Mobile Phone Plans
Looking for a better phone plan? Canstar Blue compares SIM-only and new phone plans from a large range of mobile providers so you can easily find the option that suits you, whether you want a low-cost plan with basic inclusions or a premium plan with plenty of data.
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How to choose the best mobile phone plan for you
Choosing a phone plan doesn’t have to be hard, all it comes down to is working out what you actually need on your plan and setting a realistic budget.
For example, if you’re not planning on spending a lot of money, you’ll want to compare a range of cheap phone plans. However, if you need lots of data, a cheaper plan will most likely not include the amount of data you’re looking for.
You’ll want to keep a few things in mind when comparing phone plans:
- Price (set a realistic budget)
- Inclusions (data and other extras)
- Plan type (SIM-only or phone on a plan, prepaid or postpaid)
- Network coverage
Once you’ve thought about the key things you need in a plan, you can use our phone comparison tool at the top of this page to compare phone plans across a range of filters to see what plans are available and will suit your criteria.
What are the main types of mobile plans?
When you’re choosing a new mobile plan, you’ll need to decide what type of plan you want. This can be broken down into the features of the plan — SIM-only or bundled with a mobile phone — and the way that you pay for your plan — prepaid or postpaid.
Phone on a plan
Phone on a plan is where you buy a new mobile phone on a plan through a telco. Only a small number of telcos offer the option to do this, so choices for buying a phone on a plan are limited.
The advantage to this is that buying an expensive phone, such as an iPhone or premium Samsung device (which will typically cost over $1,000 upfront), might be easier to manage as this cost is spread over time. However, buying on a plan allows you to split the device payment in monthly instalments over a set amount of time — usually 12, 24 or 36 months. You’ll also typically have a phone plan included with your new phone from the telco and your monthly bill will be a combination of what your device payments are and the phone plan you’ve bundled with it.
A SIM-only plan is the alternative to buying a phone on a plan, where you just get the SIM card. If you don’t want a new handset, or if you’ve chosen to buy a new phone outright instead, you’ll need a SIM-only plan in order to use your phone to access calls, SMS and data services.
SIM-only plans are available from a wide range of providers on both a prepaid and postpaid basis. They are often as simple as buying the SIM card (usually bundled with a plan) and activating the card yourself. SIM-only plans are available as a prepaid or postpaid plan and SIM cards can be bought directly through the retailer, usually online, or even in supermarkets and other retail stores.
Prepaid plans are plans where you pre-pay, or pay in advance, to access your plan’s inclusions. You’ll then have a set period, known as an expiry period, in which to use your plan’s call, SMS and data inclusions, before the plan either needs to be recharged manually or the plan auto renews. Prepaid expiry periods can be as short as seven days or as long as 365 days, but are most commonly available over 28 or 30 days.
Postpaid plans are where you pay for your plan after you’ve used it, usually in the form of a monthly phone bill, with plans running on a monthly billing cycle. If you go over your plan’s inclusions, you’re typically able to continue using your phone’s inclusions, but you might be charged extra on your next phone bill, depending on your telco.
Read more: Should I buy a phone outright or on a plan?
Our telco experts have picked out this month’s best phone plans
If you’re looking for a new mobile phone plan, the best way to find the one that’s right for you is to compare plans. Once you have a clear idea of what you want for your plan, you can compare mobile phone plans from a range of different providers, according to your criteria. At Canstar Blue, you can use our phone plan comparison tool to make this easy, otherwise, we have a range of guides and articles covering different phone plans to help you find what you need.
The best mobile phone plan providers in Australia
When you know what you want from your mobile plan, one of the hardest things to decide is which mobile phone plan provider is going to be the best for your needs. Not all telcos are created equal — some only offer prepaid plans, some only postpaid, while others might offer a range of different plan types. In addition, network coverage can vary between providers, and some telcos might also offer extras, discounts or special deals. To help you choose a good phone plan provider, you can check out our ratings, articles and guides to give you the information you need.
- Best-rated mobile phone plans providers
- Best-rated business phone plans providers
- Best-rated travel-SIM providers
Compare mobile phone plans from the top telcos
Of course, you can’t talk about phone plans without mentioning Australia’s three biggest telcos — Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. These big names are popular for a reason, offering a wide range of different phone plans, across both SIM-only and plans bundled with a new mobile phone. Not only do these three telcos offer a large range of phone plans, but they also happen to run the three mobile networks which provide mobile coverage across Australia. There can be benefits to choosing a plan with one of these three telcos, so you may want to compare mobile plans from the big three to see if these phone plans are right for you.
Telstra mobile phone plans
Telstra is Australia’s biggest telco by customer size, and like Optus and Vodafone, is a ‘full service’ provider — offering a range of postpaid, prepaid, and phone-on-a-plan mobile options, as well as internet. Telstra’s mobile phone plans sit on the pricier end of the scale, but many customers prefer to pay a little extra for Telstra coverage, which is available to more than 99% of the population.
Telstra provides 3G, 4G, and now 5G services to eligible customers, and offers a good selection of 5G-ready phones at various price points, If you’re looking for a phone on a telco plan, Telstra stocks devices from Apple, Samsung, Google, OPPO, and more, to buy both outright and on payment plans over 12, 24 or 36 months.
Both prepaid and SIM-only Telstra mobile plans come with plenty of extras, such as international inclusions, data rollover, and data-free sports streaming, Postpaid plans also feature no excess data charges in Australia, and customers can add-on a range of extra such as Netflix and Kayo streaming.
Optus mobile phone plans
Like Telstra, Optus offers both postpaid and prepaid SIM-only phone plans, as well as mobile phones on handset payment plans of 12, 24, or 36 months. Optus is also rolling out its 5G network, and has begun offering coverage to postpaid, prepaid and home internet customers on eligible plans.
Optus stocks a wide range of phones, including premium devices from Apple, Samsung, OPPO, Google, and more, plus more affordable handsets at lower price points. These can all be added to Optus’ mobile phone plan range, all of which include 5G access as well as extras such as international texting, no excess data charges in Australia, and Optus Sport.
The telco has also tightened its prepaid plan range, but gives customers the option to go SIM-only or pick up a prepaid phone. Optus provides a large selection of prepaid options, including daily, weekly and monthly plans with plenty of data.
Vodafone mobile phone plans
Australia’s third biggest telco merged with broadband powerhouse TPG in 2020, and now sits in the TPG Telecom Group while remaining a provider in its own right. Vodafone’s mobile phone plans include SIM-only postpaid and prepaid, as well as the option to buy from a wide range of smartphones on a handset repayment plan.
Although Telstra, Optus and Vodafone each offer unlimited data and restricted speeds across all postpaid plans, Vodafone is currently the only Aussie telco to sell a fully unlimited data phone plan with no speed restrictions in its Ultra+ plan. Vodafone’s plans also feature extras such as unlimited talk and text, mobile hotspot data, and frequent bonuses such as extra fast data.
Vodafone also provides 3G, 4,G and 5G network coverage where available, and states that its network covers 96% of the Australian metro population. Although Vodafone’s regional coverage isn’t on par with Telstra and Optus, it does offer some of the cheapest plans of the big three telcos, which is a bonus if you’re looking to keep your phone bill down.
Ratings and reviews of Australia’s best smartphones
Need a new phone to go with your new phone plan? Every year, more and more phones are released across all price ranges — from the cheapest phones for under $200, to devices over $2,000. Even if you have a set budget, it can be confusing to know which phone is going to have the features you want at your price range. At Canstar Blue we publish a range of articles, guides and phone reviews to help you find the best smartphone that might have the features and price you’re looking for.
Apple’s iconic iPhone continues to be a top pick for Aussies, and the company’s iPhone 13 range is one of 2021’s smartphones. However, iPhones do run on the expensive side, with the 13 series ranging from $1,199 for the Mini, up to $2,719 for the largest Pro Max.
If you’d rather spread the cost of your iPhone 13 over a payment period, you can pick up the devices on iPhone plans from Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. These three telcos also stock previous year’s models, such as the iPhone 12.
The biggest name in Android devices, Samsung offers a large range of smartphones across multiple price points – from the premium Galaxy S21, Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Z lines, to the more affordable Galaxy A series. So depending on your budget, there’s likely to be a Samsung phone that’s right for you.
You can pick up any of a number of Galaxy phones on Samsung phone plans from Australia’s leading telcos, including Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, Southern Phone, Woolworths Mobile and TeleChoice.
OPPO is one of the breakthrough phone brands of the last five years, producing both high-end and budget-friendly devices with impressive cameras and sleek designs. Prices span from under $250 for the OPPO A series, up to $1,699 for the premium OPPO Find X3 Pro.
You can purchase many of these phones on an OPPO mobile phone plan from providers including Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, Woolworths Mobile, and TeleChoice, with a range of payment terms available.
Google’s premium phone range, the Google Pixel series, remains a popular choice for Aussies wanting a high-end alternative to Samsung or iPhone. This year’s Pixel 6 prices begin at $999 for the standard device, up to $1,299 for the advanced Pixel 6 Pro.
Ad with other high-end devices, you can pick up the Google Pixel range on phones plans from Telstra, Vodafone and Optus, and spread the cost of your plan over one, two, or three years of repayments.
Learn more about 5G in Australia
5G in Australia is the next step in mobile technology, delivering faster speeds than existing 4G mobile networks. Those faster speeds mean you can enjoy things like video streaming and online gaming with less buffering and lag. As the Telstra, Optus and Vodafone 5G networks continue to roll out across the country, and additional 5G phones are released, more Aussies will be able to access these ultra-fast speeds.
Meet our mobile phone experts
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Canstar Blue has a skilled team of experienced journalists, content writers and subject matter experts dedicated to producing factual, up-to-date and well-researched information.
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Canstar Blue’s Research Team provides the expertise that powers our Star Ratings and Awards, designed to help Australian consumers make more informed purchasing decisions.
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FAQs about Mobile Phone Plans
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