If you don’t want to pay up front for the new iPhone 5s or 5c, you’ll have to sign up for a contract plan. We’ve gathered together every plan available from Optus, Telstra, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone in an interactive spreadsheet so you can choose the best one for your needs.
Picture: Getty Images
Updated 20/09/2013 to add Virgin Mobile
Being tied into a long-term contract is an expensive way to buy a phone, and if you’re a frequent upgrader, we don’t recommend it. An outright buy combined with a prepaid or month-to-month plan is a better option in many cases, but it does require you to have a chunk of money up front. The 16GB 5c costs $739; the 32GB costs $869; and for the 5s you’re looking at $869 for the 16GB, $999 for the 32GB, and $1129 for the 64GB.
If that’s not an option, it’s contract time. We’ve gathered together all the contract plans from Optus, Telstra, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone in the spreadsheet below. Individual notes on each provider and links to their sites are below the table.
For each plan, we’ve included how much the basic plan costs, what the relevant handset charge is, and what you’ll pay in total over the life of the contract. (This is generally 24 months, though Vodafone also has 12-month deals). We’ve also detailed how much data is included and what you’ll pay for excess data usage; how much call credit is included; what calls to Australian numbers and texts cost (though texts are unlimited on every plan here); and how many 2-minute calls you could make with the included credit.
The spreadsheet is interactive, so you can sort any column by right-clicking on it or filter so you only see particular entries (so you can look solely at iPhone 5s 32GB plans, for instance). You can also maximise the spreadsheet in the bottom-right corner for easier viewing.
While Optus is offering handsets on its low-priced plans, we’d shy away from these; the handset charges are too high and the data allowances are meagre. Optus quotes its rates in terms of call minutes rather than a flagfall and per-minute charge. While this may seem less confusing, it’s worth noting that its inclusions are actually less generous than when Optus charged on the more conventional model. If you exceed your monthly total, you’re automatically bumped up to the next plan level for that month. That can be good (you won’t receive a massively higher bill), but could cost you more (if you go over by just a few megabytes, you’ll effectively pay for much more data)
As usual, Telstra’s plans are the most expensive on offer. If it’s the only viable network where you are, you’ll have to put up with much higher prices. Even on its most expensive plans, you’ll be paying a handset charge for every 5s model.
Vodafone is only listing prices for the new iPhone models on its recently-announced Red plans right now, which means there aren’t any really bargain-priced offers, but there are some good data allowances. It’s the only carrier offering 12-month contracts, but you’ll pay a very high price for the privilege.
Virgin uses Optus’ network (and is owned by Optus), but has somewhat different pricing which is slightly lower than its parent. Note that its $90 and $140 plans are identical save for the doubling of data (the 6GB option appears to be new this week).
Which deals are worth it?
Up front, we have to say that there seems very little point in buying the iPhone 5c. The price difference on contract isn’t worth it. If you have to sign up for a contract, you want the best-spec phone you can get, and that’s not the 5c. (You can’t place an order for the 5s until Friday 20 September, but we’d still advise waiting.) Reports suggest the 5s may be in short supply, but that’s not a logical reason to go for a less-able but almost-as-expensive offering.
Telstra’s plans are all expensive; the cheapest 16Gb 5s deal is $300 more than the cheapest Vodafone deal, and the equivalently-priced Optus offer has twice as much data. If you want a generous data deal, the Vodafone Red deals definitely deliver, but you need to be confident of reception in your area. Virgin Mobile is cheaper than Optus on the same network. Stay away from Vodafone’s 12-month deals, as the handset charges are so high you might as well buy the phone outright.
Which deals appeal to you? Share your thoughts (and any corrections — big tables can contain errors!) in the comments.
Lifehacker’s weekly Planhacker column rounds up the best communication deals.