Which Is The Best Mobile Plan In Malaysia?

Which Is The Best Mobile Plan In Malaysia?

As a nation officially called social media addicts by comScore, it has become increasingly clear to telecommunication operators (telcos) in the country that Malaysians want data, and we want lots of it.

After the furore over Maxis’ lack of transparency with their loyal customers, leading to major telcos launching mobile plans every other week to beat 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.

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The only way to ensure you get a great price is to dig deep into the details. And this is really an unenviable job, hence, we’ve decided to go through the fine prints, weigh 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 and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in their Handphone Users Survey 2014, 71.4% of handphone users admitted they are obsessed with their phone.

One in two Malaysians are smartphone users now,  making 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.

How much is the average price per GB?

Maxis
Celcom
Digi
U Mobile
RM4.22
RM5.05
RM4.47
RM6.82

Maxis has come a long way from the most expensive telco to now, one that offers the cheapest price per GB. With its recent upgrade on all the MaxisONE plans, the average price per GB from Maxis is RM4.22, while previously the cheapest, U Mobile is now the most expensive at RM6.82 per GB.

If you are a pure data guzzler on weekends, Digi’s latest upgrade for their highest plan, Digi Postpaid 110 may be just the plan for you. With 25GB of all day data, subscribers now get free “unlimited” weekend data (capped at 100GB) as well. However, the caveat is, the unlimited data is only applicable for 4GB, 3GB and below will still utilise your weekday data.

However, the plan that offers the cheapest per GB price is Celcom Gold Plus at only RM2.45 per GB.

The winner

Celcom offers the irrefutable lowest price in the market at just RM2.45 per GB for its Gold Plus plan.

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 restrictions with Internet data. If you study the plan carefully, you’ll find Maxis, Digi and Celcom giving away additional data for all or some of their plans. For example, Maxis recently boosted their MaxisONE plans with 2x more data. So, the 188 plan now has an overall 50GB per month, the 158 plan has 40GB per month and so on.

While that seems impressive, a closer look shows that the data is divided into two categories: all day and weekend. The 188 plan, for instance, allocates 25GB for all day and 25GB for the weekend. That’s 12.5GB per week, but you can only use 6.25 GB on regular days; the remaining 6.25GB on a weekend.

Celcom and Digi have similar setups, just that the Digi 110 plan offers unlimited data for the weekend.

The winner

It has to be U Mobile as the data offered are not split between weekdays and weekends. Plus it is now offering unlimited data for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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 weed out the details.

Which plan offers unlimited calls?

Maxis
Celcom
Digi
U Mobile
All MaxisONE
plans
FIRST Gold, Gold Plus &
Platinum plans
Digi Postpaid 80, 98, 110 & 148 plans
U Mobile P70 & P98 plans

Which plan offers unlimited SMS?

Maxis
Celcom
Digi
U Mobile
All MaxisONE
plans
FIRST Platinum plan
None
None

Only Maxis offers unlimited calls to all networks with all their plans, so you don’t have to worry about making too many calls. Celcom, Digi and U Mobile only offer unlimited calls for their hero plans – the Celcom FIRST Gold, Gold Plus and Platinum; the Digi 110; and the U Mobile P70 and P98 plan.

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

Digi allows its subscribers to send a certain amount of free SMS across all networks, after which a certain charge will be imposed on each SMS sent. With the Postpaid 50 plan, users get 100 SMS while 300 and 1,000 SMS are set aside for the 80 and 110 plans respectively.

U Mobile on the other hand discriminates to whom users are sending their SMS. If the SMS is sent to a U Mobile user, you pay 3 sen per text. If it is to a number on another network, you pay 8 sen per SMS.

The winner

If you want a no-worry plan with everything in (enough data, unlimited calls and SMSes), the MaxisONE and the Celcom FIRST Platinum plans would be your best bet. However, if you don’t make too many calls or send too many SMSes (which is considered a dying art), then it will make more sense to go for cheaper plans with higher data.

3. Carry forward unused data

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

But, 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 plan offers carry forward of unused data?

Maxis
Celcom
Digi
U Mobile
None
FIRST Blue plan
All postpaid
plans
None

If this is an awesome feature for you, then you should also look at the maximum amount of unused data you can carry forward.

Digi allows Internet rollover from 1GB to 3GB, depending on your plan, while Celcom allows you to carry forward 1GB of data under the FIRST Blue plan.

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

The winner

In this category, the winner has to be Digi as its maximum data rollover is higher than Celcom.

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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 the 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:

How much does line sharing cost?

Maxis
MaxisONE Share
Celcom
FIRST 1+5
DigiFamily
U Mobile
Hero Plus Postpaid
Price per
share line
RM48
RM30
RM48
RM20
Data sharing
with principal
line
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Additional data
per share line
10GB 10GB
(5GB weekdays & 5GB weekends)
2GB
Subject to principal line
3GB
Restrictions
All MaxisONE
plans
FIRST Blue, Gold
& Platinum plans
All Digi postpaid
plans
Only U Mobile
P50,P70, and P98
Maximum number
of supplementary
lines
4*
5
6
3
Cost per line with
1 supplementary
line
MaxisONE 128
(RM128 + RM48)/2
= RM176/2
= RM88
FIRST Gold RM80
(RM80 + RM30)/2
= RM55
Digi Postpaid 80
(RM80 + RM48)/2
= RM49
U Mobile P70
(RM50 + RM20)/2
= RM45
* Depends on the principal plan. The lower plans have lower maximum supplementary lines number.
**Digi is currently running a promotion where for a limited time users can select three supplementary-line options.

The main sales pitch for MaxisONE is that users now get 2x more data across all plans, including the DataPool feature. DataPool pools all the data from the principal and supplementary lines together to be shared among all lines.

For example, if you get 30GB for MaxisONE 128, and you get an additional two supplementary lines, all three lines will enjoy 50GB of data for the month (30GB + 10GB + 10GB). The only caveat is that the weekend data, in this case the extra 15GB from the principal line and the 5GB from each supplementary line, are not shareable across lines.

The winner

For data guzzlers, U Mobile definitely makes more sense, as it is the cheapest with the highest data for each line, while MaxisONE Share comes pretty close with even more data to share around.

Digi does offer its own data pool where a principal can set the amount of data allocated for up to six supplementary lines. The advantage here is that the free weekend data is applicable for supplementary holders.

Celcom, however, loses out as it does not allow for data sharing between supplementary and principal lines.

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.

How much is data roaming?

Maxis
MaxisONE World
Celcom
Wonderoam
Digi
Roam10
U Mobile
Data Backpack
Price per day
RM38
RM38
RM10
FREE
Number of
countries
8
Worldwide
10
12
Data quota
Available data in
DataPool
500MB to
Unlimited*
Unlimited social
messaging + 50MB
Available data
quota
* 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.

The winner
Currently, only U Mobile’s Data Backpack offers FREE (no additional roaming charges) roaming package that allows you to use your available data. Though Maxis also allows you to use available data while roaming, you will have to pay an additional RM38 a day for the service.

For data roaming, U Mobile is the clear winner.

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:

What are the add-ons?

Maxis
Celcom
Digi
U Mobile
FREE extra 5GB/month
for Video-on-Demand
streaming on iflix, Viu,
Eros Now and
Hopster.#
Unlimited complimentary
WiFiPlus
FREE 10GB photos
& videos storage on
Capture (without data)
FREE unlimited streaming
for HyppTV, Viu, iflix,
YouTube, Youku
Tudou, tonton.**,
Astro on the Go,
Eros Now, Hero Talkies,
Pocketimes, ONFM,
Youtube Gaming #*
FREE 3 months
subscription for the
above streaming sites.
Unlimited data for
social apps
FREE extra 3GB/month
for music streaming
on Spotify.
FREE subscription
to Yonder Music for 12 months
FREE subscription
to Digi Music Freedom
Free unlimited
music streaming for
more than 12 partners,
including Spotify and
JOOX.
FREE subscription for
Spotify Premium
FREE 100% extra
data for Video-Onz
for other postpaid/prepaid
plans.
# Required to be registered via Maxis.
#* Applicable for U Mobile Hero P70, i90 and i130 plans
**Promotion extended till December 31, 2017.

 

The winner

As you can see from the table above, U Mobile is really going big to attract data guzzlers in the country, with free unlimited data for some of the highest data usage activities. It is also the only mobile operator that offers free data for YouTube, which is a big deal! However, do note that streaming is applicable for standard definition videos for all the streaming partners, and free data is only applicable until December 31, 2017, and a subscription fee may apply thereafter.

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 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 OpenSignal, 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.

The winner
However, when it comes to speed, it’s a draw for Maxis, Digi and U Mobile with average LTE download speeds between 12 and 14 Mbps. According to the findings, Celcom comes up last in speed, coverage and latency, though it performs much better in the Klang Valley.

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.

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.

Image from tnooz.com

*Originally published on April 22, 2016. 

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