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Review: Telstra Tough Max
3.9Overall Score

Price (RRP): $480 outright or from $62 per month
Manufacturer: Telstra / ZTE

With the majority of Australians situated along or near the coast, it can be easy to forget that the inner part of the country is very different. Heavy bush or dry conditions mean more dust, more dirt, and with less mobile towers, harsher reception needs.

In fact, “harsh” is a good way to explain the outback, at least in relation to technology, as most devices are made for the city when you’re close to power plugs, clean surfaces, and communication towers.

So a device made for the outback has to be handled differently. It needs to be stronger, a survivor, and a true battler.

And that just might be what Telstra has made in the Tough Max, a phone that is well and truly made for Australia.



Manufactured by ZTE, Telstra’s latest device — the Tough Max — appears on the surface to be a bit of a surprise.

Arriving with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor clocked at 1.2GHz and 2GB RAM, it’s not the grand-master flagship you may expect, but rather something geared at budget people looking for something a little more.

And that might be what they’ll get, with 16GB storage equipped to this phone and a microSD slot to raise the storage amount considerably if need be. Google’s Android 5.0 “Lollipop” runs on the phone out of the box, though with no extra overlays and a fairly stock experience.


Connections for the handset are also fairly stock and pretty close to budget devices, offering 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and Category 4 4G LTE, meaning speeds as high as 150Mbps down and 50Mbps up. Only two wired connections are offered on the phone, arriving in the form of a microUSB port on the left edge and a 3.5mm headset jack up top.

That 4G antenna handles itself a little differently than other phones, mind you, because unlike most antennas, the phone has also been rated “Blue Tick” which means it can pick up on a longer band of reception which is especially handy in the bush, which is what the Telstra Blue Tick system was designed for in the first place.


Cameras are also included, and you’ll find a 13 megapixel camera on the back with a flash and HD video capture supported, while the front relies on a 5 megapixel camera.

You’ll even find support for Qi wireless charging in the handset, and a place to plug in an antenna if you need it.