Telstra Corporation 165i

A new and improved Country Phone targets rural Australians.

Telstra Corporation 165i
  • Telstra Corporation 165i
  • Telstra Corporation 165i
  • Telstra Corporation 165i
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Rugged design, HSDPA 7.2, Blue Tick rated, excellent call quality, A-GPS

Cons

  • Design won't appeal to all, clicking sound when pressing keys, Bluetooth only 1.2

Bottom Line

The latest Country Phone won't appeal to all, but it was never intended to. The rugged design and Blue Tick rating will ensure it finds its way into plenty of pockets.

Would you buy this?

Nicknamed the Country Phone, Telstra's T165i is the second edition of the telco's handset targeted specifically at consumers in rural areas of Australia. Promising excellent reception thanks to a pull-out antenna and a large design, the 165i's rugged casing should also appeal to farmers.

The T165i isn't going to turn many heads. With its large pull-our antenna — a design not seen since the days of CDMA — this phone looks like it belongs in the late '90s. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. The design certainly creates the impression of a very sturdy handset. Despite the large size of the T165i, the keypad and controls are not as big as the F165 Country Phone. A minor annoyance is the rather loud clicking sound made when keys are pressed, though as a consequence tactility is excellent.

The design of the T165i means it should appeal to tradespeople as well as farmers. Unfortunately, manufacturer ZTE has skimped on included accessories: the previous Country Phone included a plastic belt clip in the sales package, but that same generosity is lacking in this new edition.

The T165i's big appeal is the extended coverage it provides in rural and regional areas. The handset is Blue Tick certified, meaning it is one of a select few handsets guaranteed by Telstra to provide excellent coverage. We weren't able to drive out to a rural area to test the handset's reception, but coverage is excellent in metropolitan areas and the handset offers above average voice quality.

Despite being targeted at rural customers, the T165i still offers full access to the BigPond content portal, including the FOXTEL Mobile TV service. HSPDA 7.2Mbps (an upgrade from the previous version's 3.6Mbps maximum) means speeds are very reasonable. The display's small size doesn't favour heavy multimedia use, nor does the proprietary headphone/charging jack. Thankfully, Bluetooth 1.2 with A2DP is a feature, so you can use compatible Bluetooth headphones if you wish.

A 2-megapixel camera that doubles as a video camera, an FM radio, a multimedia player and a voice recorder are all included. There is also a VGA camera on the front of the handset for video calling across the Next G network. Other features include standard SMS, MMS and e-mail messaging with T9 predictive text input, A-GPS, USB and a hands free speakerphone. A real plus is the volume of the ring tones, which are extremely loud at the highest setting. A microSD card slot handles extra memory, but there is no card included in the sales package.

Disappointingly, battery life is rated at up to 3.5 hours of talk time — down by three hours on the original Country Phone. Standby time remains the same at 250 hours. The T165i can be charged using the included USB cable or AC adapter.

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