What matters more: carrier or phone?

Samsung U900 single.jpgSamsung launched its U900 mobile phone today, promoting it as part of its Beijing Olympics sponsorship campaign. To my mind, there's a much more interesting feature to the phone: it's going to be available on every major local carrier simultaneously. To put that into some sort of perspective, the last time this happened with a Samsung phone was in 2005, according to the company.
Being available on multiple networks makes life simpler for everyone: if you've got an existing account you can just move over, if you want to make a switch you'll have a choice of options and pricing plans (the official RRP for the U900 is $699, but shopping around closer to the July release is bound to turn up a range of options).
Nonetheless, such an approach remains a rarity. When it comes down to the crunch, what do you consider first: the phone or the plan? It's becoming disturbingly evident that for iPhone users, the answer is "the phone, my kidney can be sold if necessary", but what about for the rest of the market — that is, most of us?


Comments

    I think for aussies the carrier is the most important but it's usually the phone/deal that wins the consumer.

    From my experience Telstra has by far the most extensive and most reliable network coverage. I have had work phones with both Optus and Vodaphone and had 'black holes' in areas where i get full reception on my Telstra phone, and then in the case of large events (new years eve) or natural disasters (floods/blackouts etc), Telstra is the last to go down and the first to come back up.

    I've been a happy 3 customer for more than 4 years now, and it will take something Truly Special to pry me away, and I don't me the iPhone. Yeah, their coverage in outlying areas is crap, but then, I don't often go to outlying areas.

    I'm hoping they get the Experia XP1; that is where my phone love is, and I am holding off getting a new phone to see where it lands. I'm off-contract, so loyalty rewards/discounts will maybe make it affordable.

    Until then, my humble LG u890 does everything I need in a non-QWERTY phone. :)

    Regardless of which carrier you're with, find out the best way to get good treatment - sometimes it might be beneficial to get them to class you as a business customer (a sole trader ABN is enough - even authorization to use someone else's), since business customers usually get offered extra incentives... other times it might be worthwhile figuring out what the best avenue is to get customer service; if you're with a carrier that has retail dealer outlets (Optusworld/yes Optus Shops, Telstra Shops, Vodafone, 3 Shop, etc) then see if you can find someone there who will argue your case and negotiate with the carrier on your behalf.

    That's the most fun part of my job - convincing Optus to forgo hundreds of dollars of cancellation so a deserving customer can upgrade early, or at the other end of the scale, squeezing a few extras like a month's free access or free extended warranty out of customer service for a loyal off-contract customer as part of an upgrade.

    Hell last week I did the same thing with Telstra, got them to eliminate $200 worth of cancellation costs on a guy's account so he could transfer his number to us without penalty :D (of course the way to do it is to negotiate a transfer to prepaid, then port the number; any other way and they might still hit you with fees)... But I digress.

    In Australia there isn't really MUCH difference between the most common consumer mobile plans between the carriers ($49 cap plan for about $300 credit or similar) - what differs is the extras, who you get free calls to, what kind of subsidy you get off the phone that you want, and charges for other things you might use like international calls or data. Generally speaking, if all of your friends are on 3 Mobile (and you don't want to use data outside the cities), then it probably makes sense to use 3 Mobile as your carrier. If you call your partner 30 times a day, well, maybe you should work out who you want to consolidate with; having all your services together on the one provider helps in two major ways, firstly with extra credits/bonuses/free calls within the account, and also with bargaining power when you need to get some special treatment.

    Honestly the phone should be one of the last things you consider. I'm not saying you shouldn't do your homework when choosing a handset - you certainly should, and gsmarena.com is a good site for phone specs - but pretty much any one of the big providers will have a phone that does everything you want it to do, and more. Even if your chosen carrier doesn't, if you end up paying $50 more a month than you otherwise would, because of a poorly suited plan, you would still be better off buying outright and paying unlocking costs.

    When dealing with stores, just try to keep in mind two things, first that one representative in one store does not necessarily accurately indicate the quality of the carrier's customer service (most stores are also franchised, so there's an additional middle-man aspect there), and also that this is not 1950 and you're not dealing with a mom-and-pop company, with modern big business you need to be polite (but persistent) to work your way up the chain of command and get special treatment (either problem resolution or extra freebies).

    I know, I know... I talk too much! :p

    Find a local store:

    www|nowwhere|com|au/optus/locator/
    www|three|com|au/findastore/
    www|telstra|com|au/shoplocator/
    www|nowwhereroute|com/Vodafone/StoreLocator/

    (I used "|" instead of "." so this post wouldn't get blocked)

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