iPhone pricing: Choosing the best Telstra plan

iPhone3G.jpgAs last telco off the rank to release its full iPhone pricing, you’d think Telstra might have had a few surprises up its sleeve. Unfortunately, it’s no surprise that its deals turn out to be the worst value of the lot, reflecting its commitment to charging a premium for access to its Next G network. Click after the jump for our analysis of the available Telstra options.

Telstra didn’t officially launch full plan details until Friday
morning, but leaked plans turned out to be pretty much on the money.
While Telstra offers free data access in its Wi-Fi hotspot network,
which is the most extensive in Australia, there’s a trade-off: its
plans essentially almost no browsing at all. Instead, Telstra
encourages users to purchase browsing packs for data access. These
range from $5 a month for 5MB of downloads (with extra downloads at
$1.00/MB) through to $119MB a month for 3GB (with extra downloads
charged at $0.25MB). Note that this is in addition to the 24-month call
plan you’ll have to sign up for regardless of what options you select.
If you don’t purchase a browsing pack and just want access the network
casually, data rates are a whopping $2 per megabyte.
Hardware and voice prices are more in line with what Telstra’s rival
carriers are charging. Its cheapest plan is $30 a month, though this
only includes $25 in calls charged at high rates and requires you to
pay $279 up front for the 8GB phone. To score the iPhone for no
up-front charge, you’ll need to commit to the $80 plan for the 8GB
model, or a $100+ plan for the 16GB. If you’re a heavy talker or
texter, Telstra plans range right up to $350 a month. No prices for
unlocking phones have been announced.
Telstra arguably deserves some credit for being the only carrier to
offer a plan with more than 1GB of downloads. However, at $119 (plus
whatever your monthly call plan is), this is still massively expensive,
especially when compared to non-iPhone wireless broadband packages like
Vodafone’s $39/5Gb plan. Add in the priciest voice plan and you could
easily spend $500 a month.
The bottom line? If you’re in an area where NextG is the only realistic
network option, then you might be stuck with paying these prices. But
for anyone with a choice (think most metropolitan areas), there are
much better deals to be had from Vodafone and Optus — especially if
you intend to use the data services on the iPhone. (And really, if you
don’t, what are you spending all that money for?)

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