Everyone's prices are out there and the phone is on sale, so what are the best deals for the Apple 3GS? Here's Lifehacker's picks.
In Australia, iPhone enthusiasts are relatively spoiled, because there are a range of networks selling the iPhone and a wide variety of plans. In many markets, there's a single company offering Apple's iconic phone, so the choice is limited to "Do I want one?"
In Australia, Optus, Telstra and Vodafone are all selling the phone, and 3 will offer it in July. (It also seems reasonable to assume that Optus subsidiary Virgin, which sells the original 3G, will offer its own plans at some point.)
Your own individual usage of the iPhone will vary heavily, so it's impossible to make a blanket recommendation of a single plan that will suit everyone. If you're an existing iPhone 3G owner (and aren't content simply to upgrade the OS), you'll also need to look at what upgrade options your carrier will offer. These seem to vary even with customers using the same provider, so if that's you, get on the phone or head into a store and haggle.
Plan pricing for the 3GS isn't remarkably different to that for the existing 3G, and the older model has become cheaper to reflect the appearance of its new sibling. If you're not fussed about storage, the 8GB 3G is a good bargain deal right now.
Also bear in mind that the iPhone won't work any miracles in the reception department. If you live in an area where a particular telco has poor or non-existent signal, you need to cross them off the list no matter how appealing a particular deal might sound.
With that said, here's some of the options that stand out for particular use cases of the 3GS.
Best deal on a 24-month contract: Vodafone's $69 deal for the 16GB model offers 1GB of data and $400 of calls. On launch day, Optus announced a $10 rebate on its $79 plan which means it offers more calls and texts -- but the fact you'll still have to pay the tethering charge makes it a pricier deal unless you really just want the iPhone to be a phone.
Best deal on a 12-month contract: Optus was originally the only provider offering a 12-month contract, but Vodafone has also added that option, albeit with high handset charges. hard to pick here, though again tethering would be an issue for Optus users.
Best deal for an outright buy: If you can get to an Apple store, then its apparent prices of $879 for the 16GB model or $1040 for the 32GB will be hard to beat.
Best telco for tethering: Vodafone is the best option if tethering is a feature you want to use regularly as (opposed to occasionally) -- Optus' tethering charge puts it out of contention and Telstra's data allowance is way too stingy.
What criteria have you used when choosing a plan? Share your approach in the comments.