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.

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Compare Mobile Phone Plans

Cheap iPhone Plans Compared

The following table shows a selection of the cheapest 24-month plans for the 64GB iPhone 11 on Canstar Blue’s database, 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.

Cheap Samsung Plans Compared

The following table shows a selection of the cheapest 24-month plans for the 128GB Samsung Galaxy S10 on Canstar Blue’s database, 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.

Cheap Google Pixel Plans Compared

The following table shows a selection of the cheapest 24-month plans for the 64GB Google Pixel 4 on Canstar Blue’s database, 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.

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 $40 per month, for which you get unlimited calls and texts plus 10GB data. Prices for the iPhone 11 64GB start at about $89.90 per month in total over a 24-month contract ($40 plan plus $49.95 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 ‘Red Plus’ plans include 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.

Vodafone iPhone 11 Plans

The following table shows all published Vodafone 24-month plans for the 64GB iPhone 11 on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Vodafone Samsung Galaxy S10 Plans

The following table shows all published Vodafone 24-month plans for the 128GB Samsung Galaxy S10 on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Vodafone OPPO Reno Z Plans

The following table shows all published Vodafone 24-month plans for the OPPO Reno Z on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

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.

Telstra iPhone 11 Plans

The following table shows a selection of published 24-month Telstra plans for the 64GB iPhone 11 on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Telstra Galaxy S10 Plans

The following table shows a selection of published 24-month Telstra plans for the 128GB Samsung Galaxy S10 on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Telstra OPPO Reno 5G Plans

The following table shows a selection of published 24-month Telstra plans for the OPPO Reno 5G on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

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. While Optus was offering the traditional 24-month phone-and-plan model (bundling your mobile plan and new device payment together under a single monthly charge), it has now followed in the footsteps of Telstra and Vodafone by separating phone and plan payments.

You can choose your device payments over 12, 24 or 36 months, while the plans on offer are month-to-month. Optus does take its plans to the next level by allowing you to select from existing plans or you can build your own plan. You can select your data inclusion, call inclusion and international extras to determine your monthly plan cost. Offering the ability to really customise your phone plan does really set Optus apart from other telcos.

If you’re happy to choose from the plans on offer, you’ll have four options, starting at $39 with 10GB of data, then $49 with 60GB, $59 gets you 100GB and $79 includes 120GB of data. Depending on the plan you choose, there are some extras such as international calls and roaming allowances, along with access to Optus Sport and subscriptions to Apple Music. None of these extras are included on the $39 plan.

Optus iPhone 11 Plans

The following table lists a selection of published 24-month Optus plans for the 64GB iPhone 11 on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost from lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers.

Optus Samsung Galaxy S20 5G Plans

The following table lists a selection of published 24-month Optus plans for the 128GB Samsung Galaxy S20 5G on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost from lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers.

Optus OPPO Reno 5G Plans

The following table lists a selection of published 24-month Optus plans for the OPPO Reno 5G on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost from lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of providers.

How to choose a new mobile phone plan

The most important thing when choosing a new mobile phone plan is to do your research and compare mobile phone plans. Take a look at multiple telcos and keep in mind that no matter which telco you choose, the cost of your phone plan will depend on three factors:

  • The smartphone you select — the latest models, particularly premium handsets, will naturally cost more
  • The plan you choose — usually postpaid plans, your call, text and data inclusions, along with extras, will determine the plan’s monthly price
  • Your service provider — whether you go with Optus, Telstra, Vodafone or another telco, costs often vary between the telcos

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

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 new handset phone plan, you should also consider any bonus features offered by the provider, including international inclusions, entertainment extras and ‘unlimited’ data. 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 might 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 $40, $50, $60 and $80 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, choosing one of these plans can 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 most plans.

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 $49, $59, and $79 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 $59 plan, and 4GB per month on its $79 option. Optus also offers a premium plan, the ‘Optus One’ plan, with 10GB of roaming data included, but this plan will set you back $119 per month.

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 have been known to team 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 fine print and terms 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 the cheapest phone 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. Vodafone has the second cheapest base postpaid plan at $40 to pair with your phone with 10GB, just behind Optus with its $39 plan (along with 36-month device payment periods) and 10GB of data.
  • If you travel regularly: Vodafone is tough to beat here, thanks to its $5 roaming feature and international call & text inclusions. For international roaming inclusions with Optus, you’ll need to choose the more expensive plans.
  • If you’re a big soccer fan: Optus offers a compelling proposition, with included and data-free Optus Sport with access to most of the major European competitions.
  • 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.

Phone plans generally fall into three different categories – prepaid, postpaid and phone on a plan. Here’s what you need to know:

What are prepaid phone plans?

Prepaid phone plans are plans that you pay for upfront at the start of each month. Paying upfront means you have a set amount of calls, texts and data to use, after which your service will be cut off. If you reach these limits before the end of the month, you’ll need to recharge your plan at an extra cost. Prepaid plans are SIM-only. Learn more about prepaid plans.

What are postpaid phone plans?

Postpaid phone plans are plans that involve your provider billing you at the end of the month for the calls, texts and data that you’ve used. Because the amount you pay depends on your usage, you could be charged more if you exceed your plan’s standard inclusions. Postpaid plans can be SIM-only or include a new handset. Learn more about postpaid plans.

What is a phone on a plan?

A phone on a plan is a type of postpaid plan that also includes paying for a new phone, usually over two or three years. In this case, you’ll pay your phone repayment each month in addition to your chosen postpaid plan with a set amount of calls, texts and data to use. If you go over your monthly limits, you’ll be charged for excess usage.

What does SIM-only mean?

A SIM-only plan is simply the high-level term given to phone plans that do not include a new handset. You simply pay for a SIM card to be used in your existing phone. SIM-only plans can be either prepaid or postpaid.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of phone plan. See the articles below for further reading.

Telco Mobile Plan Included Data Monthly Cost Contract Term
Vodafone $50 Red SIM Only Plus 60GB, plus unlimited data capped at 1.5Mbps $50 No contract
Vodafone $60 Red SIM Only Plus 100GB, plus unlimited data capped at 1.5Mbps $60 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 $39 Small Choice Plan 10GB $39 No contract
Optus $49 Medium Choice Plan 60GB $49 No contract
TeleChoice LIVE 35 12M 35GB $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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