Made for Australia

Samsung might have coined the term “made for Australia” for phones in its Galaxy S5 advertising campaigns, but since the company has left it alone for a while, we feel it’s more apt here on the Tough Max.

Quite literally, the specs and design suggest Telstra’s ZTE-made phone is more made for Australia than most other phones you’ll see through, and that’s the Australia people see when they leave the city.

You know what we’re talking about: brush, bush, dust and sun, with the odd bit of rain when it gets down to it.

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A rating of IP67 tells us the Tough Max can handle itself when it gets down to brass tacks or even dusty rocks, and there’s even an amount of water resistance here, too.

The casing is perhaps the one area worth noting that is different, and that’s because it will survive a drop or two, though not necessarily the sharpest or steepest of drops. That’s better than knowing it will break the moment it collides with the ground, though, so be thankful for something.

You can also be thankful for a screen protector and a torch, because both are included in the box. The extra screen protector is something few phones arrive with and will be welcomed, as will the button for switching on the rear LED flash and using it as a torch.

If the lights ever go out and you find yourself looking for a light, this phone serves as it (as they all do) and there’s even a trusty button to switch it on. Neato.

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What needs work

With a decent build, a nice enough screen, a battery capable of hitting a day and a half to two days, and acceptable cameras, what hasn’t Telstra (and its manufacturer ZTE) done right?

Simply put, it’s a toss up between the performance and what is obviously the use of some outdated phone hardware being masked to look modern.

We’ve already touched on that performance, mind you, because while the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 can handle its own, there are obvious signs of phone lag on the Tough Max (ZTE T84) and it wouldn’t even handle our standard phone benchmark.

That last thing alone isn’t a great sign, though we pushed on with the review all the same and found the lag was definitely there jumping between apps, though it was fine if you were patient.

It’s not the most horrible lag ever, but if you’re used to flagship quality or the punchlines of an iPhone, this isn’t the smartest of upgrades.