Mobile phones are an important part of our daily lives and since the development of smartphones, these devices became so much more than a way to call or text message friends and family. Smartphones are our maps, music players, TVs and computers all in one, and vital for our day-to-day functions from checking your bank balance and emails to online shopping and ordering takeaway.
If you’re shopping around for a new smartphone, it can be confusing to know which device is the best one for you. Is an expensive phone always better? What sorts of features do you really need? Which smartphone brand is best? For everything you need to know about smartphones, keep reading as we help you find the best mobile phone for you.
The following table shows a selection of 24-month 128GB Samsung Galaxy S21 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly 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 other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
The following table shows a selection of 24-month 128GB iPhone 13 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly 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 other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
The following table shows a selection of 24-month OPPO Find X2 Pro plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly 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 other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
There is a lot of choice when it comes to smartphones, with many smartphone manufacturers releasing several models each year. Samsung, for example, releases updates of several different ranges each year and each of these ranges can have around two to three devices, or even more, while Apple keeps it simpler with around three or four new devices for the whole year.
When choosing a new smartphone, you will want to consider what sort of operating system you’d prefer, which really means are you happy with an Android device, which is used by most smartphones, or do you prefer Apple. If you prefer an Android device, you’ll have a lot of options to choose from at a wide range of prices — from under $200 to over $2,000. Choosing Apple does limit you to only the devices that Apple releases and has stock of.
Once you have an idea of which operating system you prefer, you might choose a smartphone based on the following criteria:
If you’ve had positive experiences with one brand in the past, or perhaps you’ve heard good things about a certain smartphone manufacturer, you may choose based on brand first. Price is also an important factor when choosing a smartphone — some devices can set you back a few hundred dollars while others cost well over $1,000, so what price you can afford to pay, if you’re buying a phone outright, will also factor into your decision. The features included is also an important part of your decision — if you like taking lots of photos, you might look at devices with the best cameras or if you like to stream video or play games, you might look at the battery life, screen quality and processor power to help inform your decision.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to smartphones. Everyone’s needs and preferences are different, so don’t fall into the trap of buying the newest and most popular device if it doesn’t suit your needs. Finding a balance between price and your needs is much more important than having the ‘coolest’ device around.
You can buy a smartphone in two different ways — from a retailer or through a telco. Typically when you buy a mobile phone from a telco, you’re usually buying it as a phone on a plan, where you pay off your device each month which is bundled with a postpaid phone plan from the telco. Some telcos also offer the option to buy the device outright, often as a ‘prepaid’ phone that you can then bundle with a prepaid phone plan, however these prepaid devices are often locked to the telco.
When buying from a retailer, you’re either buying direct from the manufacturer, such as the Apple store (both online and the bricks and mortar stores) or through other specialist stores such as technology stores like JB Hi Fi or Officeworks, household goods store such as The Good Guys or Harvey Norman, or online-only retailers such as Amazon or Kogan.
Whether you choose to buy your phone outright or as a phone on a plan through a telco is a personal preference. Some devices, especially cheaper smartphones or phones from smaller brands, are often only available to buy outright. However, devices such as iPhones and Samsung’s more premium devices, are often available through both options. If you can’t afford to buy the device outright and you don’t mind being on a 12, 24 or 36 month payment plan for paying off your device (while being locked to a plan with a telco), then phone on a plan is a popular and sometimes more affordable way to pick up the latest premium devices. However, if you can afford to buy your device outright, you have more freedom to choose a phone plan that suits your needs, with 10GB of data available as cheap as $20.
One of the biggest debates when it comes to technology is the old Apple vs Samsung question. Apple loyalists will tell you one thing, while Samsung fans will tell you another. Ultimately, the answer is — it depends on which phone you want. Both Apple and Samsung produce great quality smartphones, with pros and cons for both.
Samsung does have the edge when it comes to variety, especially considering the range of great-quality cheaper devices. Apple is perhaps a little more user friendly and intuitive to operate, making it a good option for new smartphone users, and iPhones typically have some of the best performing chipsets on the market, although Samsung’s premium devices do too.
Ultimately it’s a personal choice and preference, but there are also plenty of other phone manufacturers that give both a run for their money. If you’re looking for a great phone at a price you can afford, it helps to compare the specs and features from a range of devices and brands before making that decision.
Even though 5G technology is still relatively in its infancy after the 2019 launch of the Telstra 5G network and the corresponding release of Samsung’s first 5G smartphone, 2020 saw even more manufacturers jump on the 5G bandwagon.
While 2019 only saw a small number of 5G phones released — and often with bigger price tags to match — more 5G phones were released in 2020, including the first 5G iPhones. While many manufacturers, including Samsung, were choosing to release both 4G only and 5G-compatible phones, it looks like 2021 might see 5G technology included by default by many manufacturers. Apple’s move in late 2020 to release all of its new iPhone with 5G connectivity by default, may have set the benchmark. As more phone brands improve the 5G tech and the 5G networks grow even bigger, it’s likely that 5G compatibility will be the default in the next couple of years.
Until 5G is included on all phones, you will have some limitations if you’re looking for a 5G phone, however, the list of manufacturers now offering 5G devices has grown. Some of these devices might not be available on a phone plan and you may need to buy the device outright, and stock of some of these devices may also be limited.
Here is a selection of 5G phones you can buy in Australia as of 2021:
If you decide that a 5G phone is the right smartphone for you, in order to use 5G, you’ll need to be signed up to an eligible 5G phone plan. Telstra, Optus and Vodafone offer 5G access on postpaid SIM-only plans, and all three telcos operate 5G networks which are still being rolled out into more areas across the country. Both Optus and Vodafone offer 5G access on all month-to-month postpaid plans, however Telstra only offers 5G access on its Medium, Large and Extra Large postpaid plans, so the cheapest 5G plan you can pick up from Telstra is $65 per month.
SpinTel is the only other telco to offer 5G phone plans (which are SIM-only postpaid plans), which are on the Optus 5G mobile network. So far, Optus is the only network provider to open access to its 5G network to the smaller MVNOs which operate on the Optus network. There is no news from Telstra or Vodafone as to when MVNOs on those networks will have access to 5G.