Can I use any iPhone with any SIM Only Plan ?
Very much so. If you bought your iPhone through a phone company, give them a call and ask for the phone to be “unlocked” before you get a new sim.
Can I keep my phone number with SIM only mobile deal ?
Yes you can. You’ll see an option for this whichever phone company you go with. They’ll remind you while you’re checking out. You give them your current number and, by the time your SIM card arrives, it’ll have your existing number attached to it.
What if I need a Nano SIM for my iPhone ?
Don’t worry. If you have an iPhone, the phone companies now have a regular supply of nano SIMs. Again, you’ll be offered the option of choosing a Nano SIM during your online checkout process.
Does my iPhone 4S need a 4G plan ?
You can use any iPhone with any SIM. iPhone 4S is only capable of 3G speeds so, while you can put any SIM in it, you won’t get 4G speeds. We recommend Cmobile for lower end spends on the iPhone 4s ( that’s if you don’t use your iPhone a lot ) and if you are a chatterbox / SMS junkie, take a look at Boost. Both Cmobile and Boost offer SIM Only plans which are 3G enabled and they’ll suit your iPhone 4S down to the ground.
I have an iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5s – what plan do you recommend.
We recommend Amaysim. Amaysim have full 4G network coverage and cheaper access to the Optus network than you’ll get with any of the major phone companies.
What if I try one of these SIM Only plans in my iPhone and I don’t like the provider ?
Nothing. You can change whenever you’d like. If you’d rather pick up your iPhone and walk to another provider, you are free to do so at any pioint. One of the great things about putting these SIMs in your iPhone is that you are not tied to a contract.
Here’s a list of all the top SIM only deals for iPhones we recommend in Australia. These are handpicked based on quality of the network, what you get in with the plan, and of course, value for money!
- Great value SIMs for your existing iPhone
- Range of plans for 3G and 4G iPhones
- Wide range of unlimited plans
- Cheaper access to Vodafone, Telstra and Optus networks
- Make sure you choose the right SIM - Nano or Combi
SIM Only Plans for iPhone
Do you already have your own iPhone ? If you got your iPhone from somewhere like eBay, a family member hand me down or a generous friend, you might just need a SIM Only plan from the phone companies. If that’s what you’re doing, you are part of a growing trend. In this article we show you how to get the best deal on your iPhone SIM card. We try to explain the different types of SIM Only / BYO / Prepaid plans and we compare the recommendations we make in some detail with the competition so you don’t have to.
If you are shopping for a SIM Only plan for an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, see our dedicated page.
Quick summary : iPhone + SIM Only plan is often the best deal
60% of iPhones are used with a SIM Only price plan
A huge proportion of iPhones ( roughly 60% ) are sold outside of the contract terms offered by the major phone companies in Australia these days. An increasing proportion of better informed Apple phone buyers are opting to get hold of the latest Apple gadgets outright. The CEO of eBay has even recognized the value of resold Apple phones to his business. In the press recently was his announcement that second hand iPhones net eBay billions of dollar every year.
If you are prepared to shop around, and you know where to look, this page is a great start! Most of the time, it’s a smart decision to buy your new iPhone yourself, outright and to add a SIM Only plan to it. However, whether you’ve been given an iPhone, you’ve bought it yourself, outright or you picked it up second hand, here are the best ways to get yourself a great deal on the SIM you put inside it.
What’s the difference between SIM Only and BYO Mobile ?
SIM Only and BYO mean exactly the same thing.
The terms SIM Only and BYO Mobile are simply different marketing ‘spins’. There is no difference at all between them. Generally, SIM Only / BYO plans are what’s called ‘postpaid’ plans. That means you use the service before you pay your bill. Technically, these are often ‘On Account’ services. On Account means you need to settle up at the end of the month with your phone company. However, remember, with SIM Only / BYO plans, there’s no contract of service between you and the phone company beyond the month you’re in. It’s worth noting though, that, to make it more convenient, you’ll probably set your SIM Only / BYO SIM plan up to continue automatically at the end of the month.
Prepaid plans are also SIM Only / BYO plans
Postpaid / On Account SIM only services are subtly different to prepaid SIM Only services. All prepaid plans are also SIM Only / BYO. They’re called prepaid because you pay for the service before you use it. One benefit of prepaid is that you cannot overspend beyond the amount you commit to at the start of the engagement. If you spend $30 on a recharge, the most they can get out of you is $30.
The benefits of choosing SIM Only plans for your iPhone
Any SIM only deal you end up with for your iPhone, prepaid or postpaid is likely to do you a number of favours :
- It’ll probably save you money :
Compared to the alternative ( buying your phone under contract with one of the major phone companies ) buying an iPhone yourself and adding in a SIM is likely to save you money. Especially if you do it the way we advise below. Don’t believe us ? We’ve done the maths to prove this point before in our article – “Buying my phone outright, will I save money?”
- SIM Only Plans give you total flexibility :
- Change usage when you want to :
With most SIM Only / BYO providers you can move up or down plans whenever you want to with no additional cost. If you know you need more voice, SMS or data one month, you can move your plan up, just for that month.
- You can leave whenever you want to :
The biggest commitment you’re making is the month you’re in. If you see a better SIM only deal which would suit your iPhone usage better, from a different provider – you can leave there and then.
- No Early termination Fees :
When you decide you’ve had enough you’ll move on without penalty. ETPs are a charge employed by the phone companies to recoup the cost of the iPhone they gave you. If you want to leave before your iPhone contract ends you’ll need to pay them back for the phone. If they haven’t give you an iPhone – because this is a SIM Only plan, then they won’t charge you ETPs.
- Change usage when you want to :
We use the terms SIM Only and BYO interchangeably throughout this article.
We use the terms BYO and SIM Only throughout this article – because they mean the same thing. Below, we have separate sections on prepaid SIM Only plans and also SIM Only Data plans. In each section, we make a recommendation on the best SIM Only plan to put in your iPhone. Further down, we compare the recommendations we’ve made with the key competitive plans to explain the reasons we’ve chosen what we have.
Our recommended plans are likely to give you the best iPhone SIM Only results
How can MVNOs save you money
MVNOs save their customers money by leasing network access ‘in bulk’ from the three, major Australian phone companies. Then they sell it, to customers like you, at a significant discount.
With MVNOs, you can take advantage of lower rates, and SIMs that are contract-free. They almost always offer better deals than the major phone companies. They don’t have the same marketing spends to pass on in the costs they charge you. They don’t spend nearly as much on advertising their brand as the others. By keeping their business models simple, they reduce the support costs and pass the savings on to you. They also need to charge less because they’re not as well known as their multinational competitors.
By keeping their business models simple, MVNOs reduce the support costs and pass the savings on to you in their SIM Only plans.
It’s important to realize that the network coverage component of the ‘product’ the MVNOs sell is very often exactly the same thing being sold by Optus or Vodafone. The coverage you’ll get from an Optus MVNO is exactly the same as the coverage you’ll get from Optus itself. There are a few exceptions and ‘gotchas’ to think about. We’ve covered those in detail, below.
Myths about MVNOs: Prioritization
Some shoppers suspect that MVNOs are getting low quality network bandwidth. For example, minutes that aren’t used by carriers during peak activity. That’s just not true. In many ways, network access is like electricity. It’s a utility which is the same whomever or whichever company you buy it from. You will not get a lower priority on the network if you go with an MVNO.
Why are MVNO deals cheaper?
The MVNOs marketplace is highly competitive. The competition is focused where you want it. MVNOs have an agreed charter with the major phone companies. Each MVNO is set up to focus on servicing ( selling to ) a particular segment.
A segment is just a group of users. Here are a couple of our favorite MVNOs and the segments they are designed to address.
The recommendations on this page are specific to the iPhone range.
Finally, we’ve made our recommendations on this page specific to the iPhone range. We have tried to include recommendations on both 3G plans and 4G plans which meet the typical usage requirements.
The iPhone 4s is still in market and requires only a 3G plan since 3G is the fastest network speed it can use. For later phones, released after LTE / 4G became standard on iPhone releases ( including, specifically, the iPhone 5, iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c ) we recommend a range of plans including 4G options so you can make use of this important feature.
We have recommendations on the best SIM Only plans for your iPhone if you are an average user, a very high users ( who needs an unlimited plan ), prepaid recommendations and recommendations for those looking for data led iPhone plans.
Finally, we’ve also included recommendations for each network in Australia. Below you’ll see plans from MVNOs which use the Optus, Vodafone and Telstra network.
Whatever plan you need, whatever network you want, we have a recommendation for a SIM Only plan for you !
Before you choose a SIM Only plans for my iPhone
The first question that we suggests you answer, before you decide to go ahead with a SIM Only purchase is about how does the SIM Only option compare to your others.
There are 2 obvious choices that you have when you want a new iPhone. You can buy your iPhone outright or you can get it under contract. The way you deal with this will affect your spend over the next 2 years.
- Do you want to buy your iPhone outright.
Buying the your iPhone yourself, outright means you will pay for it in full, in one up front payment, similar to if you were buying a new camera.
- Do you want to get your iPhone under contract.
This means signing up to a term based agreement, usually 24 months. During this time, you agree to pay the phone company you choose a minimum amount once a month for the term. When you sign up to an iPhone contract, this can result in a reasonably significant monthly payment. Think in the region of $70 per month, each month, for 24 months.
Let’s take a look at the ramifications of those decisions.
Option 1 – Buy iPhone Outright and choose a SIM Only Plan
In option 1, where you buy the hardware yourself, you will be able to get the best price for your iPhone SIM Only plan. When you have purchased the device outright, you can take out a SIM only plan ( also known as a BYO mobile plan ) for use with your iPhone.
Since when you buy outright, the telco you’re with doesn’t have to buy the iPhone hardware ( the physical phone ) product and charge it back to you over the duration of your contract ( because you’ve bought it yourself ) the inclusions ( the rates per minute / text / Megabyte of data ) you’ll get with the SIM Only plan for your iPhone are usually much, much better ( often twice as good or better ) than the alternative that it makes sense to do it.
On SIM only plans, you can often ‘get out’ much easier too. This makes sense if you think about it. The reason the telcos ‘tie you in’ to long contracts is to make sure you pay them back for the device. Where there is no device to pay back ( as in SIM only plans ) you often get much more reasonable Early Exit Fees – they’re the charges you pay to get out of your contract wtih your telco. ) Most SIM only plans, including whichever you choose for your iPhone, have no early exit fees at all.
Option 2 – Take out a Contract – not a SIM Only Plan
Where you go in to a contract with your telco ( option 2 ) you pay less up front for the device ( here, an iPhone. ) $0 upfront charging is an important consideration for many people, especially the more budget conscious, buyer. Under most contracts with Australian telcos at the moment, there are a heap of $0 upfront iPhone options available. That means that if you want to, you can completely avoid any up front component or ‘lump sum’ fee being paid before you can get your new iPhone.
However, since the telco has paid for the device, they want their pound of flesh and you’ll be tied in to a contract for the better part of 2 years with them while they extract it from you ! And the way the hardware cost of the iPhone you’re taking shows up is in the price of the plan you get on your SIM. You’ll find that you are paying significantly more ‘per minute’ or ‘per Megabyte’ than people who take SIM only plan for your iPhone.
In fact, very often towards the end of your contract with the telco, they will offer you a bonus. From month 21 of your contract ( some telcos start even earlier ) they will very often let you upgrade ( stay on the same or a similar plan, under a newly ‘renewed’ contract ) and give you a brand new device. This is just one of the ways they encourage you to stay with them !
If you always like to have the latest phone / iPhone and you sign up to an iPhone contract, as we’ve examined here in the option 2 scenario, you will see the new iPhone come and go before you can ‘upgrade’ ! The phone companies are pretty inflexible when it comes to letting you upgrade too soon.
What makes a good iPhone SIM Only deal ?
Good iPhone SIM Only deals come from the major operators in all shapes and sizes. What makes a good one is finding one that suits your specific needs. Here are the things to look out for when you’re making your mind up :
Make sure that the basic voice, text and data inclusions match your future usage requirements. One of the best ways to do this is to check your own online billing history at your current telecommunications provider. Whichever phone company you’re with, you will always have access to an online depository which will tell you how much you have used of each.
- Voice :
Your usage is often best measured in the number of calls you made. Make sure you count up your typical month.
- Text :
You should also count the number of texts your making and ensure that the iphone SIM Only plan you take out covers your requirements.
- Data :
Is the one to be careful of. The critical trend that Whatphone always warns people about is that their data usage is likely to double during the course of their contract with their telco. If you used 1GB a month on average last year, you could be using 2 GB or 3 GB by the end of your contract. Make sure that the iPhone SIM price plan you sign up has sufficient data included and that there are facilities to add more data later.
- Network coverage :
We provide commentary on this page about multiple different phone providers. Every major network is represented with an MVNO. Consider your network coverage requirements. If you need metro / city coverage – you’ll be able to get it with Vodafone. For the best pricing from a Vodafone network, we recommend Cmobile Red If you want access to the Optus network, we suggest Amaysim. And, finally, if you need rural coverage and 98.6% population coverage, network coverage which is among the best in Australia, we recommend Cmobile Blue.
- Customer Service :
Your iPhone SIM Only plan will give you access to the call centers of the telcos you commit to for the time you are using their network. Consider the experience you have had with phone company in the past. Consider the reputations of the telecommunications provider that you are considering going with. Is it important to you to have a call center based in Australia ? Would it make sense to go with a mobile only provider to cut down the time you spend in queues waiting to talk to someone who can fix your problem ? Customer Service is, essentially, like a form of insurance. When it all goes wrong, Customer Service is who you call. And, unfortunately, it’s not always as easy as saying you get what you pay for. Some of the larger telecommunications providers have the most frustrating call centers !
What makes a good iPhone SIM Only deal is in finding the right blend of compromise or trade off between all the elements we’ve described here. Together, it’s these things that will give you the experience you’re going to have with the telecommunications provider you choose.
Questions to ask yourself about your BYO iPhone Plans
Here, we suggest a few key questions you might like to answer to ensure the plan you pick is right for you.
Key Questions for BYO iPhone plan buyers
Remember, everyone is different. No-one can tell you exactly the right plan for you. The decision you make should ivolve careful consideration of the CIS or Critical Information Summary. You’ll find it on any product page on any of the Phone Companies websites. Some important questions to ask yourself when reviewing the CIS are :
- Is Voicemail retrieval included in my plan ?
How often do I pick my voicemail up ? How much of my cap or allocated minutes will that ‘cost’ me every month ?
- Does this plan include charging for 13 or 18 numbers ?
How often do I call those ? When I call them, am I on hold for 45 minutes ?!
- Where do my friends and family buy their phones and plans from ?
Many phone companies include plans which allow for free calls to others on the same network. If you call the same people a lot, this can make a big difference to your expenses and the BYO iPhone plan that’s right for you.
- If I don’t use all my voice allocation, what happens to it ?
Some providers ( notably Virgin Mobile ) let you ‘roll over’ unused credit.
- How much does it cost to call customer services ?
Not all the telcos include calls to their call center within the cap or minute allocation you get. Many customers consider this adding insult to injury – being charged to log a complaint about the Telco’s service !
- Do I need more data ?
All of the phone companies offer ‘Bolt Ons’ sometimes called ‘DVAs’ or Data Value Adds. For a few dollars more, you can buy another few hundred MB of data or a GB.
Remember, most people find they use their phone a lot more in the first month because it’s a new toy. Then usage tends to increase over the course of your contract. Most customers find their data usage is doubling every year. Think carefully about what the best plan for your iPhone including all the data you need.
Considering the data in your iPhone SIM Only Plan
It was the original 2007 iPhone 3G that led to the exponential growth in the use of data on phones. Since then, data has become even more important on iPhones. With the introduction of the 4G iPhone, starting with the iPhone 5, Apple offered 4G or fourth generation mobile technology standards in their devices. 4G is a telco term which refers to the advanced wireless technology used for mobile phones and devices like Mobile Broadband Dongles. Every new iPhone released since 2011 has had LTE or 4G network connectivity.
On 3G phones, like the iPhone 4S, you’ll get speeds up to 21 Mbps.
On 4G phones, like the iPhone 5, iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c, you’ll get speeds up to 100 Mbps.
Put simply, 4G is lightning fast data on your mobile phone. It’s the best available network access speed available on a phone and it’s probably faster internet access on your iPhone than you get on your home fixed broadband connection !
4G iPhone Network Coverage
In Australia, the 4G network was first launched by Telstra in 2011. Optus has 3G coverage in many of Australia’s most significant cities. Vodafone plans to roll out some 4G coverage in the first half of 2013. All the telcos – Optus, Virgin Mobile, Telstra and Vodafone Australia are working hard and spending significant quantities of money upgrading their existing network coverage to 4G speeds.
Find out more about how the 4G Coverage of Optus, Vodafone, Telstra and Virgin Mobile compare in Australia . ( Link to whatphone company has the best coverage )
With 4G on the iPhone 5, data access and other network services are faster than you’ve ever experienced them before. Owners of iPhone version 5 or above can download and stream high-definition video from YouTube, without a stutter. Key benefits include :
- Emails come down faster :
Emails, even those with large attachments can be sent and received in just seconds.
- Maps work more quickly :
Browsing maps, including the onboard iOS maps ( much maligned but actually, turning in to quite a nice feature ) is fluid and fast, even when swooshing around your iPhone 5’s screen quickly.
- Downloads are here sooner :
Downloading songs from iTunes is done in a fraction of the time you would experience over a 3G connection.
- Video calling is simpler :
Facetime has been enabled over the 4G network on the iPhone 5, allowing you to talk face to face with the people you want to
( if they too have an iPhone ! )
- High Res Images :
Higher resolution images can be viewed and downloaded in a flash if your iPhone is connected on the 4G network.
- Better browsing :
Browse the web is a significantly improved – you are likely to be amazed and impressed at how quickly web pages load on your iPhone 5.
Average iPhone Data usage
If you’re concerned about calculating how much data you need, we’d like to inform your decision
- Average Data usage is 1.5 GB : Unless you have an iPhone 6 – read our dedicated article
A variety of industry sources suggest that figures for average data usage on latest 4G iPhones is around 1GB of data per month. But like all statistics on usage, average data utilization changes according to the your specific user history. 1GB is an aggregate and we recommend that you check your billing history to verify the max data usage.
- Average Number of Calls :
3-5 standard 2 minute calls per day : Estimates about the numbers of calls that people make varies considerably. 3 to 5 calls per day is the most common assumptions. Across the different phone companies, an average of 2 minute calls are usually charged between $2.20 and $2.40 per call. That is a requirement for around $400 worth of included value in the caps being comparing.
- Margin of error :
50% : Most people are not very good at gauging their call history or internet usage.
Extra Resources – Articles of use to Prepaid Users
- Prepaid plans now have streamed audio included in them :
You may not be aware of one of the biggest improvements to prepaid plans since they were originally devised. 2016 saw the release of prepaid plans which have streamed audio included in them. If you already have a Spotify, Pandora, iTunes Music, Google Music or IHeartRadio account, then you might like to find out more about streamed audio in phone plans.
- Entertainment options are becoming common :
You may also have started hearing about the increasing inclusion of entertainment options in prepaid and SIM Only phone plans. We also examine Optus’ mobile phone plan Entertainment options, Telstra’s mobile phone plan Entertainment options and compare the two.
- Prepaid vs postpaid vs month to month :
We’ve given a short explanation on this page but if you want more detail on the types of phone plans in Australia, this is it. In Prepaid vs postpaid vs month to month, we explain and the best value alternatives you have and when it makes sense to use each type.
- Prepaid vs Postpaid –the simple trick to getting the best value :
The tier 1 telcos ( Optus Telstra and Vodafone ) all have both prepaid and postpaid plans. Sometimes they have both types of plan at the same price point.
- Does it make sense to buy a Phone myself and add a SIM ? :
It’s often even cheaper to buy your own phone and add a SIM ( including a prepaid SIM ) to it. We explain how to go Buying a phone outright and adding a SIM.
- Data Rollovers :
Considering a plan with data rollover in it ? We explain why they’re not the real solution to the real problem with prepaid plans.
And, remember, before you buy, read the CIS (that’s the Critical Information Summary–a clearly written definition of what is and is not included in the plans from these phone companies) before you buy. You need to be confident in the plan you choose yourself. You’ll find the CIS on the Vodafone website.
Compare all of our prepaid plans
If you need another network, you might like to check our Best Prepaid Plans Page and compare all the plans ( including every one mentioned on this page. ) A list of best value plans using the Telstra, Optus and Vodafone networks.COMPARE THE BEST PREPAID PLANS
See all SIM Only plans
If you need another network, for example you’re after an unlimited plan with Telstra coverage, or you live in a city and you’re happy with Vodafone, you might like to check our SIM Only Comparison page and compare all the plans ( including every one mentioned on this page. )COMPARE ALL SIM ONLY PLANS