You've seen the contract prices, and you might be tempted to sign up and avoid paying upfront for your shiny new iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus — but you could end up paying more for the same phone, calls and data than you need to. Here's how much you can save by buying up-front and choosing the right prepaid plan.
As with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus launch, we've already put together a pretty comprehensive guide to all the contract plans you can get the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus on. Most people would rather sign up on a contract than shell out the $1k+ needed to buy the phone outright — among other purported benefits, they also receive a "subsidy" over the life of the contract, and a fixed amount of call, text and data during that time. But that doesn't mean they're necessarily going to pay less over the life of the phone.
To work out whether going on contract makes sense, we decided to compare the costs of Australia's best no-contract plans over a 24-month period with an owned iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, with the equivalent consumer contract plans on the same network. If you can buy a phone outright, pay for 24 months on a no-contract deal, and spend less than being on contract, then why should you want to be locked in — and that's without factoring in the value of being able to switch networks or plans if you move or if a better offer emerges, or even being able to upgrade your phone before that 24 months is up.
The No-Contract Plans
In this context, an equivalent plan is one which offers the same amount of data. Experience suggests that data inclusions are the most salient feature when comparing smartphone plans — very few people use all their call and text allocations on a contract, but running out of data on a phone plan is common. For the sake of this comparison we've looked mostly at plans with over 5GB of data for under $50 a month.
These are the plans we've highlighted, which we discuss these in more detail in our roundup of the best no-contract plans. These plans are either pre-paid or month-to-month contracts that can be cancelled at any time. For Optus, we've included Amaysim and Jeenee. For Telstra, we've also included Boost Mobile.
Every one of these plans includes unlimited texting and calls. We've calculated how much it would cost to stay on this plan for 24 months — adding that figure to the outright buy price for the iPhone 6/6 Plus handset will then inform our comparisons with the contract plans. Note that some of the data inclusions include limited-time offers.
|Telstra||Telstra 4G||$50.00||4GB + 4GB Off Peak||$1200.00|
|Boost||Telstra 4G||$50.00||5GB + 4GB Weekend Data||$1200.00|
The total costs
We've calculated the total cost for each prepaid plan by adding the outright buy price from Apple. You'll potentially be able to pick up the phones for less through non-Apple providers, but using the Apple price provides a worst-case comparison. We've then compared to the total cost on the nearest equivalent contract plan.
Amaysim's plans are some of the best value mobile plans around, with access to the Optus 4G network.
We've compared Amaysim's Unlimited 7GB plan ($39.90 a month) with the closest equivalent Optus plan offering 7GB of data, which costs $85 a month. That's a bit of a difference, and it means that going with Amaysim results in some savings.
|Model||Cost||Amaysim total||Optus total||Prepaid saving|
|iPhone 7 32GB||$1079.00||$2036.60||$2088.00||$51.40|
|iPhone 7 128GB||$1229.00||$2186.60||$2400.00||$213.40|
|iPhone 7 256GB||$1379.00||$2336.60||$2544.00||$207.40|
|iPhone 7 Plus 32GB||$1269.00||$2226.60||$2400.00||$173.40|
|iPhone 7 Plus 128GB||$1419.00||$2376.60||$2568.00||$191.40|
|iPhone 7 Plus 256GB||$1569.00||$2526.60||$2712.00||$185.40|
Jeenee offers some of the cheapest SIM-only plans on the Optus 4G network, though a lot of their offers are listed as 'limited time only' at the time of writing. The plan in question is the $35 per month with 8GB of data, including 2GB bonus data. We're comparing that with the same 7GB Optus plan used above.
|Model||Cost||Jeenee total||Optus total||Prepaid saving|
|iPhone 7 32GB||$1079.00||$1919.00||$2088.00||$169.00|
|iPhone 7 128GB||$1229.00||$2069.00||$2400.00||$331.00|
|iPhone 7 256GB||$1379.00||$2219.00||$2544.00||$325.00|
|iPhone 7 Plus 32GB||$1269.00||$2109.00||$2400.00||$291.00|
|iPhone 7 Plus 128GB||$1419.00||$2259.00||$2568.00||$309.00|
|iPhone 7 Plus 256GB||$1569.00||$2409.00||$2712.00||$303.00|
It's hard to get a decent prepaid deal with Telstra — the best option is its $50 Pre-Paid Plus pack, which comes with unlimited talk and text, along with 8GB of data. Only catch is, 4GB of that is 'off peak' data that can only be used between 8pm and 8am AEST. We're comparing this with the 3GB Telstra contract plan for lack of a closer option, which goes for $75 per month. The second closest is $95 per month for 10GB data.
|Model||Cost||Telstra prepaid total||Telstra contract total||Prepaid saving|
|iPhone 7 32GB||$1079.00||$2279.00||$2256.00||-$23.00|
|iPhone 7 128GB||$1229.00||$2429.00||$2469.00||$40.00|
|iPhone 7 256GB||$1379.00||$2579.00||$2712.00||$133.00|
|iPhone 7 Plus 32GB||$1269.00||$2469.00||$2568.00||$99.00|
|iPhone 7 Plus 128GB||$1419.00||$2619.00||$2760.00||$141.00|
|iPhone 7 Plus 256GB||$1569.00||$2769.00||$2904.00||$135.00|
With the Telstra pre-paid options you can actually save a bit of money — and with somewhere between 1 and 5 extra GB of data, you might as well go for that. Boost Mobile's options, also on the Telstra 4G network, are the same price at $50 per month, so you can net yourself an extra 1GB of core data if you're happy to sign up with an MVNO. Boost's plan offers weekend data instead of offpeak data, however — you get 1GB extra data each weekend.
Vodafone an example of there not being much difference between prepaid and contract options, though the contract seems to be decently priced at most levels. The difference is so small, one might choose to go the prepaid route simply to not be locked into anything. We're comparing the 8GB pre-paid plan with the 9GB contract plan.
|Model||Cost||Vodafone prepaid total||Vodafone contract total||Prepaid saving|
|iPhone 7 32GB||$1079.00||$2279.00||$2208.00||-$71.00|
|iPhone 7 128GB||$1229.00||$2429.00||$2400.00||-$29.00|
|iPhone 7 256GB||$1379.00||$2579.00||$2568.00||-$11.00|
|iPhone 7 Plus 32GB||$1269.00||$2469.00||$2472.00||$3.00|
|iPhone 7 Plus 128GB||$1419.00||$2619.00||$2616.00||-$3.00|
|iPhone 7 Plus 256GB||$1569.00||$2769.00||$2784.00||$15.00|