Mobile phone and plan buying checklist

Here are the things you’re going to want to take care of while you’re working through the process of choosing your next phone. Click on the image below and print off the free mobile phone and plan buying checklist to help you work through the process.

1 ) Choose a plan first

How many minutes do you need ? What dollar value does that correlate to ?

  • TIP :
    Use the number of 2 minute calls you get in each plan to compare evenly between the phone companies, whether they use minutes or $ value inclusions.
  • Divide the number of minutes included in Optus plans OR the included value by the cost of a standard 2 minute call and you can com
  • TIP :
    Remember – average data usage is around 500 MB to 1GB. You’ll use more data if :  (a) Your mobile phone if 4G. (b) You watch You Tube or other streaming video sites. (c) You ever ‘tether’ your phone to your laptop for broadband.

2 ) Now choose a phone

  • If you’re new to ‘smart’ mobile phones then most people find Apple’s phones easy to understand – although they can be pricy and a little inflexible.
  • If you’re not scared of technology, Android might just be right for you. They’re cheaper, the screens are bigger but they might take you just a little longer to learn.
  • Establish what’s important to you : (a) Brand e.g Is a Particular manufacturer important to you ? Apple , Samsung or HTC ? (b) Screen ? Small, these days is 4 inches across the diagonal. Big can mean closer to 6 inches. (c) Camera ? How many megapixels ? What sort of flash ? Or do you just want the basics ? (d) Battery ? How long do you need it to last ?
  • TIP :
    The WhatPhone product pages have phone specifications, Q&A, Editor and Customer reviews and all the latest pricing. You can get to them by clicking the phones at the top of any page.
  • TIP :
    Stuck choosing between more than one phone ? At the bottom of every page, you will see detailed comparisons of most phones. Comparing the iPhone 5s with the Samsung Galaxy S3 ? You’ll find a comparison there.

3 ) Pick a phone company to go with

  • Don’t be distracted by the phone company brands brands ! Make your own decision based on the facts.
  • Check coverage in your area using the phone company coverage checkers.
  • Make yourself aware of the Vodafone Network Guarantee.
  • Decide what your priorities are, in order – network coverage / price / customer service. Remember – you can’t have all 3 !
  • TIP :
    Use the WhatPhone infographic to help you decide quickly and easily.
whatphone_checklist Click on image to download a FREE ‘Buy Your Phone & Plan’ checklist


Keep this list handy so you know what all the techno jargon means


  • LTE / 4G:
    This is the latest in cellular network speeds. Which means it’s as fast as you’re going to get data on your phone. 4G also known as LTE is the current cutting edge of phone data services. Most of the latest and all of the best modern phones are 4G .
  • 3G: 
    Slightly older technology than 4G, 3G or 3rd Generation ( data services ) will let you stream video and perform other jobs on your phone which use a lot of data. However, 3G  is not as good as 4G. 3G customers are more likely to experience ‘stutters’ in streaming video. Files ( such as an MO3 music file from an online music store ) will take longer to download than if you performed the same action with 4G.


  • AMOLED: 
    Many people find Samsung’s Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode screens the best in the business. They tend to be bright, bold and offer clear distinctive colours. If you’re buying a phone that you’ll watch TV or video on, AMOLED might be best for you.
  • LCD:
    There are different types of LCD screen and Apple have a particular version. They’re backlit so good in direct sunlight and they offer clear, bright whites.
  • RETINA: 
    Apple’s Retina display is 326 ppi or pixels per inch. The marketing story suggests that this is higher resolution than your eye can see. That means you won’t even be able to pick out the pixels.
  • HD: 
    High Definition. Very recent mobile phone screens are true high definition 1080 x 1920 and can be called HD.


Don’t get hung up on processors. Most modern phones have far more processing power than you’ll ever need.

  • Apple’s A Series Chipset:
    This is Apple’s ‘special brand’ of processors. Apple also insert graphics processing chips alongside their ‘A’ series to keep the screen moving quickly.
  • Quad Core:
    Quad core simply means that there are 4 processors splitting the task between them. Although it might surprise, having 4 ‘engines’ running this way can actually cut your battery usage. The alternative is one processor running very, very fast, to do the same number of calculations, like an engine over revving and using more fuel.
  •  Dual Core: 
    Simply dual core means 2 processors splitting tasks like rendering the contents of a screen or running the lines of code in an app.


Operating System ( OS ):

An Operating System or OS is a series of computer codes which run automatically for you on your phone. They do the real basics you need from your phone, like connect you to a wireless network, recognise when you’ve touched the screen or turn the camera on.

  • Android:
    Android is a particular ‘flavour’ of Operating System. Google now own Android but a number of phone companies use it on their phones. Android users tend to find their Operating System flexible and slightly harder to learn than Apple’s iOS.
  • Apple’s iOS:
    Apple’s mobile device Operating System is called iOS. If you’ve used any Apple product, you’ll find iOS easy to pick up and use. Some users find it inflexible.
  • Windows 8 Mobile:
    Far less prevalent than  iOS and Android, Microsoft’s Windows 8 Mobile is actually a very nice Operating System. It sits somewhere between Android and iOS in terms of features and functions. It has a few surprises of it’s own like a great set of features for families.


Apps are applications or short computer programmes designed for your phone. They help you complete a job or a task. They might turn your phone in to a torch or give you access to manage your bank account. Android and iOS have nearly a million apps each. Windows 8 has lots but not as many as that. Apps are a good thing and you should try them!

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.