Optus Mobile Plans Review
Optus has moved to tailored ‘build-your-own’ plans but are you better off?
Whether you’re looking for a phone plan with the latest iPhone, a SIM for your current phone or a prepaid plan, Optus is a solid choice across the spectrum.
In our analysis of Australian mobile providers, Optus is clearly among the top providers. That might come as a surprise for some but when you weigh up the telco’s data per dollar value, bonus features and perks and multi-faceted customer support network, the higher price paid for Optus begins to make more sense.
Many of these same benefits, or similar, are there for Telstra mobile customers too, which is why Optus’ often aggressively priced plans are so important to this equation. Dollar for dollar, you’re likely to get more for your money with Optus compared with Telstra and Vodafone.
It used to be the case that Vodafone was the cheapest with the smallest network, Optus was mid-tier with the second biggest network and Telstra was the priciest with the biggest network. While nothing’s changed in terms of network size, the race for value is tighter than ever. In fact, there are plenty of scenarios where Optus is cheaper than Vodafone, and even some cases where Telstra is cheaper than Optus.
With the most recent Optus plan changes, we’ve decided to revisit our Optus Mobile plans review to see if the middle child of Australian telco has still got the goods.
The best Optus SIM only plan
In the new world of Optus Choice plans, every plan is technically a month-to-month SIM plan. The only thing you’re obligated to pay is the handset repayments, which can be spread out over 12, 24 or 36 months, depending on how much you want to spend per month. The longer your handset commitment, the lower your monthly repayments will be. If you cancel, you simply pay out your remaining handset repayments (rather than the full contracted phone and plan price, as it used to be).
Still, there are some benchmark plans we can use to measure the overall value of the latest range. In our analysis, the $59 Optus Choice Plan came out on top for the best data-per-dollar value with 100GB per month, unlimited calls and text, 2GB of roaming data and unlimited calls and texts to 35 international countries. Second to that was the top-tier $79 Optus Choice Plan which comes with a whopping the same call inclusions and 120GB of monthly data and 4GB of roaming data.
Again, if you opt to build your own plan, you can save a little more on your monthly bill. For example, if you take 100GB and drop the international and roaming inclusions to 0 mins and 0GB, it will only cost you $55 per month. And if you want to increase your data with no international and roaming inclusions, you can get 150GB of monthly data at $79 per month.
Best Optus iPhone Plan
Optus offers all three iPhone 11 variants: the cheaper iPhone 11, the advanced 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro and the supersized 6.5-inch iPhone 11 Pro Max. For our money, the iPhone 11 Pro 64GB on the 36-month $49 Optus Choice plan. It comes with 60GB of monthly data, unlimited standard national calls and text, and unlimited international calls to 35 countries. It’s not the highest data-per-dollar value plan but it’s still more economical than some of the more expensive options and doesn’t break the $100 mark.
And while a 36-month contract might seem daunting, it’s important to remember that you’re only obligated to pay out the handset, not your plan fees. So whether you contract for 12, 24 or 36 months, you will be paying the same price for your handset overall, just spread out over a longer period, lowering your monthly bill. If you want to cancel 12 or 24 months in, you will only need to pay off the remaining handset fees which equates to $1,176 12 months and $588 24 months in.
Best Optus Prepaid Plan
Optus has several prepaid plan types, but the Epic Data plans are the best everyday use. The $40 Epic Data plan currently comes with 45GB of data for the first recharges when you sign up. After that, recharges revert to 20GB per 28 days, which is still a decent serving of data on a prepaid plan. Optus also includes a Data Rollover feature so that you can finish off leftover data during your next recharge, so long as you top up your account before the credit expires.
If you’re opting for prepaid to minimise your monthly costs, Optus prepaid plans might not be what you’re looking for. There are other, cheaper MVNOs that use the Optus 4G network. We cover this in more detail on our Best Prepaid Plans page.
What is a build your own phone plan?
The gist is simple, add and remove plan features to tailor your monthly cost to your specific needs. Vodafone used to do the same thing before reverting to a more straightforward plan structure.
Need more data for less? You can remove international and roaming inclusions to max out your data while paying a little less. Same goes if you’re a keen traveller but you don’t use too much data. Simply drop the amount of included data per month and increase your international and roaming inclusions to balance out your monthly bill.
Simple in concept, a little confusing to compare. Adding a handset to any of these plans just complicates things even further.
What is Optus One?
Alongside the new build your own options Optus is offering, the telco quietly launched another premium plan option, one that’s copped a fair bit of flack since it was announced. The Optus One plan is a single, premium tier month-to-month plan with a $119 per month price tag.
So what does $119 per month get you in the Optus new world order? Well firstly, you get 500GB of data to use, unlimited standard national calls and text, unlimited international talk and text to 35 countries, 10GB of roaming data for Zone 1 destinations, as well as the usual 12 months of Apple Music free and unlimited access to Optus Sport. All in all, not a bad SIM-only deal for those willing to fork out extra for the luxury of big data and generous roaming inclusions.
There are also two, more controversial, benefits to being an Optus One customer: One-to-One customer care and priority network access. Paying for One-to-One care wouldn’t be much of an issue if the industry’s reputation for customer care wasn’t already in the toilet. But priority network access at a paid premium just isn’t on.
Optus Sport and Customer Perks
When you compare Optus phone plans to the thousands of other plan choices from the dozens of telcos in Australia, the one thing that clearly differentiates the big brands from the little brands are the bonus perks and services on top of the basics, like calling and internet data.
Most Optus phone plans come with the same suite of content extras. The big one is an Optus Sport subscription which gives you exclusive access to several high profile sport streams, like the English Premier League and the upcoming FIFA World Cup.
Also, Optus recently announced that new customers would receive a free 6 or 12-month subscription to Apple Music, depending on the plan you sign up for (the more expensive plans get the longer subscriptions).
On top of streaming entertainment, Optus also has a Perks program that offers cheap movie tickets at Hoyts cinemas, discounts and early access to concert tickets, and other benefits like exclusive prizes and giveaway for members.
In truth, Optus Perks is a strange hodgepodge of different gifts and discounts, but we’re yet to come across anything really compelling in there. Perks are always nice to have, but these perks are not exciting enough to be a reason to sign up for an Optus plan alone.
What is Optus coverage like?
Coverage is the cornerstone of a good mobile phone plan, and Optus claims to have the second-largest coverage footprint behind Telstra. The network is available across the country and covers 98% of the population.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can get Optus coverage in 98% of Australia. Like the Telstra and Vodafone networks, Optus coverage is like a dense ring around the coastline, with tendrils of signal stretching inland. Most people should find that they can comfortably use an Optus service wherever they live and work.
Opensignal, a company that analyses mobile network performance through apps people install on their phones, claims that Optus customers can get a 4G signal more often than people using either Telstra or Vodafone. In the same report, Telstra is shown to have the fastest average download speeds, with Optus is second place and Vodafone in third.
This is interesting data to take a look at, but ultimately your experience will depend on where you use your phone. You can take a look at the coverage map below as a guide to whether there is an Optus signal around you, but you should still find a way to test the network before you sign a contract, like buying an Optus prepaid SIM card and using it in your phone for a few days.