WE CAN’T go anywhere without our mobile phone in hand and it’s no wonder given there are more than 27 million devices in use nationally.
Every month we munch through an average of 9.1 gigabytes per person – some of us don’t even look up from our screens when we’re walking down the street.
But the prices of phone deals vary so much, making it important to examine exactly what costs we are paying.
These are five simple ways consumers can minimise their phone costs.
1. TRADE OR CASH IN OLD PHONES
Old devices – working or not working – are often worth a decent chunk of money.
Mobile Monster sells and trades in phones in return for cash.
Chief executive officer Tim Duggal said Australians could have old devices sitting in their drawers that were worth at least a few hundred dollars each.
“When the new iPhone 11 came out we had an influx of between 150 and 200 devices a day from the public selling their old phones,” he said.
Other mobile sites where consumers can sell their unused or old devices include eBay and Gumtree.
Mr Duggal said an iPhone 7 128GB that was in working order was worth $300, while an iPhone X 64GB in good nick was worth $610.
For phones to be in “working order” they must turn on and function as normal.
The larger telcos – Telstra, Optus and Vodafone – all offer deals where you can trade in old devices – check which ones this applies to – and receive a credit.
2. CONSIDER SIM-ONLY DEALS
These deals are the cheapest on the market, benefiting consumers who already have their own devices.
Moose Mobile chief executive officer Dean Lwin said it was “a great way to save money” without having the burden of paying off a device.
“For the vast majority of Australians, if you are paying any more than $25 a month on a SIM-only deal then you’re paying too much,” he said.
“If you don’t use a lot of data, say just a few gigs each month, you should be paying less than $15 per month.”
Moose runs on the Optus network and has more than 30,000 customers. It only offers SIM-only deals.
Mr Lwin said for a phone contract including a device “you would expect to pay anything from $80 to $150 per month”.
“Going on a plan can cost literally thousands of dollars over the contract term,” he said.
Telco comparison website WhistleOut found some retailers are offering plans that start at 10GB for $19.95 for 30 days.
3. NO-LOCK IN CONTRACTS
Telcos are fiercely competitive and some have even rolled out offers where customers could try before they buy and sign up to a few free months.
Mr Lwin said: “taking the no-lock in contract option is almost always the way to go as you have flexibility to move if your circumstances change or if the pricing improves”.
“You’re ready to take advantage of it,” he said.
Telco giant Vodafone has nearly six million customers and rolled out no-lock in contracts in 2017.
Vodafone chief commercial officer Ben McIntosh said it allowed customers to pay off a device separately while choosing a phone deal that included talk, text and data.
“It provides the freedom to pay off your device on your own terms or easily move up or down plans as your usage habits change,” he said.
“No nasty break fees apply if you need to terminate the plan.”
As phone plan prices continue to become more competitive, this could be a good option for many phone users.
4. USE WI-FI WHEN YOU CAN
Chewing through data could result in extra costs if customers don’t pay attention.
Telcos must alert customers once they reach 50, 85 and 100 per cent of their monthly data allowance.
Australian Communications Consumer Action Network’s spokeswoman, Melyssa Troy, said: “the number one rule for saving data on your mobile phone is to connect to Wi-Fi where possible”.
“However, remember that public Wi-Fi is generally not secure, so shouldn’t be used for things like online banking,” she said.
Ms Troy said another simple trick was changing “your video settings in apps like Facebook and Instagram so that videos do not automatically start playing as you scroll”.
5. CHOOSE DEVICES WISELY
While it’s easy to get sucked into wanting the newest and shiniest device, WhistleOut spokesman Kenny McGilvary said consumers should “bend the idea of ‘latest handsets’”.
“Look at recent models from Oppo, Motorola or Realme,” he said.
“With Apple and Samsung you pay a big premium for brand and there are savings for those who avoid the lure of the big brands.”
He said for mobile phone lovers wanting to get their hands on the latest iPhone 11 Pro, buying the handset outright and then signing up to a SIM-only deal was a great option.
“The cheapest iPhone 11 Pro plan with a minimum of 10GB data we have on site now is Vodafone’s $45 Red Plus plan with 36m handset repayments, costing $3368 over 36 months,” Mr McGilvary said.
“Or you can buy outright from Apple for $1749 and get the Circles. Life 20GB plan and save $971.88 over 36 months.
“Then you also have the flexibility to take advantage of other SIM plans whenever they come onto the market.”