Telstra Qwerty-Touch Android phone (preview)

Telstra Qwerty-Touch preview: The Telstra Qwerty-Touch is one of the cheapest Android phones on the market that combines a full sized QWERTY keyboard with a touchscreen

How much smartphone can $129 buy you? That's what Telstra's Qwerty-Touch Android phone will retail for when it hits the shelves on 15 November. The Qwerty-Touch may have a terrible name, but its one of the cheapest Android phones on the market that combines a full sized QWERTY keyboard with a touchscreen.

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The Apple iPhone may have kick-started the smartphone industry, but Google's Android platform has really been a boom for the low end mobile market. Unlike Apple's closed iOS platform, Google licences its Android software for multiple manufacturers to use on their devices — the result is a wealth of low-priced smartphones that offer most of the features and functions of their high end brothers with only a few compromises.

Some of these cheap, budget phones are ultimately poor products, but Telstra is hoping its Qwerty-Touch falls into the cheap but good category. The telco says the Qwerty-Touch was a direct result of consumer market research indicating a desire for a device that combined a physical keyboard and touchscreen at a low price point.

On paper, the ZTE-manufactured Qwerty-Touch ticks a lot of boxes. For starters, it has a capacitive touchscreen and not the cheaper, less responsive resistive screen that Telstra's $99 Smart-Touch uses. It also has a full sized QWERTY keyboard, which is a rarity not only at this price point, but on Android phones in general. Given the Qwerty-Touch has a very small 2.6in screen, a full sized keyboard is likely to be a positive when it comes to text input — as long as the keyboard is well designed and implemented.

The Telstra Qwerty-Touch runs the 2.3 "Gingerbread" version of Google's Android platform and features GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. The Qwerty-Touch also has a 2-megapixel camera that records video, along with an MP3 player and FM radio.

The Telstra Qwerty-Touch Android phone will be available from 15 November for $129, and is exclusive to Telstra.

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Ross Catanzariti

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