news The nation’s largest telco Telstra has launched two new ranges of mobile phone plans, in addition to offering customers the option to pay $10 a month extra for the ability to trade in their smartphone once a year for a new model.
Telstra’s current mobile plans are known as “Everyday Connect” plans. They range from $60 per month to $130 per month if you buy a smartphone on plan with Telstra, and include data allowances from 1GB through to 3GB a month, as well as $600 to “Unlimited” amounts of call and MMS value. The telco also offers BYO phone plans and lock-in plans, which are priced around the same levels or a little more or less.
In a statement released yesterday, Telstra noted that it had launched two types of new mobile plans. The first, the company’s “Handset” plans, are only available on 24 month contracts and start at $55 per month, ranging up to $130 per month. Included data values range from 500MB to 3GB and included call value ranges from $550 to “Unlimited” each month.
The telco has also launched new “BYO Mobile Accelerate” plans, which do not come with a handset and are a little cheaper while offering the same amount of voice and call value. Simultaneously, Telstra said in its statement that from 4 March customers will be able to add the option to trade up to a brand-new smartphone after just 12 months when they sign up to a new 24-month plan.
Telstra’s Group Managing Director for Product, Warwick Bray, said Telstra had listened to millions of its customers, who said they wanted an affordable way to trade up to the latest smartphones more frequently.
“We know lots of Australians really look forward to getting their hands on the latest smartphone technology and we want to give customers the chance to experience that ‘new phone feeling’ more frequently. So we’re introducing the option for customers to get a new smartphone every 12 months as an add-on with selected handsets across our new 24-month consumer plans,” Bray said.
The feature, dubbed ‘Telstra New Phone Feeling’ allows customers to trade up to a new smartphone after 12 months instead of waiting two years. Customers simply pay $10 per month on top of their plan (minimum cost $120 plus plan and handset costs) and return their existing phone undamaged and in good working order to trade up to a new model on a new two year handset plan. Telstra is the first carrier in Australia to make this offer available across a range of plans for consumer customers.
Telstra said its recent research had revealed that around half (46%) of Australians would like their telco to offer them the option to get the latest smartphone part-way through their plan. The top reasons Australians wanted to update their mobile more frequently included a desire to have the latest features, a love of having the latest gadgets and boredom with their existing device, according to Telstra.
The telco found that those aged 25-34 were most excited about the prospect of a plan that includes the chance to trade up to a new phone every year, with 63% indicating they’d like the option, followed by 18-24 year olds (61%) and those aged 35-44 (55%).
The new Mobile Accelerate Plans also offer casual plans (month to month), data sharing (where customers can share data allowances across multiple devices) and BYO and BYO data share plans. Extra data packs are also available.
What do I think of Telstra’s new plans?
Firstly, let’s get the easy stuff out of the way. The new “Handset” and “BYO Mobile Accelerate” plans are pretty similar to the existing Telstra plans, with the only real difference being that Telstra has changed around a few little details such as the data available on each plan. There’s not a huge lot of difference here, and compared to Optus and Vodafone the plans are still quite expensive.
However, I do feel as though the new entry-level plans, starting at $55 per month (or $45 if you BYO) are a little bit of a mirage now, and that Telstra is really aiming to get customers onto higher value $70 plans at a minimum. The old Everyday Connect plan, which at $60 per month was Telstra’s cheapest ongoing handset plan, offered 500MB more data than the new $55 Handset plan, and I feel that quite a few customers are likely to switch upwards during plan renewal to get that little bit of extra data. A 500MB limit is much more easily breached than the old 1GB entry level limit.
In terms of Telstra charging customers an extra $120 a year to get a new handset every 12 months, on the surface this looks like a decent deal, given that that would be about the same amount, or possibly less, that you could reasonable expect to blow per year if you followed the approach yourself of buying a new iPhone every year and then selling the old one for most of its original value on eBay.
When you factor in the fact that Telstra subsidises some of the cost of the smartphones it sells to customers on plans, this looks like a fairly attractive option.
However, I am personally a little bit suspicious of this option. I suspect that when push comes to shove, Telstra will be a little bit picky about which smartphones at what cost are included in this “New Phone Feeling” package, and I’d be looking to read the fine print very very carefully before I signed up to it.
I would also point out that Optus’ mobile plans are looking increasingly competitive compared with Telstra’s at the moment. The company offers a $35 monthly no contract, BYO phone plan which comes with 500 minutes of call time per month and 1GB of data — or you can switch up to the $60 plan, which comes with “Unlimited” call time and 2GB of data. Each of those plans represent substantially better value than you’ll get with Telstra … and Optus’ 4G and 3G networks are pretty good these days, especially in metro areas.
As things stand right now, Telstra is largely increasing its prices and Optus is cutting them, at a time when Optus’ network has caught up to Telstra’s in many areas. My Telstra mobile plan ends in November 2014 and I’m currently planning to switch to Optus. I know of others doing the same. It will be interesting to see how many people I know will follow.
Of course, I still don’t recommend looking at Vodafone as an option.
Image credit: Apple