happening. At WhatPhone, we love the phone industry and track it for you. The circumstances are complex but the recommendations are simple. Comparing mobile plans involves these key activities.
- Don’t buy a phone under contract:
Your data usage is increasing exponentially and it’s much easier to manage that growth if you have access to price plans, the data inclusions of which are growing at the same speed as your usage.
- Consider alternatives to Telstra:
Any of the 3 major networks will offer you (roughly) equivalent data speeds and 4G network availability. For most people, that means they now have a genuine choice of network. With two of the three available being notably cheaper.
- Do buy your phone outright and add a SIM:
Not only could you save 25% or more over the life of your device, the savings can grow if you’re not impressed by the new release of an iPhone. Wait another year to upgrade. Keep your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy a little bit longer than you have in the past. It’s what most people are doing.
- Manage your usage and have at least some idea:
Most of the phone companies, large and small, have an app these days. You can use that app to help you determine how much data you have used. of what new SIM deals are in market. We recommend checking every 3 months to see what’s changed.
Found a deal on WhatPhone
Bought the iPhone 7 32 GB from Apple
24 months on Kogan x $33.30
( = Unlimited Oz Talk & Text + 8GB of 4G Data )
Minimum Total Cost
On Vodafone network
Went with a Vodafone contract
iPhone 7 32 GB
24 months contract on Vodafone x $103.00
( = Unlimited Oz Talk & Text + 9GB of 4G Data )
Minimum Total Cost
On Vodafone network
By finding a reseller deal on WhatPhone and buying his phone outright, Neil makes a