iPhone 13: Should you buy it outright or on a mobile plan?

Posted: 17 September 2021 10:48 am
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While buying the device outright might be cheaper in the long run, some people might benefit more from buying it on a plan.

The new iPhone 13 has officially launched and you might be anxiously waiting to get your hands on Apple's latest phone.

But the choice remains: Should you spend all your dollars in one go? Or pair it with a mobile plan and split your costs over time?

We've broken down both sides of the argument for you to figure out which is cheaper, and which is better.

Buying the iPhone 13 outright

The short answer is: It will always be cheaper to buy a new phone outright because you won't be tied to a single provider for 12, 24 or 36 months.

The only thing you might miss out on is any discounts or freebies that providers like to include with a phone plan.

That being said, owning your phone from the get-go means you can shop around for the cheapest mobile plan whenever you want, as often as you want.

Depending on which iPhone 13 you're after, this is how much you'll be spending in the one transaction if you choose to buy outright:

Apple iPhone 13 128GB$1,349
Apple iPhone 13 256GB$1,519
Apple iPhone 13 512GB$1,869
Apple iPhone 13 Mini 128GB$1,199
Apple iPhone 13 Mini 256GB$1,369
Apple iPhone 13 Mini 512GB$1,719
Apple iPhone 13 Pro 128GB$1,699
Apple iPhone 13 Pro 256GB$1,869
Apple iPhone 13 Pro 512GB$2,219
Apple iPhone 13 Pro 1TB$2,569
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max 256GB$1,849
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max 512GB$2,019
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max 512GB$2,369
Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max 1TB$2,719

But a word of caution: Buying outright may not be the best decision for you if:

  • It will cause you any financial strain.
  • It means parting with money that could be used for other important things.
  • You have to dip into your savings which might cause you some setbacks.

Buying the iPhone outright might mean it's cheaper overall, but it still comes at a rather large cost to you in the moment.

Buying the iPhone 13 on a plan

If whipping out anywhere between $1,199 and $2,719 seems like a pretty big expense right now, you could always get the new iPhone 13 on a plan from Telstra, Optus or Vodafone.

By getting it on a plan from a provider, the cost of the iPhone 13 gets split into repayment periods of 12, 24 or 36 months – whichever one you choose.

The good news is that providers don't lock you into contracts anymore so you could always leave whenever you want by paying off the remaining cost of your device.

Which iPhone 13 plan should I get?

You have the choice between Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, but the real decision comes down to whether you have a preference in price, coverage or perks.

To compare iPhone 13 plans yourself from all 3 telcos, click here.

I want the cheapest price for an iPhone 13

Vodafone offers the cheapest iPhone 13 plan, starting at $77.47 a month over 36 months. You'll get the iPhone 13 128GB phone bundled with Vodafone's 40GB plan for this price.

If you're happy to pay a little more for a cheaper repayment period, you could also pay:

  • $96.20 a month over 24 months
  • $152.41 a month over 12 months

I want decent coverage with my iPhone 13

If you're sick of your phone reception dropping out, Telstra is your best bet.

With the widest 4G coverage in Australia reaching 99.5% of the population, those in rural and regional areas will most likely need Telstra too.

Telstra's plan prices are a tad higher than Vodafone's. Getting the iPhone 13 128GB model paired with Telstra's cheapest plan means you'll be paying:

  • $92.47 a month over 36 months
  • $111.20 a month over 24 months
  • $167.41 a month over 12 months

I want bonus plan features included with my iPhone 13

We all love a freebie so if you'd like some handy features to use with your new phone, we think Optus takes the cake.

English Premier League lovers will especially love access to Optus Sport.

The cheapest you'll pay for the iPhone 13 (128GB) will be $82.46 over 36 months. This is right in the middle of costs compared to Telstra and Vodafone.

Optus also comes with:

  • 5G network access across all its post-paid plans.
  • No excess charges on data, so you'll never pay extra for going over your data limit (but you'll get your mobile Internet speed slowed down to 1.5Mbps).
  • Data sharing across eligible plans under the same account.

While you're allowed to leave these providers before your repayment period is up, there is a downside to signing up to a phone on a plan.

The reality is that the majority of plans offered with an iPhone 13 won't be the cheapest or most competitive offers around. Over time, you'll end up paying more than you would if you purchased outright.

The bottom line

If a big one-time purchase is fine for you, then buying the iPhone 13 outright is definitely the cheaper option.

However, if you're uncomfortable about spending all your big bucks at once, then purchasing the iPhone 13 on a plan isn't the worst decision in the world.

It all depends on your own personal circumstances.

What cheaper plans could I get with the iPhone 13?

If you're buying outright, you might as well save money on a cheaper mobile plan instead.

Here are a few hot offers available this month:

  • Circles.Life 100GB for $28 (per month for the first 6 months, $38 per month after that). This is a Finder favourite thanks to big data at a low cost.
  • felix unlimited data for $17.50 (a month for the first 3 months, $35 a month after that). If 100GB isn't enough, felix comes with no data limit but its mobile speed only goes as fast as 20Mbps.
  • ALDImobile 40GB for $35. This plan will get you access to Telstra's wholesale 3G/4G network for non-Telstra prices.

Compare iPhone 13 plans below

You can switch between the tabs depending on which model you're after.

Looking for more mobile deals? Compare SIM-only plans to find a provider that fits your price and data needs better.

Latest mobile plan deals on Finder

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