Ah, the iPhone is 'oficially' in Malaysia. Meaning you can buy it from your friendly neighbourhood telco as opposed to your friendly neighbourhood grey market dealer.
If you have a long and fruitful relationship with your telco, it makes sense to just get an iPhone from whoever you've already signed a deal with, right? Or are you at a juncture where you think it might be time for you to break up with your current telco and get a new one?
Getting an iPhone 5c
If you want to move to another telco, an iPhone had better not be the reason. DiGi, if you want the iPhone 5c only stocks the 16GB variant and unlike Maxis and Celcom, only has 24-month contracts. So it's not a temporary marriage of convenience by any means.
The cheapest overall plan belongs to DiGi at RM1,830 at RM1,158 for the device and RM672 as an upfront payment if you are taking the iDigi 88 monthly plan. You will pay RM1,830 regardless what plan you choose for an iPhone 5c but if you are a longtime DiGi subscriber then you might be able to get the upfront payment waived. Maxis also waives upfront payments to dedicated customers.
While DiGi might seem to be the cheapest, do you really want to be tied down for 2 years?
For 12-month contract options, Celcom is slightly cheaper unless you are a Maxis subscriber who can do away with the upfront payments.
Upfront payments are refunded with your bills so basically you are just paying your bills in advance which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Getting an iPhone 5s
With the more expensive iPhone 5s, it is the same story. DiGi only gives you 24-month plans but it does offer the cheapest 24-month plans compared to either Celcom or Maxis.
For some reason, though, Celcom charges more for its upfront contract payments for the 64GB variants unlike DiGi and Maxis who do not discriminate where upfront payments are concerned. Yet even with the extra RM100 upfront for 64GB iPhone 5s phones...Celcom is still cheaper overall compared to Maxis. Who would have thought?
The best value, though, is still saving up and just buying an iPhone directly from Apple instead of from a telco if you tally up how much you will be paying in the long run. It might hurt a little coughing up more than RM2k for your iPhone now but the freedom to change to whichever telco you want, whenever you want might just be worth the extra dosh.
Also, if you are a long-time customer with the telcos, do your best to get the upfront payments waived so you can at least feel like you got a bargain by paying less for an iPhone initially.