From the horse’s mouth
Tough Max Android smartphone
ZTE (OEM supplier)
Telstra have shown some interest to the rural community by offering long-distance phone tariffs that are cheaper than their competitors for calls from rural and regional communities to the nearest state capitals which represents the kind of long-distance call someone would frequently make when they live in these areas. Similarly, I have always recommended Telstra or any “mobile virtual network” operator that uses the Telstra mobile-telephony infrastructure as a preferred mobile-telephony service for those of you who are in rural areas or make regular forays to these rural areas such as to visit that “bush bolthole” or maintain that farm that you have a few head of cattle on.
Now they have shown their chops again for this community of telecommunications users by offering an Android-based answer to that classic Motorola “brick” mobile phone that was so beloved of tradesmen and other outdoor types because of its simple ruggedness.
Unlike most Android phones, this phone has the ability to be connected to an external antenna which would improve on reception in rural areas as well as a cellular-network front-end optimised for long-distance reception. It is housed in a rugged casing which absorbs drops and is rated to IP67 which means the Telstra Tough Max is dust-resistant and can survive being dunked in a pool of water up to 1 metre deep.
This phone works on Android 5.0 Lollipop which means it can gain access to the apps on the Google Play app store. It has a 4.7” HD screen which may not match most of today’s desirable Android smartphones, uses removable microSD storage and can link with Bluetooth peripherals or your Wi-Fi home network. But surprisingly, it will support wireless charging when you pair it with a Qi charger. It doesn’t necessarily have all the frills of today’s smartphones but, like the Motorola “brick”, it is pitched towards users who place importance on durability.
The Telstra Tough Max is available for around AUD$500 outright or best paired on a subsidised-equipment contract with any of Telstra’s mobile phone plans to take advantage of what this network has to offer with the cheapest of these starting from AUD$62 per month.
If Telstra keeps going with phones that please the “bush brigade” like this one, they could work towards a phablet-style unit with NFC as a higher-end model to court this market along with similarly-rugged accessories. Similarly, they could work towards a Mi-Fi or wireless NAS that also espouses this same level of ruggedness, courting this same community.