Buy your iPhone outright, go pre-paid & save a thousand bucks

Pre-paid mobile plans in 2020 are very, very cheap. It never used to be this way. Pre-paid was often more expensive and plans were better value because the telcos had you locked up for 12/24 months. The telcos would also give you a discount on the phone, but that no longer happens either. Is it worth going on a phone contract in 2020? I’d argue for most people, it isn’t.

Look how cheap you can get pre-paid plans for these days:

Optus network - Coles
$120/yr for 120GB data ($10/m for 10GB/m data paid yearly)

Vodafone network - Kogan
$205.60/yr for 158GB data ($16.90/m for 13.1GB/m data paid yearly)

Telstra network - Boost
$200/yr for 100GB data ($16.67/m for 8.3GB/m data paid yearly)

Compare to the cheapest plans from the telcos directly:

Optus - 10GB/m, $39/m - $468/yr
Vodafone - 50GB/m, $35/m - $420/yr
Telstra - 40GB/m, $55/m - $660/yr

You would save $350-$450/year by going pre-paid!

That said, there isn’t no reason entirely to avoid the big telcos. For iPhone users the main thing would be visual voicemail and LTE Apple Watch support. The MVNOs can’t give you that.

There’s also various freebies. Telstra has their Plus rewards program, soccer fans will enjoy Optus Sport and Vodafone is handing out 3 months of Amazon Prime, let you share data between other SIMs and has the great $5 roaming.

You also get a shitload more data on a plan than pre-paid. Once you get past 20GB/m, the plans start to make more financial sense.

You need to weigh up if these little perks and/or the Apple related features are worth $350-$450 a year. For me they absolutely are not.

Some people just can’t front up the cash for a new iPhone (fair, considering they’re $1500-$2000) and prefer spreading it out over 2 years, but look at how much extra that costs you, using Telstra as an example:

128GB iPhone 12 Pro
24 months, 40GB/m
$125.79/m - $3018.96 total over 2 years


128GB iPhone 12 Pro outright - $1699
24m Boost mobile, 200GB data - $400
$2099 total over 2 years

That’s almost $1,000 difference over 2 years, for the same phone and same network - just with less data (8.3GB/m vs 40GB/m). The same applies to Optus and Vodafone, but not at the same level.

JB Hi-Fi/Good Guys throw in gift cards when you go on a Telstra plan at their shop, but the plans eligible for the gift cards cost more than the cheapest Telstra plan, so really, you’re not saving any money, just getting more data that honestly, most people don’t use.

Optus and the Apple Store have a nice discount offer too. Go on a 24/m plan and get $800 or $550 off the outright purchase price of an iPhone. They’re also dud deals versus pre-paid.

128GB iPhone 12 Pro outright - $1699
24m plan - $65/m ($1560)
iPhone offer credit - $550
$2,709 total over 24m

128GB iPhone 12 Pro outright - $1699
24m Coles Mobile, 240GB data - $240
$1,939 total over 24m

If you can front up the cash for a phone outright and don’t need/can’t justify the cost of little extras the big telcos offer, pre-paid is the way to go these days.