The Telstra Essential 8” Android tablet made by Alcatel for a crazy $129 could be a great Christmas gift. It includes a 4G pre-paid sim and $10 call/SMS credit.
Of course, the aim is to get you to use more data, perhaps purchasing an annual $100 recharge mobile broadband plus. (Telstra’s plans are here).
The tablet is pretty good if you position it as a $129 device although there are 7 and 8” offerings from Laser, Lenovo, and more but these lack 4G sim capability. At least buying from Telstra ensures that you get Australian Consumer Law (ACL) warranty.
Telstra website here
In the box: Telstra Essential 8” Android tablet
- USB charger 5V/2A
- USB-A to micro-USB cable
- 3.5” earbuds/mic
A black glass slab with reflective front glass. Alcatel makes good, low-cost devices and it should last a few years.
To get an 8” screen device at this price point, it has barebones specifications. None are deal breakers, but for example, Wi-Fi N single band means very slow data transfers. An MT865B is an entry-level 4G tablet SoC, not even on MediaTek’s website! But hey, my guess is that you would spend closer to $250 to get any better.
|Dimensions||209.5 x 125 x 8.29mm x 279g|
|Display||8”, 1280 x 800, 189ppi, 16M colour, IPS|
MediaTek MT8765WB 28nm four-core 4 x 1.28GHz|
GeekBench single/multi-score 583/1460
PowerVR Rogue GE8100 GPU 58Hz
1/16GB (10.2GB free) with microSD to 128GB|
OTG supported (size unspecified)
Front: 5.3MP (2.1MP video) fixed focus, no flash|
Rear: 8.3MP (2.1MP video) fixed focus, no flash, HDR
1920×[email protected] (default 1280 x [email protected]), EIS
Approx charge time at 5V/2A is 4 hours
Talk-time up to 25 hours (3G)
Single sim 4G (locked to Telstra)|
LTE Bands B1/3/5/7/8/28/38/40
Dialler app included (use as a phone)
Wi-Fi N 2.4Ghz only, Micacast, Hotspot
BT 4.0 SBC codec
No GPS chip (Assisted GPS using Wi-Fi or 4G)
|OS||Android GO 8.1|
Plastic frame and back
No glass protection
3.5mm audio jack|
rear lower back-firing speaker
|Additional||Kids Mode, Eye Care, Google Lens, Face unlock|
Dedicated GPS chip
Sensors like compass, g-shock, ambient light
Unsure of VoLTE or VoWiFi
Optimised to run on 1GB of RAM and limited storage it has security updates for three years. Operating system updates are unlikely, especially for a system locked to a Telco.
It comes with Android Go versions of Google apps that are optimised to run as fast as possible on available hardware. What that means is most Google apps run inside a Chrome Shell requiring internet access. You can run regular apps, but performance will depend on memory and CPU usage.
If you have not used Google lens it is an image recognition app that uses AI-powered technology (requires internet connection) to helps users explore the world around them. Take a photo or screenshot, and GoogleLens will detect and identify the object, as well as offer suggestions based on the object. Users can find products online, copy and paste text, learn more about landmarks, add events to their calendar, look up movie posters, identify popular plants and animals and more.
It has Family Mode, a dedicated mode for kids with pre-loaded popular games, cartoons and books. Parental controls can be set for app accessibility and usage time.
In one word – laggy. There is not enough power to multi-task nor complete GeekBench 4 tests. But that is what you expect of a device this price.
The PowerVR Rogue GE8100 GPU 58Hz is a low-performance GPU.
The 1280×800 screen has reasonable colours. They are not anywhere near sRGB colours but look fine for tablet use. High reflectivity makes outdoor use difficult.
It will playback an H.264/265compressed video but only very basic browser-based games.
Battery use depends on usage patterns. Four example it will sit on a shelf for 16 days, or give 25 hours 3G voice before needing a recharge.