Vodafone has revamped its tablet plans, offering much more data on its standalone plans than its rivals but cutting back a little on choices for prepaid users. Here's what we like and what we don't about the new offerings.
For people who already own a SIM-equipped tablet, Vodafone now has three basic month-to-month offerings: $20 a month for 2.5GB of data, $30 a month for 4GB of data, and $45 a month for 8GB of data. You can also purchase top-ups if you run short in a particular month: 500MB costs $10, 1.25GB costs $20, and 2GB costs $30. Vodafone calculates data charges per KB on its postpaid plans.
The same rates also apply on 24-month contracts, which you'll need if you want to buy a subsidised tablet (Lifehacker advises against locking yourself in this way, but hey, it's your budget). A Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 will cost you an additional $19 a month on a 24-month $20 plan (total cost $936); $15 a month on the $30 plan (total cost $1080); or $15 a month on the $45 plan (total cost $1440). The same plans with a 16GB retina iPad incur an additional $27, $23 or $23 extra monthly charge.
$20 a month for 2.5GB of data is certainly a good deal compared to the entry-level plans on offer from Optus ($20 gets you 1GB and you have to sign a contract) or Telstra ($25 for 1GB and also requires a contract). Not being locked into a contract also means that if Vodafone's 4G network expansion doesn't actually help where you live, you can leave without penalty.
The one area where Vodafone plans have apparently gone backwards? The prepaid data-only SIMs. Where Vodafone has previously emulated its competitors with a range of plans over different time periods (so you could buy a 365-day SIM and then not think about it), right now it offers just one option on the main tablet site: $30 with 4GB of data for use over 30 days. You can purchase additional longer-length recharge options after that, but the site doesn't do a good job of promoting them.