Getting ready to go: cell phones

26 October 2015

There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to planning your time in Australia. Have you found accommodation? Did you open an Aussie bank account? Did you pack your sunscreen?
We live in a lightning-speed, technologically enhanced age. If you’re heading to Oz soon, another item on your to-do list is probably “find out more about cell phones in Australia.”

You’ve got a selection of Australian mobile phone and plan providers.

  • Telstra
  • Optus
  • Vodafone
  • Virgin
  • amaysim

Brands are actually similar to North America’s:

  • Apple
  • Sony
  • HTC
  • Huawei
  • LG
  • Nokia
  • Samsung

Which one is best? Which one will work for you? Best to check out You Compare, a website that gives you a list of providers and phones and does the math for you

SIM cards

What’s a SIM card (aka subscriber identity module or subscriber identification module)? Basically, it’s the tiny removable plastic card inside your phone—the phone’s “brain.” The SIM card can be transferred between different mobile devices.

SIM cards that are issued by providers with an associated contract are called SIM-only deals. Common examples are the GSM networks in the United States, Canada, Australia, the UK. Many businesses offer the ability to remove the SIM lock from a phone, effectively making it possible to then use the phone on any network by inserting a different SIM card.

Option #1: Use your Canadian Mobile Phone
Get your current phone“unlocked.” If you don’t, you will be slammed with roaming charges, and roaming charges are bank account vampires. Unlock your phone by contacting your cell phone plan provider. Find out which frequency your phone uses and then match it to the Australian frequencies.

Next, buy a SIM card. One of the best value, flexible, pay-as-you-go SIMs available in Australia is with Amaysim, powered by the Optus 4G network, which is currently covering 97% of Australians! You can get a SIM card from other companies, but just be sure to check the carrier and the frequencies vs your phone’s frequencies.

Option #2: Buy a phone in Australia
There are five popular mobile phone companies across Australia, thus giving you plenty of options. You can track down great deals and even better phone rates. The disadvantage is that your Aussie phone may not work in Canada. If you’re travelling frequently between Canada and Australia, you’ll be left phoneless while in the Great White North.

Option #3: Buy your own phone in Canada online
If you purchase a quad-band, unlocked phone, then you’re in business. The quad-band can access the four frequencies used in both countries. Unlocked means you’re able to change the SIM card. When you’re in Australia, you’ll take out your Canadian SIM card, replace it with Australian SIM card (see option #1), therefore using a local number and calling rates.

Check out the following websites for more cell phone ideas and options!



Need more help figuring out your pre-departure needs? Not sure what to expect? Contact your OzTREKK Admissions Officer, and be sure to pop by the OzTREKK Boarding Pass for more before-you-go information! Email us at or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.