To get the most out of today's smartphones you need mobile data, and plenty of it. So it's a pretty big deal, then, that Vodafone has doubled their data allowance on a wide range of its mobile price plans.
Simply put, sign up for any $60 and up 1-or-2-year Vodafone Plan, Red Plan or Business Plan before 3 January 2014, month-to-month plans of $45 and up, or spend $30 on a Vodafone Prepaid Starter Pack or Cap recharge before 31 January, and you'll get twice the data as before.
In practical terms, that means having 3GB a month to play with instead of 1.5GB, on the standard $60 per month voice plan over 12 or 24 months, or the $45 month-to-month deal. For pricier monthly deals that rises to as much as 10GB (or 5GB extra).
Prepaid customers benefit to the tune of 500MB, so your data allocation doubles to 1GB for your $30 outlay. As before you get unlimited texts and a $450 “flexible credit” to be used across a 28 day period.
So how does that compare to other providers, we hear you ask?
Looking first at Yatango, the SIM-only Optus-based provider, you can get a similar 1GB data package, plus 600 national minutes and 600 Yatango minutes for the same $30 a month – that's more than the 400-odd minutes Vodafone's deal will get you at standard call rates.
The problem is, it includes zero text messages, and rather than coming from a total allowance they're charged separately at 12c per message (or in bundles starting at $6 for 100 texts).
Go via Optus directly and your $30 will get you unlimited talk time to other Optus customers, plus 250 minutes of talk not just to other networks and landlines in Australia but to 23 other countries too, however you only get 500MB of data – although access to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, eBay and similar doesn't count as part of that.
There's also $30 “credit for other stuff”, which means non-standard calls or usage, or anything over and above your limits elsewhere.
Take your $30 to Telstra, meanwhile, and among the many options available is a $30 Recharge Cap which dishes up 500MB of data (set to drop to 400MB after February 17), plus free talk and text from 6pm to 6am every night to standard Australian numbers and $220 of general credit, which equates to the equivalent of 200 minutes, nearly 1000 texts or 110MB of data.
If you're willing to up your outlay to a slightly pricier $35, you can hit up AldiMobile, run by German budget supermarket Aldi on Telstra's network, for some serious value. We're talking 2.5GB of data over 30 days, up to 2,500 standard minutes and 2,000 standard text messages. However, you will need other credit available should you wish to make non-standard calls, for example.
Also, the same (or very similar) plan launched back in August offering 5GB of free data, so this might not be one to have to wait a long time on before rearing it's head in the market again.
Boost Mobile, also now on Telstra after switching from Optus, is a little pricier at $40 for 3GB over 30 days. Alternatively, you can get 1GB of data for $20, but you're given just 15 days to use it.
What the Vodafone offer has over all of the MVNO's we've mentioned, however, is that it covers 4G services where supported by your phone and location. To match that you have to go with Optus or Telstra directly, though we should point out that the state of 4G coverage in Australia is changing all the time right now, so double-check before making a final decision.
Ultimately that's the real value in an offer like this from Vodafone. Yes, all things considered it's probably the best all-round cap recharge deal around right now – certainly if 4G is a factor anyway – but more than that it puts down a marker for others to respond to. And that's where everyday consumers like you and me really win.