Mobile Phone Plans & Providers

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Canstar Blue’s annual review of phone plan providers compares Vodafone, Optus and Telstra on their customer service, value for money, network coverage, billing, plan flexibility, sign up & activation and overall satisfaction.

See our Ratings Methodology.

Most Satisfied Customers | Vodafone

Vodafone has beaten out fierce competition from Optus and Telstra to earn Canstar Blue’s customer satisfaction award for mobile phone plan providers in 2019, taking out the top spot for the second year in a row.

Vodafone rated best of big 3 phone providers

When it’s time to choose a new mobile phone plan, Australians have several options, including SIM-only and postpaid deals. However, by far the most popular way to get connected is to get a plan that includes a brand new smartphone; pair your plan with a handset, and you can take home the latest iPhoneSamsung Galaxy, or even OPPO or Google Pixel device.

The advantages are obvious: instead of spending $1,000 or more upfront, you can instead pay off the cost of your handset over 12, 24, or 36 months. And in addition to generous monthly data, a phone plan may also include great bonus features – such as unmetered video or music streaming, free subscriptions to various services, or international call inclusions. Of course, buying a phone on a plan means you’ll need to commit to a repayment period. So, if you’re looking at tying yourself to a provider for two years (or even longer), it’s important to choose your telco wisely.

That’s why Canstar Blue produces an annual review of mobile phone carriers – to find out just what Aussie phone users think of their provider and service. We consider every aspect of their plans, from the initial sign up & activation process, to the customer service experienced, network coverage, billing information, plan flexibility, value for money and – ultimately – overall satisfaction. Basically, we want to give you as much information as we can about the compared providers so you can make an informed decision about which you should commit to if you want to get your hands on the latest smartphone.

Best-Rated Phone Providers

vodafone-phone

Canstar Blue’s 2019 review of phone plan providers has seen Vodafone, Optus and Telstra compared and rated in the following order for overall customer satisfaction:

  • 1st Vodafone
  • 2nd Optus
  • 3rd Telstra

Vodafone was rated best for overall satisfaction for the second year in a row, while scoring five stars in most other research categories, namely customer service, value for money, billing, plan flexibility, and sign up & activation.

Optus achieved four stars for overall satisfaction, but notably earned praise for its billing and sign up & activation processes. Telstra received three stars overall, but was the only provider to record top marks on network coverage.

While this review focuses on the big three mobile carriers – VodafoneOptus and Telstra, it’s worth keeping in mind that a handful of other telcos also provide the option to bundle a new handset with a phone plan. These include Woolworth Mobile, TeleChoice and Southern Phone. Vodafone, Telstra and Optus all own and operate their own mobile networks, however, which makes them the go-to telcos for many Australians. But how do they all stack up on price? See the tables below.

Vodafone, Optus & Telstra Plans Compared

The following table shows a selection of the cheapest postpaid plans on Canstar Blue’s database from Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, listed in order of cost, from lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This selection of products includes links to referral partners.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Vodafone Logo

$35 Red Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS

min. cost $35 over one month

5GBMax Data**/billing period $35Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Optus Logo

$45 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Stream Optus Sport & Nat Geo data free
  • Up to 12 months free Apple Music

min. cost $1,080 over 24 months

4GBMax Data**/billing period $45Advertised Data^^/billing period More Details
Telstra Logo

Small Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • No excess data charges
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • 5G network access included until 20 June, 2020

min. cost $50 over one month

15GBMax Data**/billing period $50Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all mobile plans listed on Canstar Blue

Woolworths, TeleChoice & Southern Phone Plans Compared

The following table shows a selection of postpaid plans on Canstar Blue’s database from Woolworths Mobile, TeleChoice and Southern Phone, listed in order of cost, from lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This selection of products includes links to referral partners.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
TeleChoice Logo

LIVE 35 12M

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited texts to any country
  • 18GB data + 12GB bonus data

min. cost $420 over 12 months

30GBMax Data**/billing period $35Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Woolworths Mobile

Medium

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Special offer: 22GB data + 18GB bonus data per month (offer expires 25/08/19).

min. cost $480 over 12 month plan period

40GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Southern Phones Logo

Green 40

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS

min. cost $480 over 12 months

30GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all mobile plans listed on Canstar Blue

Plans from other providers that use the big networks

There are clearly lots of things to consider when choosing a new phone plan with a handset, but it could ultimately come down to which provider offers the best plan inclusions for your specific needs, including monthly data allowance and bonus features.

You might also be swayed by the phone network itself if you get reliable coverage in your area: Telstra, Optus and Vodafone use their own mobile networks to deliver their phone services, while other providers piggyback off these three networks. You can learn about them via the links below:

Read on to compare phone plans from Vodafone, Optus, Telstra, followed by some tips on how to pick the best new phone plans for your needs.

Vodafone Mobile Phone Plans

The top-rated phone plan provider for the second year in a row, Vodafone’s plans offer flexibility, plenty of included features, and comparatively low prices when pitted against its competitors. If you’re picking up a phone on a Vodafone plan, your handset repayments are now separate from your monthly service charge: the only contract you’re tied into is repaying the phone, over 12, 24, or 36 months. Your actual mobile plan itself is not on a contract, so you’re free to switch between Vodafone plans on a monthly basis.

Vodafone plans start at $35 per month, for which you get unlimited calls and texts plus 5GB data. Prices for the iPhone XS 64GB start at about $102.50 per month in total over a 24-month contract ($35 plan plus $67.50 phone payment). Keep in mind, you can elect to pay more per month over a 12-month contract, or less over a 36-month contract – the end result is the same.

Vodafone’s plans are divided into ‘Red’ and ‘Red Plus’ options, with Red Plus plans including unlimited speed-capped data (reduced to 1.5Mbps), in addition to your monthly high-speed gigabyte allowance. This feature alone makes Vodafone worth looking into if you’re concerned about surprise excess usage fees, or just want the safety net of ‘unlimited’ monthly data.

All Vodafone plans include unlimited standard national talk and text in Australia, with selected plans also featuring international minutes. Customers are also able to further customise their plan via Vodafone Passes, which allow for data-free use of included apps, as well as Vodafone’s $5 Roaming when travelling overseas. Overall, Vodafone’s affordable base plans, bevy of features and add-ons, and wide phone selection make the provider a favourite for Australians looking for a great-value phone bundle.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Vodafone Logo

$35 Red SIM Only

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS

min. cost $420 over 12 month plan period

5GBMax Data**/billing period $35Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

$45 Red SIM Only

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • 1000 international minutes to Zone 1 countries, 100 international minutes to Zone 2 countries

min. cost $540 over 12 month plan period

30GBMax Data**/billing period $45Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

$45 SIM Only Plus Plan

  • Unlimited data*(capped at 1.5Mbps after 30GB)
  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • 1000 international minutes to Zone 1 countries, 100 international minutes to Zone 2 countries

min. cost $540 over 12 month plan period

30GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

$55 SIM Only Plus

  • Unlimited data*(capped at 1.5Mbps after 80GB)
  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • 2000 international minutes to Zone 1 countries, 200 minutes to Zone 2 countries

min. cost $660 over 12 month plan period

80GBMax Data**/billing period $55Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

$65 SIM Only Plus

  • Unlimited data*(capped at 1.5Mbps after 120GB)
  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited international calls to Zone 1 countries, 300 international minutes to Zone 2 countries

min. cost $780 over 12 month plan period

120GBMax Data**/billing period $65Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all mobile plans listed on Canstar Blue

Telstra Mobile Phone Plans

Telstra is traditionally the most expensive major provider in Australia, but the telco’s plan features, perks, and network coverage mean you’re getting plenty for your money. Like Vodafone, Telstra has separated phone payments from its mobile plans. Now, plans are month-to-month only, and you’ll instead sign a contract solely for your device repayments – either 24 months or 36 months. You’re free to switch plans on a monthly basis, with four simplified plans available from $50 per month for 15GB of data.

All plans include unlimited standard talk and text in Australia, as well as unlimited speed-capped data on top of your monthly fast gigabytes. As with Vodafone’s Red Plus plans, this data is limited to 1.5Mbps, and means you’ll never be hit with excess data charges for exceeding your plan’s included high-speed data allowance.

Other plan extras include data-free Apple Music streaming and free mobile sport, use of the Telstra Air Wi-Fi network, and free access to 5G coverage from now until June 2020. Customers can also join the Telstra Plus rewards program, and can add international roaming to their plan from $5 per day.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Telstra Logo

Small Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • No excess data charges
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • 5G network access included until 20 June, 2020

min. cost $50 over one month

15GBMax Data**/billing period $50Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Medium Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • No excess data charges
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • 5G network access included until 20 June, 2020

min. cost $60 over one month

60GBMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Large Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • No excess data charges
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • 5G network access included until 20 June, 2020

min. cost $80 over one month

100GBMax Data**/billing period $80Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Extra Large Plan

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Data-free music and sports streaming
  • No excess data charges
  • Access the free Telstra Air WiFi network
  • 5G network access included until 20 June, 2020

min. cost $100 over one month

150GBMax Data**/billing period $100Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all mobile plans listed on Canstar Blue

Optus Mobile Phone Plans

optus logo

Another provider known for plan extras and bonuses, Optus has once again landed second-place in our phone-on-a-plan ratings. Unlike Vodafone and Telstra, Optus has remained committed to the traditional 24-month phone-and-plan model, bundling your mobile plan and new device payment together under a single monthly charge.

As your plan and phone are a package deal, you won’t be able to change your choice of Optus plan without impacting your device payment; however, the subsidies offered by a two-year phone plan mean you’re likely to pay less for your handset overall. But be aware that, with the price of a phone factored in, the cheapest monthly service plan may not be the cheapest overall option because the device payments tend to be lower on higher-tier plans.

Optus’ plans begin at $45 per month for 4GB of data, up to $125 for 200GB. All plans include unlimited standard national talk and text, with selected plans featuring unlimited international calls to 35 countries, and up to 4GB of monthly roaming data when overseas. All 24-month phone plans also include entertainment extras, such as Optus Sport, National Geographic, and – as of July – a free six or 12-month Apple Music subscription.

Brand Features Max Data**/billing period Advertised Cost^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$45 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Stream Optus Sport & Nat Geo data free
  • Special offer: Up to 12 months free Apple Music

min. cost $1,080 over 24 month plan period, plus any device repayments

4GBMax Data**/billing period $45Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$65 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Stream Optus Sport & Nat Geo data free
  • Special offer: Up to 12 months free Apple Music

min. cost $1,560 over 24 month plan period, plus any device repayments

60GBMax Data**/billing period $65Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$85 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited standard international calls & SMS to 35 countries
  • Stream Optus Sport & Nat Geo data free
  • Special offer: Up to 12 months free Apple Music

min. cost $2,040 over 24 month plan period, plus any device repayments

80GBMax Data**/billing period $85Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$105 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited standard international calls & SMS to 35 countries
  • Stream Optus Sport & Nat Geo data free
  • 2GB overseas roaming data
  • Special offer: Up to 12 months free Apple Music

min. cost $2,520 over 24 month plan period, plus any device repayments

200GBMax Data**/billing period $105Advertised Data^^/billing period
Optus Logo

$125 My Plan Plus

  • Unlimited standard national calls & SMS
  • Unlimited standard international calls & SMS to 35 countries
  • Stream Optus Sport & Nat Geo data free
  • 4GB overseas roaming data
  • Special offer: Up to 12 months free Apple Music

min. cost $3,000 over 24 month plan period, plus any device repayments

200GBMax Data**/billing period $125Advertised Data^^/billing period
View all mobile plans listed on Canstar Blue

How do I choose a new phone plan?

Keep in mind that, no matter which telco you opt for, the cost of your new phone plan will depend on three factors:

  • The handset you select (the latest models will naturally cost more).
  • The plan you pick (i.e. the calls, text and data inclusions, plus other features).
  • Your service provider (i.e. whether you go with Optus, Telstra, Vodafone or someone else).

With the top smartphones, you’ll usually have to spend at least $70 a month for both the plan and handset. Each provider shines in different areas when it comes to plan inclusions, so let’s get a small glimpse of what’s on offer below.

Features to Consider in a Phone Plan

At a time when the SIM-only (bring your own phone) market is hugely competitive, the big providers need to offer some amazing deals to stay on top. As you’ll likely be paying over $60 each month for a handset phone plan, you should also consider any bonus features offered by your provider, including international and entertainment extras. These days, it’s often all about who can deliver the best add-on features to accompany your shiny new handset.

Unlimited talk and texts are basically the minimum requirement for most phone plans priced over $10 per month – the carriers now need to do a bit more to impress, especially as phones are used for so much more than calls and SMS. If you’re comparing contracted plans, these are some of the features you’re likely to find.

‘Unlimited’ Data

Both Telstra and Vodafone now offer overage-proof data inclusions: Telstra on all of its postpaid plans, and Vodafone on its Red Plus options. This means that – in addition to your monthly high-speed data allowance – you’ll also get unlimited gigabytes capped at 1.5Mbps for the rest of your billing cycle.

  • Telstra offers unlimited slowed data on its small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large plans.
  • Vodafone includes unlimited slowed data on its $45, $55, and $65 Red Plus plans.

This data, while significantly slower than full-speed gigabytes, is fast enough for most web browsing and for general social media, but not recommended for HD video streaming or bandwidth-intensive activity. If you are concerned about paying excess data fees, these plans provide a built-in backup to prevent bill shock.

Music Streaming

Apple Music streaming service website

This has become another fairly standard feature of many phone plans, with big providers allowing you to stream as much music as you please from select services – without eating into your monthly data allowance.

  • Vodafone gives you the option to add a music pass to the standard plans for an additional $10 a month to access data-free streaming of Spotify and several other music apps. If you’re on a plus plan, as your data is unlimited but at a slower speed, you won’t need to add on a pass.
  • Telstra offers data-free streaming of Apple Music, plus unlimited data capped to 1.5Mbps.
  • Optus now offers a free six or 12-month trial subscription to Apple Music on its two-year phone plans and 12-month SIM-only plans. Keep in mind that the Apple Music offer does not include data-free streaming.

Subscription Video

The way Australians watch their favourite TV shows and movies has changed significantly since the arrival of several subscription video on demand services, most notably Netflix and Stan. Now all major TV networks have their own online catch-up services, and consumers are used to being able to watch TV shows and movies on the go via their mobile. Mobile plan providers have responded to this by introducing data-free streaming, although there’s usually fine print; you’ll need to stream directly from an official app, and HD streaming isn’t usually available.

  • Vodafone customers can add on data-free video streaming for an additional $15 a month with Vodafone Passes. You’ll get data-free streaming of Netflix, Stan and Amazon Prime Video, but at a capped speed. If you’re on a plus plan with unlimited but speed-capped data, you won’t need to add on the pass.
  • Telstra provides live, data-free streaming of NRL, AFL, AFLW, A League and Netball leagues on most plans. The subscription is included, which is usually worth about $300 over the course of a year.
  • Optus includes Optus Sport on all plans, plus the National Geographic app.

International Calls

Unlimited local talk and texts has become the norm, but many service providers also now offer unlimited international calls to selected countries. Some SIM-only mobile providers have great international call packages, but few can match the features offered by the big carriers:

  • Vodafone customers commonly receive upwards of 1000 international call minutes to selected countries, plus varying amounts of call time to several others, depending on the cost of the phone plan. The higher the plan, the more call value you’ll get.
  • Optus customers on $85, $105, and $125 plans get unlimited international calls to 35 selected countries.
  • Telstra offers unlimited international talk and texts to 20 selected countries as an add-on feature, priced at $10 per month.

It’s also worth checking out what these providers can offer when it comes to taking your phone plan overseas, especially if you travel regularly. All three telcos have roaming packs for overseas use, with Vodafone arguably the standout for its ‘$5 a day’ roaming feature. Optus includes roaming gigabytes on its high-end plans – 2GB per month on the $105 plan, and 4GB per month on its $125 option.

Other Features to Consider

Phone plans with 20GB of data or more are now common, so it makes sense that mobile users will go through months when they don’t use all of their data allowance. As such, data rollover is now a popular feature of many mobile plans, but some carriers are more generous with it than others. The same could be said about international roaming.

Some providers are also teaming up with airlines to provide frequent flyer points. Additionally, if you’re a student, you also stand to save with discounts and in some cases heaps of bonus data. In any case, be sure to check out the small print of your contract if these factors are likely to be relevant to you.

You may also be interested in:

How to get the best deal on a new phone plan

The big phone providers need to do more than just offer unlimited calls, texts and modest amounts of data to impress us customers these days. As such, they are going to great lengths to offer things like data-free music streaming, sports streaming, frequent flyer points, extra data, international calling and so on to help sweeten the deal. Here is a summary of what’s on offer from the big telcos:

  • If you want a slightly cheaper plan: Vodafone is hard to ignore with its varying contracts. A 36-month plan is a long time to commit to, but it does reduce the monthly plan repayments; however, you will pay the same in total for your phone regardless of which repayment period you opt for.
  • If you travel regularly: Vodafone is tough to beat here, thanks to its $5 roaming feature and international call & text inclusions.
  • If you crave data-free videos: Optus offers a compelling proposition, with included and data-free Optus Sport and Nat Geo.
  • If you love Aussie sport: Telstra is the premier provider here, with a range of the most popular leagues including the NRL and AFL, available data-free, on the go. If you’re addicted to football/soccer, like Premier League, Optus Sport is your best bet.
  • If you love jamming to music: Data-free streaming of Apple Music is available with Telstra, while a free six or 12-month Apple Music membership is available on Optus plans (although without data-free streaming).

Bundling in a new handset with your phone plan is still a popular choice, even with the rise of cheap, SIM-only plans. With such a large range of phone plans out there, there’s bound to be something for everyone, no matter your budget.

Vodafone was rated five stars for overall customer satisfaction in our 2019 review, but all three big carriers have plenty of offer. It’s not an easy decision, but we hope this report has proved helpful.

Compare SIM-Only Phone Plans

More about Phone Plans

Our latest review of phone plan providers saw Vodafone rated best overall, but the other telcos also performed well in certain areas. This is what our 2019 customer survey found:

  • Best Overall: Vodafone was rated best for overall customer satisfaction, followed by Optus in second place and Telstra in third.
  • Best Value: Vodafone was deemed to offer the best value for money, ahead of Optus in second place and Telstra in third.
  • Best Customer Service: Vodafone was also ranked best for customer service, with Optus again second and Telstra third.
  • Best Network Coverage: Telstra was rated best for network coverage, with Optus its nearest challenger ahead of Vodafone.
  • Best for Billing: Vodafone was ranked best in the billing department, with Optus coming second and Telstra third.
  • Best for Plan Flexibility: Vodafone was also the best of the bunch for plan flexibility, leading the way from Optus and Telstra.
  • Best for Sign-up & Activation: Optus was deemed best for ease of sign-up & activation, with Vodafone in second place and Telstra third.
Vodafone $45 Red SIM Only Plus 30GB, plus unlimited data capped at 1.5Mbps $45 No contract
Vodafone $65 Red SIM Only Plus 120GB, plus unlimited data capped at 1.5Mbps $65 No contract
Telstra Medium Plan 60GB, plus unlimited data capped at 1.5Mbps $60 No contract
Telstra Large Plan 100GB, plus unlimited data capped at 1.5Mbps $80 No contract
Optus $40 My Plan Plus 40GB $40 24 months
Optus $50 My Plan Plus 80GB $50 24 months
TeleChoice LIVE 35 12M 30GB $35 12 months
Woolworths Mobile Medium 40GB $40 12 months
Southern Phone Green 40 30GB $40 12 months

Frequently asked questions

Canstar Blue surveyed 9,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who currently have an active mobile phone account (including a handset) in their name and pay the bills – in this case, 2,910 people.

Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.

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