Top 5 mobile plans for smartphone tethering

Best for heavy phone and medium data use

* $39/month unlimited
* Unlimited calls/SMS/voicemail
* 4GB data included
* Data packs available — 1GB for $9.90 through to 10GB for $99.90
* Excess data 5c/MB ($50/GB)
* iPhone tethering supported: yes
* Network: Optus

Amaysim’s standard prepaid plans are good for low data usage but at 5c per megabyte even 1GB of usage will cost $50. However this new $39 cap plan is extraordinary value. Provided you’re comfortable paying $39 a month you can get unlimited calls and text messages plus 4GB of data. It’s on the Optus network so data speed will not be as good as Telstra.

Best overall low-cost plan

Live Connected Pioneer Medium (Series III)
* $10.99/month
* $450 call value (at 90c/min with 35c flagfall) & 1.5GB data
* Excess data 45c/MB ($450/GB)
* iPhone tethering supported: yes
* Network: Optus

If you’re trying to keep your phone connected frugally this plan is unbelievable value. For $11 a month you get enough calling credit for 209 two-minute calls each month or 48 10-minute ones plus 1.5GB data which should be enough for all your smartphone use and four or five sessions of tethering each month. It’s on the Optus network so data speed won’t always be the best.

Best for performance medium data

* $69 ($49 Freedom Connect BYO plan + $20 2GB Data pack)
* $550 worth of calls at 90c/min plus 35c flagfall
* 3.5GB total data (1.5GB in plan 2GB additional data pack)
* Excess data 25c/MB ($250/GB)
* iPhone tethering supported: yes
* Network: Next G

If you want good network performance there’s no better choice (no other choice really) than Telstra Next G. The standard $49 plan only comes with 1.5GB usage included but rather than moving up to more expensive monthly plans you can add on more data at a lower cost by buying Telstra data packs. Here we’ve added a $20/2GB pack for a total of 3.5GB data for $69 a month.

Best for large data allowance

NodeMobile NMD 12
* $59.95/month
* 12GB allowance
* Additional data $19.95 per 500MB.
* No excess usage charges (connection is slowed)
* No calls SMS 25c each
* iPhone tethering supported: no
* Network: Optus

Internode isn’t the absolute cheapest on the market for a data-only SIM but it’s a company that has an excellent core network behind Optus’s 3G radio interface and great customer support to back it up. What’s particularly good about its plans is that there are no excess usage fees so you can use your full allowance every month without being worried about running up a big bill. You could use this plan in your phone with VoIP for calls. SMS is still possible on this SIM (though costlier to send than cap plans).

Best for low data usage moderate calls

* $1/month pay as you go
* 50MB included (150MB included if TPG DSL customer)
* 2.75c per MB ($27.50/GB)
* 9.9c per min calls (10c per-call flagfall)
* iPhone tethering supported: yes

TPG’s $1 per month plan is great value if you’re the kind of person who hates being locked in to a set monthly fee. At $27.50/GB it’s certainly not the cheapest plan for large data usage but if you use less than 500MB per month in total it’s not bad. The calls charged at 9.9c per minute mean you could make a 10-minute call for $1.09 — something that would cost you $9.35 of your ‘massive’ calling credit on a typical cap plan. The main advantage of this plan is if you end up making some long calls during the month there’s no risk of a ridiculous bill blow-out like you’ll get with a cap plan if you overrun your included call credit.