Another Look at Mobile Contracts in Malaysia

The HTC One X (and the cheaper One) have recently been unveiled in a number of countries. As usual, telcos from all over the world are clamoring to suck in customers to new contracts by offering deals on this shiny new device. Over in Malaysia, the nice blokes over at SoyaCincau have provided a somewhat comprehensive look at local Malaysian contracts and pricing. For those of you of the TLDR variety, I’ll sum it up quickly;

  • the HTC One X has an RRP of RM2099 (~€525)
  • for a minimum up front payment for the device of RM1000 (or approximately €250), you’ll need to go along with a monthly commitment of RM138 (approximately €35) over a contract period of 24 months for a grand total investment of RM4072 (~€1018)
  • for a minimum total investment of RM2215 (~€553), you will need to fork out RM1699 (~€425) for the device and put down a monthly commitment of RM48 (~€12) per month over a 12 month contract period with the telco with possibly the worst reputation in Malaysia

For comparison sake, we’ll take UK pricing (which should obviously be much higher since the cost of living there is also significantly higher). Phones4U is offering the One X for £120 (~RM580) with monthly commitments of approximately £26 (~RM128) or for FREE with monthly commitments of marginally more at £36 (~RM176). CarPhoneWarehouse offers similar numbers. If we do a dollar to dollar comparison, it’s fairly obvious that us Malaysians are getting shafted up so far up the ass by local service providers that our throats bulge. If we do convert prices, us Malaysians are still getting shafted up the ass, just that the bulge isn’t so apparent. Either way, I’m not really into getting shafted.

EDIT: The link to the Phones4U website for the HTC One X has been removed at the request of Phones4U.

What annoys me is the way Malaysian telcos choose to advertise their contracts as saving so much money for the consumer that the consumer would be able to feed a small African nation for a year. Keep in mind that these figures are for a somewhat “cheaper” device; iPhone contracts have far more ridiculous numbers. At the end of the day, contracts for Malaysian telcos in almost no way whatsoever save you money. Don’t be taken in by the amazing RM400 (€100) you may save on the initial purchase of the device, because over the contract period, you will be bled dry.

The only time you should even consider signing a new contract (or renewing your existing one) in Malaysia, is assuming:

  • the plan (both data AND voice) you are signing up for is exactly what you need
  • you are already planning on buying a particular device at the RRP off the shelf

The vast majority of the time, telcos will offer you plans that are short on something you need (usually data) – lots of minutes and SMS to same network operators, add-on charges for other operators, with a tiny data offering. This will force the majority of users (especially nowadays with the increasing popularity of data) to make further monthly commitments towards data add-ons – essentially subsidizing whatever minimal loss they suffer from the tiny discount they offer on the handset. Make no mistake, telcos in Malaysia aren’t subsidizing phone prices in any way; or we’d be getting new phones every 1/2 years for free.

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