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With Optus and Vodafone losing customers to Telstra and the arrival of the iPhone 6 there is a price war brewing in telco land. As the dust settles on the opening barrage we'll sift through the rubble and see if there are any good deals to be had.

Early termination fee waivers

Telstra followed hot on the heels of Optus to give $200 worth of credit to cover early termination fees with your existing provider. You won't miss out if you choose to stay with your current provider either. Optus and Telstra are both waiving the last three months of your termination fee if you re-sign. Unfortunately, as you wave goodbye to your old early termination fee you'll be welcoming a new one to come and stay. To access the partial waiver, both telcos require you to sign on to a new 24 month deal with sizable termination fees.

Telco tip: Try and avoid long term contracts that lock you in with early termination fees. As Lifehacker found you can save up to $450 if you can afford to buy an iPhone 6 outright and go with a flexible prepaid or month-to-month offer, plus you're free to move around and find a better offer.

Handset trade-in

Telco offers

Again Optus and Telstra are in lock step here. Both are offering up to $250 to trade in your old phone. How much you get back will depend on the model and condition. Optus lists trade values on its website. Here is how much you'll make by trading last year's model phones in good condition – HTC One: $170, Samsung Galaxy S4: $200, Apple iPhone 5s 16GB: $340. Optus have confirmed you can get more than the advertised 'up to $250' on the iPhone 5s.

You'll need to go to a Telstra store for a trade-in quote. To give you an idea of the price Telstra says:

"We have a range of devices our customers can trade-in for between $200 and $250, including the iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, HTCOne (M8), Samsung GALAXY Note and S5, and the Sony Xperia Z2".

Almost all these models came out in the last year and, even used, sell for at least twice as much, so a Telstra trade might not be the best deal.

Telco tip: If you want to get the best price for your used phone look at selling it on e-Bay. It's more work, but you can usually make at least $100 extra on your device compared to a telco trade-in. ACCAN compared the price for a functioning iPhone 4 16GB in good condition at the Apple Store, Optus and e-Bay.

Apple store Optus e-Bay
$80 $90 $205*

Picking a plan

Finding the right plan can be a bit of a lucky dip. ACCAN research found that only half of us actually use all of our included value. The best way to find the right plan is to compare your existing usage with the plans on offer. Telcos are required to make current usage information available; usually you can find it by logging into your account on the telco's website. Failing that there are a few rules of thumb -in 2013 the average mobile phone owner in Australia made about 230 minutes worth of calls and used about 500MB of data per month. But watch out - if you're an early adopter you're likely to use more than these averages.

Telco tip: If you're signing onto a 12-24 month contract remember your usage is likely to increase over time. Smartphone data usage is expected to grow 60% each year for the next three years. So if you're using around 1GB a month today, you may find you use over 2.5GB by the time your contract is up. Consumers on 4G also tend to use 50% more data, so if you're upgrading to a 4G capable phone factor this in.


In the ACCAN office we like to think we're pretty savvy consumers, but when a shiny new device like the iPhone 6 comes out we can become putty in the telcos' hands. So if you're going to succumb to that 'new phone feeling' try to avoid long term contracts, find a plan that matches your usage now and gives you room to move.

*Based on the median sale price of an Apple iPhone 4 16GB in the past 14 days.

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