Best Mobile Phone Service Providers
These days, mobile phone service providers are offering more and more add-ons at increasingly competitive prices. There’s more to finding a great deal than just going for the cheapest phone plan, but knowing what to look for can help you see past marketing buzzwords to find a provider and mobile phone plan that work for you.
Best Mobile Phone Service Provider
- Award Winner 2022
Moose Mobile is a multi-Award-winning mobile phone service provider that uses the Optus 4G Plus or Optus 36 Networks. Appealingly, this offers reliable coverage across most of Australia - at a budget price.
- Customer Service4.7 (1,503)
- Value for Money4.7 (1,663)
- Local Reception4.5 (1,517)
- Transparency 4.6 (1,353)
- Network UsedOptus
- International Roaming Offered Yes
CMobile prides itself on its customer-oriented service and transparent pricing (with no hidden fees), offering plans for every type of mobile user, including those who need a business mobile plan.
- Customer Service4.8 (209)
- Value for Money4.8 (211)
- Local Reception4.5 (196)
- Transparency 4.7 (197)
- Network UsedVodafone
- International Roaming Offered Yes
- Award Winner 2022
Felix likes keeping things simple. There’s just one mobile plan that’s SIM-only, gives you unlimited mobile data and standard talk and text, and costs $35 a month.
- Customer Service4.7 (286)
- Value for Money4.6 (310)
- Local Reception4.3 (273)
- Transparency 4.6 (243)
- Network UsedVodafone
- International Roaming Offered Yes
Latest review: As a long time customer, just short of 10 years I must say my experience with Vaya has been a standard one, nothing good to speak of nor bad to say. Things are okay when nothing happens, when there
Latest review: My recent communication with Hello Mobile’s Customer Service Department was an absolutely great experience for a number of reasons. I didn’t have to wait to speak to a Customer Service Staff Member.
Latest review: Been with Amaysim (3 X phones) for a number of years and couldn't be happier. The new plans which rolls-over the data is incredible and our son who is a vary high data user will never run out! I
Latest review: Never received my Sim card! After phoning them and asking for a Dodo Sim card 3 times, I still got nothing even though they said it would was sent out. I'm surprised Dodo is still in business! Yes
Latest review: Mobile and internet are ok for what my needs. Only problem is when we have heavy rain, we lost completely signal.very important to have signal always. As a pensioner need to have access for medical
Latest review: With Telstra for many years. Tried Belong for a 2nd line. Excellent reliable reception and quick friendly customer service. Their data banking and share options are great. 5 stars. Thanks Belong.
Latest review: I had a problem with the activation of a new service/plan an extremely nice person from support helped me. I would like to thank Ms Mercy for her support and congratulate SpinTel service
Latest review: I don’t recommend it for anyone. Rolled over data can’t be used when your recharge date expires, prices changed from reasonable to ridiculous, customer service is rude and unhelpful and their app is p
Latest review: I am using Vodaphone service since 2009. Recently switched with ACN Vodaphone, my experience is I am saving on monthly bills and also getting enough data for myself and family. It’s awesome when we u
Latest review: Bought the 365-long expiry esim plan, need to port in my number from Boost, and have been stuck in the process since Jun 18. Called their support several times, but all they can say is to ask you
Latest review: I rely on my internet connection for work and Circles Life are way too unreliable for me. Also, the fact that there is no telephone support is a real red flag. It shows that the company doesn't care
Latest review: ALDI Mobile uses the telstra network, which has good coverage relative to other providers. However, that means you can still have very choppy reception if you are not in the city. It is more likely
Latest review: I was out of Aus for 2 weeks and now when I'm back there is no network. Mohana (consultant) Disconnected while typing on online platform. I'm stuck without a network now. Everytime they ask for same
Latest review: It is the best and affordable help for mobiles. Have been long time with go talk and it is always there to help. Comparing to other phone companies go talk is the best of all of
First things first: think about your phone use
Before you start comparing mobile phone service providers, you’ll need to consider how you use your phone.
- How many calls do you usually make a day, and how long are those calls? Multiply the minutes by 30 to get an idea about how many you’ll need your mobile plan to cover.
- Who are you calling - do you only call local numbers, or will you also be making international calls?
- How much data do you usually use per month? If you stream music and videos frequently, or download a lot of media, then you’ll probably need quite a few gigabytes.
- Will you need international roaming for when you travel?
What types of plans can I choose from?
One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether or not you want a new phone with your plan. You can either choose to keep your current phone and only pay for usage, or you can buy a new phone, either outright or as part of a plan.
If you plan on using your current phone
- Prepaid SIM-only plan. You prepay for your usage by buying credit to make calls, send texts, and use data. You usually have a certain period to use your credit (usually 30 days) before it expires - if you run out of credit, you’ll still be able to receive calls.
- Postpaid SIM-only plan. You receive a certain amount of credit and pay at the end of each month - if you exceed your monthly limit, then you’re charged more for the extra usage.
Prepaid SIM-only plan
Postpaid SIM-only plan
As you only get what you pay for, you won’t be slapped with any surprise charges - this also makes them a great option for parents buying their child’s first phone plan.
You’re not locked in to minimum-term contracts.
Your credit usually has a set expiry, so you have to use it or lose it before the period is over.
Prepaid plans require you to manually “recharge” your credit.
If you’re using up all your credit before it expires, it’s likely you’ll be spending more each year than if you were on a postpaid plan.
You could be left without credit when you need to make an important phone call or use your data.
They generally offer better value for money than prepaid deals.
Every month you’re automatically billed and your credit is reset, making it more convenient.
You’ll always be able to call, text, and use data on your phone, so you won’t be stuck without phone use in an emergency.
Postpaid plans often require you to sign a contract (often 12 months), however there are still plenty of plans that are contract-free and let you pay month-to-month.
Costs for going over your usage limit are often quite high.
You may need to pay an early termination fee if you want to break the contract.
The bottom line?
Postpaid plans are generally suited to regular phone users who don’t mind committing to a monthly bill, while those who use their phones a bit more sporadically and are comfortable topping up when they need it may find a prepaid plan is better for them.
If you need a new phone
- Buy a new phone outright. You pay the whole cost of a phone upfront, then choose a prepaid or postpaid SIM-only plan to call, text, and use data on your new phone.
- Buy a new phone on a plan. You are billed monthly on a contract, spreading out the cost of the new phone. This means that as part of your plan you’ll pay for your phone, your usage, and any excess usage.
Buying on a plan
You can easily switch between plans or providers, as you don’t need to sign a contract.
It often works out to be cheaper to buy a phone outright and get a SIM-only plan from a smaller telco.
You own the phone straight away.
You can opt out whenever you want.
There’s a high initial cost in buying a new phone outright.
There aren’t any upfront costs.
Some telcos offer special deals, such as discounts when you bundle your phone plan with other plans (such as your home phone and internet) when you buy a phone from them.
You don’t own the phone until you’ve paid it off - these contracts are generally 12, 24, or 36 months.
Ending the contract early will incur extra costs - these are often quite high.
The range of mobile phones you can choose from is often limited to popular brands and newer models.
Not many MVNOs - which generally offer better value for money - let you buy a phone on a plan.
The telco may conduct a credit check before you sign the contract.
Understanding mobile networks
There are only three mobile networks in Australia: Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone. If you choose a plan from a different provider, it will still use one of these 3 networks.
These smaller providers - known as Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) - can often offer cheaper plans because they aren’t paying to manage a network.
Not all phone providers offer the same coverage - to choose what’s right for you, you’ll have to consider a provider’s geographic coverage and the strength of this coverage.
Think about where you plan to use your phone - if you travel often around the country, then you should take into consideration the different places you travel, particularly if they’re more remote.
The website of any mobile service provider should have a coverage map, where you can enter a postcode to see the amount and quality of coverage in the area.
Ask yourself the following questions when comparing coverage across mobile providers:
- Is 3G, 4G, or 5G offered in locations that you frequent, such as home and work?
- Is the coverage adequate when you’re inside a building?
- What download speeds can you expect in locations that you frequent?
Some phone companies also offer a coverage guarantee, letting you trial out the service and if you want, cancel and receive a refund within the first month if the coverage isn’t to your satisfaction.
Telstra Coverage Map
Optus Coverage Map
Vodafone Coverage Map
What else should I consider when choosing a provider and plan?
Considering your own phone usage should give you a good idea of how much call, text, and data you need your plan to cover - this will also help prevent you getting a plan with more inclusions than you need.
Unlimited call and text is generally the standard for SIM-only plans costing over $10 per month, so where plans vary more is the amount of data offered.
Some plans also offer data rollover, letting you use unused data in the following billing month, but some providers are more generous than others when it comes to this.
International calls and roaming
The big phone carriers generally offer better value for money when it comes to international usage packages. Vodafone, for example, offers plans with $5 international roaming per day in over 80 countries.
If you call or text international numbers, look up the costs of these. Call prices can also vary between different countries, so make a note of where your overseas friends, family, or colleagues live and check this against any plan you’re considering.
Get the essentials by reading the Critical Information Summary
Before committing to a plan, look at the Critical Information Summary (CSI) - all telcos must provide one for every plan they offer. A CSI cuts through the noise and outlines the nuts and bolts of the plan, such as the price, inclusions, costs, contract length, and early exit fees.
Plans can range anywhere from under $15 a month for the cheapest SIM-only plans to $150 and upwards per month for plans that include a smartphone and accommodate substantial usage.
Work out your budget and the maximum amount you can spend on your mobile plan, noting that this will have to be a higher amount if you’re buying a phone on a plan.
Consider the price per gigabyte if you exceed your data usage - many telcos usually charge around $10 per GB, however this varies across providers. Ideally, you should be spending less than your maximum budget on a plan to allow for a bit of cushion for the months where you may need to go over.
If you’re concerned about paying for extra data, look for a plan that offers data capping - this will suspend your usage when you’ve used up all your data, so you won’t be faced with bill shock at the end of the month.
Will they port my number?
Changing your number is a hassle that most people would prefer to avoid, so if you’d rather keep your digits, check whether the provider you’re considering will accept a ported number. Your current telco is legally required to port your number to your new provider if you ask them to.
Certain plans offer you sweet deals and discounts if you sign onto their service. For example, Woolworths Mobile offers a discount on groceries bought at Woolworths if you sign up to their service and are part of their Everyday Rewards system.
Some telcos also partner up with airlines to give you frequent flyer points, while if you’re a student, you could be able to score discounts or bonus data on certain plans. Just ensure you read the fine print to check that you’re actually eligible to receive what’s on offer.
If you’re still having trouble committing to a plan, then reading reviews can be a useful place to start. They can give you a better indication of coverage, how easy it is to reach a customer service operator if you need help, and general consumer satisfaction with a provider or plan.
You should know the ins and outs of a plan before you commit to it. Reading the CSI and considering your phone needs (taking into consideration how these needs may change in the future) and budget will help you know exactly what you’re signing up for and set you up for fuss-free calling, texting, and internet exploring.