Mobile Phone Plans

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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.

Compare Mobile Phone plans

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 64GB iPhone 12 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.

Mobile Phone Brands

What is a smartphone?

Smartphones are essentially mobile phones with access to mobile networks, that have a computer built in and can operate like a computer. Early versions of smartphones combined mobile phone technology with the technology found in a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), while current smartphones combine the functions of several devices with mobile phone technology, including a computer, camera, music player and TV. Not only can you make calls and send SMS and MMS, but through the use of apps you can access the internet, check emails, stream video, play games and more.

How do I choose the best smartphone?

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:

  • Preferred brand
  • Price
  • Features

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.

Where can you buy smartphones?

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.

What are the cheapest smartphones?

When you think of smartphones, many of us might automatically jump to thoughts of price tags well over $1,000, but in reality, there are devices to suit a wide range of budgets, with plenty of phones available for under $1,000.

The starting price for smartphones from many manufacturers seems to be $199, with phones from Nokia, Motorola, Realme and Vivo available at this price point. If you have more flex in your budget, there is a huge selection of devices around the mid-range of $200 – $600, with Samsung and OPPO also offering devices around these price points. If you have an even bigger budget, there are plenty of premium devices available around $600 – $1,000 even Apple has a device in this price range in the more budget iPhone SE model.

Another plus with cheap mobile phones is that these devices are generally still great quality. Typically the cheaper devices might have less features or cheaper quality materials, such as the screen or back of the device, but it doesn’t mean that these materials are bad quality. It’s just that the top-range premium materials and features such as cameras and processors aren’t typically found in these cheaper devices. Manufacturers such as OPPO and Realme — and to an extent, Samsung — have struck a great balance in producing really quality devices for those cheaper prices.

Is Apple better than Samsung?

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.

iPhone plans

If Apple is your preferred brand and you’re looking at picking up one of the iPhone 12 series devices (all of which are 5G), you’ll be able to buy outright or pick up on a phone plan from Telstra, Optus or Vodafone. Let’s take a look at phone plans for a selection of iPhone 12 devices.

iPhone 12 Plans

The following table shows a selection of 24-month 64GB Apple iPhone 12 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a wide range of telco providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

iPhone 12 Pro Plans

The following table shows a selection of 24-month 128GB Apple iPhone 12 Pro plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a wide range of telco providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

iPhone 12 Pro Max Plans

The following table shows a selection of 24-month 128GB Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a wide range of telco providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Samsung plans

While Samsung releases a wide range of devices each year, not every device is available to buy on a plan from the telcos. Telstra, Optus and Vodafone all offer Samsung phones, as does Woolworths Mobile, Southern Phone and TeleChoice. The devices available differs from telco to telco. Let’s take a look at phone plans for some of Samsung’s devices available from telcos.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plans

The following table shows selected published 24-month plans for the Samsung Galaxy S21 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 tool for mobile phone plan comparison to see a wider range of plans from other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Samsung Galaxy S21+ Plans

The following table shows selected published 24-month plans for the Samsung Galaxy S21+ 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 tool for mobile phone plan comparison to see a wider range of plans from other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Plans

The following table shows selected published 24-month plans for the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 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 tool for mobile phone plan comparison to see a wider range of plans from other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

Telstra smartphone plans

Australia’s largest telco, Telstra, has a large selection of smartphones from the big names, and even has a selection of its own branded smartphones. Devices are available over 12 or 24-month payment periods and Telstra also allows you the option to buy select devices outright. Some of the devices that Telstra currently has available include:

  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 Mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone SE
  • Samsung Galaxy S21
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
  • Samsung Galaxy A52
  • Motorola moto G 5G Plus
  • OPPO Find X2 Pro 5G
  • OPPO Find X2 Neo 5G
  • Google Pixel 4a 5G
  • Google Pixel 5
  • Google Pixel 4a

Once you’ve chosen your device, colour and storage preferences, you can then select your preferred payment period and then postpaid phone plan to bundle with. The monthly price is made up of your device and plan price, and while you’re on a contract for your device, technically the postpaid plans are month-to-month. This means you’re able to switch between plans, however, cancelling altogether requires you to pay off the remainder of your device price.

Telstra’s postpaid plans start at $55 and go up to $115 per month, and includes unlimited standard national calls and SMS, as well as data inclusions starting at 40GB and going up to 180GB. If you want 5G network access, you’ll need to sign up to the Medium, Large or Extra Large plans as the $55 Small plan doesn’t include 5G coverage.

All plans include no excess data charges, which means once you’ve used up your data inclusions, you can keep using your data but at the capped speed of 1.5Mbps. You’ll also get data-free streaming of Apple music (excludes subscription), data-free sports streaming, including NRL and AFL, plus free access to the Telstra Air WiFi network.

Optus smartphone plans

Optus has the second largest mobile network in the country and like Telstra, there are plenty of different devices available from Optus, with payment periods over 12, 24 or 36 months. Here’s a look at some of the devices currently available from Optus:

  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 Mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone SE
  • Samsung Galaxy S21
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2
  • Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
  • OPPO Find X3 Pro 5G
  • OPPO Find X3 Lite 5G
  • Google Pixel 5

With a mobile phone plan from Optus, your device payments are separate to your postpaid phone plan. What you pay each month is your chosen device’s monthly payments (over 12, 24 or 36 months) plus your choice of month-to-month phone plan. Like with Telstra, you can switch between postpaid plans, however cancelling altogether requires you to pay off the rest of the device.

Optus offers no excess data charges, so once you finish using your fast-speed data, you can keep using data but at the capped speed of 1.5Mbps. Optus also includes access to Optus Sport and Fitness, however this isn’t available on the $39 plan. 5G network access is included on all postpaid phone plans at no extra cost.

Woolworths Mobile smartphone plans

Woolworths Mobile is one of the few Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) to offer phone on a plan (Southern Phone and TeleChoice also offer phone on a plan), with a range of Samsung and OPPO smartphones available to bundle with a phone plan over 24 or 36 months. Here is a selection of devices currently available from Woolworths Mobile:

  • Samsung Galaxy S21
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip
  • Samsung Galaxy Note20
  • Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy A32
  • Samsung Galaxy A72
  • OPPO Find X3 Neo 5G
  • OPPO Find X3 Lite 5G
  • OPPO Find X2 Pro 5G
  • OPPO Find X2 Neo 5G
  • OPPO Find X2 Lite 5G
  • OPPO Reno4 5G
  • OPPO Reno4 Z 5G
  • OPPO A15

Device prices are separate to your phone plan — simply choose your preferred device, payment period and plan you wish to bundle with. You’re also able to switch between postpaid plans, however cancelling altogether requires you to pay off the remainder of your device.

While Woolies doesn’t offer many of the same perks you’d get from Telstra, Optus or Vodafone, such as entertainment extras and 5G network access, you will typically find Woolies offers more data for your money. The two cheapest Woolworths Mobile postpaid plans are both cheaper than the cheapest plan on offer from the big three telcos. Woolies also includes data banking, discounts on your monthly grocery shop and frequently offers discounts on devices and even bonus offers.

Vodafone smartphone plans

Vodafone is the third largest mobile network in Australia, and you can expect a large selection of mobile phones available on a phone plan. Vodafone, like Telstra and Optus, does operate a 5G mobile network, however it is currently trailing behind with its rollout compared to the other two. You can pick up a range of smartphones over a 12, 24 or 36-month payment period and bundle with your choice of postpaid phone plan. Here is a selection of devices currently available on a plan from Vodafone:

  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 Mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone SE
  • Samsung Galaxy S21
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
  • Samsung Galaxy Note20
  • Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2
  • Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
  • Google Pixel 5
  • Motorola Moto G 5G

Device payments are separate to your month-to-month postpaid plan, however cancelling altogether requires you to pay off the remainder of your device. Vodafone offers ‘endless’ data on postpaid plans, so once you’ve used up your fast-speed data inclusions, you can keep using but at the capped speeds of 2Mbps, 10Mbps or 25Mbps (your plan choice determines which capped speed you can access).

Vodafone tends to offer deals and discounts frequently on plans, especially bonus data and monthly plan discounts, so keep an eye out to see what is on offer. While 5G network access is included at no extra charge, Vodafone currently has less 5G network coverage than Telstra and Optus, so you might not have access in your area for a while.

5G phones

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:

  • iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro & iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • Samsung Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21+ & Galaxy S21 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy A32 & A52 5G
  • Samsung Galaxy Note20 & Note20 Ultra
  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
  • OPPO Find X3 Pro, Find X3 Neo & Find X3 Lite
  • OPPO Find X2 Pro, Find X2 Neo & Find X2 Lite
  • OPPO Reno4 5G & Reno4 Z 5G
  • Google Pixel 5
  • Google Pixel 4a (5G)
  • Nokia 8.3 5G
  • Motorola Moto G 5G Plus
  • Vivo X50 Pro 5G
  • Realme 7 5G

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.

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