Planhacker: Complete Australian BlackBerry Guide

NOTE: This Planhacker guide has been superseded. Click here for the most recent version.

It’s often seen as the phone of corporate stooges, but BlackBerry’s peerless email integration and keyboard make it a valuable productivity tool. Get the best BlackBerry deals with our comprehensive guide to what’s on offer in Australia.

Reflecting its business pedigree, BlackBerry deals aimed at home buyers are relatively thin on the ground. However, each of Australia’s four major carriers does offer contract deals for BlackBerry for individuals, especially with its consumer-oriented Pearl 3G and Storm models.

The Pearl 3G is currently exclusive to Telstra, while Vodafone and 3 are the only sources for the Storm 1 and Storm 2 touchscreen models (and also the older Curve). If you fancy the Bold (my own preferred phone), you have more carrier choices, though Vodafone and its 3 subsidiary offer a much more comprehensive range of plans than Telstra (which has a handful of very expensive plans for the Bold) and Optus (which has exactly one plan on offer).

While you can plug any SIM you like into a BlackBerry that isn’t network-locked, BlackBerry’s email and browsing services depend on also having access to its proprietary systems. For standalone buyers, this means the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) option needs to be bundled with the service. In most cases, you get unlimited email downloads and browsing — but the latter only applies if you use the native BlackBerry browser, not an alternative like Opera.

Most plans in Australia include BIS with unlimited data for those associated services, but there are two important exceptions. Vodafone’s cheapest $29 cap plan doesn’t offer it, and Telstra requires you to bundle it with the Bold separately at a $29.95 per month cost, which we’ve added into the table below as there’s not much point getting a BlackBerry without it.

In the table below, we’ve noted the monthly cost, contract length, and included data. If BIS is included, this will cover everything outside of email and BlackBerry native browsing (such as applications like Google Maps which use data access). We’ve also included the bundled call value for each cap, though it’s important to check details of call costs once you’ve picked some likely candidates: $100 of cap with one provider is not equivalent to $100 with another.

Here’s all the details: click on the image for the full-size, legible version.

Your choice of BlackBerry is likely to be heavily influenced by which model you want and what networks work where you live, but there’s some obvious points. Despite Next G’s reliability, Telstra’s Bold prices are over the top. The Pearl 3G is a much better deal, though you’lll lose the advantage of having a full keyboard. Vodafone and 3 offer a wide range of phones, but only a handful of cap plans; the varying prices reflect handset charges added to its cheaper plans. If Optus is your preferred or required network, there’s not much choosing to be done.

If you want to dig into any given plan, here are the relevant sites:

Let us know about to any other good BlackBerry deals you’ve found in the comments.

Lifehacker’s weekly Planhacker column rounds up the best communication deals.

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