Unlimited Phone Plans Compared

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As anybody with a smartphone knows, mobile data is hugely important – for many it’s the key feature of their phone plan. With our increased demand for data has emerged a reduced reliance on simple text messages and good old phone calls – both of which are cheaper services for the telcos to provide.

As a result, more Aussie carriers are offering something that would have been but a pipe dream a few years ago – unlimited phone plans. Read on for our review of unlimited phone plans, or jump straight into our phone plan comparison tool to find a great unlimited deal.

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What is an unlimited phone plan?

An unlimited phone plan includes infinite standard call time and text messages within the country the plan is paid for. This means plans are differentiated by what really matters to most consumers these days – data, media streaming and other bonus inclusions. While some expensive plans include unlimited international talk and text, the majority keep this limited to a national service.

Unlimited phone plans are available in both prepaid and postpaid form as SIM only plans. The majority of new handset phone plans also bring unlimited calls and messages as standard. A number of telcos now also provide unlimited data to use, which is pretty impressive, but there are a few catches.

So where can you find the best value plan? We’ve checked out the cheapest unlimited plans on the market to satisfy all of your usage needs. Remember that unlimited mobile data isn’t too common, so look at the amount of data on offer as the main point of difference when you compare plans.

Unlimited data phone plans

There are four providers that currently offer unlimited data on some phone plans and there’s probably no guessing as to who three of them are – TelstraVodafone, and Optus. Smaller SIM-only provider Felix Mobile also offers a single plan with unlimited data, which we’ll look at below.

Vodafone has made a selection of postpaid phone plans with ‘unlimited’ data, also referred to as ‘Infinite data’ plans. These plans (available as SIM-only, or bundled with a handset) include a set amount of high-speed data and once you go over that data inclusion, you’ll have access to unlimited gigabytes at capped speeds. The cap starts at 2Mbps for the cheapest plan, and goes up to 10Mbps for the most expensive plan. The SIM-only plans available are $40 with 10GB of high-speed data data, $45 with 50GB of high-speed data, $55 with 60GB of high-speed data, $65 for 100GB.

As for unlimited fast-speed data, Vodafone is the only telco to currently offer a truly unlimited data phone plan. The Ultra+ plan includes unlimited fast-speed data across the 3G, 4G and 5G networks with no worries about data limits or slowed speeds. The only catch is that if you chose to use your Ultra+ plan data for hot spotting, you’ll be limited to 30GB of fast data and then speeds will be reduced to 2Mbps, which is in line with the Fair Use policy.

Telstra has eliminated excess data charges on all Upfront plans with unlimited capped-speed data available across all plans, from the $55 plan with 40GB of fast-speed data up to the $115 plan with 180GB of fast-speed data. Essentially once you reach your data inclusion, you can keep using your data with capped speeds at 1.5Mbps.

Optus has also introduced ‘endless data’ to its postpaid plan range, and like Telstra includes unlimited data capped at speeds of 1.5Mbps, in addition to each plan’s full-speed data allowance. This means you won’t pay any excess data charges in Australia on these plans, although you will still need to watch your roaming data overseas.

The following table shows selected published Telstra, Optus and Vodafone postpaid plans with unlimited capped-speed and fast-speed data from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of advertised standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our tool for mobile plan comparison to see a wider range of plans from other providers. These are products with links to referral partners.

Cheap unlimited phone deals

Most plans now offer unlimited standard national calls and SMS, on both prepaid and postpaid plans. While the cheapest plans usually cap the number of calls you can make, many telcos are now including unlimited calls on the cheapest plans. Some of these cheaper plans might run over  shorter term, like seven or 10 days, so you’ll need to check before you sign up.

Unlimited deals under $20 aren’t hard to find these days and many of them include at least 1GB of data. While some are available on 12-month contracts, you can find cheap unlimited plans on no lock-in contracts. There are also some plans with unlimited international calls, however these are usually to select destinations (as specified by the telco) and are generally only available on higher-level plans.

The below table includes a selection of comparable postpaid and then prepaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database for $20 or less, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our phone plan comparison tool to see a wider range of plans from other providers. These tables include sponsored products with links to referral partners.

Postpaid plans

Prepaid plans

Unlimited phone plans with 100GB data

This is where the big telcos shine once again – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. All three offer some form of phone plan with 100GB+ full-speed data included, either as a bonus or standard feature on the plans bundled with a new phone. Keep in mind that these big-data plans are usually more expensive and when bundled with a new smartphone, can easily cost you over $100. If you’re looking at SIM-only, you might struggle to find a plan with over 100GB of data unless you go with the big three telcos.

Telstra, Vodafone and Optus offer unlimited data in the form of capped-speed data. This means once you use your 100GB+ of fast-speed data, you’ll be able to keep using your data but at the capped speed of 1.5Mbps if it’s Telstra or Optus, 2Mbps on Vodafone’s Lite and Lite+ plans and 10Mbps if it’s Vodafone’s Super or Super+ Plan. All these speeds are generally fast enough for general phone use, although streaming video might be quite slow. Vodafone has an unlimited fast-speed data plan, with no speed caps, so if you need more than 100GB+, you might want to look at unlimited data.

Overall, a phone plan is more than just a phone plan these days. If you go with one of the big providers, it also pays to look at the bonuses on offer. The table below shows a selection of Telstra, Optus and Vodafone postpaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database with a minimum of 100GB data, listed in order of advertised standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our mobile plan comparison tool to see a wider range of plans from other providers. These are products with links to referral partners.

Unlimited iPhone plans

To bundle in an iPhone, especially the latest model, you can expect to pay over $70 a month for the most part and this is usually bundled with the lowest-level plan with around 2GB-4GB of included data. Only the big three telcos —Telstra, Vodafone and Optus— offer iPhones to bundle with plans. However, all three have found ways to reduce your monthly device payment costs, but there are some catches.

Vodafone is generally the cheapest each month, but this is only if you’re willing to commit to a 36-month payment plan. How Vodafone works is that it separates the device payment from the plan, so you can choose between a 12, 24 or 36-month payment period and then add on the phone plan of your choice. The longer the contract, the cheaper the monthly device payment. The catch with the phone plans is that, although the plan itself is a month-to-month plan, you will have to pay the outstanding handset costs if you cancel your Vodafone plan, however you can swap plans with no fees.

Optus is generally the second cheapest provider when it comes to bundling a phone plan with the latest iPhone. You can generally knock $10 off your device payment if you choose to lease the phone rather than the ‘own a phone’ option. The catch is that you’ll need to return the phone at the end of your term, or upgrade after a year for a nominal fee. If you’d rather own your phone, you’re looking at $90 or above for the cheapest plan combined with the latest iPhone on a 24-month contract and that’s with the cheapest phone plan, which includes 4GB of data.

Telstra also separates phone payments from plans, with four no lock-in Upfront plans to choose from, which you pay upfront with Telstra’s AutoPay system. Once you’ve selected whether you want to pay off your device over 12 or 24 months, then add on a plan for your monthly payment price. While the phone plans are no lock-in, you’ll still need to stay on a Telstra plan as cancelling altogether will require you to pay off the remainder of your handset.

The following table shows a selection of 24-month 64GB Apple iPhone 11 plans 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 phone plan comparison tool above to see plans from a wide range of telco providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

What ‘unlimited’ phone plan should I go with?

While some low-cost prepaid and postpaid plans are still available with set amounts of included call and text value, it seems that the future is very much unlimited. With the big three telcos offering some form of ‘unlimited’ data, it looks like the new battleground will be in this space, and this may make it hard for the smaller guys to keep up. However, if you look into the various smaller telcos, you’ll see that many of them are starting to offer bigger chunks of data than before, which is good news if you’re looking for a SIM-only plan to bundle with if you’ve bought a phone outright. Providers in other countries – such as the US and UK – offer unlimited data phone plans and have done for a few years now. In Australia though, it’s likely that the new battleground could be how much ‘full speed’ data each provider can offer, especially with Vodafone’s move into this space, rather than plans with ‘unlimited’ capped speed data.

But back to the cheap plans and there are a handful of providers that all seem to pop up when you mention ‘cheapest’, and competition is certainly heating up. This has created a bit of a ‘price war’ and while providers are slashing prices and ramping up value, the customers stand to be the ones to benefit most. The great news is that you don’t have to spend a lot to get an unlimited phone plan – $10 or less can per month.

It all just comes down to how much data you want, which will dictate how much you pay. If you’re in no rush to sign up to a new plan, keep your eyes peeled for the next best deal.

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