If there's one phone myth that needs to be extinguished, it’s that older Australians don't need a great phone or a high-value phone plan. We used to work on the assumption that seniors almost never used their handsets and recommend only the cheapest phone plans, with no mobile data and long credit expiry. What they really want is a good phone at an affordable price.
When you think about the people in your life who meet the criteria to get a Seniors Card, how many of them own iPhones? How many are active on Facebook, send messages over WhatsApp, and are generally pretty good with emojis?
To get my head in the game, I thought about my mum and how she uses her phone. She has an iPhone 7 Plus: she loves the big screen and the camera, and plays lots of puzzle games while listening to digital radio and podcasts. Her phone and plan priorities are different to mine, but she certainly isn't downgrading to a flip phone anytime soon. Here are the plans I'd suggest for her.
A new iPhone plan
When I've asked my mum about what she thinks of her iPhone, she says it's OK. It does what she needs it to do, and she likes that it takes good photos, but she certainly doesn't buy into the hype. Plus, she hates that it doesn't have a headphone jack.
Still, if she was in the market for a new phone, I think she'd prefer to stick with the system she is familiar with. She knows her way around the iOS now, so she's likely to stay in the ecosystem. The iPhone 8 would be a good choice for her, it has what she needs, is better than what she has now, but she wouldn't be paying for a huge premium for the tech in an iPhone X that would be overkill in her hands.
Oppo R15 Pro: same, same but different
If I could talk mum into switching to Android, I'd probably recommend an Oppo. Its ColorOS Android skin is close enough to iOS that she should feel more at home, plus she will cut down her phone bill significantly.
For now, I'd recommend the R15 Pro. As I said, my mum is used to a fast phone, with a big screen and a good camera, and though there are cheaper Oppo models, I think mum would appreciate the bump in quality you get with the R15 Pro.
SIM Only Plans
The last time I visited my parents, my Mum's iPhone was in good condition. She keeps it in a big, goofy rubberised case, and I don't remember any cracks or chips on the screen. I'm sure she'd agree that it's a bit early to upgrade her handset.
The plans above have a least 3GB of data, which may not be a lot for you or me, but I think it fits her usage. She uses Facebook and listening to streaming audio, but is often on WiFi at home, and doesn't kill time in cafes watching YouTube or browsing media-heavy sites, like Reddit.
Mum is currently on a Telstra phone plan, meaning that is probably paying at least $80 - $90 per month. If I could convince her to switch to one of these $20 plans, she could bank the savings and buy me something nice for Christmas.
Joe Hanlon is Publisher at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website. He’s been writing about phones and plans for far too long.