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Best phone plans in Australia: Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and more compared

iPhone 13 Pro Max
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Now more than ever, Australia has a wealth of phone plans to choose from. Whether it's the big three telcos (Telstra, Optus and Vodafone) or one of many smaller telcos competing for your attention, the options are vast.

The perfect plan for your needs will depend on how much data you truly use, how important widespread coverage is, and of course, your budget. While more expensive plans will obviously offer more in the way of data and inclusions, there's thankfully a heap of affordable options that will satisfy most Aussie phone users out there.

On this page, we've assessed both prepaid and postpaid plans, picking out the best cheap options, the best with big data inclusions, and the best overall value. You'll notice the big three telcos won't get mentioned quite as much in our lists, as Australia's MVNOs (more on this term at the bottom of the page) are incredibly competitive in the local market and typically offer the same coverage that their parent network uses – with the exception of 5G access, which for most people honestly isn't yet essential.

With that said, if you want the warm glow that comes from a big brand, we've also compared plans from Telstra, Optus and Vodafone lower in the page, as well as taking a quick look at some of the most popular phones on the market.

If you need a new phone to go with your plan, be sure to check out our page for the best phones in Australia, or if you're after something a little lighter on the wallet, we've pulled together a list of the best cheap phones available as well.

Best overall postpaid plan

Moose Mobile | 20GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$16.80p/m (first 12 months, then AU$23.80p/m)

Moose Mobile | 20GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$16.80p/m (first 12 months, then AU$23.80p/m)

You may not have heard of this small telco yet, but it’s well-reviewed and offers excellent value plans geared towards SIM-only customers. You'll only pay AU$16.80 a month for your first year and you’ll get 20GB of data to play with, which is enough for the vast majority of Aussies. The price will rise to AU$23.80p/m after 12 months which is still very reasonable, but due to its month-to-month nature you're able to jump ship to another telco if it doesn't suit you. Moose Mobile uses the Optus 4G network, so you're in good hands when it comes to coverage and speed.

Total minimum cost is AU$16.80

Best cheap postpaid plan

Moose Mobile | 6GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$9.80p/m (first 12 months, then AU$15.80p/m)

Moose Mobile | 6GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$9.80p/m (first 12 months, then AU$15.80p/m)

There are very few postpaid plans under the AU$10 mark, but this plan from Moose Mobile sneaks in thanks to its introductory offer. You'll get 6GB of data (most competitors offer either 1GB or 2GB at this price) and pay just AU$9.80p/m for the first year before it goes up to AU$15.80. While the raised cost is still fairly reasonable for the inclusions, you can always switch provider if you're not liking it. As mentioned above, Moose Mobile uses the Optus 4G network.

Total minimum cost is AU$9.80

Best big-data postpaid plan

Felix | 100GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$30p/m (first 6 months, then AU$45p/m)

Felix | 100GB data | No lock-in contract | AU$30p/m (first 6 months, then AU$45p/m)

Circles.Life is another smaller telco, and it’s often our best overall pick for a big data option because it gets you a huge 100GB of data for just AU$45. The telco will reduce your plan fees for your first 6 months on the service, so you’ll instead pay AU$30 each billing for the first half year. You can cancel the service any time without a fee, and it uses the Optus 4G Plus network. Just enter the code MANIA100 to snag the welcome discount.

Total minimum cost is AU$30

Best overall prepaid plan

Gomo | 36GB data (for first 3 renewals, then 18GB) | AU$10 (for first renewal, then AU$25)

Gomo | 36GB data (for first 3 renewals, then 18GB) | AU$10 (for first renewal, then AU$25)

Thanks to Gomo's data rollover, this offer makes a lot of sense – with double-data for the first three 30-day subscription periods, you can stock up on unused data to save for later. There's also a discount on your first subscription, costing only AU$10 to get you going, and then the ongoing AU$25 cost for 18GB is still fairly competitive.

Total minimum cost is AU$10

Best long-expiry prepaid plan

Amaysim | 150GB data | Unlimited national calls and SMS | 6-month expiry | AU$99 (for first 6 months, then AU$150)

Amaysim | 150GB data | Unlimited national calls and SMS | 6-month expiry | AU$99 (for first 6 months, then AU$150)

If you're looking to only pay for what you use, this six month expiry option from Amaysim nets you 150GB to use over the course of your first half-year, allowing you to pay only when you need to top up your data or if the expiry period runs out. After the first 6 months, the price will jump up to $150, which is still solid for this amount of data but you can always switch providers if you're not happy half a year down the line. 

Total minimum cost: AU$99

Best Telstra plan

Telstra | 80GB data | No lock-in contract | 5G access | AU$65p/m

Telstra | 80GB data | No lock-in contract | 5G access | AU$65p/m

This Telstra Medium plan offers the best balance of inclusions and cost for Australia's biggest telco right now. A very healthy 80GB of data will help you use the telco's 5G network to its fullest, and the AU$65 monthly fee is the most reasonable middle-ground before jumping closer to the hundred mark.

Total minimum cost: AU$65

Best Optus plan

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Optus | 80GB data | No lock-in contract | 5G access | AU$55p/m

Where Optus really shines is in its small-to-medium plan offerings, with this 80GB plan weighing in at just AU$55p/m being a great balance of healthy data with a monthly fee that won't break the bank. You can save AU$10 monthly if you're fine with a 20GB limit instead (as most Aussies will be). 

Best Vodafone plan

Vodafone Ultra+ plan | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | 5G access | AU$85p/m

Vodafone Ultra+ plan | Unlimited data | No lock-in contract | 5G access | AU$85p/m

Vodafone has only recently launched this unlimited data SIM-only plan, and it's the only one of its kind in Australia, so we've picked it as the standout offering from this telco. It’ll give you the top available speeds no matter how much you’ve already downloaded. It comes at a cost of AU$85 a month, which is a little pricey to be sure, but there’s no data cap on this plan, and no slowing speeds. You’ll also get unlimited calls and text in Australia and unlimited calls and text to countries in Zone 1. It includes 5G coverage (if it’s available in your area).

Total minimum cost is AU$85

Compare iPhone and Android deals

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iPhone 13 deals / iPhone 13 Mini deals

Building on the success of the iPhone 12, the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini don't mess too much with the overall design of their predecessors, but some major internal, display and camera improvements bring them into the future.

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iPhone 13 Pro deals / iPhone 13 Pro Max deals

If the latest Apple flagships appeal to you but you'd prefer your phone to be a veritable powerhouse of processing and camera chops, the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max handsets will suit you well.

iPhone SE (2020) deals

iPhone SE (2020) deals

Apple has released the second iteration of its affordable handset, and if the original's success is anything to go by, the 2020 version of the iPhone SE is sure to be a huge hit. Packing in the A13 Bionic chipset from the flagship iPhone 11, along with the camera and display prowess of the iPhone 8, this handset manages to fit a whole lot of power into an affordable and compact handset.

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Samsung Galaxy S21 / Galaxy S21 Plus

Samsung's latest barrage of flagship phones are the first to include 5G as standard, and also notable for reducing in price compared to last year's iteration. Add to this their upgraded processors and powerful camera specs, the S21 range builds on a winning formula.

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Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

If you're after the S21 experience but want something... more Ultra... then the S21 Ultra certainly lives up to its namesake. It sports S Pen compatibility, a huge 5,000mAh battery, a 6.8-inch AMOLED display, and either 12GB or 16GB of RAM, depending on its configuration. Beast.

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE deals

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE deals

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE (Fan Edition) is the latest addition to the S20 range. It brings the range way down in price, bringing affordable specs to Samsung's top devices. You get most of the key specs of the other devices but at a far lower price.

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 deals

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 deals / Galaxy Note 20 Ultra deals

In the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, you'll find some of the most powerful smartphones available, so it's just a matter of how much Samsung power you can really handle. With top-shelf cameras, hugely powerful performance, gorgeous displays and stylus operation, these are certainly phones for power users.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3 deals

With no sign of a new addition to Samsung's Note family, the Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 are filling the space for a premium phablet. Both handsets have come a long way since folding phones were first introduced, offering a significantly more affordable (especially in the AU$1,499 Flip 3) entry into the future of smartphone tech.

Google Pixel 5 deals

Google Pixel 5 deals

The Google Pixel 5 is Google's best device yet. It offers an awesome camera performance, high-end processor, improved battery life and a host of other impressive features. In essence, it takes all of Google's best features and sorts its issues.

Google Pixel 4a deals

Google Pixel 4a deals / Google Pixel 4a 5G deals

The Google Pixel 4a and its 5G counterpart are the latest mid-range devices from Google, providing high-end camera specs at a bargain price point. While it doesn't provide all of the high-end specs of a flagship, it does go big on camera performance and brings with it Google's clean Android experience.

Mobile phone deals FAQ

What you need to know about buying your new phone

Of course you want to find the cheapest price for your new smartphone – and our comparison chart at the top of the page will narrow that down for you – but we know there are likely to be dozens more questions you'll want answering. Keep reading below, where we answer some of the key commonly asked questions about buying a new mobile.

What phone network is the best?

Each phone network has its own advantages and disadvantages. There isn't necessarily a wrong choice – it just depends on what's most important to you. Whether that's sweet inclusions, solid coverage, cheap prices or good global-roaming options. While loyalty may be an admirable trait, it's essentially useless in the realm of phone providers, so we highly recommend shopping around once your contract has finished.

Telstra has earned a name for itself for being Australia's leading telco when it comes to network coverage, and that's still the case. It's also on the cutting edge when it comes to new technologies, completely dominating 5G coverage compared to both Optus and Vodafone. While Telstra plans are typically more expensive than the competition, you'll get the best coverage available in Australia and, often, some included extras to sweeten the deal.

Check out our selection of the best-value Telstra plans

While Telstra may be better known for its coverage, Optus tends to have the lead in overall value. Ever since Virgin Mobile was absorbed into the Optus name, the telco has become a good degree more affordable than its main competitor, and can often provide equivalent plans for less than half the price of Telstra thanks to its frequent deals. Optus of course has its own 5G network by this point, and while Telstra has a leg up on how widespread it is, the gap is closing.

Check out our editor-recommended Optus mobile plans

Vodafone is the third major player in Australian networks and, despite having been rather uncompetitive in the past, it's now offering better value than ever thanks to frequent sales, so it's worth checking out for sure! Plus, thanks to a recent merger with TPG, we're expecting this telco to offer even better value in the future. While Voda does have a 5G network in Australia, it's considerably more infant than Telstra and Optus, but check the telco's latest information regarding coverage because you might be in one of the areas that is already receiving it.

Check out our selection of the best Vodafone plans in Australia

What is an MVNO?

An MVNO, or Mobile Virtual Network Operator, is a company that utilises a larger carrier's network – i.e. Telstra, Optus or Vodafone – to run their service. These carriers are typically much smaller in size and popularity, but can still offer some exceptional deals.

For instance, Belong, Circles.Life, Amaysim, and Woolworths Mobile all run their service via either the Optus or Telstra network, which gives them similar advantages and disadvantages when it comes to coverage as the major telcos themselves. 

The bigger providers may charge a little more, but they come with the usual advantages of bigger businesses, which can include better customer care resources, the ability to bundle other products and services and a guarantee that they'll always have the latest flagship handsets.

Do i need 5G?

As with plans of different sizes and data caps, deciding on whether to prioritise 5G coverage is going to be slightly different depending on your needs.

The main benefits of 5G connectivity are improved download and upload speeds, so if you're finding that the 4G speeds you're currently getting are plenty fast for streaming video, browsing and other everyday tasks, then there's every chance you won't need 5G.

If you need to upload or download large files on the regular, or like to stream hi-res content, then 5G might be a good choice. In these cases, you're likely going to want a plan with high data regardless, and most (albeit not all) of the good ones are with telcos that already offer 5G, which makes for a good combo.

Generally speaking, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone are the only ones offering 5G as standard, although some MVNOs (such as Spintel) are beginning to offer it to their customers as well. 

Each telco will have different coverage as the network continues to roll out, so be sure to check to see if your area is already covered before making a decision based on this new network.

Should I pair my phone with a plan or buy outright?

When trying to find a new phone contract, there are more options now than there used to be. You could get a phone on a 12- or 24-month contract, or purchase a handset outright and combine that with a SIM-only plan, but there's also the option of repayments.

This last option has been widely adopted by the major telcos (Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone are all doing it) and it represents a kind of middle ground. You're able to get a brand new handset and pay it off over the course of 12, 24, or 36 months while also signing up for a mobile plan that you pay for monthly and can leave at any time. 

Alternatively, if you've got the cash up front, it can sometimes be more sensible to purchase the phone you're after and pair it with one of the excellent SIM-only plans available, which are getting much more compelling as time goes on – offering exponentially more data at lower prices than they have in the past.

How much data do I need on my phone plan?

  • 1-15GB If you like to scroll through your social media feeds and emails while out and about and stream a moderate amount of music but aren't using your handset for anything much more intensive than that, then this option will be enough for you.
  • 16-80GB This bracket should be more than enough for the vast majority of users and generally presents great value. Loads of data for streaming music, downloading podcasts and enjoying videos.
  • 81-500GB Big data for the big phone user. Perfect for those that use their device to hotspot, those that frequently stream Netflix and other services on their devices, and for those that download large files often. And these plans often have extra freebies thrown in, too.
Harry Domanski
Harry is an Australian Journalist for TechRadar with an ear to the ground for future tech, and the other in front of a vintage amplifier. He likes stories told in charming ways, and content consumed through massive screens. He also likes to get his hands dirty with the ethics of the tech.