felix Mobile increases its “unlimited” speeds – but how fast is it?

Posted: 23 December 2020 10:52 am
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Is felix Mobile's new offering of 20Mbps instead of 5Mbps on its unlimited mobile data plan actually a good deal?

felix Mobile has unexpectedly upped the ante in the unlimited data mobile plans space, with a jump from 5Mbps to 20Mbps for its only mobile plan. Here's what you can expect from those kinds of speeds and how it compares to other unlimited deals you could pay for.

What's felix again?

When TPG spin-off brand felix Mobile launched in Australia, it did so with two key claims to make it stand out from the market.

Firstly, it's a very "green" telco, with a claim of being a 100% carbon-neutral provider. For every month a consumer is with felix Mobile, it will plant a tree on your behalf, which is a nice added extra too.

Secondly, it launched as one of the few non-carrier providers (sort of) to offer unlimited data on its single mobile plan. I say "sort of", because it's owned by TPG Telecom, which owns Vodafone, one of Australia's three carrier networks. However, deals like that are rare in the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) space.

The catch was that felix Mobile plans would never go above 5Mbps at any time. That meant that they were effectively limited to standard definition streaming unless you were in a particularly good coverage area, and some video conferencing apps may have struggled to keep up.

Has the price changed?

There's no change there, with felix's only mobile plan costing $35 per month, with unlimited standard calls and texts within Australia, plus what it calls "Endless" data capped at 20Mbps per month.

Name Product Features Data Price
  • Get the 1st month free then $35/mth. Use code FLX9. For use in Aus. New customers only. T&Cs apply. Ends 03 December 2021
  • Unlimited standard national calls & texts
Unlimited data
Speeds limited to 20Mbps
$35
per month
Unlimited data
Speeds limited to 20Mbps

$35
per month
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Want to know more? We've broken down what felix Mobile has to offer. See felix's "unlimited" mobile plan here.

How does felix Mobile's plan compare to other unlimited plans?

To compare, let's look at the cheapest "unlimited" plan from the providers that currently offer "unlimited" data mobile plans.

ProviderPlan cost per monthData quotaSpeed cap
felix Mobile$35N/A20Mbps
Vodafone SIM-Only Lite Plan$3550GB2Mbps
Telstra Small SIM-Only$5540GB1.5Mbps
Optus Small Optus Choice Plan$3910GB1.5Mbps

In value terms, it's pretty much a race between felix Mobile and Vodafone. Optus is a recent adoptee of "unlimited" data plans, and in a straight line data fight it doesn't compare well, although you do get some extras such as Optus Sport that felix Mobile doesn't offer. Telstra's lowest-cost plan is the priciest in this race, and it's also the only Telstra SIM-only plan to specifically not include 5G access, although that's a lesser concern if you're only talking 20Mbps speeds or lower.

Vodafone's deal could be better for you if you don't typically use more than 50GB in a given month because it's on the same network as felix, but you'd get access to full speeds with that 50GB. With felix Mobile, you're never going to punch above 20Mbps no matter what.

Where felix Mobile may make sense is if you do use more data than that in a month. You could hotspot out to multiple devices, but the limits of that 20Mbps cap are going to lead to some pretty slow experiences in many cases if you do.

What can I do with 20Mbps that I couldn't with 5Mbps?

For many mobile data uses such as simple social media, email checking and many web pages, the differences in speed may well be nothing between 5Mbps and 20Mbps, although it's worthwhile realising that either speed is a maximum plan speed. In a poor reception area, or one where the network is congested, you could still get under 2Mbps speeds on a felix Mobile plan.

The big differences for users are likely to hit in two areas. Firstly, if you're likely to use your felix Mobile SIM in your phone as a personal hotspot, there's some scope to use it for more than one device with 20Mbps. felix Mobile does permit mobile tethering/hotspot usage, although it recommends using it with a single device, noting that:

If multiple devices are running together, activities like videos, websites and content may be slower to load and may buffer, or default to SD quality.

Video is the other area where a jump to 20Mbps could have a big effect on your mobile data experience. Taking Netflix's minimum speed recommendations, for example, 5Mbps is what it recommends for HD quality video, but that's the top tier of felix Mobile's old plan speeds. 20Mbps doesn't quite take you into Ultra HD territory – Netflix recommends a minimum of 25Mbps for that – but it should much more comfortably handle Full HD.

That bandwidth boost also benefits other video uses, such as video conferencing apps if you're using them with the felix Mobile SIM as your data connection. While faster data rates can't do anything to improve the quality of a webcam, slower speeds can lead to glitchy video or broken audio streams, making video calls and conferences an exercise in frustration.

How does "unlimited" data work in Australia?

The big difference between felix Mobile's unlimited deal and the kinds of "endless data" deals that you see from the likes of Telstra, Optus and Vodafone these days is in the area of speed. The plans sold by the big telcos as "endless data" all typically come with a data quota that you can use at the "full speeds" available to you. On the 4G network, these "full speeds" should average at around 50Mbps.

After you hit that data cap though, your speed gets slowed down. For Telstra and Optus it's limited to just 1.5Mbps, while Vodafone uses a sliding scale depending on your monthly spend. Vodafone's highest tier plan actually outdoes felix Mobile here with capped speeds of 25Mbps, although that's a much more pricey offering.

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