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Best Mobile Plan in Malaysia 2016: How do I choose?

Best Mobile Plan in Malaysia 2016: How do I choose?
Don't fall for a cheap advertised price of a mobile plan. It's worth your time to do some research.
As a nation officially called social media addicts by comScore, it has become increasingly clear to the telecommunication operators (telcos) in the country that Malaysians want data, and we want lots of it.

With the recent furore over Maxis’ lack of transparency with their loyal customers, and the major telcos launching mobile plans every other week to beat the competitors, we’ve never seen a more competitive industry, and consumers are spoilt for choices.



However, we all know a few tricks employed by these telcos to market and promote their deals.

If we are not careful, we can get sucked into a plan that is unsuitable for us and end up paying a lot more than what we should be paying.

The only way to ensure you get a great price is to dig deep into the details.

MUST READ: Malaysians don't just want more, they need more

And this is really an unenviable job, hence, we’ve decided to go through the fine prints, weight the pros and cons of each plan, and reveal to you the best mobile plan in Malaysia.


1. Internet data

Is your mobile phone an extension to your arm? Do you feel naked if you happen to step out without your smartphone? Believe me, you are not the only one.

According to the Malaysian Communications & Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in their Hand Phone Users Survey 2014, 71.4% of hand phone users admitted that they are obsessed with their phone.

One in two Malaysians are smartphone user now, which makes mobile data increasingly important to mobile users in the country.

If you have fallen for a cheap advertised price of a mobile plan only to discover that you will end up paying much more, then it’s important for you to really compare what you are getting for each gigabyte of data.

Average price per GB

As you can see, the average price per GB is the lowest for U Mobile at RM6.00, but the 15GB plan is only valid until December 31, 2016. After the promotional period, the package will revert back to 7GB for the P70 plan. Though Maxis’ recent upgrade for MaxisONE plans after the uproar a few weeks ago is impressive, it still has the highest price per GB compared to its competitors.

The cheapest per GB price for Maxis is with the MaxisONE 188 plan at RM9.40 per GB, while Celcom finds its sweet spot at RM8.00 with its RM80 FIRST Gold plan, which is the same as Digi’s Postpaid 80 plan.

Winner

If you are on a quest to search for the cheapest data in the market, you have your answer for the cheapest mobile plan here. However, looking for the best mobile plan is rarely as simple as the cheapest data.
There are also many restrictions with Internet data. If you study the plan carefully, you will realise that Celcom FIRST Gold actually offers 5GB monthly Internet and 5GB free weekend Internet, which is equally divided over four weekends. While Digi Postpaid 80 also offers similar plan, 7GB anytime and 3GB weekend. However, Digi comes with less restriction, as you can use the weekend data any weekend.

U Mobile and Maxis


2. Calls & texts

Once upon a time, we use our phones to make calls and to send SMSes. Though these may not be the most used functions today, it is still important to ensure that they won’t drive your phone bill up.

It’s pretty common for telcos to offer unlimited calls and text nowadays, but some still don’t. If you like to talk on the phone for hours, then you have to pay attention. The thing with telcos is, they will never include their weak spots on those promotional leaflets and banners, and hence, it is up to us to read the fine prints to find out.

Unlimited calls?

Unlimited SMS?

Maxis and Digi offer unlimited calls to all networks with all their plans, so you don’t have to worry about making too many calls. However, Celcom and U Mobile only offer unlimited calls for their hero plans – the Celcom FIRST Gold and the U Mobile P70 plan.

Unlimited SMS only applies for all MaxisONE plans and Celcom FIRST Gold and Platinum plans. Both Digi and U Mobile do not offer unlimited SMS with their plans.

Digi allows its subscribers to send unlimited SMS to three Digi Friends only, while U Mobile has the pay-as-you-use rate of 3 sen to U Mobile number and 8 sen to others.

Maxis and Celcom


3. Carry forward unused data

What happen if you don’t use up all the data quota? Previously, the unused data was forfeited and you start on a clean slate in the next month.

However, why waste what you have already paid for? Two telcos allow you to bring forward unused Internet to the following month. What this feature does is, it carries forward a certain amount of unused data to the following month, so technically, your data won’t be wasted.

Which offers carry forward of unused data?

If this is an awesome feature for you, then you should also look at the maximum amount of unused data you can carry forward. Celcom has higher carry forward data of maximum 9GB (Platinum), 5GB (Gold) and 2GB (Blue), while Digi allows Internet rollover from 250MB to 9GB, depending on your plan.

Source: Digi

These are cool features to have especially if your data usage varies month to month. Both Maxis and U Mobile do not offer these at the moment.

Celcom


4. Share lines

One of the best ways to lower your household mobile phone bills is to opt for mobile share lines. However, to ensure you truly maximise your plan, you will have to do some maths.

First of all, consider how much data you and your family need, and then look for the cheapest plan for the amount of data you need. Some plans do not allow sharing of principal’s data. This will make getting a principal line with high data plan pretty useless.

Here’s a comparison of data sharing among all the telcos:

Line sharing cost?
* Depends on the principal plan. The lower plans have lower maximum supplementary lines number.


With the latest tweaks to MaxisONE plans announced on April 22, 2016, MaxisONE now comes with a new feature known as DataPool. What this does is pool all the data from the principal and supplementary lines together to be shared among all lines.

For example, if you get 10GB for MaxisONE 128, and you get an additional two supplementary lines, all three lines will enjoy 20GB of data for the month (10GB + 5GB + 5GB). This will be even sweeter if Maxis actually have the carry forward feature, but this is definitely a cool feature for a bigger household to manage their mobile usage.

U Mobile


5. Data roaming

With cheaper airfares, it’s not surprising to find yourself travelling to another country every other month, if not week. Though airfare may be affordable, if you are not careful, your mobile bill can kill you with frightening roaming charges.

Data roaming has become increasingly common and most telcos understand the needs to offer affordable and easy to use data roaming plan.

Data roaming cost?
* Data quota depend on the country of roaming.


Telcos like Digi and U Mobile have more than one data roaming packages, and the table above uses the cheapest available. However, if your destination country is not included in the countries specified, different rates may apply.

U Mobile


6. Additional nice-to-have features

There are many things you can do on your smartphone – stream movies, listen to music, GPS and many more. These things consume data, and to help you save data, so you can use it for other more important things (like upload your 500th photo on Instagram), telcos come up with some pretty interesting add-ons.

Here are some of the interesting add-ons that make your telco so much sweeter to you:

Add-ons?
# Required to be registered via Maxis.
^ Applicable for MaxisONE plan RM128 and above only.
* On first-come-first-served basis for Digi customers who sign up or upgrade to Digi Postpaid 68 and above.


Maxis



7. Quality of service

This has always been quite subjective among the mobile users, as some are pretty happy with what’s being offered by the telcos, while others expressed regret and disappointment when they ported out of a telco to another.

However, numbers don’t lie.

According to OpenSignal, a source on coverage and performance of Mobile Operators worldwide, Maxis leads the way in 4G coverage. In a three-month test period run by OpenSigna;, Maxis 4G users were able to connect to its LTE network 70% of the time.

This is much better than its competitors in the country, but also gives it an edge over majority of the operators worldwide.

Maxis, Digi and U Mobile

To help you determine if the telco will perform well at your home or work area, you can always use OpenSignal to test. This can be done before you decide to terminate and switch to another telco to avoid disappointment.

Based on the detailed comparison above, the winner that offers the cheapest per gigabyte rate, with other perks is U Mobile. The Data Backpack roaming package is the best in the market.

However, choosing the right mobile plan should be more than just the price. If you are living or working in area that has weak signals for that particular mobile plan, having the cheapest plan with the highest data will not do you any good as well.

If you really need a lot of data, then U Mobile is the clear winner, however, it does not come with the additional add-ons such as Internet rollover of unused data, free data and subscription for Spotify or iflix, or any music streaming service at all.

However, if you don’t need all that data, then a cheap no-frill plan with a lot of data may be just the thing for you.

Even though Maxis upgraded its plan significantly, it is still expensive compared to its peer. Perhaps, if you really believe Maxis offers the best coverage and speed where you are, paying a premium for quality is worth it.

With a lot of more competition and attractive options available, Malaysian mobile users can truly compare and make good choices when it comes to mobile plan subscription.


This article is contributed by iMoney.my, Malaysia's leading financial comparison website. To compare and apply for the best financial products, such as credit card, home loans and personal loans, visit www.iMoney.my