Friday, July 22, 2016

What happened to my $20 discount?

Optus billing

The whole world knows that I bought a new phone. (Well, if you aren't already aware of it, that is because you weren't paying attention. That information is public knowledge.)

The plan that I signed up for was the Optus $85 My Plan Plus with a $20 discount per month for the entirety of the 24-month contract period.

Optus Deal[5]

How postpaid works in Australia is different to what the word mean. You have to pay the minimum amount (in my case, that should be $65) in arrears, and if you go above that minimum amount (eg: you used more than 7GB data or made international calls exceeding the 300-minute allowance etc.), the extra amount will be charged in the next billing cycle. You get a few days to actually make the payment, but the bill is "generally" generated at the beginning of the billing cycle.

And last night, I received my first bill for the new plan. I signed up for the plan on the 18th.

And it stated that I had to pay $85!!! There was no mention of the $20 discount.

4G issue with Optus and Galaxy S7

Screenshot_20160722-075102

It didn’t take too long for me to find a problem with my new handset. At work, I was getting marginal 4G strength (like 1 bar and it sometimes dropped to zero bars) and the browsing speed was terrible. It would take seconds to load a simple website like Google.com. But when the signal strength drops below some set threshold, it would automatically switch to 3G as it should (I think the data is HSPA+ as it shows an H near the clock) and the speeds returned to being very good. I’m only talking about browsing speeds here, not SpeedTest speeds.

Getting lower 4G speeds than 3G speeds is a messed up situation to begin with. The Galaxy S7 wasn’t helping to make the situation any better either. I wish I could override this fallback threshold, but it is not possible. The only way to get good speeds was to manually limit Network mode to 3G from the Settings app. Once that’s done, it works pretty well. But I lose features like VoLTE because of this. Whether or not it is a useful feature is yet to be seen, but it is a feature the network and the phone support, so I would like to make use of it.

Near the office, these are my LTE and 3G Speedtest results.

The S7’s software has some location based automation capabilities built in, but it does not let me switch the Network mode. That’s a shame, otherwise I could do this automatically based on my location.

This was a non-issue with the Nexus 5 because I have never seen it operating in 4G mode at work. Either the radio transmitters aren’t good or that fallback threshold is higher than what’s set in the S7. Either way, I still got good speed with the Nexus 5. Good speeds in the sense, there was no perceptible lag.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Finally bought a new phone

S7

I went with the Galaxy S7 Onyx Black model. This is the Exynos model. This is my second Android phone, after the Nexus 5.

Many would say that it was a stupid decision to buy it at this time because many new phones are coming in the next couple of months, such as the iPhone 7, Galaxy Note 7 and a new Nexus. But Optus, which is the network I was previously on, started offering the phone for $65 per month on a 2-year contract with unlimited calls and 7GB monthly data, so I had to grab it. It's still not as good as the Woolworths Mobile offer of $70 per month for the S7 Edge with 8GB data. But with the Optus offer, I didn't have to pay the early termination fee. I've had the Optus connection for only 4 months and I had to pay about $180 to terminate the connection.

I was already paying $40 for it and that was without a phone. So the phone would only cost $25 a month excess and it would make phone only $600 over the 24 month period. The cheapest S7 costs almost $1000 locally, so that’s about $400saved. The only caveat is now I have only 7GB of data instead of 10GB. The $40 SIM only plan I had was in fact the $60 plan with 10GB monthly data, but I got it when it went on offer with a $20 monthly discount. The other advantage of sticking with Optus is that I can swap the handset after 12 months paying only $99. I don’t know if I would actually do it, but that is a good option to have because in a year we might have way better phones. Additionally, I can terminate this connection anytime without paying the early termination fees. I do have to pay the remaining value of the phone though, which is calculated at $45 per instalment (not $25 sadly, so it is not really worth doing that).

Optus Deal

Click to enlarge

I could have bought the phone online which is the preferred method generally, but it would have taken 2-3 days to arrive. Since I went to work yesterday by car, I decided to pay a visit to the Optus store in the Chadstone Shopping Centre on the way back to see if the deal was available in-store. I chatted with an Optus agent online to check if this was the case, but they were unable to confirm it. Luckily for me, they had the same offer in-store, so it wasn't an online only deal unlike some of the deals.

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