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Telstra mobile plans review
There's a reason Telstra costs more than most; but do you really need to be paying the premium?
Find out how we score mobile providers.
Before we dive into our review of Telstra Mobile, let's take a look at some of the provider's most popular plans and deals.
It's not just coverage that makes Telstra the most expensive mobile provider. Telstra is Australia’s original phone service provider, and for many, it is still the best. Telstra’s network coverage remains superior to the competition, with extended reach in regional and remote areas of Australia, and it is among the first of the network owners to roll out fast, new 5G coverage. Does this mean that Telstra mobile plans are best?
You’ll pay extra to be a Telstra customer, and in some cases this price difference is significant. But in return, you get access to Australia’s fastest mobile network, a huge customer support team, as well as plenty of exclusive offers and perks. Telstra is not for the budget-conscious, but if you keep your eye on its Telstra Deals page, you can find a solid bargain from time to time.
At the time of writing, the most popular Telstra mobile plan is the $115 Extra Large Upfront SIM Plan, which comes with 180GB of data, 5G access, plus unlimited standard national talk and text.
Telstra iPhone 14 plans
If you're looking to pick an iPhone 14 up through Telstra, your cheapest option is going to be the Telstra Upfront Mobile Plan Basic. Priced at $58 per month, this plan includes 40GB of data, unlimited local calls and texts and access to both Telstra's 4G and 5G network coverage.
The cost of pairing this plan with the new iPhone 14 is going to vary based on the model you choose. Assuming that the baseline iPhone 14 is the model you're after, you're looking at $38.86 per month in handset fees on a 36 month plan. All told, this works out to a total $96.58 per month over 36 months.
If you'd prefer a 24 month plan, you're looking at $58.29 per month in handset fees and $115.87 overall.
Telstra phone plans
In early 2021, Telstra completely revamped their SIM-only plans, scrapping postpaid altogether in favour of what they're calling 'Upfront' plans. Essentially, instead of paying your bill at the end of the month, you'll simply fork out your fee at the start of the month. It's similar to a prepaid plan but comes with the more premium inclusions you'd expect from a postpaid arrangement.
Across the entire Telstra range of phone plans, we’d argue that you needn't choose a plan higher than the Small Upfront SIM Plan. There are phone plans with more data, of course, and you’ll need to bring your own phone (or grab one through Telstra), but this plan has everything you need at a price that won’t break the bank. If anything, 40GB of data per month is probably a tad excessive, but there are no smaller options available. That said, you’ll want to opt for at least the $65 Medium Upfront SIM Plan if you’re craving 5G speeds because the Small Plan doesn’t let you connect to the speedy new mobile technology.
All of Telstra’s BYO Mobile Phone plans are offered with no lock-in contracts and if you'd like to add a new phone down the track, you don't need to change plans, you just add monthly phone repayments to your bill. Here's a look at the rest of Telstra's BYO mobile plans:
Of course, there are plenty of other plans in market to consider too, several of which operate on the Telstra network. Here are a few popular plans from other providers on the Telstra network:
If the prices of the plans listed above overshoot your budget, or you’d prefer to avoid signing a contract, Telstra does have Prepaid plans available too. Our pick is the $30 Prepaid Complete plan, as you can see below. Just keep in mind that the credit you buy with this plan expires every 28 days. This means you need to recharge your account 13 times each year, a fact that may come as a surprise.
But to be honest, we probably wouldn’t choose Telstra for a Prepaid plan if value for money was a consideration. There are dozens of smaller mobile carriers offering better, cheaper options.
Telstra mobile features and perks
Outside of the Telstra $55 Small Upfront SIM Plan, all other Telstra SIM-only plans come with access to the Telstra 5G network. The same is true of Telstra’s Prepaid plans, which also come with a 200GB data bank. Outside of the cheapest seven-day plan, Telstra Prepaid plans also come with international call minutes.
Telstra Upfront plans can be bundled with a range of cutting-edge and recent smartphones, including the iPhone 12, Google Pixel 5, and the Samsung Galaxy S21. Telstra lets you opt to purchase a handset outright, or you can pay it off over time with 12-month or 24-month handset repayment terms.
One of the better data-related perks for SIM-only plans is there are no excess data charges in Australia. This means if you burn through your max-speed data allowance, speeds are slowed to 1.5Mbps for the duration of your billing cycle. To help keep data usage even lower, Apple Music streaming is data-free and there’s unmetered use of selected sports streaming, too.
Woolworths Mobile also runs on the Telstra network and tends to offer great perks, too. Check out their plans below in comparison to Telstra’s offering.
And below you can see how Telstra stacks up against other popular Prepaid and SIM Only plans from other telcos.
Telstra mobile customer support and satisfaction
The premium price of Telstra plans also helps fund an impressive array of customer support options for when things go awry. Telstra offers self-paced support via forums and self-service online tools. If you want to talk to someone, Telstra is responsive via Twitter and Facebook, plus there’s an online chat service and dedicated phone support.
While there aren’t any excess data charges on SIM Only plans, you can monitor your usage via the Telstra app, plus there’s a range of in-person stores and Telstra Plus perks for earning points and other benefits.
Telstra support is impressive, but overall customer satisfaction isn’t as flash according to user-generated score on sites like Product Review and Trustpilot, even if the Google review fares better. In fairness, those score trends are relatively the same for Optus and Vodafone, too. Moose Mobile, Numobile, Pennytel and Tangerine are the only telcos that average above four out of five on these user-review websites.
What are Telstra Blue Tick phones?
In a country as large as Australia, coverage is a major consideration, especially if you live or work outside of the major metro areas. Telstra’s network is renowned for its coverage reach, but if you are at the edges of this coverage area you may need a specific phone model to get a good signal.
The Telstra Blue Tick is a way for Telstra to signify which handsets are superior for coverage based on its own internal testing. Not every phone is eligible, so this list is important if you feel like you need that boost in signal.
Samsung phones are generally the most popular Blue Tick handsets, mostly because the Apple iPhones don't earn the Blue Tick signification.
How fast is the Telstra mobile network?
We’ve mentioned several times that Telstra has the fastest mobile network in Australia, but just how fast is it?
The core of the Telstra network is known as the 4GX network and with the right device used in the right location, the network is capable of speeds up to 2Gbps (20 times faster than the NBN).
In the real-world Telstra says its network will deliver speeds up to 300Mbps. This is fast enough to download a full-length HD movie from iTunes in just over two minutes.
You also may have heard about a little thing called 5G.
This is the next big leap in mobile network technologies and Telstra is already well on its way to deliver a 5G service to its customers. In the first phases of the 5G rollout, the network won’t be faster than the 4GX network, but it should deliver faster speeds more reliably. We have lots more about 5G in our guide.
Why is Telstra Mobile so expensive?
This is a great question, but we can only speculate on the answer. A key part of the equation comes down to how much Telstra invests in its network. It costs billions of dollars to develop and maintain a nationwide mobile network, and with Telstra, you are paying for access to the largest and fastest.
Telstra also runs one of the largest customer support teams in the mobile industry, and this costs money, too. You can call and chat to a support rep at all hours of the day, which is a service many of the smaller providers can’t replicate. There are Telstra Stores across Australia too, giving you a place to go and seek help when you need it.
And lastly, it is probably just simple economics. Telstra, as a business, will charge as much as the market will bear. Despite being the most expensive service provider, Telstra maintains the largest share of customers. Until these customers flock to cheaper service providers, Telstra will keep its prices where they are.
Telstra mobile plans
Below is a list of the popular Telstra mobile plans.