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Is it cheaper to buy a smartphone outright?


That was a great outcome!

I vaguely recollect some Telstra Mobile plans used to have an added or included insurance cover for the life of the plan to help the customer, and also as a big help to Telstra, cover for typical phone warranties only being 12 months while Telstra would only contract for 24 months. Perhaps Telstra were happy to waive the plan if you were recontracting to a new one. I’ve done so midplan previously, providing it was an upgrade and I was recontracting for another 2 years.

Optus and others still try hard to add in an insurance bundle that covers lost, drowning or accidental breakages as part of their sales pitch. No doubt also to help shift the cost burden of phones that fail due to warrantable issues after 12 months from them to you.

Sometimes in the past with mobile sales staff it was all too easy to hear an offer as an inclusion, and sign up to a bottom line without understanding all of what you were paying for. The latest contract forms may have put an end to this, providing we all take the time to review them line by line before signing.


I have bought my last 3 smart phones outright after they were replaced by newer models (current Samsung was 2 models in arrears) and in clearance sales from retail outlets. I always buy unlocked so I can keep my sim and number and my old Telstra $30 pm plan. My last was an S5 at $300 from a Dik Smith store, in 2015 I think, but the others I cannot recall.

I do not do data on the phone, that’s for the laptop with a firewall etc. But the camera’s have been excellent. So for me it is much cheaper.


Well I bought an iPhone 5 from a friend for $200 in December 2014. It has worked perfectly ever since (although a new battery may enhance its performance in due course). I use HelloMobile as my service provider which uses Vodafone as the carrier. It’s charges are very reasonable, 30c F/F; 30 cents untimed to landlines in Australia; 12 cpm + F/F to mobiles. I have an automatic recharge working which debits my credit account with $10 every time the balance falls to $2. As I’m not a great user of the mobile phone, (I mainly use VOIP at home) I can sometimes go for over 2 months without my credit card being debited, so I feel it is a pretty efficient system. Not sure about my data allowance, but I use very little, and it is simply a small running cost (should I have data turned on) which is just part of the running debit. On a trip from Perth to Kalbarri a while back (600kms x 2) I used WAZE on the iPhone as my GPS. The total cost for the data download was $3 each way.


I have found it to be cheaper if I have own phone. Bought a second hand Note 4 for $250. Bought a Kogan subscription (Vodaphone) for a year all calls plus 7Gb of monthly data allowance for under $200 ($16 pcm). The nearest cost for similar service $30 (without phone). I think own phone gives one more flexibility


Thanks for input everyone! We’ve awarded some BS Buster badges to @phb, @mark_m @meltam and @acreed2002 for their comments on buying a phone outright vs buying on a contract.

We’ve put together the following advice you can find the right deal the next time you’re considering a new smartphone.


@Suzique Which plan is that please? I can’t see it on the Aldi website.


@jen It’s like a catalogue special they run from time to time…but looks like they have it available again soon.


Thank you :slight_smile:
I don’t have an Aldi nearby but can probably get someone to buy one for me. Excellent!


@jen They often don’t have them on display, so you might have to ask and they get it from out the back.


One pack in our nearby ALDI store atm. They are usually a great bargain as long as the data allowance suits your needs.

I prefer the S pack at $15 a month (30 days) with 2 GB of data per month and any unused rolls over if recharge done in time or if auto recharging. If you want to make calls a lot to Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Korea, Thailand, UK, and the USA the L pack might be a better deal (it costs $25 a month). I think the L and bigger packs get extra 100 minutes to some other countries as well.


I use very little data and the S pack has suited me for the past couple of years. But this one year deal will work out much cheaper for me and will still be enough data.
My mum picked up a couple at her local Aldi and passed on the codes to me. So I’m set for a while.


Glad you got the pack, I am not a great data user myself but did find the data on the pack last year was too restrictive for me but everyone has different needs and I am happy that it is a good deal for you as it is certainly a good saving if the data is enough.


Still with Kogan (Vodaphone), I now get 16Gb for approx $17 pcm on an annually pre-purchased deal. A new plan has just come out of 20Gb for just over $20 pcm with all calls included, which I will go for when my plan expires. I have not seen any better deal. Has anyone else?


Can’t say I have seen any better (as in lower cost, for ‘all calls included’ + good data) deals than that one, but I sure have seen vastly better signal coverage than Vodaphone’s! :wink:

Years ago I made the mistake of going with them, and found I couldn’t use my phone anywhere near home, I had to drive quite a few km down the road towards town to find some signal.


I buy outright, though I have not yet (and probably won’t) upgrade my iPhone. My 6S still does its job as a phone. I’ll upgrade when it no longer does that. As for “plans”… gave those up a couple of decades ago, and have been on prepaid ever since, mostly with Telstra but with Woolies for the past year ($20/m for all local and long distance calls, $100 for international and “otehr” purposes, all texts (but I mostly use iMessage, Telegram or Signal) and 3GB of data which I never go near). It suits me, and I like that the Woolies rep is often on to answer queries. The app is excellent and they dont miss a beat when autorecharge is active. Love it.

I think that unless you need to change/upgrade your phone every couple of years, a phone plan is wasted money. IMO of course.

[EDIT: 24/1/2019] Woolies has now dropped the $100 extra for “Other” from all their prepaid offers. Doesnt worry me, I never used it, but for some, its been enough to make them move. Just an FYI which has little to do with buying phones outright. Sorry.


I have a pre-paid phone without a Plan. I only use it sparingly for incoming calls and txt messages. I return calls and txts on my landline as I have a $10 per month Optus allowing for unlimited mobile and landline calls.


As a follow up, saying that we get our phones on a plan always is no longer the case. My husband’s phone died and had to be replaced. We went to Telstra to see if it could be repaired and were told it couldn’t. As a consequence we went to well known retail shop where we bought a new phone and also had both of our ‘new’ plans updated to a cheaper one and received considerably more data allowance which was great as we can tap into it for streaming.