Optus vs Vodafone mobile match-up

We pit Australia’s second biggest mobile network (Optus) against its third biggest (Vodafone).

Cheap Optus plan
Optus
Optus Flex Plus prepaid recharge
Starts at
$35
/28 days
Typical price
$35/mth
Data
20GB
🔥Deal
40GB on first 3 recharges for new services only
Cheap Optus MVNO plan
Dodo
Dodo $20 Mobile Plan
Starts at
$20
/mth
Typical price
$20/mth
Data
15GB
🔥Deal
Double data for first 3 months
Cheap Vodafone plan
Vodaphone
Vodafone $40 Prepaid Plus plan
Starts at
$40
/28 days
Typical price
$40/mth
Data
30GB
🔥Deal
35GB on first 3 recharges + $5 off if you enable Automatic Recharge
Cheap Vodafone plan
TPG
TPG 12GB Mobile Plan
Starts at
$10
/mo
Typical price
$20/mth
Data
12GB
🔥Deal
Save $10 for first six months
Nathan Lawrence
Jan 22, 2024
Icon Time To Read6 min read

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Quick verdict

It’s a close battle between Optus and Vodafone when it comes to mobile. On one hand, Optus has the bigger network, which means it’s available to more Australians. On the other, Vodafone has a great reputation for value-packed deals. The state of their respective 5G networks is murky, but they compete closely on pricing whether you’re comparing SIM-only, postpaid phone plans, or prepaid deals. There are noticeable wins for both telcos, which means it really boils down to which mobile categories matter most to you.

When it comes to network coverage, Telstra is number one with 99.4 percent of the population serviced by at least 4GX. Optus and Vodafone are the two other big mobile networks in Australia, covering 98.5 percent of the population (with either 3G or 4G) and 96 percent, respectively.

While Optus and Vodafone don’t contend on the same scale of network coverage as Telstra, they do offer a range of plan features that are appealing on the all-important value front. We’ve previously pitted Telstra against Optus, so here’s how Optus and Vodafone mobile networks fare when squared off against each other.

For starters, you can see below how their most popular mobile phone plans compare against each other in terms of popularity.

For comparison's sake, here's a look at the most popular mobile plans from other providers.

Optus vs Vodafone: Which has the best coverage?

While Telstra continues to offer the biggest mobile network in Australia, the Optus network is still noticeably ahead of Vodafone's network if you break down the numbers.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the population as of March 2022 is estimated to be around 25,723,248. Using that number, that 98.5 coverage percentage for Optus works out to around 25,421,917, which covers a decent chunk more Aussies than Vodafone’s estimate of 24,776,690.

The good news is that both Optus and Vodafone MVNOs have complete access to each telco’s respective 4G network where it’s available for those seeking a great deal. You can interact with the map below to compare Optus and Vodafone coverage in your area or anywhere in Australia.

Optus vs Vodafone: 5G network coverage

Both Optus and Vodafone are rolling out their own respective 5G mobile networks, focusing primarily on populated metropolitan areas. Optus says its 5G network currently has over 1,000 live 5G sites, that cover over 1.4 million homes.

Vodafone says its 5G mobile network currently rolling out to 1,000 suburbs across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Perth, Gold Coast, Central Coast, Wollongong and the Sunshine Coast. 

According to Vodafone, one million customers currently have access to their 5G network with "thousands" joining each week.

Telstra vs Optus vs Vodafone coverage
Info Box

Want to learn more about how Australia's big three networks compare when it comes to coverage? Check out our Telstra vs Optus vs Vodafone coverage guide for the full lowdown.

Is Optus faster than Vodafone?

While the maximum speeds that you'll get out of any given device on either mobile network can be shaped by a number of factors, Vodafone's version of Max Speed data is 0.5mbps higher than that of Optus. If you're solely looking at that metric or a customer faced with capped speeds from either provider, then Vodafone does offer faster speeds in that sense.

More broadly though, Optus has the edge when it comes to speed.

According to OpenSignal's latest Mobile Network Experience Report, Optus had the fastest average 5G download speeds. At 229.6Mbps, it managed to beat out Telstra and double the speeds seen by Vodafone users.

Optus vs Vodafone: Which has the cheapest SIM Only plans?

Sporadic deals notwithstanding, the cheap SIM-only end of town for Optus and Vodafone starts around a similar price point, with Voda coming in $4 cheaper. It’s safe to assume these plans are competing with each other, and both include unlimited standard national calls and texts as standard.

The cheapest Optus SIM-only plan is the $49 Optus Choice Plan, which comes with 30GB of data and no excess data charges if you go over (there is a 1.5 Mbps speed cap, though).

As for Vodafone, its cheapest SIM-only plan is the $49 Small Plan, which is the same price as the Optus plan above. This plan normally comes with 50GB of data before being throttled at 2Mbps.

If you’re willing to spend more, however, the overall value improves significantly for both Optus and Vodafone plans, which you can see below.

Optus vs Vodafone: Which has the biggest data mobile plan?

Until recently, Vodafone was the only one of the big three to offer Australia's first truly unlimited data plan. The carrier has since scrapped that plan, making the $69 Large plan the only option for those with data appetites. This plan gets you 360GB of throttle-free data. Every megabyte past that monthly limit will be speed capped at 2Mbps.

The $89 Optus Plus Plan is Optus' biggest data plan, and also its most expensive. It comes with 500GB of data (with endless capped speeds of 1.5 Mbps if you go over), unlimited standard International Talk & Text to 35 selected destinations, plus discounted access to Optus Sport and OS Fitness. Still, if you can grab it for the discounted price of $69 for the first 12 months (available at the time of writing), it's a fantastic deal.

Both plans include access to each telco’s respective 5G mobile network. You can see other big-data SIM Only plans from Optus and Vodafone below, all of which have at least 100GB of monthly data.

Optus vs Vodafone: Which has better postpaid phone plans?

Optus and Vodafone offer no-contract postpaid phone plans and both telcos let you pick whether you want to pay off a new handset in either 12, 24 or 36 months. If cheaper monthly costs matter most, longer-duration handset repayment terms are a solid choice. Regardless of which of these three options you choose, you’ll pay pretty much the same for the handset.

For postpaid phone plan comparisons between Optus and Vodafone, we’re using an iPhone 14 128GB handset with 24-month repayment terms and at least 10GB of data.

Both telcos are neck-and-neck when it comes to monthly device cost, but Vodaafone's ongoing discount makes it the cheaper option overall. Still, both providers offer regular discounts, so keep an eye on the below plans as they may change.

All Optus and Vodafone postpaid plans include access to each telco’s respective 5G mobile network for no additional cost. You’re free to shift plans or even telcos, but bear in mind that your exit fee will be the remainder of the handset repayment.

For comparison, here’s a look at the six most popular iPhone 14 128GB postpaid plans (with 24-month repayments) today.

Optus vs Vodafone: Which has better prepaid phone plans?

Dealing with at least 10GB of data per 28-day recharge – which is how both telcos classify a month in prepaid terms – there’s interesting competition between Optus and Vodafone.

For the best value plan, Vodafone prepaid comes out on top at the time of writing, offering 45GB for just $15 for the first month (reverting to $30 afterwards). The 45GB only applies for the first activation and first two recharges before reverting to 20GB, which still should be enough for less frequent users. There's also infinite data capped at 1.5 Mbps if you go over your included data and data banking of up to 200GB.

Optus prepaid is much further behind, with 20GB for $35 on its Optus Flex Plus Prepaid Recharge plan. Although this is a little more modest than Vodafone's offering, you do get double your usual data for the first six recharges. Plus, you can rollover up to 200GB of unused data and can enjoy 400 minutes of standard international calls to 20 selected destinations. 

When you up your monthly prepaid budget by $10, the situation reverses. The Optus' $45 Flex Plus Plan comes with a bonus 30GB on the first few recharges at the time of writing, bringing it to 60GB total.

To contrast, Vodafone's $40 plan comes with only the standard 30GB of data, along with the inclusions mentioned above. You can however save $5 per recharge if you opt-in to automatic recharge. 

It's a similar story at the $50 price point, with Optus serving up 40GB of data for $55 at the time of writing. As with the others, this plan includes 40GB of bonus data for the first three recharges.

Vodafone isn't far behind thought. It offers 45GB of data for just $5 less if you opt-in for automatic recharge.

If you want great value prepaid plans, either monthly or long-term, be sure to check out our best prepaid plans page, which we update every month. Optus and Vodafone rarely dominate our core categories for prepaid. You can see the current most popular prepaid picks below.

Optus vs Vodafone: Which telco has more MVNOs?

At the time of writing, there are 13 Optus MVNOs in Australia. While the pricing and perks of each provider may vary, you should expect the same level of coverage from them as you would Optus.

Below is a daily updating list of popular plans from Optus MVNO telcos.

At the time of writing, there are seven Vodafone MVNOs in Australia. As with Optus, these providers can offer the same level of coverage at a better price. However, be sure to take a closer look at the terms and conditions before you sign up.

Below is a daily updating list of popular plans from Vodafone MVNOs.

Optus vs Vodafone: Which telco is more popular?

Below you’ll see a snapshot of which telco is more popular out of Optus and Vodafone, as determined by engagement with our companion comparison website WhistleOut. Popularity tends to be dictated by which of these two telcos is offering the best deals in a given week.

Does Vodafone use the Optus network?

No. Vodafone does not use the Optus network. Vodafone uses its own mobile network. It has never been powered by the Optus network.

Can I change my Optus number to Vodafone?

You can always keep your mobile number when changing providers in Australia. Your right to your number is protected by law.

Who owns Vodafone?

Vodafone is a sub-brand of the TPG Telecom group, alongside TPG, iiNet, Internode, and felix mobile.

Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence
Nathan Lawrence has been banging out passionate tech and gaming words for more than 11 years. These days, you can find his work on outlets like IGN, STACK, Fandom, Red Bull and AusGamers. Nathan adores PC gaming and the proof of his first-person-shooter prowess is at the top of a Battlefield V scoreboard.

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