Telstra takes on the bush with a rural-friendly phone

The environment in Australia can be harsh to mobile phones, not just with regards to build quality, but also to reception, but with the sub-$500 “Tough Max”, Telstra thinks it has found a middle ground.

It’s a phone Telstra has made outside of the regular scope of your typical phones, telling GadgetGuy that the Tough Max has been built for “farmers, tradies, small business owners as well as people who love the outdoors”, and there’s a good reason as to why it has taken this approach: quite simply, it’s a survivor.

While it won’t sing the likes of Destiny’s Child when you tear open the box, the Telstra Tough Max does pack in a mid-range Snapdragon 410 processor with four cores and clocked at 1.2GHz, WiFi, Bluetooth, 4G LTE, and 16GB storage with a microSD slot to expand this if needed.

Google’s Android 5.0 “Lollipop” runs here, and there’s even a 13 megapixel rear camera on the back and a 5 megapixel camera up front, with all of this going with a 4.7 inch 720p HD display boasting a near Retina-grade clarity of 312 pixels per inch, just 14 below that of the iPhone 6 and 6S.

But the real neato feature worth talking about with the Tough Max isn’t in the specs or the camera, but rather with the build.


In this handset, you’ll find an IP67 rating, telling you it’ll survive encounters with dust, while also providing resistance for immersion in water for up to one metre for as long as 30 minutes. That’s fairly rugged, and Telstra has also provided a scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass display for the phone.

With these features, Telstra expects that the Tough Max will be what its name suggests, and with Blue Tick certification, Telstra is even saying it should be fine to use this phone in rural and regional areas where the connection might drop a little, with that Blue Tick letting you get a little more out of your reception in troublesome areas.

Pricing for Telstra’s little toughened box comes in at $480 outright, though we’re checking to see whether you’ll be able to get another mobile provider’s SIM working in the Tough Max. Even if you do, you will lose out on the Blue Tick certification, since this is linked to a mobile provider, meaning you need Telstra if you’re after this as a main feature.

And if outright doesn’t cut it, you’ll find plans for both consumer and business from at least $75 per month for the handset.

Availability is right now, however, so if you do want it, you don’t have to wonder far, except to head to a Telstra shop or dealer.