The iPhone 5 remains hot property in South Africa, despite chaos surrounding availability of devices at the four operators (and at retail outlets and resellers). The chaos is expected though… this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this.
But what’s the best deal available?
There are some obvious winners. The two Cell C promotions still available (at R399 and R699 in the table below) are easily the most attractive in the market, when seen alongside comparable offers from rivals. But, there are specific offers from Vodacom, MTN and 8.ta which are attractive (even though they don’t seem to be). It all depends on your usage patterns.
But, there are a few things to remember. All of the tips for comparing contracts from last year’s column (Save money with the right cellphone contract) hold true.
Don’t simply look at the cheapest option and sign up for whichever that is on your current network. These typically offer the least included minutes and data and call charges (mostly out-of-bundle) are often downright punitive.
Shop around for the best offer. Remember to bundle, bundle, bundle. Using an iPhone is a big difference from a BlackBerry, for example, and you will yearn for the days of flat-rated, unlimited data.
This table is gold but, crucially, is not at all exhaustive. These are only offers being actively promoted by the operators on their websites or in leaflets.
A suggestion: Figure out how much you use (NOT SPEND) per month. Look at two or three months to get a good idea of how many minutes you spend on the phone, whether you mostly call numbers on your network or not, how many SMSs you send and how much data you use.
The data question is tricky if you’re moving to an iPhone from another platform altogether, especially BlackBerry. Practically, you’re not going to use less than 250MB per month on your iPhone. (In a normal month, I use close to 1GB on the phone’s cellular connection – even though I’m connected via WiFi at the office and at home. But, then again, I am not your average user.)
Once you’ve figured out how much you use, start looking at the different package or contract options in detail (clicking on the hyperlinks in the table will take you to breakdowns on the operator’s websites). Once you’ve matched your usage to the closest packages available on each network, start figuring out which offer (and which model of iPhone) suits you best.
Don’t force yourself to “downtrade” to a lower package to try and get your spending into your budget. What will happen is you will end up spending far more, simply because of the (largely) punitive out-of-bundle rates.
You need to find the best possible fit (and give yourself some breathing room which will allow you to increase your usage without most of your usage ending up out of bundle).
Also, even though this table is iPhone-specific, you could compile a similar one for whatever phone you’re considering.
Per month rates for 24 month contracts, as promoted by operators:
|Operator||Base cost||iPhone 5 16GB||iPhone 5 32GB||iPhone 5 64GB|
|Straight Up 200||R200||R399*||R654|
|Straight Up 400||R400||R795||R699*|
|Smart Standard 229||R229||R449||R549||R599|
|Smart Contract 1||R50||R408||R458||R528|
|Smart Contract 3||R135||R458||R518||R588|
|Smart Contract Basic S||R30||R358||R448||R518|
* Cell C originally promoted additional deals. Currently it features only the R399 deal and R699 deal for the iPhone 5 on its website. The additional two prices are available if you use the build your own contract feature on its website. Further options (on all contracts) are available when dealing with the operator.
*Hilton Tarrant contributes to “Broadband”, a column on Moneyweb covering the ICT sector in South Africa.