Telstra Mobile Plans Review

Telstra is Australia's fastest and most popular mobile network but is it right for you?
Telstra logo
Overall Rating 4.5 out of 5
Australia's fastest mobile network
Expansive customer support
Premium service comes at a premium price

Overview

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 phone 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 and 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.

Best Telstra SIM Only Plan

Across the entire Telstra range of phone plans, we’d argue that this plan is currently the sweet spot for most customers. There are phone plans with more data, there are cheaper options, and you’ll need to bring your own phone, but this plan has everything you need at a price that won’t break the bank.

All of Telstra’s BYO Mobile Phone plans require you to sign a 12-month contract; there’s no month-to-month option. If you’d like to avoid a commitment, you can take a look at a prepaid plan, or check out our guide to the best SIM only plans for more options.

Best Telstra iPhone Plan

Did you know that one in four Aussie smartphone users owns an iPhone? We like Apple phones in Australia more than most other countries around the world.

Telstra ranges every supported iPhone model, including the iPhone XR and iPhone XS. For our money, the iPhone XR is the best choice in the market right now. It is the middle ground between having a new iPhone and not blowing your budget on the premium models.

Best Telstra Samsung Galaxy S10 Plan

iPhones may reign supreme in the Aussie smartphone market, but if you don’t want to pay the Apple premium, Samsung Galaxy S10 is your best bet. Samsung has long been the leader when it comes to smartphone innovation, and the Galaxy S10 is packed with some truly bleeding edge tech, like its ‘punch-hole’ front-facing camera built into the screen, a fingerprint scanner that also sits beneath the display and reverse wireless charging that lets you charge other devices using the Galaxy S10.

You’ll also find that Samsung’s phones are a fair bit cheaper. You’ll save $10 or $20 per month choosing a Samsung model over an iPhone, which saves you hundreds of dollars without sacrificing quality.

Best Telstra Prepaid Plan

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 Max plan, which comes with 10GB of data. 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 cheaper options.

How we choose the best Telstra phone plans

Telstra’s product range covers all categories: phone plans, phone leasing plans, BYO phone plans, prepaid plans. When you factor in all of the different handsets available, the number of plan combinations is enormous.

To find our recommendations, we use our phone plan search engine to slice up the data and isolate the best value picks. Seriously, our plan finder tool is great — you should give it a go.

We don’t believe that bigger is always better, especially when you consider that a ‘bigger’ plan, packed with included data and bonus features, will always come with a bigger phone bill. We align our search criteria with what industry data suggests people are using. For example, we search for plans with 10GB of data because this caters for average monthly data usage in Australia (8GB) plus a small buffer.

There are always trade-offs to make when sifting through the different plan combinations, and we tend to lean towards finding the cheapest plan that meets our criteria.

How to unlock Telstra mobile phones

All phones bought on a postpaid phone plan (a standard 24-month contract) or a leasing plan contract are sold unlocked. You don’t need to do anything to use these phones on different networks, just switch out the SIM cards and away you go.

Phones bought with prepaid SIM cards are different, and you will need to unlock these phones before you can use a competitor’s service. Doing this takes a bit of time and may require you to pay a fee.

Before you do anything, you need to know your phones IMEI number. You can find this in your phone’s settings menu (look for the ‘About Phone’ menu on Android, or the ‘General’ tab on an iPhone), or you can dial *#06# (asterisk, hash, zero, six, hash – then hit dial) and write down the number that appears on the screen.

You then need to call Telstra on 13 22 00 and follow the prompts.

Telstra charges a fee depending on how long you have owned the phone.

  • Under 6 months = $80
  • Between 6 and 24 months = $25
  • Over 2 years = free
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Can I call overseas on Telstra Mobile?

Yes, you can always call overseas numbers with a Telstra service, but the cost will vary depending on your plan and the country you are trying to call or SMS.

A number of Telstra plans include calls and messages to overseas numbers. Typically these are for calls to popular destinations like the UK, US, New Zealand, China and countries in Western Europe.

Why is Telstra Mobile so expensive?

This is a great question and one which we can only speculate 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.

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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 the faster speeds more reliably.

What is a Telstra Mobile Lease Plan?

For well over a decade, Australians have bought new phones on the same 24-month plans. The prices and inclusions have changed, but the general terms and conditions have remained fairly consistent.

Telstra Lease plans offer an alternative to these standard phone contracts. The plans are cheaper per month (usually $10 cheaper) and customers get the option to upgrade to a new phone after 12 months.

If you don’t upgrade before the end of the two-year lease contract, you return your phone at the end of the period. If you’d prefer to keep the phone, you can choose to pay a balloon payment to cover the difference and own the phone outright.

The lease plans are pitched at people who want to upgrade their phones each year, but the maths don’t add up for us.

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.

Telstra’s 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.