Best smartphones on the Australian market
Australians have one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world: according to research from Google and Ipsos, 52% of Australians own a smartphone.
Accordingly, retailers and telcos alike provide a large range of smartphones to choose from. From the sleek and popular iPhone to Samsung's top selling range to Nokia's new Lumia phones, the choice can sometimes be overwhelming.
Comparison website Compare Mobile Plans reviews the best smartphones on the market to find the right phone and plan for every Australian.
Apple has revolutionised the phone market with the introduction of iPhones, creating that simple black rectangle design that everyone wants. One of the most popular phones out there, the iPhone 4S – the most recent model – well deserves its fame. It has a sleek design, one of the fastest and easiest to navigate interfaces, and Siri, the voice-recognising "personal assistant" (who is, nevertheless, less impressive when confronted with Australian geography and accents).
Outright, an iPhone can cost between $700 and $900, depending upon the memory space. For those who don't want to pay that much upfront, though, the iPhone is also available on a range of plans. Let's take a look at the 16GB iPhone to get an idea of these prices.
Compare Mobile Plans spokesperson, Mikaella Clements, said: "Keep in mind that all of these plans are for 24 month contracts. It's better to be a mid-range user when you're getting an iPhone, as low price plans for light users tend to include very expensive handset costs on top of the monthly plan cost. In addition to that, you'll want the internet data to be able to use it."
Vodafone offers the iPhone 4S on a $49 Cap for only an additional $8 handset charge per month, making your overall charge $57/month for $550 included value and 1GB of data. It's one of the best plans out there for getting an iPhone for a low price.
Virgin offers the iPhone 4S on its Post-Paid Fair Go plan. The plan is $59 per month, and there is an additional $5 per month for the handset – overall, $64/month for $700 included value and 3GB of data.
If you're a heavier user, you might want to try an unlimited plan. Optus offers the iPhone 4S on their $99 Timeless Plan for no additional handset cost per month, meaning that overall you will pay $99/month for unlimited calls and text messages within Australia, and 3GB of data.
Samsung Galaxy S2
The default Samsung flagship phone by virtue of sheer popularity, the Galaxy S2 sold over 20 million units in its first 10 months on the market. Well-designed, easy to handle, with a clear and attractive AMOLED display screen and a high quality camera, the Galaxy S2 uses the Android OS to the best of its ability. The battery life isn't great, but overall the Galaxy S2 is good because it does nearly everything, and does it well.
Outright, you might be able to find a Galaxy S2 around the $500 mark, as it's getting to be an older phone. But it's also available on a range of inexpensive good value plans.
Vodafone offers the Galaxy S2 on the $29 Cap with no added handset charges – meaning that you pay $29/month for the phone along with $180 included value and 200MB of data. It's the perfect plan for a light user.
Mid-range users may want to go for Optus's $50 Cap with no added handset charges – overall, $50/month for $500 included value and 1GB of data.
Heavier users might want to try Virgin's Topless $89 Plan, with no added handset charges. $89/month gets you unlimited calls and text messages and 4GB of data.
HTC One X
The One X is HTC's new flagship phone, putting emphasis on fast loading times and a long battery life. With impressive specs under the hood and a big 4.7" screen, the One X nevertheless manages to keep itself compact and slim, easy to carry around and use. The One X customises the Android OS with a custom HTC Sense skin overlay, and is a great phone for those loyal to Android.
New on the market, the One X is going to be expensive outright – again, you're looking at around $700-$900. It's been embraced by a wide range of plans, though.
Vodafone offers the One X on the $49 Cap, with an additional $5 per month for the handset. Overall, you're paying $54/month for $550 included value of texts and calls and 1GB of data.
Optus offers the One X fairly inexpensively on the $60 Cap with no additional handset costs, meaning overall you pay $60/month for $650 included value and 1.5GB of data.
Nokia Lumia 800
Nokia's attempt to win back its top position in the phone market, the Lumia 800 uses the brand new Windows Phone 7.5 OS. This makes it a great alternative to those who don't like the look of Apple's iOS or Android, and the Lumia 800 lives up to its stylish interface. It's easy to use, easy to carry, and is an original among a crowd of similar smartphones.
Ms Clements said: "Outright, the Lumia 800 sells for around $600-$800 – but if you're tempted to buy it outright, you might want to wait a month or two for when the Lumia 900 comes out in Australia, and the 800's price inevitably goes down."
If you can't wait, try some of these plans:
Vodafone offers the Lumia 800 on a good plan for light users: the $39 Unlimited Text cap, with an additional $5 for the handset. By paying $44/month, you get $300 included value, unlimited texts, and 500MB of data.
Virgin also offers a plan with the Lumia 800 for those who like texting, with no extra handset costs. The Fair Go $49 Plan offers unlimited text messages, $400 included value for calls, and 2GB of data.
Heavier users will want to look at Optus's and Virgin's unlimited plans – from $80 to $100 per month.
Find the best smartphone for you
According to Ms Clements, there is a good plan for every phone if you know where to look. "Most smartphones are available on great plans, and all smartphones come with a list of pros and cons. The above four are all stand-outs, but it's a good idea to go into a store and try out the smartphones available there, even if you don't intend to go on the plan they're offered on.
"Getting a feel for different smartphones by using them for five or ten minutes is the best way to work out which one will suit you best, and will help you find the best plan."
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