This week Telstra refreshed its entire range of phone plans, increasing data allowances across the board, but upping prices at the same time. Every plan is now at least $5 more expensive per month, but comes with a minimum of 10GB extra. So how do they stack up against Vodafone and Optus?
Telstra’s new plans
In an unprecedented move, over four million customers – anyone who signed up to a Telstra plan between June 25, 2019 and June 30, 2020 – will automatically be moved across to these new plans by the end of September. Anyone who transfers to a new plan before then will have the price difference waived for a year.
Whether you let Telstra automatically upgrade your plan, or move across voluntarily in exchange for the waiver, you still might be wondering whether you’re getting a good deal. After all, newer doesn’t necessarily mean better. More data is good, but is it worth the extra price? And are Telstra’s new plans worth it compared to what’s on offer from Optus and Vodafone?
Telstra postpaid plans
Before we start, here’s the new core range of postpaid plans:
SIM-only plans compared
And here are the no contract, SIM-only plans from Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.
Unsurprisingly, Telstra’s new plans are more expensive than what’s on offer from the competition. Telstra will sell you a 40GB plan for $55 per month, or an 80GB plan for $65 per month.
For comparison, you can get 60GB for $49 per month on Optus, or $50 per month on Vodafone.
Both Optus and Vodafone also offer a cheaper 10GB plan, priced at $39 per month and $40 per month, respectively, for those that don’t need oodles of data. That’s a saving of around $15 per month when compared to Telstra’s cheapest plan.
Plan perks compared
Optus and Vodafone have Telstra beat for data-per-dollar value, but it’s worth considering some of the extras Telstra offers. These include data-free Apple Music streaming, free live streaming of select sports, and free public WiFi through Telstra Air.
Customers swapping over to a new Telstra plan can also get three months of free access to Foxtel’s new streaming service Binge, and a further three months by registering for Telstra’s loyalty program, Telstra Plus.
All Optus plans are worth at least $49 per month, include an Optus Sport subscription, and at least six months of free access to Apple Music. Vodafone plans worth at least $50 per month include a one-year subscription to Amazon Prime.
Telstra plans are free from excess data charges, as are Vodafone’s. 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.
But Optus and Vodafone do best Telstra on some perks. Both providers start bundling international inclusions on their plans with at least 60GB. All Optus plans worth $49 per month or more come with unlimited talk and text to 35 countries, and all Vodafone plans worth $50 per month or more include at least 1,000 international minutes to select countries, and a further 100 minutes for a secondary set.
Telstra postpaid plans do not include international calls as a standard feature. An international calling add-on costs a further $10 per month and gets you unlimited talk and text to over 20 countries.
While it may not be an immediate consideration, Telstra also falters when it comes to international roaming. Optus’ two plans include 2GB or 4GB of roaming data to use while travelling. Vodafone plans all include $5 per day roaming, which lets you use your local inclusions overseas.
By contrast, Telstra charges $10 per day for roaming (other than in New Zealand, where it charges $5 per day). This gets you unlimited talk and text, and a 200MB data allowance. If you go through your 200MB, you’ll pay an additional $10 for 500MB with a 31-day expiry.
Plans with a phone compared
Telstra’s new plans are still contract-free, even when buying a new phone. If you’re keen to pick up a new device through Big T, you’ll choose from one of the four core plans, and then add on your handset. You’ll pay off your handset over 24 months, interest-free, at an overall cost that’s roughly equivalent to the outright price.
Optus and Vodafone sell phones in the same manner, but Telstra has axed 36-month repayment terms, which can reduce your overall monthly bill in exchange for a longer commitment. Optus and Vodafone both also offer 12-month repayment options.
The similarity between how the three major telcos sling phones makes pricing predictable. You just take the outright price of a phone and add it onto your chosen plan. We have however seen telcos discount the price of a device itself or add on credits for part of your contract to bring down prices.
Here’s a look how Telstra’s new plans compare to Optus and Vodafone when paired with an iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone SE, Galaxy S20 5G, and Galaxy S20+ 5G on a 24-month repayment.
iPhone 11 Pro (64GB)
iPhone SE (64GB)
Samsung Galaxy S20 5G (128GB)
Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G (128GB)
Once again, Telstra’s cheapest plans end up being around $15 per month more expensive than what you’d pay on an Optus or Vodafone plan. In some cases, the difference is even wider. Thanks to a promo that runs until July 2, Vodafone is offering the Galaxy S20 5G for $98.70 per month with 40GB of data (normally 10GB). Telstra’s 40GB Galaxy S20 5G plan goes for $117.45 per month. That’s a difference of almost $19 per month.
5G phone plans comapred
One area in which Telstra differs from competitors is 5G. To get 5G access on Telstra, you’ll need to sign up to a “Medium” plan worth $65 per month or better, or a $60 prepaid recharge. Customers on Telstra’s “Small’ plan miss out on 5G connectivity.
Optus, on the other hand, is currently including 5G as a standard on all postpaid plans. The telco is however 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.
Vodafone is also including 5G connectivity as a standard feature on all postpaid plans.
Both Optus and Vodafone have said they may charge extra for 5G in the future.
Of course, it is worth remembering that 5G is still in its infancy. Coverage on both Telstra and Optus 5G networks is still limited, and Vodafone’s 5G coverage barely exists outside of Parramatta, NSW.
Telstra vs. the rest
There’s more to the world of telco than just the big three, so the above table compares Telstra’s 40GB SIM-only plan to some of the more popular MVNOs on the market.
The best deal here is easily Moose Mobile’s 50GB plan for $36 per month, but this requires you to commit to a 12-month contract. Moose is powered by the by the Optus network.
Notably, Belong – Telstra’s discount brand – has a 40GB plan for $40 per month with no-contract. That’s $15 per month cheaper than Telstra’s own 40GB plan.
Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website.