We really wish we could have "gone bush" with the F165 and tested out the reception of the Next G network. Deep within the concrete jungle the reception we experienced during calls was excellent, and the internal speaker was loud and clear.
After struggling with the Web browser we were surprised by how enjoyable watching Foxtel and BigPond TV is on the "country phone". The size of the screen doesn't lend itself to long sessions of indulging one's inner couch-potato, but for short bursts of news or sport the F165 is quite a handy mobile TV.
Battery life seems about average, three to four hours talk time and 10 days standby on the Next G network. Out of the ordinary is the five hours manufacturer ZTE estimate it takes to recharge the battery. This is probably a no-brainer for rural mobile users, but a car-charger seems a necessary purchase to be sure you always have a full charge.
In a fashion conscious industry, such as technology, it is refreshing to use a phone that is a phone first and a media accessory second. This phone isn't going to compete as an all-in-one multimedia monster, like the Nokia N95; although it's pertinent to mention the N95 in a review of the F165 as they are both part of an exclusive list of phones, known Blue Tick phones, tested by Telstra for superior reception in rural areas.
Obviously we're a pack of latte sipping city-slickers here at CNET (soy decaf lattes no less!) but we suspect the F165 will have strong appeal to people in rural areas of Australia, currently using Telstra's CDMA network, who will be forced to upgrade their handsets in the New Year.
The large keypad and ease of use of the "country phone" should find a market in the city too, for people who work outdoors and require sturdy handsets, and with older people who rate the useability of their mobile phone over the bells and whistles of the competition.