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Review of Telstra mobile phone plans

Telstra operates Australia’s largest mobile network, covering no less than 2.4 million square kilometres of our vast, brown land. In addition to 4G coverage in major cities, Telstra also offers its 4GX service on the 700MHz spectrum for up to triple the maximum download speeds on compatible devices. However, a couple of Telstra outages in recent times have tainted the company’s reputation a little, leaving some to wonder if they would be better off elsewhere – despite the free data handouts. If you’re thinking about a new Telstra plan, or switching to Telstra from another provider, this review of Telstra phone plans is for you.

Telstra’s suite of phone plans is comprehensive. It is a ‘full service’ provider, meaning it offers all kinds of plans, from contracted ones with a new handset, to SIM only postpaid and prepaid options. The amount of detail and options these plans bring can become pretty confusing, which is why we have prepared our review of Telstra mobile phone plans to help you cut through the fine print. So, let’s take a look at Telstra’s phone plans and try to determine which offer the best value.

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What plans does Telstra offer?

As Australia’s largest network provider, Telstra understandably has a massive range of plans – more than 30 of them in total! They are further broken down by whether you want prepaid, plans on a contract, or plans with no contract. This is how Telstra mobile looks:

  • 19 prepaid plans
  • 3 no contract plans
  • 12 contracted plans

So now that you’ve got the scoop on what Telstra has to offer, let’s dive in with more detail.

Telstra prepaid plans

If you’re after a fuss-free, no-frills plan with maximum flexibility, then a prepaid plan could be the big ticket for you. Telstra has an impressive range of prepaid plans and chances are there’s one that’s right for you. They are broken down into four categories, which are:

  • Prepaid Plus: Generally plans that offer the best value included
  • Beyond Talk: No-frills but dirt-cheap texting
  • Simplicity: No-gimmick plans with variable expiry periods
  • Long-Life: Plans with variable expiries from 60 to 365 days

Prepaid Plus

These are Telstra’s most standout prepaid plans, and something that we are sure a lot of people can get behind. Telstra’s most value-packed prepaid plans give you unlimited texts and calls (or $700 of calls for the cheapest recharge), along with a bunch of data and international call credit, all with a 28 day expiry period. These plans are perfect for people who want the credit and data of a postpaid plan, but without the locked-in spending. There are three plans in this category – $30, $40 and $50 per recharge.

Beyond Talk

These recharges bring you fewer inclusions, but come with 1c texts to other Telstra mobiles after you first use up your bonus texts. There are also more plans to choose from, with the top three including unlimited texts, as well as 30 days expiry. If you can’t resist messaging your mates every day, a Beyond Talk plan may be for you. Overall there are five plans in this category, from $30 all the way up to $100.

Simplicity and Long-Life Plans

These recharge packs are just traditional prepaid – four recharge amounts to choose from, each of which gives you that exact dollar value to use on calls, texts and data. The more expensive the recharge, the longer your credit lasts, up to a maximum of 180 days for the $100 recharge – and with calls costing just 15c/min, texts 12c and data 10c a megabyte, your credit ought to last quite a while. With a $50 plan you could theoretically get:

  • 100 minutes of calling ($15 worth)
  • 200 texts ($24 worth)
  • 110mb data ($11 worth)

This plan is over 90 days, so if you’re a light user, then the Simplicity plans look quite good here.

As for the Long-Life plans, they are also fairly simple like the Simplicity plans, but often come with longer expiry periods. These are helpful if you rarely use a mobile phone and just need to make a few phone calls. These could be helpful for a child who walks or catches public transport to school and only needs to use the phone in emergencies. Here’s a snapshot of both the Long-Life and Simplicity plans:

However you look at Telstra’s prepaid mobile plans, it’s hard not to be confused. It seems that, in an effort to provide greater variety, the telco giant may have simply over-complicated the situation. You may therefore find Telstra’s post-paid SIM-only, no-contract offerings a little easier to follow.

Telstra SIM only no contract plans

Now these are plans nearly everyone can get around. There are three simple plans – yes, that’s it. They are priced at $35, $50 and $70 per month. Understandably, value shoots up when you opt for the more expensive plan. However, to get unlimited calls you’ll need to jump into the $70 plan. The cheaper two still have dollar values attached. However, these two also contain unlimited texts, which is handy. The $70 plan also has unlimited calls and texts to 10 selected countries. We suspect this might be the pick of the bunch, especially if you’re an expat, a heavy user, or someone who has friends living overseas.

Telstra contracted plans

This is the segment where the major service providers come into their own, with unrivalled abilities to offer the ‘latest and greatest’ phones bundled with a plan. Here, Telstra offers a pretty comprehensive range either on a 12 or 24 month basis. You’ll also get a few plans where you can opt for a SIM-only deal. In fact, it’s split pretty evenly between plans where you BYO phone, or bundle the plan with a phone. Let’s see what Telstra is up to in each category.

SIM-only contracts come in at a few different prices, and there are four in total. This is how they look:

  • $35 – $300 calls, unlimited texts, 500MB data. Available on either a 12 or 24 month contract.
  • $50 – $1000 calls, unlimited texts, 5GB data. Available on either a 12 or 24 month contract.
  • $70 – Unlimited calls and texts, 10GB data, unlimited calls and texts to 10 selected countries. Available on either a 12 or 24 month contract.

Now if you’re wondering where the fourth plan went – look no further. Another interesting proposition from Telstra is the online-only ‘Mx’ plan. Here you basically get $10 shaved off your monthly bill for the same plan as the $50 one, at the expense of having to self-help if an issue crops up. There’s no in-store or call centre for you with this plan. It’s also only available on a 12 month contract.

As for the bundled handset contracts, Telstra comes to the game with a strong offering. All are on a 24 month contract, so you’ll have to be willing to commit and stick with the same phone for two years. If you can do that, then you might be able to get a good deal. Here’s a snapshot:

  • $55 – $550 calls, unlimited texts, 1GB data
  • $75 – Unlimited calls and texts, 3GB data
  • $95 – Unlimited calls and texts, 10GB data
  • $135 – Unlimited calls and texts, 20GB data
  • $195 – Unlimited calls and texts, 30GB data

Telstra offers some heavy plans here, and for some serious coin. As part of these plans, Telstra has set itself from the competition with some great entertainment bundles. If you’re a sports nut, then you can get free access to NRL or AFL league pass subscriptions. Now, if you’re reading this in the offseason then you’re probably out of luck, but you do get access to various NRL test matches held in the offseason, as well as the Auckland Nines.

If sports aren’t your thing then expect bonuses like unlimited music streaming on apps like Spotify. This is handy if you’re a music buff. For these contracted plans, while you are paying a lot of money, you also get a lot of bonuses and perks that you don’t get with a lot of low-cost MVNOs. As for the latest phones, here’s how these plans will look with the latest 32GB iPhone 7:

How does Telstra compare to other providers?

With such a big range of plans, Telstra is well-poised to be one of the stronger performers against a growing number of competitors. So let’s see where it sits, who it beats, and who – if anyone – offers superior value.

Telstra prepaid plans compared

Telstra’s large range of prepaid plans may even be too large. With a swathe of them simply using dollar values, it’s hard to compare as different companies charge for calls, text and data differently. The easiest plans to compare here are the Prepaid Plus plans. Let’s use the $40 benchmark for our example. Here Telstra primarily competes with GoTalk, Boost Mobile and Optus. As you can see, Optus trounces the opposition with its data allowance, but keep in mind that bonus offers often change things around, so be sure to come back and check regularly. Telstra offers 3GB extra ‘night data’ available between 8pm and 8am, so in the end the Telstra plan is about even.

This is par for the course of Telstra’s prepaid plans. The moral of the story is to keep an eye out for bonus offerings and cheeky extras that boost the value of the plans available.

Telstra no contract plans compared

Telstra’s relatively tight range of three plans also means that this category is pretty simple to compare to the competition. For reference’s sake, we’ll be comparing Telstra’s $70 offering. As you can see, Telstra competes at the big boy end of town with SpinTel, C Mobile and Jeenee Mobile. Its closest rival here is C Mobile, but it only operates on the 3G Vodafone network. As for the other two, they quite comfortably beat out Telstra in terms of data inclusions, but Telstra does have unlimited international calls and texts to selected countries. Is that enough to sway you? We suspect the best-value plan here is the one from Jeenee.

This sentiment is echoed across all SIM only price points – Telstra is simply outdone a lot of the time by low-cost, no-frills MVNOs.

Telstra contracted plans compared

We’ve now come to the business-end of town, and Telstra has ridden its large stallion into the saloon. With a selection of at least 10GB with a maximum price of $70 a month, Telstra competes well against Vodafone and Optus while MVNO TeleChoice comes into the picture. It’s worth noting that Telstra is the only telco here to not have any bonus data. However, even without bonus data, Vodafone’s plan trumps it. TeleChoice also offers more data for considerably less money, and it runs off the Telstra network.

As for bundled handset plans, Telstra primarily competes with Optus and Vodafone across all price points, especially if you want the latest phone. Here, it appears that Optus offers the cheapest bundle for an iPhone 7 32GB. It’s worth hunting around for the best plan with the phone you want. Another thing to keep an eye out for is included entertainment. As mentioned earlier, Telstra includes AFL and NRL game passes, as well as data-free music streaming. If you think this is worth it, then Telstra tends to lead the charge here with its big contracts with various other entertainment services.

Is a Telstra phone plan worth the money?

The short answer is yes – but with a few caveats. Telstra’s large range of plans means that there’s likely something out there that’s worth your money. Its standout prepaid offerings are the Prepaid Plus plans, however they do fall behind in some regard to low-cost MVNOs in terms of data allowances. Telstra’s no contract SIM only plans fare pretty well but again you should really compare offers from other providers and you’re likely find better value.

Where Telstra stands out is its bundled handset plans and specifically the perks that come with them. As Australia’s largest telco, it gets access to all the latest and greatest mobile phones, along with some premium entertainment packages to boot. Telstra excels in big inclusions for big dollars, so if you’re in the market for that type of plan then Telstra may be up your alley. It’s worth keeping your finger on the pulse to see what Telstra includes next in its bundled plans. The question is, do you really want to sign up for a two-year contract? If the answer is yes, Telstra is tough to beat.

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