Pre-orders for Apple's latest premium model phone, the iPhone 5S, kicked off on Tuesday this week. With all the fuss going on about this new phone's features and capabilities, I was more interested in finding out who was offering the most competitive mobile plan on the 5S. Here's a breakdown of my investigation, listing plans from cheapest to most expensive (for the 16GB model).
Vodafone $65 Red Plan: This will cost you $72 in total as you'll need to pay an additional $7/month to get the iPhone 5S handset. The plan comes with 1.5GB of data (excess usage costing $0.10 per MB) and unlimited standard calls and texts within Australia. The contract term is 24 months.
Telstra $60 Every Day Connect Plan: While the base plan is cheaper, to get the 5S you'll need to whack on an extra $18/month bringing the total to $78. You'll get a standard 1GB of data (excess usage costing $0.10 per MB), 504 minutes of call time and unlimited standard national SMSs within Australia.
Vodafone $80 Red Plan: There's no additional monthly charge for the handset, so as the name of the plan suggests you're looking at $80/month. It's aimed at the heavier data users out there and comes with 2.5GB of data (excess usage costing $0.10 per MB) as well as unlimited standard calls and texts within Australia. The contract term is 24 months.
Telstra $80 Every Day Connect Plan: To get the 5S handset you'll need to add an extra $8/month taking your monthly total to $88. This plan offers a decent data limit of 1.5 GB (excess usage costing $0.10 per MB), 672 minutes of call time, unlimited standard national SMSs within Australia and the usual contract period of 24 months.
Vodafone $100 Red Plan: Finally, this plan requires no additional monthly handset payments and is aimed squarely at heavy usage of both voice and data. There's a chunky 5GB limit of data available (excess usage costing $0.10 per MB), unlimited standard calls and texts within Australia and a 24 month contract period.
Which Plan Suits You Best
My personal choice from the above would easily be the Vodafone $65 Red Plan, which I suspect will have the widest appeal to customers with its competitively sized data limit along with unlimited calls/SMSs relative to the monthly cost. Vodafone also offer a "30 Day Network Satisfaction Guarantee" allowing you to cancel your contract without incurring any penalties or fees within the first month of signing up. The only thing you'd need to pay for is any credit which you've used. Also quite useful to any of you who travel a lot, is the "Red Roaming" aspect of the above Vodafone plans. The way it works is that as long as you notify them ahead of time, you can continue to use your mobile as if you were in Australia for just $5 extra when visiting the US, UK or NZ. Take note, however, there's a maximum limit of 45 days in any calendar year for using this service though.
What about 4G Coverage and Speeds?
While there's no disputing the fact that Telstra has the largest 4G coverage in Australia (at the end of June 2013 they covered 65% of the Australian population), Vodafone has a "spectrum rich" factor. What I mean by this is that Vodafone intends to deploy LTE connectivity over its existing 1800MHz channel, potentially allowing them to offer higher speeds than other carriers because they have 2x20MHz of spectrum in that band. They've also committed to investing $1 billion over the next two years in network upgrades. So you may want to factor this into your decision about which plan to choose as well.