Optus recently refreshed its entire range of phone plans and made some pretty big changes. Lock-in contracts are gone. You can now pay off your device over 12, 24, or 36 months. The range is a lot simpler.
Of course, newer doesn't always mean better. While Optus’ changes sound great, how do the plans stack up against what's on offer from Telstra and Vodafone?
Let's take a quick look at the new plans.
Optus new SIM-only plans
And this is how those compare to some other plans in market
Optus’ new plans compare favourably to other contract-free options. If you’re after a no-commitment plan, $39 per month on Optus gets you 10GB, or $49 per month gets you 60GB.
For comparison, spending $45 per month on Vodafone only gets you 5GB, and Telstra’s SIM-only range starts at $50 per month for 15GB.
While Optus is a clear winner on data-for-dollar value, it’s also worth considering some of the extras you get. Optus’ $39 plan is a no-frills affair – all you get is talk, text, and data – but spending more gets you some extras.
All pricier Optus plans include unlimited talk and text to 35 countries, an Optus Sport subscription, and at least six months of free access to Apple Music. On the top two plans, you’ll also get 2GB or 4GB of roaming data for use while travelling.
Telstra plans don’t include international talk or roaming data, but Telstra has some of its own perks. These include data-free Apple Music streaming, free live streaming of selected sports, and Telstra Air access.
It is however worth noting that Telstra’s plans are free from excess data charges. If you go over your data allowance, you’ll be able to keep using your service at slower speeds. On Optus, you’ll pay $10 per gigabyte of overage.
Plans with a phone
One of the key features of Optus’ new plans is the move to no contracts, even when buying a smartphone. If you're after a new device on Optus, you'll pick from one of four core and then add on your handset. You’ll then pay it off over 12, 24 or 36 months, interest-free, at an overall cost that’s roughly equivalent to the outright price.
This system is almost identical to the way Telstra and Vodafone sell phones, but Telstra doesn’t offer 12-month repayments.
The similarity between how all three telcos now sell phones means pricing is a lot more predictable: you’re just taking the outright price of the phone and tacking it onto your chosen plan. However, a few other factors can alter this equation. For example, Telstra has taken to discounting phones to make plans cheaper, while Vodafone applies a “loyalty discount” to selected plans.
Here's a look how Optus’ new plans compare to Telstra and Vodafone when paired with an iPhone 11 Pro, Galaxy S10, Huawei P30 Pro, and Pixel 4 XL across a 24-month repayment plan.
iPhone 11 Pro (64GB)
Samsung Galaxy S10 (128GB)
Google Pixel 4 XL (128GB)
Huawei P30 Pro
Unsurprisingly, Optus tends to offer the best bang for buck across the board – as we saw with its SIM-only plans, you end up getting more data for less. However, in some instances other telcos can be cheaper.
For example, Telstra recently cut the price of the Galaxy S10, which makes its 60GB plan cheaper than Optus’ 10GB option.
What about 5G?
One space in which Optus and Telstra differ is 5G. At present, all Telstra customers get 5G network access included in their plans, up until the end of June next year. After this point, Telstra 5G will be billed at an extra $15 per month for customers not on one of Big T’s top two plans.
While Optus says it won't charge extra for access to its 5G network in the short term, the telco is giving customers who purchase a 5G handset the option to double their data for an extra $10 per month. Customers on Optus' top two plans get their first 12 months of double data for free.
Whether or not this is a good deal depends on the plan you’re interested in. For example, doubling your data on the $39 plan would get you 20GB. However, you could just sign-up to Optus' $49 plan - which includes 60GB out of the box - for the same price.
Here’s a look at Telstra and Optus’ 5G phone plans compared on 24-month repayments:
Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G
OPPO Reno 5G
Of course, it is worth remembering that 5G is still in its infancy. Cover on both Telstra and Optus 5G networks is still limited, and Optus 5G doesn’t currently work indoors. At this stage, Vodafone does not have a 5G network.
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia's phone and internet comparison website.
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