HTC One (M9) pricing: Vodafone v Telstra v Optus v Virgin

Goes on sale in stores 24 March ahead of Samsung's Galaxy S6

Samsung and HTC unveiled flagship smartphones on the same day, but it is HTC which will have its One (M9) on Australian shop shelves first.

Australia’s three largest telcos will sell the smartphone as of Tuesday 24 March. Budding HTC owners can pre-order the smartphone from today.

Headlining features include a two-tone metal unibody, a high resolution 20 megapixel rear camera and stereo speakers developed in conjunction with Dolby digital. HTC claims the smartphone’s craftsmanship has been inspired by jewellery.

Country manager Ben Hodgson said HTC the One (M9) will be behind the company’s “resurgence” in 2015.

Pricing is high with the One (M9) retailing at $1099 outright. Most will buy the smartphone on a plan from Telstra, Optus, Virgin or Vodafone.

Read our first impressions of the HTC One (M9)

Who has the cheapest plan?

If you don’t use your phone for calls, texts or data much and you’re still keen on buying an HTC One (M9), the two carriers to check out are Virgin and Vodafone.

Vodafone is offering the One (M9) at a total of $53 per month over the standard 24 month contract. This works out to be a $23 charge for the phone on the carrier’s $30 plan, which offers $300 of credit and 300 megabytes of data.

Virgin will sell the One (M9) on its $30 plan — which has comparable inclusions to that offered by Vodafone — for a little extra at $29 per month. This makes Virgin $6 more expensive each month.

Winner: Vodafone

Which plan offers the most data?

Heavy users of the World Wide Web will want their plan to have a rich data allowance.

Telstra's superior network is let down by plans with far less data than the competition. The company's $130 plan comes with just 4GB of data every month.

For a limited time, Optus is upping the data allowance on its $80 and $100 plans. Buy the smartphone before 6 April and you’ll get a respective allowance of 5- and 8-gigabytes. Miss the threshold though and you’re better off investigating the offers from Virgin and Vodafone.

Vodafone’s top-tier $100 Red Plan comes with a 6GB data allowance per month, though the One (M9) is not free on the plan as it has a monthly handset repayment of $6 per month. This pushes the total monthly cost up to $106 a month.

Buy the One (M9) from Vodafone's website and you'll reap 1GB or 2GB extra per month on the company's $80 and $100 Red plans. This pushes the total data allowance to 5- and 8-gigabytes every month; however, the offer can only be redeemed online until 9 April.

Customers content with 6GB will want to go with Virgin though as the telco is offering the (M9) at no extra cost on its $100 plan.

Winner: Tie between Optus, Virgin and Vodafone

Who makes the better smartphone: Samsung or HTC?

Read more: Flagship showdown: Samsung Galaxy S6 series v HTC One (M9)

Best value for money - 24 months

Competition is stiff in this category. Optus has the most compelling proposition until 6 April with its $83 offering bundling a monthly data allowance of 5GB. Anyone who joins the telco thereafter will have to settle for 3GB a month.

From thereon Virgin proves good value for money on account of bundling unlimited calls and texts within Australia, 4GB of data per month and a $0 instalment for the One (M9) on its $80 plan.

Vodafone comparatively offers less data at 3GB on its $80 plan at a higher cost on account of an $8 per month handset instalment.

Winner: Virgin

Read more: Oppo's rotating N3 camera: innovation or gimmick?

Best value for money - 12 months

Buying smartphones on a 12 month contract makes absolute sense because it means you can upgrade when the next model comes out. Although all of the big telcos are vying intensely with their 24 month offerings, only one telco stands out when it comes to 12 month contracts.

Vodafone easily offers the best value for money plans over a 12 month period.

Virgin offers 12 month plans, but even on its highest $35 plan, you’re required to foot the bill with monthly handset repayments of $82 per month. The $117 total comes with modest inclusions, such as $500 of included value and only 1GB of data.

Vodafone’s introductory plan costs less than Virgin’s cheapest plan and packs more value than its rival's most expensive plan. The One (M9) costs an extra $25 per month only on the $70 Red plan, and that comes with ‘infinite’ calls and texts nationally and 3GB of monthly data.

Winner: Vodafone

Plans with a free HTC One (M9)

Few plans offer HTC’s upcoming flagship at no cost. Two carriers only are offering the smartphone free on postpaid plans, including Optus with its $100 plan and, impressively, Virgin, which will offer the One (M9) at no cost on its $80 plan.

Winner: Virgin

Freebies

If you’re looking for a sweetener, then Telstra, Optus and Vodafone warrant your time. Optus is offering extra data on plans $80 and above until 6 April, while Vodafone is offering unlimited data for the first two months — or if you buy online, extra data on its $80 and $100 Red plans for a limited time. Telstra’s strategy differs with the telco giving away a pair of Monster DNA headphones with all pre-orders up until 24 March.

Read our first impressions of the HTC One (M9)

Good Gear Guide will bring a full review of the One (M9) shortly

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Tony Ibrahim

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