Telstra F158 review: Telstra F158

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The Good Sturdy, rugged design. HSDPA and mobile TV. Good basic phone functionality.

The Bad Enormous phone. Screen too small for Web browsing.

The Bottom Line While it's great to see a rugged, damage-resistant phone, it's a shame the F158 is almost impractically big. Owners will take advantage of good mobile phone features, but probably won't use Web or mobile TV due to the small screen and clunky navigation.

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6.4 Overall

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"Alone bad, friend good!" If we heard Frankenstein's monster uttering these famous words today no doubt he would be growling them into a mobile phone, and, if the monster owned a mobile we're guessing it'd be Telstra's F158.

How do we put this delicately? The Telstra F158 is enormous by today's standards. While other phones appear to be shrinking, some becoming smaller than is practical, the size of the F158 hails back to phones of a decade ago. This extra girth does afford manufacturer ZTE a larger canvas for spacing out the keys and selection buttons on the front of the phone, and there's no doubt there's a market for easier to use phones, especially for people with failing eyesight or those, like Frankenstein's monster, with enormous digits. However, this seems to be a particularly niche market.

The body of the phone is protected by a rubberised plastic shell, and we've read that the F158 is resistant to shock, dust and water, though we haven't been game to drop it into a pot of water ourselves. The phone is being marketed as the "Tradesmen's phone", who are no doubt going to have to throw away a hammer or drill to make space for the F158 in the bib of their overalls or on a hook on their utility belts.

For such an enormous device the F158 is a very basic handset. Other oversized devices we're reviewed recently have included GPS chipsets and huge internal flash memory; however, don't expect anything so fancy in the F158. As a device on Telstra's Next G network the F158 is capable of HSDPA data speeds but there's nothing about the screen or navigation using the directional pad that makes the F158 particularly Web-friendly. Foxtel is available, but the onscreen viewing area, even in full-screen mode, is postage-stamp-sized.

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