Live Connected keeps a relatively low profile, but is well regarded amongst some Lifehacker readers for its very cheap mobile phone plans. The company is now selling a limited range of fairly new phones on contracts as well as prepaid SIMS; how do those offers stack up? The short answer: better than much of the competition, but still not better than buying outright.
Live Connected (which runs on the Optus network) is offering four handsets: Samsung's Galaxy S III and Note II, the HTC One X and the Nokia Lumia 920. That's plenty of Android choices and the best-regarded Windows Phone 8 device, but no love for Apple. The phones are listed as "coming soon" right now, and are only available on a 24-month contract. Delivery is free.
Whichever phone you choose, the pricing is the same. The M and L plans offer three months free; the XL plan offers six months free. We've detailed the costs and plan inclusions below:
An important point up front: the main reason Live Connected is so cheap is that it doesn't offer any support via phone at all. If you have any network or billing problems, you'll be working via email. That makes it a less sensible choice for cost-conscious but clueless friends and family.
If you're happy to self-support, the existing plans are fairly cheap, though not by the same margin as Live Connected's SIM only plans. The equivalent Optus plan to the XL costs $99 a month including handset, so it's the six months that makes the difference. The S plan looks like a classic example of decoy pricing; who wouldn't pay an extra $60 in total over the contract for higher inclusions?
More broadly, the BYO Live Connected plans don't lock you into a contract and there are quite high handset charges here — on the XL plan, they total $990, which is close to what you'll pay for these handsets up front. (If the free months get withdrawn, that gap would be even larger.) If you can afford an outright buy, going for a prepaid plan will give you even more flexibility and will still cost you less overall.