Overpriced and unnecessary — what do Aussies think of their smartphones?

Smartphones — they’re such an important part of our lives, and make so many tasks easier than they used to be. However, phones are also often attributed to society’s decline, being blamed for distracting us from the world and even becoming addicted to using them.

But, love them or hate them, smartphones are now an essential part of our daily lives. So you might be wondering what other Aussies think about them — what sort of features they care about, privacy concerns and of course, how much we pay for our phones.

Research conducted by Canstar Blue in 2021 covers a lot of your burning questions about smartphones, so let’s dive in.

How much does the average Australian spend on their smartphone?

Considering the huge selection of smartphones on the market across a wide price range (from as little as under $200 and over $2,000), you might be surprised to find out that on average, Aussies who buy their smartphone outright spend $733 on their phone.

This price is much higher with the younger generations, with an average price of $1,058 being paid by the 18-29 age group and $896 for the 30-39 year olds. However older Australians are likely to pay less for their smartphone, at $473 on average for the 70+ age group.

As for buying a new phone on a plan, the average cost is $85 per month. Keep in mind that most telcos allow you to pay off your device over 12, 24 or 36 months, and this monthly price could also include plan costs. So, that $85 per month could work out to be $1,020 over 12 months, $2,040 over 24 months and $3,060 over 36 months.

This monthly cost does end up being more than the average outright price. But considering that many of the telcos stock the more expensive premium devices, and it’s a popular option for those looking to get a $1,000+ smartphone but without forking out the costs upfront, it’s not surprising that phone-on-a-plan customers will be paying more.

Smartphones are expensive and have unnecessary features

For 39% of Aussies surveyed by Canstar Blue, smartphones are considered to be more expensive than what is reasonable. This attitude is much more prevalent in the older age groups, with almost half (49%) of the 70+ age range agreeing that smartphones are too expensive, while 41% of 60-69 year olds and 48% of 50-59 year olds also agree. The younger age groups found price was less of an issue, with only 33% of 18-29 year olds agreeing.

Considering that older Aussies are paying less for their phones and believe the prices are too expensive, it’s safe to say that they’re more inclined to look for a bargain and choose a cheaper smartphone than their younger counterparts.

Not only do Aussies feel that phones are too expensive, but 22% of those surveyed believe that many of the features and capabilities of smartphones are unnecessary — a surprising number considering how that little phone in our pockets has made our lives a lot easier. Only a smaller portion of the younger age groups agreed with this sentiment (12% of 18-29 and 12% of 30-39 year olds), while perhaps unsurprisingly, 43% of those aged 70 or over agreed.

When it comes to smartphone features, cameras are not as important to Aussies as you might think. Only 16% of those surveyed chose their smartphone based on the cameras. Considering that this is a feature many smartphone manufacturers choose to highlight and compete over, Aussies who aren’t as fussy about having the latest-and-greatest camera setup may want to look towards less camera-focused devices to save money.

Young woman looking at phone while outside

Loyalty, security and market saturation

Perhaps unsurprisingly, brand loyalty is still a big driver for Aussies buying a new smartphone, with 40% always buying the same brand, and a huge 65% saying their smartphone brand is ‘the best’. Not only are Aussies loyal to manufacturers, but a device’s operating system also plays a big part, with 46% of survey respondents not planning on switching to a different OS in the future. However, despite this loyalty, only 13% get excited when a new device is launched by their favourite brand.

One big worry many of us have in this digital age is our privacy, and 22% said they have concerns over data that their phones may or may not be collecting. But in contrast, 17% would prefer less frequent software updates — a surprising number, considering that updating your device software is one of the best ways to keep your phone’s security up-to-date.

If you think that the new phone releases each year are reaching excessive levels, then you’re not alone, with 29% believing that smartphone technology changes too frequently. Considering the sheer number of phone releases each year, it can be a complicated field to navigate when looking for a new device. Perhaps this is why 23% of Aussies only upgraded their phone because they had to (due to outdated software, low storage or battery capacity, etc).

How to compare smartphones

Because there are so many smartphones on the market, and plenty of different brands competing for your money, it can be confusing to find the right smartphone for you. If you are in the need of a new smartphone and don’t know where to start, it helps to compare different phones. Here are some tips on what to consider when you are comparing smartphones:

  • Set a budget — especially if you’re buying the phone outright, be strict with how much you’re willing to spend.
  • What is your preferred operating system — iOS or Android?
  • Do you want to buy your phone outright or on a phone plan? Buying on a phone plan will limit your selection of devices, and these are often the more expensive phones.
  • Are you dedicated to one smartphone brand? If so, narrow down your comparisons to phones from that brand.
  • If you’re not fussy about brand or operating system, take a look at a range of phones around your budget and compare the features and specs to see what sort of value for money you can get.
  • Find out how other Aussies rate their smartphone brand in our 2021 Most Satisfied Customers Smartphone ratings.
  • Talk to friends and family about their experiences with their smartphone model/brand. You can also check out our range of Canstar Blue phone reviews, where we’ve tested phones across various price points.

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Once you’ve picked out your device, and if you’re buying the phone outright, if you’re unhappy with your current phone plan you might want to also compare a range of SIM-only phone plans. From prepaid to postpaid, super cheap plans with small data inclusions, to over 100GB or unlimited data, there are plenty of choices for all sorts of phone users.

Here is a selection of postpaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database with a minimum of 10GB of data, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Try using our mobile phone plan comparison tool to see a wide range of plans from other providers. This table includes products with links to referral partners.

Here is a selection of prepaid plans from Canstar Blue’s database with a minimum of 10GB of data each month, listed in order of standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. If you want to compare a larger range of offers from other providers, use our phone plan comparison tool. This table includes products with links to referral partners.


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