Planhacker: iPad 2 Contract Deals Compared

Planhacker: iPad 2 Contract Deals Compared

Optus has started selling the iPad 2 on contract today, joining Telstra and Vodafone in offering Apple’s popular tablet without requiring an up-front payment. How do the offers compare? Planhacker rounds up every deal out there.

Picture by Pedro Antunes

If you don’t want a long-term commitment, Apple’s prices for a 3G-equipped iPad 2 are $729 for the 16GB version, $839 for the 32GB model and $949 for the 64Gb deal.

Buying on contract from a telco has two potential advantages: less money up-front, and a built-in data allowance for using your iPad 2 when you’re out of Wi-Fi range, using the supplied 3G micro-SIM. While buying through a carrier wasn’t available when the iPad 2 launched in March, it’s now become a realistic way to purchase the tablet.

In the table below, we’ve detailed the plan costs and total costs of ownership for the consumer iPad 2 plans from each Australian provider, along with the data allowance. You can sort and filter the table by clicking on the column headers, so that you can (for instance) see plans in order of data allowance or total overall cost.

Some details to note: Optus discounts the handset payments over the life of the contract, but if you cancel before the 24 months is up, you’ll have to pay out the contract at a higher rate. Vodafone has both 12 and 24 month contracts, but you have to pay a partial up-front fee on the 12-month contracts/Optus and Telstra only offer 24-month contracts. That said, Vodafone still has the worst reputation for network performance, and doesn’t offer the 32GB model.

Which option will suit you will depend to a fair extent on your usage patterns. Paying for a high data allowance only makes sense if you’ll regularly use the device on the road. At home or the office, you’re likely to use Wi-Fi. If you don’t have a clear idea of your needs, an outright buy and a prepaid data plan might be more sensible.

If you do buy on a contract, check the outright price carefully: in some cases you can get much more data for not much more money. Optus’ 4GB a month deal for a 32Gb iPad is only marginally more than its 2GB a month deal, for instance.

For full details of each provider’s plans, hit the links below:

Which plans grab you? Tell us in the comments.

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


  • With plans like that, why would you even bother with a 16 or 32 GB model??

    And today, for some unknown reason, I can see the table from work.. did you do something different than you normally do?

  • Telstra Pre-Paid 12 month recharge, hands down the best option. I use my iPad a lot, but at home, the office, a lot of my friends’ houses and even sometimes when I travel I’m connected to Wi-Fi, so the times I need 3G are sporadic but crucial. I just recharged another $150 for 12GB (my first 12 month recharge was about to expire) and since I didn’t use the whole $150, I carried over about $30. Without worrying about my usage (ie hitting a limit and paying excess charges) I only ended up paying on average $10 per month for the last year. I can guarantee that a lot of data will be paid for and unused (wasted) on most of the higher plans.

    • so you bought it outright and threw in a prepaid sim from Telstra?
      I want to buy one for my old man cause he could learn to use one, was not sure a out outright or 12 month contract…

      He won’t do much internet, so maybe vodphone with 1.5gb monthly $930??
      or buy outright and maybe 10-20gb to use over the year prepaid on Telstra?

  • Wow, these plans are ridiculous and the Telcos obviously don’t understand the market. They’re not phones and shouldn’t be priced like they are. If your’e a personal buyer the majority of your use will be within a WiFi zone. Your’e far better off buying a refurbished one outright (with the same 1 year warranty) for $488 then getting a prepaid hot spot if you ever need to use it on the road. Unless the Telcos are offering premium free services on the iPad I don’t see why you’d use them.

  • Hmmm… I’m tempted to get another iPad for the on the go.. I just started programming alot lately and I think it would be nice to have 3G.. I do most of my work on my laptop but that said.. my other iPad doesn’t have 3G.. stupid of me when I bought it but Telstra might be a good option. Or should I buy a brand new iPad with 3G and stick to good old prepaid?

  • For me the best decision was to purchase my iPad outright and get Telstra 12 month pre-paid mobile broadband service. For my 64Gb WIFI+3G, with 1GB of data a month over 24 months = total price of $1249 (949+150+150).

    Cheaper and more flexible than the contract, however for those with a cash flow issue or taxation requirements might see the contract as been more relevant.

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