Looking to actually use your iPhone as intended? Then you’ll need data, and l0ts of it, especially if you want to abandon the mobile data sticks and tether your phone to your computer when travelling.
I’ve run the numbers from all three major suppliers, and assumed that you’d buy the best deal, and that you correctly project your demand when you do so. The charts below ignore the various values of text and voice in the plans, and show the cheapest way to obtain data under each of the three carriers.
For data consumption under 3GB – Telecom is the winner, with Vodafone close at 500MB and then beating out only 2Degrees for 2GB or less.
But what if you use more than 3GB a month, as I often do?
Telecom is cheapest again (using their 2GB+4GB add-on plan), 2Degrees is next (using their nationwide plan which costs $100 per extra 1G), while Vodafone is most expensive (using the 500MB plan + 1 GB addon plan.) Vodafone suffers badly as above 1.5GB it has a punitive rate of $200 per 1GB.
Going forward our data use with iCloud sharing photos, Siri, Dropbox, movies and tethering can get pretty large. Mine is tracking to go over 6GB for this month – so let’s see what the damage is:
That’s 15 and 20GB on the right hand side, so don’t panic, and equally don’t expect to use your mobile phone as a replacement for your home data. (My home plan is 150GB a month). But if you are a heavy data user then right now Telecom is the place to be, up until 10GB, which is when their punitive rate (10c/mb) kicks in. Above 10GB you’d be smarter to sign up to another plan and wield two phones or sim cards.
So while Telecom is cheapest now, whatever you do don’t sign up to a contract. Your use will change a lot over the next 2 years, and so will the prices in the market. The rebate you get on a phone is small compared to month after month of restricted service or very high data charges versus competition. A few hundred dollars now might cost you a couple of hundred dollars a month down the track.
So go ahead and get an iPhone, but sign up to a month by month deal, monitor your usage and adjust the plan and supplier regularly.