Is it cheaper to buy an iPhone outright with a SIM-only plan?

Summary: Tech types sing the virtues of buying iPhones outright and grabbing a SIM card from your favourite telco, but is it actually cheaper in the long run to buy yours this way?

By |

Whether it is cheaper to buy a phone outright or on a plan is a question we are asked a lot. There used to be a strong argument in favour of an outright purchase a few years ago. But as our favourite phones become more expensive, the savings seemed to have dwindled or disappeared.

Is this true for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus? Is it better to grab one through at an Apple store and choose a cheap SIM Only plan? Or, are the telcos battling for your business with unbeatable handset pricing?

There’s only one way to find out. Bust out the calculators!

To make fair comparisons, we’ll include:

  • iPhone 6s 64GB & iPhone 6s Plus 64GB
  • Plans with unlimited calls and SMS
  • 3GB data or more

Full the comparison, we'll list a phone price and plan price separately. For the telcos, the phone price is the monthly handset repayment multiplied by 24 months.

Telco

iPhone 6s 64GB handset cost

iPhone 6s Plus 64GB handset cost

Plan cost per month and incl. data

Min total cost over 24 months
(iPhone 6s)

Min total cost over 24 months
(iPhone 6s Plus)

Telstra

$624

$768

$3695
(6GB)

$2832

$3048

See the plans

Optus

$552

$840

$60
(3GB)

$2064

$2280

See the plans

Vodafone

$552

$936

$60
(3GB)

$2064

$2376

See the plans

Virgin Mobile

$624

$912

$60
(4GB)

$1992

$2352

See the plans

Amaysim

$1229

$1379

$39.90
(5GB)

$2186

$2456

See the plans

AlDI Mobile

$1229

$1379

$45
(4.5GB)

$2309

$2459

See the plans

TPG

$1229

$1379

$39.99
(5GB)

$2198

$2348

See the plans

Boost Mobile

$1229

$1379

$40
(3GB)

$2189

$2339

See the plans

Jeenee Mobile

$1229

$1379

$35
(3GB)

$2069

$2219

See the plans

As you can see above, for most of the plans in this comparison there is $100 or more to save by choosing a telco plan over an outright purchase and a SIM Only plan. The difference between the two options is least when the SIM Only plan costs $40 per month — which gives you a good indication of how much of the phone cost is built into the telco plans.

Let’s add in a few more SIM Only plans for consideration, but this time we’ll bend the rules and show lower prices. These plans all have at least 500 calling minutes and 1.5GB data.

Telco

iPhone 6s 64GB handset cost

iPhone 6s Plus 64GB handset cost

Plan cost per month

Min total cost over 24 months
(iPhone 6s)

Min total cost over 24 months
(iPhone 6s Plus)

Telstra

$792

$1104

$70
(2.5GB)

$2472

$2784

See the plans

Optus

$552

$840

$60
(3GB)

$2064

$2280

See the plans

Vodafone

$552

$936

$60
(3GB)

$2064

$2376

See the plans

Virgin Mobile

$720

$960

$50
(2GB)

$1920

$2160

See the plans

Amaysim

$1229

$1379

$24.90
(1.5GB)

$1826

$1976

See the plans

Vaya

$1229

$1379

$20
(1.5GB)

$1709

$1859

See the plans

Think Mobile

$1229

$1379

$32.95
(2GB)

$2019

$2169

See the plans

Spintel

$1229

$1379

$27 
(2GB)

$1877

$2027

See the plans

If you’re prepared to choose a lower-cost, lower-value SIM Only plan, the maths leans in favour of an outright purchase. Vaya plans meet the criteria and are very cheap over the 24 months. Amaysim and Spintel both have great plans under $30, and you'll save about $160 over the comparable plans from Optus and Virgin.

But, you'll miss out on a bunch of great plan benefits too. Both Optus and Virgin include international calls in plans, Virgin has Data Rollover and Optus plans can be combined into a Data Pool. Vodafone has similar features, plus its popular $5 international roaming for travellers.

The savings are there for low-to-medium data users, but does the cost difference offset the absence of great plan benefits? Is the freedom to switch carriers and plans with SIM Only plans worth more than all the savings added up? That'll be up to you to decide.

One thing is certain, the days when there was a considerable difference in price are long gone -- especially with an expensive phone model like the iPhone 6s.

Feature Image:
Yeamake / Shutterstock.com


Tagged:


News by Topic

Phone Reviews

Featured

Vaya now offer a Price Beat Guarantee

Vaya now offer a Price Beat Guarantee

MVNO Vaya vows to match any price in the telco market, and will give customers...

Vodafone MyMix prepaid offers unrivalled flexibility

Vodafone MyMix prepaid offers unrivalled flexibility

Vodafone prepaid customer will find they have new options when they recharge...

HTC 10 Finally Debuts - Is Not Called the M10, or One M10

HTC 10 Finally Debuts - Is Not Called the M10, or One M10

The HTC 10 looks like a great device, but the word is still out on how well its...

 

Related News

​What We Know About the Upcoming Apple Event – A Quick Summary

​What We Know About the Upcoming Apple Event – A Quick Summary

A 4 inch iPhone, the iPad 3 Air, and no shiny & new Apple Watch2

Is a New 4 Inch iPhone on the Horizon?

Is a New 4 Inch iPhone on the Horizon?

Rumours have surfaced suggesting a new 4-inch iPhone coming in March or April.

2 Biggest Disappointments of This Year’s iPhone 6s Announcement

2 Biggest Disappointments of This Year’s iPhone 6s Announcement

The retina display is looking a little dated, and Zoolander would have...

Apple Reportedly Actively Avoiding New BendGate Scandal

Apple Reportedly Actively Avoiding New BendGate Scandal

A reportedly legitimate iPhone 6s casing has surfaced, with upgrades to...

Are 16GB iPhones finally dead? The rumours begin

Are 16GB iPhones finally dead? The rumours begin

Global research company Trendforce believes there is a strong chance Apple will...

Expand your iPhone’s storage & watch restricted video file types with this

Expand your iPhone’s storage & watch restricted video file types with this

The SanDisk iXpand is a USB key for iOS. It lets you watch unsupported .avi, ...

 

Guides

Which iPhone is best for you?

Which iPhone is best for you?

Apple's iPhone now comes in a range of sizes, a variety of storage options and...

What you need to do before selling an iPhone

What you need to do before selling an iPhone

If history repeats itself, your precious iPhone will drop in value the moment...

Can you save money with an iPhone alternative?

Can you save money with an iPhone alternative?

Apple's iPhone may be the most well-known smartphone, but it is not your only...

Smartphone Insurance: what you need to know

Smartphone Insurance: what you need to know

All Aussie telcos offer smartphone insurance, but do you really need it? This...

Best no-nonsense smartphones

Best no-nonsense smartphones

Not all phones come with heart-rate monitors and eye-tracking software. Some of...

Phone frozen? How to reset an unresponsive iPhone

Phone frozen? How to reset an unresponsive iPhone

iPhone not responding? There are a bunch of ways you can fix it yourself,...

 

Compare phones and plans from the following carriers...

PERSONAL

Optus Mobile Phone Plans Vaya Mobile Phone Plans Boost Mobile Mobile Phone Plans TPG Mobile Phone Plans Think Mobile Mobile Phone Plans Exetel Mobile Phone Plans
Vodafone Mobile Phone Plans ALDI mobile Mobile Phone Plans Lebara Mobile Mobile Phone Plans Coles Mobile Phone Plans Hello Mobile Mobile Phone Plans OVO Mobile Phone Plans
Virgin Mobile Mobile Phone Plans Woolworths Mobile Phone Plans Dodo Mobile Phone Plans iiNet Mobile Phone Plans SpinTel Mobile Phone Plans MeU Mobile Mobile Phone Plans
amaysim Mobile Phone Plans Kogan Mobile Mobile Phone Plans Yomojo Mobile Phone Plans CMOBILE Mobile Phone Plans gotalk Mobile Phone Plans Bendigo Bank Telco Mobile Phone Plans
Telstra Mobile Phone Plans Jeenee Mobile Mobile Phone Plans TeleChoice Mobile Phone Plans

BUSINESS

Optus Business Mobile Phone Plans Telstra Business Mobile Phone Plans Vodafone Business Mobile Phone Plans
 

Mobile Deals

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge - compare plans & prices

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge - compare plans & prices

Check out plans & prices for the new Samsung Galaxy S7 & S7 edge here including any special promotions being offered...

Lebara's 50% Off + Other Bonus Offers

Lebara's 50% Off + Other Bonus Offers

Grab a Lebara Prepaid SIM with 50% off your first recharge plus bonus data or bonus international minutes for SIMs purchased online

NEW Pennywise Plan from Jeenee Mobile

NEW Pennywise Plan from Jeenee Mobile

Want 1.8GB data for $18? You can with Jeenee Mobile's NEW Pennywise plan, but hurry it's available for a limited time only.

Bonus Data Offers

Bonus Data Offers

Online Exclusive - switch to Virgin mobile for bonus data, data rollover plus Virgin have partnered with Guvera Music to offer 1GB extra data with Guvera Data Rewards