The best mobile plans for entertainment
If your smartphone is your gateway to fun, choose a plan that lets you make the most of it.
Picking a mobile plan that meets your entertainment needs can be tricky. The types of entertainment you can enjoy on your smartphone vary, and that can change the value equation. If you're a music addict, your needs will be different to someone addicted to streaming video.
That said, there’s one core factor that impacts on mobile plans and entertainment: data inclusions. Whether your passion is for epic online multiplayer games, the latest Netflix original drama season or streaming music wherever you are, you’re going to be burning up data by the gigabyte.
As such, the best plans to maximise your entertainment needs will typically be those with big chunky data allowances, because that would cover just about any need.
How much data? That will vary from user to user, but as a rough guide, here's what you could expect to use across a variety of mobile entertainment pursuits:
|Activity||Typical data usage (hourly)|
|Video streaming||1GB/hour (SD) 3GB/hour (HD) 7GB/hour (UltraHD)|
Data's not the only consideration when choosing the best plans, however. So we’ve broken out our selections across different entertainment types.
Best plans for video streaming
Optus $120 plan
Jeenee Mobile 30GB plan
Telstra Go Mobile Plus XXXL
Optus has taken something of a lead when it comes to video streaming, with a deal that either bundles in quota-free Netflix, Stan and ABC iView streaming, or allows you to pay $10/month for that inclusion. You’re limited to SD streaming only and only on a registered device, which means you can’t connect or cast up to a bigger TV. Despite that, if you want to watch Netflix on the go, it’s a solid option.
Your other choices in this space largely revolve around high-capacity plans, although there you’ll rapidly hit the wall in terms of streaming video, because it’s so very data intensive. If you’ve got patience and you’re happy with SD streaming, Jeenee’s mammoth plans, which operate on 3G only, could be a good budget-centric match. Telstra hits the other end of that logical scale, because while its high-end Go Mobile Plus XXXL plan attracts a high price, it does so with full access to the carrier’s 4GX network, which offers the best carrier speeds in the country by a significant margin.
Your best bet if you do want truly mobile entertainment is to take advantage of the recent introduction of offline Netflix playback to preload shows onto your device. The recently launched Amazon Prime Video also supports this feature, and if you buy movies from Google Play or Apple iTunes you can always preload them onto a mobile device for playback purposes.
Best plans for sports streaming
Your choice of sports code will probably determine which mobile plan deal best suits your needs, because your included access is what’s critical here. There are plenty of players in the online streaming sports space, but only a handful that tie directly into mobile plans.
Telstra has longstanding deals with both the AFL and NRL that includes access to online streaming passes for eligible Telstra customers, as well as more recent deals with Netball Australia and the National Basketball League.
Optus has been active in this area as well, most notably gobbling up the streaming rights for the English Premier League as the jewel in the crown of its Optus Sport offering. Optus Sport also includes cricket coverage if that’s your code of choice.
It’s not just the big players who have an interest in sports, however. From launch, OVO Mobile has been closely associated with V8 Supercars, but it has also added Gymnastics Australia and Drag Racing to its flexible lineup of sports offerings.
Best plans for music streaming
Telstra offers 6-month Apple Music subscriptions with its 24-month contract phone plans covering both quota free streaming for music only but not video, and the subscription cost. That’s a 71.94 value at current prices, not including data.
Optus’ take on music streaming is a little different. It doesn’t offer any free subscriptions, but instead makes a wide variety of music streaming services available with no hit to your data quota. So if you listen via Spotify, IHeartRadio, Google Play Music or Pandora, you can do so with no data bill to pay. Optus subsidiary Virgin Mobile also offers the same deal for its contract customers.
Music streaming is an area where Vodafone used to be strong, with the option of a Spotify subscription with most 24-month contract plans, but that’s a deal that has expired, with the telco instead focusing on its modular plans around data and international calling inclusions.
Best plans for gaming
Mobile gaming as a category makes millions of dollars, as the makers of everything from Angry Birds to Pokémon Go could tell you, but to date there’s not a lot of differentiation in mobile plans to cater to the needs of mobile gamers.
Some carriers such as Telstra will allow you to add Google Play purchases including games to your Telstra account, but that’s about as far as it goes for games-specific mobile deals.
This means yet again that the key element you should concentrate on is data. Whether you like free-to-play ad supported games, or augmented reality games that need GPS tracking, mobile gaming can chew through a surprising quantity of data.
One option here would be to opt for a data-only SIM with a large quota allowance, such as Vaya's recently revamped data-only SIM plans that come with as much as 70GB of data per month.