Planhacker: Australian Android Postpaid Deals April 2011

There’s a lot of possible choices if you want to buy an Android phone, but the option with the smallest up-front investment remains buying a phone as part of a postpaid contract. Here’s a roundup of what’s on offer from the major Australian carriers right now.

Picture by Jodie Wilson

There is a major risk with signing up to a contract phone: you’re effectively stuck with that device for two years. If you want to just dip your foot in the Android waters, then buying a bargain model such as the Huawei Ideos or the Telstra Smart-Touch is something to consider. However, if you want a phone that costs more up-front and a calls and data deal as well, then a contract is probably the way to go.

We last covered Android phones in Planhacker in March, but since then we’ve made our Planhacker spreadsheets more interactive to allow easier sorting and filtering. We’ve also (as usual) adjusted for phones that have joined or left the market and plan changes (such as Telstra’s introduction of Freedom Connect).

The table below outlines each of the Android models offered on contract for non-business buyers by Australian carriers, covering how much the phone will cost you over the life of the contract. In order to get on this list, the plan has to be listed on the relevant carrier web site. Contracts are almost invariably 24 months (Vodafone does offer 12 month deals, but the handset charges are, unsurprisingly, higher).

We haven’t factored in bundling discounts or other special deals (such as online only bargains or ‘free months), or delivery charges. We’ve broken out handset charges as a separate item to make it easier to compare costs (and without including the ‘MRO bonus’ on Telstra phones).

For each carrier, we’ve listed the models available, which version of Android those phones run (an area where there’s still lots of variation), the contract length, the included data allowance, the amount of phone credit offered on each plan and any other special quirks. We’ve listed the version of Android the carrier claims is on the phone; there may well be updates available, but the chances are good with older phones that in-store stock won’t have been updated.

Here’s the full table; you can click on the column headers to filter down results to specific prices, providers, speeds or other features. You can also access this as a PDF.

We’ve emphasised data allowances because if you’re using an Android phone, you’ll certainly want to make use of browsing and apps just as much as calling, if not more. 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 what kind of calls you make). Both Optus and Vodafone offer free unlimited access to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and MySpace. We’ve covered the main inclusions on the key contract plans in a recent Planhacker feature.

If you have a particular phone in mind, that may well determine which carrier you go with, as many models are exclusive to a single company. 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. In particular, Telstra’s lack of handset charges means you should go for the newest, fanciest phone you can unless there’s a really compelling region to choose an older model. Vodafone has a lot of variation in which caps apply to which phone.

If you want to check more details on a specific plan, hit the links below:

Know a good Android postpaid deal that we’ve not included? Spotted a mistake? Tell us in the comments. (It’s a big listing, so while I checked carefully, I’d be a little amazed if there wasn’t the odd error.)

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

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