While the Tough Max won’t win any award for its 720p (1280×720) 4.7 inch screen, it’s still not bad, pleasing enough to the eye, and offers a pixel quality not far off that of the iPhone 6 and 6S, with 312 pixels per inch compared to the iPhone’s 326.
That might seem like a bunch of numbers, but the easy way to explain it is this: the screen size on the Tough Max is spot on with the iPhone 6S and the details pop in much the same way, but the colors and brightness don’t feel quite on par.
It’s a good screen, not a great screen, but at least there’s no real reason to complain about this screen, and since there’s a degree of Gorilla Glass protecting it not to mention a severely thick plastic casing on the body, there shouldn’t be too many complaints.
At least there won’t be too many complaints on the screen, but you may find a few over on the performance side of things, with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 quad-core processor not necessarily pulling its weight.
Let’s talk usability first, though, because while Telstra and ZTE have stuck with Android, it’s pretty much the bare minimum for what constitutes Android.
On the one hand, it’s stock with no overlay so close to what Google wants, but on the other, it’s not the same version of Android that Google brings to its Nexus devices.
Rather, this is more “vanilla”, with the same basic black apps and widget menu separation we saw when Android 4.0 first started appearing, supporting up to five widgetised home screens with very little control for quickly deleting the screens.
It’s a basic version of Android, that’s for sure, and we’d look into changing it as soon as you can with another launcher, all of which can be easily found on the Google Play Store.
System performance for this generic Android phone isn’t the greatest, and even our standard benchmark struggled to run on the phone, stalling in ways we hadn’t seen prior.
It worked eventually, but it didn’t leave a good taste in our mouths, delivering a performance index closer to a five year old phone than anything, well, new.
Fortunately, the noticed performance fared better than the synthetic benchmarks, because while you’ll likely see a bit of lag, it won’t be quite as traumatic.
You don’t need a tremendous amount of patience for the Telstra Tough Max, but you will need some, because while loading apps is fast, jumping between them isn’t always the same.