Samsung's Galaxy S4 officially goes on sale from Saturday 27 April, and four local carriers (Optus, Telstra, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone) will be offering the device on contract. We've rounded up the deals available from each carrier.
We often advise against buying on contract, and if you prefer not having that commitment, the official outright buy price for the S4 is $899. Frankly, you'd be a fool to pay that price; Telstra will sell the device outright for $816, and we'd expect importers to also beat that figure. As we noted recently, the release of the S4 also means that you can pick up the still-excellent S3 for a bargain price.
In the table below, we've listed how much you'll pay for the S4 on a 24-month contract with each carrier, including plan charges and handset fees; how much call credit you get; how many 2-minute calls that translates to and what those calls cost; per-minute call costs and flagfall charges; and included data and SMS costs. Notes on each provider's offer are below the table. Most carriers are accepting pre-orders from today, and you can also place orders in Samsung's Sydney and Melbourne retail outlets.
Regardless of carriers, there are some key traps to avoid. Most providers are focusing on plans that cost around $60 a month. For plans below that figure, the handset charge becomes much higher, to the point where most $50 plans actually end up costing close to the better-value $30 options.
The spreadsheet is interactive, so you can sort by total price or select only plans with a certain amount of data; click on the column headings to filter.
Optus is offering bonus Qantas Frequent Flyer deals. Existing customers who upgrade to a plan costing $60 or more a month receive 8000 points; new customers get 4000 points. Excess data is charged at $0.25/MB.
At this writing, Telstra has not disclosed its full range of plans on its site; we'll update the spreadsheet with handset charges for the full set of offers once these are revealed. Telstra's data inclusions are less generous than its rivals, though its excess data charges ($0.10 per MB) are lower than anyone else's.
Virgin's plans are arguably better value for data-heavy users than its parent company Optus, though its higher call rates mean it is a less generous choice if you do make a lot of calls. Excess data is charged at 20.5 cents/MB.
As a launch offer, Vodafone is offering an extra 1GB of data for the first 12 months on any plan priced at $60 or above. On the $40 and $50 plans, you can choose between unlimited texts or unlimited calls to other Vodafone numbers (I'd take the former). Excess data is charged at $0.10/MB, though Vodafone calculates by the kilobyte.
Lifehacker's Planhacker column rounds up the best communication deals.