Planhacker: Complete Android Australian Contract Phone Deals

Android is a massively popular option for Lifehacker readers using mobile phones, but there's a huge range of potential models and plans on offer. Here's a summary of all the best deals currently available from Australian carriers that we could find.

It seems fitting to officially kick off our new Planhacker series rounding up communications deals with Android devices, given their popularity in the Lifehacker community. (With that said, we did effectively soft-launch the column with our recent roundup of iPad SIM plans.)

Each week, we'll list all the major deals in a given category — whether that's phones, broadband deals, or mobile packages. While we've got an extensive list of topics in mind, we'll regularly revisit rapidly changing categories when major new options become available. If there's a particular area you'd like us to cover, tell us in the comments or email us.

The table below outlines each of the Android models offered on contract for non-business buyers by Australian carriers with entry-level plan prices. Where publicised, we've also listed the outright buy price. (We haven't factored in bundling discounts or other deals.) With the exception of Vodafone, contracts run for 24 months.

Obviously, if you want maximum flexibility you can import (or buy locally) any Android phone and plug in whatever SIM you like, but our focus here is on contract phones. For each carrier, we've listed the models available, which version of Android those phones run (here's what's special about Android 2.1 and what's coming in 2.2), the contract length, the monthly and total lifetime cost (including handset charges if applicable), the included data allowance, basic call cost information (including the amount of credit offered on each plan) and any other special quirks. Click on the image for the full-size version (which, we promise, you can actually read).

We've emphasised data allowances because if you're using an Android phone, you'll certainly want to make use of the browsing and apps features. That's not to say the call costs aren't also important, but those are much more subject to individual factors when making a purchase decision (such as which networks people you call frequently use), so we haven't listed every last detail.

If you have a particular phone in mind, that may well determine which carrier you go with — you can't currently get a Legend without signing up with Telstra, for example, or an X10 Mini from anyone other than Optus. If you do have a choice, then make sure you pick a carrier that actually works in the areas where you'll regularly use the phone.

While choosing your phone remains an individual decision, there are a couple of obvious details to note. Telstra's data allowances are stingy; 500MB is not a lot given the capabilities of a typical Android device (and the speed of Telstra's Next G network), nor is the $10 browsing allowance on most basic plans. Optus has much better data deals, and offers unlimited access to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and MySpace on its plans. Vodafone is the only carrier with 12-month (for the Legend) and 'unlimited' contracts, but its cheapest plans don't make much sense given the high monthly handset charges.

Finally, if you want to dig into the carrier sites for more information, here's their deep-drilling-as-possible links:

Know a good Android package that we've missed? Tell us in the comments.

Lifehacker's weekly Planhacker column rounds up the best communications deals.


Comments

    Legend is $599 outright from Voda.

    Got my Desire from Telstra on a $49 business plan with a $199 handset payment. Cheaper than the $69 plan all up. Only thing is that you'll need an ABN

    Don't suppose you could provide the Excel spreadsheet version could you? Would like to work out minutes included in cap for fair comparison.

    Im not sure why you included outright prices for Telstra but not the other carriers. What are you trying to imply, Telstra handsets are all 850Mhz devices anyway so why bother buying them outright?

      No implication; Telstra just makes its outright prices much more visible than its rivals. (And as the focus is on contract plans, it's arguably a secondary detail.)

      I'm sure there'll be some corrections/adjustments (we've already had the Voda outright price added to the comments); later today I'll add those in and re-upload the table.

    Optus Motorola 'Quench' $19 plan info looks wrong to my eyes. I don't use a mobile that much (more to be contactable) so $19 x 24 months ($456) with a $50 incentive/discount for on-line sign-up was/is a cheap way to get hold of an Android device. AFAIK there is no $13 per month handset charge either...

      Yep, that's a pair of typos. Fixing now . . .

    I'd be inclined to wait till the HTC Wildfire comes out (June tis year in Europe)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTC_Wildfire
    It's basically a slightly cut down and half priced desire...

    Table has now been updated with the corrections mentioned above. Thanks everyone!

    I just got a HTC Desire on the $79 cap plan from Telstra.

    And because I signed up at JB Hifi I also got a $200 voucher for porting from another telco! (you get $100 voucher if it's a new number or existing Telstra customer)

    So if you're signing up for a desire I'd definitely recommend going to JB for a $200 add-on... I asked at a few JB's and they said the deal should be going on for at least a few months. Food for thought.

    Finally off Optout with my iPhone, telephone coverage once more!!!

    Hmm.. i bought my nexus one outright from the US.. and I just picked up a blackberry & plan with three...

    Flipped the blackberry for ~400 on ebay and I'm left with a $49cap, includes 3gb of data and kicks ass..

    Only thing, is 3's data network performance is really starting to irk me... and I got a feeling three won't let me upgrade handsets and keep the same plan.....

    I know the emphasis here is on plans but I'd like to see information about the best places to buy these outright. I'd much rather do that than take a contract.

    From my reading of the Telstra site (and the above eye chart) you should be able to get the Desire on the $79 cap plan, but when I went to the Telstra shop I was told there'd be the $79 per month (obviously) PLUS about $40 for the phone (even with their $20 phone "bonus"). So where's the issue - my understanding or Telstra shop dummy's understanding?

      Telstra Shop dummy, through & through. I pay $79/month and that's it.

        Just got off the phone to Telstra and they've confirmed I'm entitled to one on that plan, but they're out of stock now. Argh!

    Virgin should be added to that list as they have by far the best deals on the Sony Ericson X10.

    for 50 bucks you get 300mb and $160 calls..

    http://www.virginmobile.com.au/Shop/ProductDetails/6343/Sony-Ericsson-Xperia-X10i-Rollover-Cap-35-Plus

    Telstra also have the Desire on a $50 cap. $400 credit and 200mb data. You also have to pay $12.50( or 12.95 cannot remember) per month for the hand set.

    Here's how I worked a cheap plan...

    One-off costs:
    $600; HTC Desire imported from UK compatible with Optus 3G

    Ongoing costs:
    $108/yr; Optus $9/month plan, 100 free SMS/month
    $180/yr; Optus 500MB mobile internet

    Call costs:
    $0.38/min (mobile to mobile, charged per sec, no flagfall); Local aussie callback layer service

    If you want _really_ cheap:

    - 1st gen android phone second hand from workmate: $100
    - TPG pay as you go plan: 1$/month, 10c p/m calls, 10c texts, 150MB free data

    Mimumum cost over 2 years (assuming phone lasts that long): $124
    Mimumum cost per month: $5.16

    ;-)

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