Should I get a data-only SIM for my smartphone?

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SIMs are a really useful thing. A SIM card lets you make phone calls and text people, and lets you access the internet on the go with your phone. But if you’re not big on calls or messaging, there’s also some great SIM plans out there for if you want to cut out the middle-man.

We’re talking about data-only SIMs: SIMs that don’t have any phone numbers, calling or texting involved. Only data – and for that, they can be a lot cheaper, but it really depends on what you want from your SIM plan.

With a data-only SIM, you can also get really creative! We’re in the age of the internet, so although you need to stay connected, there’s not really any obligation to have a phone number or a line you can be texted on.

In this article, we’ll be doing a deep-dive into data-only SIM plans, looking for what the best are for you.

Using a data-only SIM in your smartphone

If you’re going to rely entirely on data in your smartphone and completely miss out on having calling and texting, you’ll want to have a plan that has a lot of data. Typically if you’re not doing much browsing or social media use, a plan around 5GB should be the right size for you, but if you want to be able to use social media and browse freely, consider a plan that offers between 15GB and 30GB a month.

Jump to:

What is a data-only SIM?

Data-only SIMs have a little extra to them than what it says on the tin. Data-only SIMs cut out the middle-man of needing a phone number and a texting number, giving you more mobile data in return.

Many people use data-only SIMs to connect tablets to the internet, but you can also use them in any device with a SIM card slot. It’s a great alternative to things like mobile broadband and home wireless broadband, and totally worth consideration as a backup plan.

This trade-off does mean that you cannot receive texts and phone calls on a data-only SIM, however that doesn’t mean you can’t use apps like Skype, Messenger, WhatsApp and Zoom.

Which data-only SIM should I buy?

We’ve put together a long list of data-only SIMs for your consideration. None of these plans offer any calling or texting options, but they do have great data deals.

Telstra, Amaysim, Vodafone and Southern Phone all offer data-only SIMs, and we think these prepaid data-only plans are worth checking out.

Telstra Mobile Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Telstra mobile broadband plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

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

Extra Small

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • Includes data-free sports and music streaming
  • Free 5G access until June 2020

min. cost $15 over one month

5GBMax Data**/billing period $15Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Small

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • Includes data-free sports and music streaming
  • Free 5G access until June 2020
  • Special offer: $10 monthly credit for 12 months. Ends 6 April 2020

min. cost $25 over one month

10GBMax Data**/billing period $25Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Medium

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • Includes data-free sports and music streaming
  • Free 5G access until June 2020
  • Special offer: $10 monthly credit for 12 months. Ends 6 April 2020

min. cost $50 over one month

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

Large

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • Includes data-free sports and music streaming
  • Free 5G access until June 2020
  • Special offer: $15 monthly credit for 12 months. Ends 6 April 2020

min. cost $75 over one month

100GBMax Data**/billing period $75Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Vodafone Mobile Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Vodafone mobile broadband plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

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

5GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $180 over 12 months

5GBMax Data**/billing period $15Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

25GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $360 over 12 months

25GBMax Data**/billing period $30Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

60GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $540 over 12 months

60GBMax Data**/billing period $45Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Vodafone Logo

100GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $720 over 12 months

100GBMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Amaysim Mobile Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of  published Amaysim mobile broadband plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

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

SIM Only 2GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $15 over 28 day billing period

2GBMax Data**/billing period $15Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Amaysim Logo

SIM Only 5GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $25 over 28 day billing period

5GBMax Data**/billing period $25Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Amaysim Logo

SIM Only 20GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $45 over 28 day billing period

20GBMax Data**/billing period $45Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Amaysim Logo

SIM Only 50GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $60 over 28 day billing period

50GBMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Amaysim Logo

SIM Only 100GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $70 over 28 day billing period

100GBMax Data**/billing period $70Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Amaysim Logo

SIM Only 150GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $90 over 28 day billing period

150GBMax Data**/billing period $90Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Southern Phone Mobile Broadband Plans

The following table shows a selection of published Southern Phone mobile broadband plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

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

Extra Small

  • SIM Only

min. cost $180 over 12 month plan period

7GBMax Data**/billing period $15Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Southern Phones Logo

Small

  • SIM Only

min. cost $300 over 12 month plan period

15GBMax Data**/billing period $25Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Southern Phones Logo

Medium

  • SIM Only

min. cost $480 over 12 month plan period

50GBMax Data**/billing period $40Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Southern Phones Logo

Large

  • SIM Only

min. cost $780 over 12 month plan period

100GBMax Data**/billing period $65Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Southern Phones Logo

Extra Large

  • SIM Only

min. cost $1,320 over 12 month plan period

250GBMax Data**/billing period $110Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Mobile Broadband Plans Compared

The following table shows a selection of published 100GB mobile broadband plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

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

100GB Mobile Broadband Plan

  • SIM Only plan

min. cost $720 over 12 months

100GBMax Data**/billing period $60Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Southern Phones Logo

Large

  • SIM Only

min. cost $780 over 12 month plan period

100GBMax Data**/billing period $65Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Amaysim Logo

SIM Only 100GB

  • SIM Only

min. cost $70 over 28 day billing period

100GBMax Data**/billing period $70Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
Telstra Logo

Large

  • SIM only plan
  • No excess data charges in Australia
  • Includes data-free sports and music streaming
  • Free 5G access until June 2020
  • Special offer: $15 monthly credit for 12 months. Ends 6 April 2020

min. cost $75 over one month

100GBMax Data**/billing period $75Advertised Data^^/billing period Go To Site
View all NBN plans listed on Canstar Blue

Why should I get a data-only SIM?

If you’re not big on phone calls and texting, a data-only SIM plan could be what’s best for you. If you want to cut out the middle-man you could be saving some money just by only using the internet to get in touch with people.

But perhaps it’s better to think of data-only SIMs as an extra to your normal phone SIM, rather than an alternative. With everybody staying home because of the current pandemic, there’s a lot of strain being placed on Australia’s internet. If you switched to mobile broadband, you’d be using mobile phone signals to get on the internet. It’d work at a similar speed with similar effect, but it might be a reasonable alternative if your internet is currently failing you due to bandwidth constraints.

Data-only SIMs as a backup plan

It’s great to think of data-only SIMs as a backup to your phone plan or your internet plan. You don’t even have to get too technical, and if you’re the type of person to have technology lying around, there’s a trick you can play to get yourself a portable backup modem.

If you’ve got a working backup SIM, preferably one with lots of data (and preferably to that, a data-only SIM), you could hotspot your old phone and treat it like a modem. It’s a neat trick!

This is great if the power goes out, if the bandwidth of your modem is being soaked up, or if you’re out in public.

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