Want a super-speedy 4G mobile phone but can't afford to buy it outright? We've rounded up every 4G phone available on contract in Australia so you can compare and make the best choice for your needs.
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The spreadsheet below lists every current 4G phone available on contract from Australian providers and listed on their web sites, covering Android, iPhone and Windows Phone 8 options. At this time, that means you have three choices: Telstra (using the Telstra 4G network) and Optus and Virgin Mobile (both using Optus' network). If you're a 4G enthusiast but don't want to sign up for a contract, you could go 4G prepaid with either Telstra or Optus. By mid-2013 at the latest, you'll have other choices on the Optus network (including Amaysim and Live Connected), but right now it's a three-player network. We haven't included handsets that are only available in-store.
Gizmodo's Luke Hopewell has already rounded up your your handset choices, so we won't repeat those here. We've only included active 4G networks, which means handsets from Vodafone and Optus resellers who haven't activated 4G aren't included.
For each plan, we've outlined which handsets are available; what you'll pay per month for the plan, the handset, and overall; how much data is included per month and what you'll pay for excess data; the minimum cost of each plan over 24 months (the standard in this segment); the included data and "call credit"; the flag fall and per-minute cost for calls to Australian phone numbers; the cost of text messages to Australian numbers; how much a 2-minute call will cost on the included plan; and the maximum number of 2-minute calls you could make with the included credit. The top-priced plans offer unlimited calls and texts, but no provider offers more than 4GB of data per month on a contract plan.
All the details are in the spreadsheet below. You can filter and sort by right-clicking the headings on each category, so you can (for example) filter out all the plans for an individual provider, choose only plans for a specific provider, or sort every plan by total cost. We've offered some supplementary notes for every provider after the listing.
Optus' 4G right now only generally includes capital city CBD areas (Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, plus Newcastle and parts of the Gold Coast). That' not a totally bad thing: most of our recent speed tests rank Optus ahead of Telstra.
Telstra's 4G coverage is the broadest of any provider, but the rapid uptake of its 4G network means you may not get maximum speeds. Its per-megabyte rates are higher than Optus or its subsidiary providers. You'll pay a premium for most iPhone 5 models; most other plans charge the same regardless of the handset you choose. Telstra doesn't separate its handset charges from its plan charges on its site, but we have: we're not buying into that pretence. Telstra's excess data charges are lower than its rivals, but its basic allowances are lower as well.
While Virgin Mobile is owned by Optus, its plans are generally cheaper than those Optus itself offers. One other advantage: no charges for retrieving voicemail.
Spotted a currently active 4G contract plan we've missed? Tell us in the comments.
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