Finding the best smartphones in Australia
Australians are heavy smartphone users, with recent research from Google and Ipsos suggesting that over 50% of our population are now using them.
Australian comparison website, http://www.comparemobileplans.com.au, can make it easy for you, looking at the four flagship smartphones from popular manufacturers and finding the best plan for each phone.
Mikaella Clements, Compare Mobile Plans spokesperson, said: "Keep in mind that you're going to find the best value on a 24 month plan as a mid-range user. While 12 month phone contracts exist, handset costs are going to be very expensive in those cases. The best value plans are for mid-range and heavier users on 24 month contracts."
Everybody's favourite smartphone, the iPhone earns its popularity via a sleek, compact design, easy to use interface, and the huge availability of apps, movies, and music through iTunes and Apple's App Store. The iPhone 4S perfects on previous models, with increased speed, a better camera and battery life, and the new voice-activated personal assistant Siri. Unfortunately, Siri is less effective when faced with Australian accents and Australian locations and maps.
Outright, the iPhone 4S sells for $700-$900, based upon how much memory you need. A cheaper option is to get it on a plan and pay for it in monthly increments. For the purpose of the best value plan, we'll be looking at the iPhone 4S 16GB.
Vodafone offers the iPhone 4S on a $49 Cap with an extra $8 per month for handset charges. The overall charge is $57 a month for $550 included value and 1GB of data, making it one of the cheapest plans for the iPhone available on the market.
If you wanted a little more data, you could try Virgin's $59 Post-Paid Fair Go plan, with an extra $5 a month for the handset. For $57 a month, you'll get $700 included value and 3GB of data.
The iPhone 4S is available with no additional handset costs on Optus's $99 Timeless Plan. This includes unlimited text messages and calls in Australia, and 3GB of data.
Samsung Galaxy S2
Though less innovative than the "phablet" Samsung Galaxy Note, the Galaxy S2 has proved a favourite, selling over 20 million units in its first 10 months on the market. The Galaxy S2 is a phone that attempts to do everything and everything well. It doesn't have any standout features, but it's clear AMOLED display screen and high quality camera makes the Galaxy S2 a favourite amongst Android phones.
The Galaxy S2 is an older phone these days, and you might be able to find it outright for as little as $500. If you prefer to buy on a plan, though, you're in luck – the Galaxy S2 is available on a range of inexpensive plans with low or no handset charges.
For light users, the best plan available is Vodafone's $29 Cap, with no additional handset costs for the Galaxy S2. It includes $180 of value and 200MB of data for only $29 a month.
Optus is a good option for mid-range users, with no handset charges, $500 included value, and 1GB of data on the $50 Cap.
Virgin's Topless $89 Plan is the way to go for heavier users, with no additional handset fees, unlimited text messages and calls, and 4GB of data.
HTC One X
HTC's new flagship, the One X boasts a large 4.7" screen and impressive specs but keeps it contained within a slim, attractive design. The smartphone with one of the best battery lives on the market, the One X is speedy and pretty with its HTC custom designed skin.
The One X is new on the market and can cost around $700-$900 outright. However, it's cheaper on a plan than an iPhone, making it a good smartphone for medium users.
Vodafone offers the One X on the $49 Cap with $5 a month in handset charges. Overall, the plan is $54 per month and offers $500 included value for calls and texts along with 1GB of data.
Once again, Optus provides a good alternative for the mid-range user. The $60 Cap requires no extra handset charge, and gives customers $650 included value and 1.5GB of data.
Of course, the HTC One X is available on a wide range of unlimited plans for no extra handset costs. Virgin and Optus are good providers when it comes to getting the best value out of an unlimited plan with a phone.
Nokia Lumia 800
Nokia have lived up to their name as a premiere mobile manufacturer with this phone. Despite no longer having the top spot for phone sales, Nokia have created a beautiful and original smartphone. The Lumia 800 uses the brand new Windows Phone 7.5 OS, designed to be a change from the typical Android and iOS options, to great effect. Instinctive, easy to use, and with a range of fun colourful back cases, the Lumia 800 is a great option for those who want to stand out from the crowd.
Ms Clements said: "The Lumia 800 sells for around $600-$800 outright, but the price may come down soon when the Lumia 900 is released in Australia this coming June. Waiting a couple of months might mean you could snap it up at a lower price."
If you can't wait, there are already some bargain plans on the market.
Vodafone offers the Lumia 800 on the $39 Unlimited Text Cap, with an additional $5 per month for the handset. Overall, light users will love this plan, paying just $44 per month for the phone along with $300 included value and 500MB of data, plus unlimited texts.
Data-hungry customers might go to Virgin, where the Lumia 800 is available on the Fair Go $49 Plan with $400 included value, unlimited text messages, and 2GB.
Once again, Optus and Virgin are the best choices for unlimited plans, ranging from $80 to $100 per month.
Find the best smartphone for you
Ms Clements reminded customers to take a pragmatic approach and not get overwhelmed by choice. "Spending half an hour in a phone store to try out a couple of models and see which appeals to you most is a good way to find the right phone for your needs. But finding it on the right plan is equally important.
"Consider the overall cost of your plan along with what the smartphone is worth, and contact Compare Mobile Plans if you're still having trouble finding the best smartphone and plan."