It wasn’t all that long ago that students were expected to make do with less of everything as a trade-off for a life devoted almost entirely to study. But times change, and technology changes even faster. Now, no matter what you’re studying, you need to be able to keep in touch with your fellow students and the wider world without stressing about paying a fortune to do so.
The age of the cheap mobile phone — and cheap mobile plans — has completely changed student life very much for the better. In times not that long ago (but which may as well be in the dark ages when viewed from today), keeping in touch with your family, friends and organisations depended on you having access to a phone — any phone. Living in a share house or a dorm you might have had limits on how much you can use the phone, or had no phone at all (in which case, the local payphone was your friend!).
Mobile Guide for Students
Mobile phones solved the problem — but they were not only prohibitively expensive to use as an everyday phone, they were also quite hard to get a plan for in the first place. It was a mess of credit checks, high call charges and long, long contracts. Thankfully, the world’s moved on from those dark days, and now as a student you’ve got a wealth of choices when it comes to finding yourself a mobile plan that does what you need and doesn’t break the bank.
Of course, you’ll need a suitable phone to use with any student mobile plan you might choose, and here’s the key tip — do not get a phone on a plan. There was a time when mobile phones were heavily subsidised by providers, so that agreeing to sign up for a two-year contract effectively got you a free phone handset. Sadly, that’s a disappearing thing — though you will still find some cheaper and/or older phones heavily subsidised (or even appearing to be “free”), by choosing those options you’re really cutting yourself off from the very best value mobile plans, and getting yourself locked in to a long-term contract with a single provider.
Instead, look at buying a phone outright. That’s not as expensive as it sounds — especially if all you need is a phone to be a phone, rather than a portable internet browser. So-called “feature phones” (we’re not sure why, since the one thing they don’t have is lots of features) do a perfect job of the essentials without the distractions. Make calls, take calls, send and receive texts, and that’s pretty much it. You can pick phones like this up at supermarkets and phone provider outlets for as little as $39. Spend a little extra and you can get yourself a basic (and somewhat slow) Android smartphone and still come away with change from $100.
The thing to think about is whether you need smartphone features — namely, internet access for browsing and email, and the ability to run apps (which can be great for things like public transport schedules). If you think you’ll need more than calls and texts, get a smartphone — but be willing to accept that it mightn’t be the fastest smartphone on the block. Wouldn’t you rather have a slower phone and spend $1000 less than everyone else? Thought so!
However, what you’re looking for is an unlocked phone — one that isn’t tied electronically to the provider you buy it from. These are becoming more common at lower price points, but be sure to ask so you’re sure. Being able to pick and choose from a range of great value mobile plans is a lot harder when you’re locked down to a single mobile network.
So now that you’ve got your phone — or persuaded your brother to let you have the year-old iPhone he’s just replaced with the shiny new version — you’ll want to get hooked up with a plan that’ll let you talk and text and — if you’ve got a smartphone — do data things.
Here’s the five plans that we think hit the sweet spot for students. The goal: either unlimited calls or close to it, unlimited texts, and enough data to get stuff done without coming up short.
#1 – Amaysim Unlimited 1GB Mobile Plan
Amaysim has a phenomenal reputation for value that’s never wavered, and there’s arguably no better value at the budget end of the mobile plan market than what they have to offer. For a mere $10 per 28 days — so, $2.50/week — you get unlimited talk and text to all standard numbers in Australia — every landline, every mobile, as long as they’re on the Australian mainland. The plan comes with 1GB of data, which doesn’t sound like a lot but is, in fact, perfect for web browsing, email and apps. Amaysim uses the Optus 4G Plus network, so quality is first-rate.
#2 – Belong Small 1GB Plan
Keeping to their policy of easy to understand plans and great value for money, Belong has added a $10 /month plan to do battle with Amaysim — and it’s got a nice little bonus hiding away if you can stretch to a little extra each month. The $10 gets you the usual unlimited calls and texts within Australia, and 1GB of data is plenty to keep you connected to the essentials for the month. If you’ve got people you want to keep in touch with overseas, though, an extra $5/month gives you unlimited calls and texts to 36 international countries. Belong uses the mighty Telstra network, too, which is an added plus.
#3 – Moose Mobile 1.5GB Plan
The Moose is cutting loose with a special deal right now, giving new customers their first month on this plan for a massive 1c. Yes, one cent! You get unlimited calls (including calls to 13 and 1800 numbers), unlimited texts and MMS, and unlimited access to voicemail as well. After that first month, the regular price is $14/month — more than the Amaysim plan, but you get more data too, with 1.5GB giving you a nice bit of digital breathing room.
#4 – OVO Mobile Small Plan
They may call the plan “small” but there’s nothing tiny about what you get for your money. This one’s at a higher price point again — $19.95/month — but ups the data limit to 4GB. It includes unlimited talk and text, of course — but also adds something unique in the form of access to OVOPlay. This is a video streaming service that’s exclusive to OVO customers and lets you stream a variety of sport, radio and other stuff any time you like, wherever you are, with no data charges. If you like motorsport in particular, this could be the one for you!
#5 – Southern Phone Green 22 Plan
Based in regional Australia and putting all its profits back into local communities, Southern Phone has become hugely respected for its great value plans and excellent service. Their Green plans — powered by the Optus network — include a $12/month 1GB plan to compete at the low end. But the star here is the Green 22 plan, which is only $22/month for a massive 7GB of data! If you’ve been looking at the above plans and thinking, nope, I use a ton of data and need more, then this is the plan for you! The only caveat here is that it’s a 12-month contract (month to month is available for a little more, though).
There’s heaps of great value in SIM-only mobile plans out there to be had, as you can see from the sample above. The market really is yours to take advantage of these days, with deals everywhere and often no contracts to tie you down. Be sure to bring your own phone to the party and you’ll never have to worry about the cost of your student mobile service again.