Is someone special finally old enough to get their first smartphone this Christmas? Here's our pick of affordable phones and SIM cards to put in them.
After a phone that looks like an iPhone that isn't an iPhone? Look no further than OPPO's F1s. The F1s is a solid budget offering with a nice 5.5-inch display, lighting fast fingerprint reader, and a (little too) familiar user interface. If you're happy to sign up for Optus Prepaid, you can get the F1s at an even cheaper price: $259.
Optus X Sleek
The Optus X Sleek is far better a phone than you'd expect for $149. The device itself feels premium thanks a glass and aluminium build, performance is fine, and the camera is respectable. The catch? The screen is hard to read in bright light, and the phone is locked to Optus.
The iPhone SE isn't exactly an affordable smartphone, but it's nonetheless the cheapest way to get a new iPhone. It's got the same processor and camera found in the iPhone 6s, just in a smaller form factor. Topped off with a lovely display and solid battery life, the iPhone SE is a great all-rounder. It's perfect if you want to move the kids up from an iPod Touch or your old hand me down iPhone.
Moto G4 Plus
The Moto G4 Plus is another solid budget-to-midrange Android smartphone that doesn't make too many compromises. There's a lovely 5.5-inch 1080p display, mostly zippy performance, and an unmodified version of Android Marshmallow. If you want to buy someone a no-frills, no-nonsense Android handset, the Moto G4 Plus is a great choice.
Samsung Galaxy J3
Samsung's Galaxy J3 is a fine example of an entry-level Android smartphone. The battery is good (and removable), you get expandable storage, and the camera does well enough when you're shooting outdoors. All in all, a good option for someone's first Android smartphone.
Alcatel Go Play
The Alcatel Go Play is a bit underpowered, but makes up for the slightly sluggish performance with a rough and tough build that will survive almost any punishment your kids can inflict. The Go Play is rated IP67 for water-resistance (can be submerged as deep as one metre, for up to 30 minutes, but you need to ensure the headphone jack and charging port are sealed), and is drop-proof to heights of 1.5m. When testing the Go Play, we tried our best to break it, and while multiple drops on concrete banged the phone up, it's still working.
Vaya is one of Australia's cheapest telcos when it comes to month-to-month plans. You don't get anything extra like international calls or unmetered streaming, but if you just need a plan with talk, text, and data, the value in Vaya's plans is hard to beat.
Optus My Prepaid Ultimate plans are priced fairly and all included unlimited talk and text. What makes them special is data-free access to Google Play Music, iHeart Radio, Pandora, and Spotify. If you've got family who streams music through any of these services, an Optus My Prepaid Ultimate plan will mean that their data lasts much longer.
If you want to pair a new phone with a massive data plan, Jeenee has a couple of options with bonkers data inclusions. The catch is these 'Mammoth' plans are 3G only. Based on testing undertaken in 2014, Optus says its 4G network is between two and four times faster than its 3G network. For example, downloading a 10MB song might take 5 seconds on 4G, but 18 on 3G.
Optus' average 3G download speed is 3.8Mbps. This is fast enough to comfortable stream standard definition content through Netflix, but falls short of the 5Mbps recommended for high definition video.
Telstra Prepaid isn't the cheapest option around, but Big T still offers what’s arguably the best coverage Australia, which can be potentially be useful if you're not in a major town or city. As a bonus, Telstra Prepaid subscribers are able to stream songs through Apple Music without using their data allowance.