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.


Comments

    I think arguably, Vodafone represent some of the best value post-paid cap plans around (and with their additional data packs a measly $4, the minimal amount of data offered isn’t such a big issue) – especially when paired with the Google Nexus S. It’s just a shame their network performance has been somewhat dubious for the last 6+ months. Couple that with the “one off” issues they have experienced, such as their customer database breach, and non-SMS day they had back at Easter; Vodafone are a network to think twice before joining – especially for those looking for a 24 month contract.

    As far as phone choice, I think it really comes down to what you want out of your mobile device, which will greatly affect what you choose.

    For ease of access out of the box, HTC’s handsets are wonderful. SenseUI is so highly acclaimed many of the community built and supported custom ROMs are built upon this UI. It’s easy to find your way around, attractive to look at, and responsive to navigate. Couple that with HTC are renowned for being one of the hardest brands to root – you’ve got a good all rounder. HTC aren’t the worse brand in the litter for releasing updated firmware for their devices either, but this usually happens months after the official Google release.

    For those wanting a higher powered device, which is easy to access its bowels, and at the cutting edge, the Nexus S would have to be the way to go. The Nexus devices are ALWAYS the first to receive Android platform updates, and as a result, even custom ROMs are usually released for this device before any others. If you’re confident to make system changes, you can easily gain access to such areas. Don’t expect it to be the cutting edge on the technology front for too much longer, but for now it’ll definitely hold its own, and it will still be the flagship for Android for another 8-10 months I’d imagine.

    Huawei’s devices from all reports, seem to be the pick of the litter when it comes to a budget device – either budget low end, or a mid-range at a cheap price. They’re a fairly stock Android experience, and from all reports the build quality seems to adequate. My big concern in choosing one of their devices is I am sceptical firmware updates would be free flowing from Huawei, and being a relatively small player in the phone market means that custom ROMs would likely few and far between.

    What about the HTC Desire Z? (unfortunately only available through Vodafone)

    The HTC Desire Z is an awesome phone with good hacking potential. You've got a very usable keyboard, it's fast, with a great screen and plenty of ram and onboard storage.
    About the only downside to the Desire Z is the weight - it's definitely a little heftier than some of the other phones, but the keyboard more than makes up for it.
    It's identical to the TMobile G2 - so hacking it is relatively straightforward and with CyanogenMod offering full support for it.

    please take into consideration the bloody member credit for the handsets with telstra. i hate this website for just reading what it wants and makes telstra look bad.

      @Ashumz - No doubt telcos other than Telstra have their own existing customer discounts. There's also telcos who don't even make the list. I think Gus' main intention is to list the basic listed plans for the most popular telcos. If you were to cover every incentive and discount that every telco offered, compiling and maintaining this plan listing would take ages.

    Where are you getting your pricing from? obviously not from here http://www.telstra.com.au/mobile/phones/android/ cause its pretty straight forward.

      The pricing (including the minimum cost) is directly from the Telstra site. Telstra doesn't do a good job of rendering this information, and contradicts itself on occasion in terms of what the total minimum price is -- but that's its fault, not Lifehacker's.

    Click the link!!! it shows the handset repayments right there. Your telling us that there a $30 handset Repayment on a $129 Cap?

    what would be the best phone that would last a student the full 2 years and possably beyond that and also be a good mp3 player

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