Vodafone’s 2018 phone plans
60 second intro
- Vodafone have split out the phone and the plan to give you more flexibility in how you pay for your service.
- They also simplified their entire postpaid plan range in 2017 (still their current range.)
- The company will more clearly break out what you’re paying for the SIM plan plan.
- It’s also easier to track what you’re paying for the phone you take – and to split that cost over 12 / 24 or 36 months.
- It’s an important strategic step for a lot of reasons – which we explain below.
- But you’ll still need to work out the maths to make sure you’re picking the best plan for you.
- Vodafone’s plans can still be expensive. We show alternatives which use the same network, below.
- We have a separate page for Vodafone’s prepaid plans.
Key points about Vodafone’s 2018 plan range
Vodafone have made some ‘sizable’ changes to their entire range of postpaid phones and plans.
Historically, telcos have a number of ‘dirty tricks’ which they use to make it hard to compare what they offer, directly. In the past, one of their favorites has been tying together 2 things:
- The monthly plan payment : This is what you pay for your voice calls, SMS and data each month.
- The handset repayment : This is the proportion of your plan which is used to pay off the ‘free’ phone they give you.
To muddy the waters further, some phone companies vary the price of the plan, depending on the device you take. So, for example, if you take an iPhone plan, you might pay $40 for a plan with 10 GB in it. If you take a Samsung Galaxy S8, you’ll pay $45 for the same plan with 10GB in it. It’s very hard to compare phone plans in this circumstance – which could be the intent. This approach is is one of the key ways telcos have deliberately made the market hard to understand for a long time. Vodafone are trying to change that and have made their plans more transparent.
With their new schemes, Vodafone is on the front foot trying to change the way you think about your phone and plan
Vodafone is trying to make their pricing clearer. To do that, they are splitting out the costs for :
- The phone you’re getting:
If you choose to take a new phone.
- The monthly plan access fee:
Payment for the network services you get – like the ability to make calls, send SMS and download / upload data.
They had to do something. Vodafone’s customer numbers are down, their market share is slipping. Recent estimates by Kantar put Vodafone’s overall market share at 14.4%, down from 15.2%, only a year earlier Most of their customer losses came from the sale of plans like this (SIM Only Plans). To this bleak picture, we add the facts that Vodafone’s rivals are making progress with significant network upgrades and coherent content strategies. Additionally, there is competition coming both in the form of the NBN and TPG.
Overviewing Vodafone’s SIM Only Plans
Vodafone’s SIM Only plans have a couple of key characteristics.
First, Vodafone’s network troubles. We have covered this aspect to Vodafone’s service elsewhere and thoroughly. As you’ll see from our articles on the subject, Vodafone’s network is largely turned around and usable in city areas of Australia. Unfortunately for Vodafone, a lot of customers left them between 2010 and now.
Second is Vodafone’s enormous global scale. It’s hard to conceptualize Vodafone’s reach from Australia. The company has controlling stakes in the better part of 40 worldwide phone companies. They have a whole set of employees in England who represent the ‘Global’ organization. These people negotiate centralized deals with third parties involving huge sums of money and pass the benefits on to Vodafone Australia. This is especially evident in their roaming proposition which we explain below.
Is Vodafone’s new SIM Only scheme any cheaper ?
What Vodafone are proposing in their new phone plan structure is essentially the ‘buy the phone yourself and add a SIM’ methodology that we have been proponents of for some time. Let’s have a look and see if users of Vodafone’s new scheme will save you any money.
As you can see from our comparison infographic, you’re still going to want to get into the calculations before you commit to a plan. We put Vodafone’s current homepage pricing of the Galaxy S8 and a SIM Only plan side by side. Both have 6GB of data included.
Went with a Vodafone contract
Galaxy S8 64GB
24 months contract on Vodafone x $41.62
$50.00 Vodafone Red Data plan
(month to month version)
( = Unlimited Oz Talk & Text + 16GB )
Minimum Total Cost $2,191.68
On Vodafone network
Found a deal on WhatPhone
Bought the Samsung Galaxy S8 from mobileciti
$36.90 per month on Kogan
(12 month version)
( = Unlimited Oz Talk & Text + 16GB of 4G Data )
Minimum Total Cost $1,853.60
On Vodafone network
By finding a reseller deal on WhatPhone and buying her phone outright from mobileciti, Sally makes a
As you can see, there are smarter ways to tie together your phone and plan. We explain how, below.
Changes to Vodafone’s 2017 plan range (still their current plan range in 2018)
Voice – Vodafone have overhauled their ‘Red’ range
- FEATURE : Unlimited voice and SMS in Australia to Australian phones :
All of Vodafone’s SIM Only plans now have unlimited voice and SMS in them. But then they were previously.
- What’s included in Vodafone’s SIM Only plans:
Voicemail retrieval is free. 13 and 18 numbers are free to call.
- What’s not included:
Obviously, you will still pay extra for premium text and roaming.
Data allocations in Vodafone’s new postpaid range
- FEATURE : Vodafone’s plans start at $30 :
That’s $30 per calendar month since we’re talking about postpaid plans. Vodafone will give you varying amounts of data for that amount, depending on whether you take a Red plan, a month to month plan or a 12 month contract plan. We think those data allowances are low compared to the competition.
- They really want you to take a ‘Red plan’ :
Vodafone offer preferential pricing for their ‘Red’ range. Remember, however, that committing to a plan for some time, can lock you in to its features while the rest of the world gets an increasing data allocation.
- FEATURE : Extra data is still $10 per GB :
The new plans maintain the useful ‘add data when you need it’ plan feature. We offer the usual proviso: watch your usage using their self-service app.
Vodafone’s SIM Only plans do not include the same data as the plans their competitors offer.
Changes to how Vodafone charges for phones
One of the most appealing things about buying a phone under contract is that you don’t have to pay for it upfront. Vodafone has maintained that feature in their new plans by offering to split the cost of the handset over a period which suits you. Now, you can buy the phone under they Mobile Payment Scheme and split the cost over 12, 24 or 36 months, whatever is convenient to you. To a large degree, this is making the postpaid range look a lot like the way they manage their prepaid customers.
- You still buy the phone from Vodafone :
You can bring a phone from elsewhere or buy a new one yourself (see options below.) However, if you want Vodafone to supply the phone, they will and now offer the chance for you to split the cost up however you like.
- You can split the cost over multiple timelines :
The cost for your new device can be broken down over 12, 24 or 36 months. The financial and technical scheme they use to do this is called Vodafone’s MPP – Mobile Payment Plan and they’ve had it for years – this is just a different way of explaining it.
- You can throw in extras :
You can still get all of your accessories from Vodafone, too, if you like. They will bundle the cost of the accessories up in to your handset cost and include it in your monthly repayments (broken down over the 12, 24 or 36 month period you decide.)
- Leave when you want to :
You don’t have to stay with Vodafone for the entire time you have the phone. You can leave whenever you want to, you just have to pay whatever is left on the cost of the phone.
- You get to keep the phone :
Remember, you own the phone at the end of it. That’s not true of every phone leasing scheme out there, notably, Telstra’s new phone feeling. (But then, with Telstra’s new phone feeling, you get a new phone every 12 months.)
Important note : Make sure, if you are comparing devices, when you look at their site, that you are clear on the term they have used to break down handset costs. The default for splitting the cost is 36 months. It’s true that people are keeping their phones longer these days. However, if you are comparing with, say, the same phone under a contracted plan with one of Vodafone’s rivals then they are likely to have broken down the cost over only 24 months. This could make Vodafone look cheaper, even when it’s not.
Where Vodafone’s scheme really will help people, is at the end of their contracted agreement period. At the moment, the monthly payments people make for their phone and plan in one can continue at the end of the contract. That means you’re still paying for the handset even when you own it ! Vodafone themselves say the average person over spends $500 when their contract ends – an eye-watering amount. This accidental spend will not be possible in the new scheme.
Roaming and international is one area in which Vodafone shines.
- FEATURE: International from $40 :
International call inclusions start on their $40 per month on Vodafone’s red plans.
- FEATURE: $5 global roaming a day is market leading :
Vodafone’s $5 a day to use your phone plan’s netitlements overseas in most international destinations is the industry benchmark.
What are your alternatives to Voda’s new scheme ?
In our view, Vodaofne’s new scheme is mostly window dressing. You certainly have options from other places to create the same opportunities. You could :
- Buy the handset yourself :
Buying a phone yourself and adding a SIM Only plan is usually the most sensible way to go. From a handset point of view, we would advise you evaluating Mobileciti’s hardware. There are, of course, high street alternatives like JBHiFi and grey market imports which
- Avoid the upfront cost of the device :
If you want to split the cost of a phone there are other ways to do it, too. Moose Mobile have started leasing phones, so have Vaya, another Australian telco. Note, you also end up owning the device when you buy it from these companies.
- Telstra’s ‘New Phone Feeling’ :
Telstra’s scheme lets people upgrade their phone after 12 months if it’s in good nick. They sometimes charge $99 for the privilege although at the time of writing, that fee is being waived. Other major Vodafone rivals have similar schemes.
- Phone companies which use the Vodafone network :
There are alternatives on the Vodafone network including Lebara and Kogan Mobile which both use the full Vodafone 4G network.
For some of us,the most important factor when choosing a phone plan is the quality of the network. You don’t want to find yourself consistently without coverage. You might miss an important business call or find yourself stranded in the middle of no-where without an on screen map. Vodafone have spent $billions trying to improve the performance of their network and how it’s talked about in the media.
Vodafone Australia is not a tiny company. It has a 14.8%
market share, behind Optus at 22.3%
and Telstra at 39.9%
. The problem is, those market shares aren’t changing quickly. It’s a difficult spot for Vodafone. You can get the same network coverage as you do from Vodafone but, with this 4G example, you’ll get 4G coverage across 96.6% of the Australian population
instead of Vodafone’s 96% of metro area
Vodafone’s SIM Only plans will give you access to their 4G network – which is about the same in city areas as Optus’ and Telstra’s
Vodafone covers a very high proportion of the population – almost the same as Telstra and Optus. But there’s a big difference in the number of square Kilometers that each network reaches.
Vodafone’s SIM Only plans will give you access to this many square kilometers.
The net result is – Vodafone customers are nearly as happy with their network coverage as Telstra’s.
Who are some of the companies that use the Vodafone network ?
Did you know that Vodafone, Optus and Telstra are the only three mobile providers in Australia that actually own and run their own mobile network? All other mobile phone plan providers just rent access to one of these three networks!
These companies also use the Vodafone network.
How does buying through a reseller work ?
Quick summary of Vodafone’s SIM Only plans vs Telstra and Optus
- Adding more data when you’ve used yours up:
Vodafone has a facility on their SIM Only plans whereby, when you reach your data limit, you will automatically have more data added at a cost of $10 per GB. Optus and Telstra now have the same thing. Data speeds are increasing. 4G is faster than 3G was. They’re already working on 5G. Newer phones have faster processors and they pull information down from the network faster. The result is that people are using more data this month than they did last month. By most people’s reckoning, each phone user will get through twice as much data next year as you are now. The safety belt feature that Vodafone and Optus have put in place with their auto add data is a lifesaver. It reduces the risk of using data in the first place. It also avoids huge bills for those who accidentally use too much.
- Sharing Data over multiple devices:
Vodafone have a data sharing scheme and it’s very similar to Optus’. With it you can add another SIM to what is effectively a family account. Here’s how they work. Imagine a father is paying $50 per month for a SIM Only plan with ‘infinite’ SMS and voice from Vodafone. For $30 per month, he can add another family member, let’s say his wife to that plan. She also gets ‘infinite’ SMS and voice and now splits the data with him. Vodafone’s SIM Only sharing option is an important first step along the multi SIM management path but at this time, the practical benefits are, in our view not worth having. Far better, instead to manage your data needs yourself and buy a bundle you’ll use.
- Overseas roaming at daily prices:
Vodafone have the best proposition in market for overseas roaming on their SIM Only plans. For $5 per day, you can safely (and that is probably the key word) use your phone overseas. Vodafone’s huge global coverage works in their favor here. The range of countries you can go Red Roaming in is already large and is growing every day. Optus and Telstra’s equivalents are more expensive and offers less international coverage. If you travel overseas regularly then Vodafone should be a strong contender for your money.
- Simple ‘Yes’ Insurance:
Vodafone have effectively emulated Optus’ insurance scheme. And it’s really good. It’s less than $15 per month, it has some very reasonable terms and it’s far more useful than what was the industry standard until recently. Remember, you’ll only be able to use it if you got your phone from Vodafone in the first place. So, if you’re after a SIM Only plan then this might not be relevant to you. Also, Optus’ scheme is just as good (which is why it was copied!) However, both Vodafone and Optus beat Telstra hands down on insurance.
- Good Self Service App:
Typically, a cost of approximately $5 is assigned by a phone company like Optus or Vodafone to a customer calling in to the customer care organization. If they’re dialing in to do something they could have done online, it makes sense to create an app which allows them to do it. Banks blazed a trail of Self Service which it took the telcos a while to catch up with. These days, the apps from all 3 phone companies is exceptionally good. That includes Vodafone. And you’ll be able to manage your SIM Only plan just fine using their ‘MyAccount’ app.
- Free content:
Vodafone’s global negotiating power has been used here to negotiate a deal with Spotify which applies to some of their SIM Only plans. In Australia, you’ll also get free access to Stan on some plans although you will be required to pay for the data you use watching it on your phone. Dropbox is another globally negotiated deal that Vodafone have secured. If you do these things on your phone, this is a big deal. If you watch TV or listen to music – and a large and growing number of people are doing them, this alone could be reason enough to choose Vodafone.
- Network Guarantee:
We have covered Vodafone’s Network Guarantee in some detail before. It’s an important feature if you’re buying a contract. Not so much for a SIM only plan. After all, Vodafone’s agreements are month to month. If it doesn’t work, you just port and go to Boost.
- New phone feeling :
Vodafone do not offer a ‘New Phone Feeling’ equivalent to Telstra’s scheme. Telstra’s plans are so expensive, there is likely more margin in them to cover the provision of this sort of feeling to customers. With Telstra, the New Phone Feeling capability enables customers who pay an additional fee each month and return their device after 12 months, to a new phone each year.
- Free WiFi:
Vodafone SIM Only customers can use the free Telstra WiFi Hot Spots that are currently in market as part of Telstra’s trial just as easily as Telstra customers can. That said, in time, Vodafone customers will be charged for the facility. Telstra’s will be able to use their own plan allowance over the Telstra wifi network. Vodafone are considering an equivalent scheme with JC Decaux, an equally global provider of advertising spaces at places like bus stops.
- Loyalty rewards scheme:
Vodafone also now offer a Frequent Flyer program. For every dollar you spend on your phone plan, they will give you some Frequent Flyer points. Our view is that these schemes are something to be careful of. They sound great but then, when you’re in them, you make all sorts of decisions that you wouldn’t have made before. For example, signing up to Vodafone when it doesn’t have the best deals just to get air miles.
Customer satisfaction with Vodafone’s SIM Only Plans
We ran our own research in late 2017 and found a surprising result. Vodafone’s customer satisfaciton level are the best in the business.. They are notably better than both Telstra and Optus’.
In our own research from December 2017, you can see Vodafone customers were more satisfied than any other
Summing up Vodafone’s new ‘no contract’ range
No wonder Vodafone’s customer numbers are stuck in the doldrums. Unless you are seduced by the ‘nice to have’ features Vodafone offers, it often makes more sense to go with a network reseller. Kogan and Lebara offer better deals under almost any circumstance.
Vodafone’s postpaid plan range is, at the very least, ‘inspired’ by similar ‘Uncarrier’ activities overseas. T-Mobile (who coined that ‘uncarrier‘ phrase did an almost identical thing back in 2013. It was only a matter of time before splitting handset and plan came to Australia.
Vodafone’s SIM Only plans reflect what people are demanding from their phone company. The flexibility to tailor their plans and phones exactly as they want to.
There are only so many ways you can cut and dice a phone plan, I guess. I remember my first meeting with my new manager at Vodafone Australia in 2005. We talked then about the Vodafone ‘no contracts’ scheme which was in place at the time. So, in a way this idea is new but it’s also very old.
Industry observers say that the number of phone contracts are going to halve in the years ahead from about 18% of the market to about 8%. Vodafone’s new plan range is just one of the factors pushing that along. ( Other factors driving that change are covered here.)
Vodafone’s scheme does serve a useful purpose. It’s important strategically, with the eSIM arriving soon. In our view, it won’t be long until Telstra and Optus have to release their own version of what Vodafone have one here..
Unfortunately, Vodafone’s pricing does not appear competitive in the example we checked. The ‘freedom’ they now offer was always there through deals offered by other SIM only providers – mostly the small telcos. The people who will benefit from this are the ones who were going to buy a contract and then leave.
In summary, Vodafone’s proposition difference here is a small change but a worthwhile one. It adds to the options and addresses an important point about what happens at the end of your contract. It’s worth doing with the changes the eSIM is likely to instil into the market starting very soon. However, with the handset options we’ve seen become available this year – multiple forms of leasing, grey market imports, Australian resellers with discounted prices, there are other ways to achieve the same thing, more cheaply.