iPhone pre-orders open on Saturday at 5:01pm for Aussies, and carriers are already putting their pricing up. I’ve been going over the pricing and figured out the one thing that will always, always make you spend more money than you want to: the terrible data rates offered to you by Australian carriers.
Let’s pose a hypothetical. Say you want an iPhone at around $80 per month. That’s a fair chunk of cheese to spend on your phonegadget per month, right? Ok.
Now let’s take a look at the big three providers and the data they offer your $80 per month budget. Optus and Vodafone give you 6GB for $80 per month, while Telstra gives you 5GB for a fairly insane $95 per month. And those are just the plans. If you absorb the cost of paying off a phone every month on these plans, you’re looking at adding $10 to $30 onto the monthly cost, depending on which iPhone you go for.
All of a sudden your $80 plan starts to cost you around $110, so you lower the plan you want in order to absorb the cost of a device. Mistake, because now you’re looking at a plan that offers you less than 1GB of data per month at a best case, and you’re still paying the $80 you originally budgeted. Sure you can get a bargain if you shop around, but those are scarce at flagship phone launch time, and it really shouldn’t be that hard to find something that adheres to the budget of a normal person.
The punchline is that you’re being screwed with your pants on. Either you’re paying too much to get what you want, or you’re sticking to your initial budget on sign-up only to go over every month and get charged through the nose for overuse.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Aussie telcos brought out a crazy new deal like the T-Mobile deal that gets you unlimited 4G* data for $80 per month?
(*I won’t indulge in arguments that American 4G isn’t real 4G. It isn’t, it’s closer to 3G or 3.5G if you want to get technical, but I’d rather unlimited fake 4G for $80 per month than expensive as hell Australian 4G for twice as much.)
But no. They won’t. The margins wouldn’t be good enough, and the bar would be forever lowered for consumers who always want more for less.
Remember when Australia had capped plans aplenty? Pay $79 per month and get $1000 worth of value? We don’t have those anymore, because the margins weren’t good enough, and the bar was lowered almost forever by consumers who always wanted more for less. Carriers hated them, and it took years to reverse.
Data is the last carrot carriers have to dangle, and there’s no way they’re going to cheapen it. Hell, Optus is so confident that you’ll pay a truckload of cash for data that they’ve made every plan on postpaid feature unlimited calls and texts because it’s scarcely used in a generation with Facebook Messenger, FaceTime Voice and WhatsApp.
Remember this: you’re going to pay more for an iPhone (or any new, shiny phone) than you can probably afford, and you’ll do that not because you want extra storage space or a bigger screen size, you’ll do it because you want more data.