Planhacker: Who Has The Best Galaxy Nexus Deal?

The hugely anticipated Samsung Galaxy Nexus — the first Android phone to officially run the awesome new Ice Cream Sandwich build — officially makes its appearance in Australia this week. Of the three local carriers, who has the best deal if you want to buy on a contract? Planhacker runs through the numbers for Optus, Telstra and Vodafone.

Of course, you don’t have to buy the Galaxy Nexus on contract: plenty of grey market importers (including Mobicity, Kogan and Expansys) are already selling the handset outright. But if you’re happy to sign up for a 24-month contract to save on up-front costs, Optus, Telstra and Vodafone are offering pre-orders ahead of the official launch tomorrow. Telstra is claiming bragging rights by selling the phone from its Sydney and Melbourne CBD stores as of that day, while most other outlets will ship from the end of the week. But what will you pay?

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In the table below, we’ve outlined the per-month plan charge and handset charge on contract plans from each carrier; the total cost over the life of the contract; and the basic details of each plan: what credit value they include for calls and text, whether texts are unlimited, and how much data they include. Comparing included “value” for plans across carriers is fiddly, as they charge in different ways; comparing “unlimited” options is more straightforward. (Telstra also quotes different prices for its Freedom Connect plans depending on whether you include a handset or not; we’ve broken those prices into the regular BYO plan cost plus the handset charge to make comparing with others either.)

Most contract plans are 24 months, but Vodafone also has 12-month plans, though these do have high handset charges. 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.

Obviously, network reception will be an important factor here: there’s no point signing up for a carrier that doesn’t offer decent service where you live. Telstra has the best reputation in this field, but also charges a premium and has less generous data options on its higher-priced plans. It’s the only carrier to consistently charge a handset fee even on its top-tier plans.

Some options stick out as bad value. the $50 Vodafone Infinite plan on a 24-month contract costs nearly as much as the better-equipped $65 Infinite plan. The cheapest plans have very meagre data allowances, and there doesn’t seem much point in owning a high-powered Android device if you don’t want to use data features. So while you might be able to score a 12-month contract phone from Vodafone for $768, you won’t get a lot of use out of it unless you plan to use Wi-Fi almost exclusively. Optus has the largest data inclusions for unlimited plans.

For details on each carrier’s plans, hit the links below:

Tempted by the Galaxy Nexus? Prefer to buy outright? Tell us in the comments.

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

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