Which elements matter will depend on your own usage patterns, though we wouldn’t recommend a really minimal data option if you’re planning to use any actual “smart phone” features on the device. As ever, network performance is a crucial consideration. Optus has often been criticised in the past for flaky reception on iPhones; Telstra has a well-developed network but charges the most; 3’s network coverage is minimal outside capital cities and its include data doesn’t cover roaming ‘off network’ to use Telstra’s network instead. Check coverage maps carefully. If you have an existing contract, negotiate with your provider for an exit deal — while you’ll undoubtedly end up extending your contract, you may be able to get some fees and charges waived.
With the exception of some Optus plans, if you’re not looking at the cheapest plans it makes sense to insist on the 32GB model, since at higher price levels neither version carriers a handset charge. 3’s and Vodafone’s plans have the largest data inclusions at cheaper prices because of the bonus scheme, but calculating likely usage is very fiddly on the iPhone-only plans. Optus offers more data on pricier plans. 3’s network limitations make it hard to recommend if you do any kind of travelling. Telstra isn’t very competitive on data inclusions, but does have the most extensive network.
If you want full details of the terms and conditions associated with each company, hit the links below:
3 (this page currently shows the 3GS, but the ‘More info’ links include iPhone 4 pricing)
Angus has been writing professionally about technology since 1994 and breaking it for even longer. He is based in Sydney but spends a frankly unhealthy portion of his life on the road, tracking down the latest stories. In 2011, he won the IT Journo Award For Best Consumer Technology Journalist and Consensus IT Writers Award for Best Technical Writer for his work on Lifehacker; about time too.