Telstra F850 review: Telstra F850

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Telstra (and presumably ZTE) rates the F850 as having up to 200 hours of standby time and 3 hours of talk time from a full charge. In our testing we found the talk time to be reasonably accurate, but the standby time much less so; we tended to have to recharge every two to three days even on very moderate usage patterns.

As you'd expect with a 3G phone, our data rates were decent but hardly on the spectacular side when compared to true HSDPA phones. We're not terribly impressed with the way the phone is promoted by Telstra -- whose site for the phone merely lists it as having "Next G Network Coverage", which is technically correct but potentially a little misleading, especially as they say exactly the same thing for their other HSDPA-enabled phones.

The F850's screen specifications also remained a mystery to us, and that's possibly a deliberate omission because it's not a very good display. This is most evident when firing up the camera, where there's a noticeable motion blur -- not to mention a system slowdown -- but it's also evident when viewing your own photos or watching video clips, where the screen blurs to a level we found distracting. For regular telephony it's perfectly suitable, but if you're a multimedia maven, look elsewhere.

The F850 doesn't pretend to be the top of the line in Next G phones -- for that, you'd need to look at the JASJAM, although there you'd strangely still need to omit mobile Foxtel. Perhaps that's a blessing in disguise. Anyway, the F850 is an inexpensive way to ease into the Next G world, with an outright asking price of $409, some $250 cheaper than the Samsung A701. As such, we've rated it highly based on value alone, but prospective purchasers should be aware of its rather severe shortcomings.

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