Telstra Frontier 4G Android phone

The Telstra Frontier 4G is the first 4G smartphone in Australia to be sold on prepaid

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Telstra Corporation Frontier 4G
  • Telstra Corporation Frontier 4G
  • Telstra Corporation Frontier 4G
  • Telstra Corporation Frontier 4G

Pros

  • Competitive price
  • Largely standard Android UI
  • Decent battery life

Cons

  • Highly reflective display
  • Sluggish performance
  • Thick design

Bottom Line

The Telstra Frontier 4G is the first 4G smartphone in Australia to be sold on prepaid. It offers a largely standard UI and decent battery life, but the competitive price comes with a few drawbacks including a highly reflective screen and an often sluggish user experience.

Would you buy this?

4G smartphones are still in their relative infancy in Australia and are usually reserved for high end models. Telstra is aiming to provide a lower cost option with its new Frontier 4G smartphone, the first 4G smartphone in Australia to be sold on prepaid. The price comes with a few drawbacks though, including a highly reflective screen and an often sluggish user experience.

Bland design, reflective screen

The design of the Frontier 4G is about what you'd expect from a phone at this price point.

The Frontier 4G is a Telstra branded device that's manufactured by Chinese OEM ZTE. The company has produced various smartphones for Telstra in the past, including the Smart-Touch 2 and the original Smart-Touch. ZTE also manufacturers Telstra's own branded, 4G-capable Android tablet, the Telstra 4G Tablet.

The design of the Frontier 4G is about what you'd expect from a phone at this price point. It's constructed largely from plastic and features a black, soft touch finish on the back and a glossy, faux-chrome finish on the sides. A gloss black bezel surrounds the screen with touch-sensitive back, home and menu keys sitting below. These keys are relatively responsive but we wish they were backlit as they can often be hard to see in the dark.

The Frontier 4G has reasonable ergonomics, but is a little thick at 11mm.
The Frontier 4G has reasonable ergonomics, but is a little thick at 11mm.

One nice addition is an external antenna port that allows users to boost the mobile signal.

The Frontier 4G isn't the most stylish phone on the market but its design is straightforward and provides reasonable ergonomics. The 149g weight helps provide a solid feel but the device is rather thick at 11mm. All ports and buttons are in expected places, including the top mounted power button and headphone jack, and left mounted volume rocker and micro-USB ports.

One nice addition is an external antenna port that allows users to boost the mobile signal if required. Combined with a Blue Tick rating that denotes recommended coverage in rural and regional areas of Australia, the Frontier 4G is clearly well targeted to customers who live in the bush.

The back of the Frontier 4G has a soft-touch plastic that makes it relatively comfortable to hold.
The back of the Frontier 4G has a soft-touch plastic that makes it relatively comfortable to hold.

Sadly, the Frontier 4G's 4in screen is one of the most reflective we've come across. The TFT panel is reasonably bright but offers poor viewing angles and is almost impossible to read in direct sunlight. The 480x800 pixel resolution also means that the screen can't render text as well as higher resolution rivals, though that's to be expected at this price point.

Largely stock Ice Cream Sandwich

The Telstra Frontier runs the 4.0 'Ice Cream Sandwich' version of Google's Android operating system which is surprisingly very close to a "vanilla" UI. Many previous Telstra smartphones were heavily customised and often bloated with pre-loaded apps and services, but the Frontier 4G is a welcome change. It uses the standard Google icons and topography, so the user experience is similar to a stock Android device like the Google Nexus 4. Motorola's new RAZR HD and RAZR M smartphones received similar treatment, so it's good to see Telstra scaling back on custom skins.

The Frontier 4G's screen is very reflective and hard to see in direct sunlight.
The Frontier 4G's screen is very reflective and hard to see in direct sunlight.

The Frontier 4G stutters during basic tasks such as locking and unlocking the screen and swiping through home screens.

The TelstraOne app and a range of widgets come pre-loaded on the Frontier 4G, along with a file manager, an FM radio, a notepad, a sound recorder, a world time app, the X-Office suite and a TouchPal keyboard. Thankfully, the latter is optional so you can revert to Google's standard Android keyboard. The most notable customisation is a lock screen called Mi-EasyAccess. This enables you to unlock directly into six apps of your choice, in addition to holding the icon to unlock into the home screen. However, the long press required is too slow and the unlock animation quickly becomes annoying.

The Telstra Frontier 4G is quite sluggish during day-to-day use. While we weren't expecting hugely impressive performance at this price point, the Frontier 4G stutters during basic tasks such as locking and unlocking the screen, swiping through home screens, opening and closing apps and even opening and closing the app drawer. First smartphone buyers may not notice this slowdown too much but if you've used a moderately fast Android phone in the past, you'll be left disappointed with the speed of the Frontier 4G.

None

Telstra has assured us the phone will be upgradeable to the latest 4.1 "Jelly Bean" version of Android in the coming months, so this may provide a welcome speed boost. The telco says the update is "in the works" and that it has "worked very closely with ZTE" to deliver the latest Android software, but has not confirmed an availability date.

Mediocre camera, decent battery life

The rear camera takes average quality photos with high levels of image noise.

The Telstra Frontier 4G has a 5-megapixel rear camera and a VGA front-camera for video calls. The rear camera takes average quality photos with high levels of image noise and a lack of clarity marring most of our test shots. Colour reproduction is reasonable, however, and detail levels aren't the worst we've seen on a camera phone.

The best feature of the Telstra Frontier 4G is obviously the fact that it connects to Telstra's excellent 4G network in Australia. The speeds you manage to achieve on Telstra's 4G network will depend on a number of factors including congestion, location and time but we managed to achieve download speeds of up to 26 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of over 20Mbps on the Frontier 4G. The phone is also compatible with HD Voice, though you'll obviously need to to be talking with another compatible phone on the Telstra network to reap its benefits.

A photo we captured with the Telstra Frontier 4G (click to enlarge).
A photo we captured with the Telstra Frontier 4G (click to enlarge).

The Frontier 4G comes with a 1785 mAh battery which lasted almost a full day during our review period. Less intensive users may be able to squeeze a full day of use out of the Frontier 4G before needing a recharge but like most 4G phones, making use of those faster data speeds quickly drains the battery.

The Telstra Frontier 4G is available now for $299 and can be paired with a range of Telstra prepaid plans.

Related content

Our brand strong enough to sell 4G smartphones: Telstra
Telstra plays nicely with Android app purchases
Telstra 4G Tablet review
Telstra: 4G will serve 66 per cent of Australia by mid-2013

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Chris

1

Great Phone for the money and easy to use

Gordon McWilliam

2

Waited for it to come into store and purchased it straight away....Went bush to see how good it was...Mmm..the signal was very poor against my HTC..Installed patch leed and made not a lot of differance in the signal..Returned it ot the shop and they sent it away for testing..They ended up sending me another new 1...Since then i have given it to a friend to test it on his farm etc...He was very impressed by it,, he then went out and purchased 1..

Mitch Paterson

3

I'm a new Telstra Frontier owner! As 4G mobile it is fast, but thats about it. The camera quality is poor, The internet teathering creates a new conection everytime I connect it, i'm up to conection #92, The Telstra One app does not show your data usage if prepaid i'm using the 24x7 app, The antenna plug size is unknown to everybody nore can I buy one to suit, I cannot find screen protectors or mobile covers for it through Telstra or on ebay or the rest of the net for that matter!!! Not happy, my advice buy a HTC Velocity 4G, my son has one it's great and all the accessories are easy to find! "Big thumbs down for the Telsta Frontier" If Telstra is going to sell a mobile the should go on sale the same day, my New Mobile will be all scrached and recked by the time these items are avalible!! Mitch from Geelong VIC AU.

Carol Teitzel

4

I agree with Mitch, my husband & I aren't happy with our new Frontier either, we specifically purchased this particular handset to take as it has an external antenna, we have been very misled with this knew handset as to how good we were told it is. We neither can purchase accessories for it & have looked everywhere just like Mitch.
I have been a Telstra customer for a very long time & have never really had any issues until now, I think Telstra should compensate us with a knew handset, something we can buy accessories for so we can look after these handsets as these phones have cost us $299.00 which is a bit of money for a normal working person to have to outlay.
At the moment I am not a very happy Telstra customer either & would appreciate a response.

Beeonline

5

Not being able to find screen protectors is my main concern. What I am impressed with is signal strength. I'm in a very poor reception area in northside Brisbane. A real black hole for all carriers. Signal strength is improved greatly from previous Samsung Omnia which was crap.. Despite comments from others here ,external antenna patch lead IS readily available, and it boosts signal further. I find I am not needing to use the external antenna.

Bev

6

We have external antenna connections that fit this phone as they also fit our old Samsung phones. Patch leads are the same as Samsung SGH-A412.

Bonnie

7

you can buy universal screen protectors, i didnt even need to cut it. i found a cover at a mobile phone shop at casuarina darwin downstairs in food court, it wasnt associated to any brand, but i havent been able to find anything else

Lyn

8

Where can I get instructions for the telstra fronteir 4G

ardz

9

Its on the phone the blue help app in the home screen

Jim

10

You can download user manual for this phone at:

http://wwwen.zte.com.cn/endata/mobile/Austria/Austria_Instruction/201207/P020120731522850098754.pdf

Pavla

11

Can anybody find some case for this mobile??? I have been in 10 shops - no luck, I searched on Ebay - no luck :( :(

Aless

12

I bought a cheap,properly packaged, and attractive book style cover in a market in Hong Kong in January that fits the Frontier.It was labelled as fitting a Samsung Galaxy II. It's a little bit bigger than the phone but the rear camera 'hole' is in the right place if the phone is clipped in correctly.It has a magnetic catch and the brand is "Kalaideng". Hope this is helpful.

Kerri

13

I live rurally and require a phone that can take a patch lead. Can anyone tell me where on the phone the areial port is. Our previous samsumg galaxy had one which was under the cover and not easily accesible which led to problems with the port coming off of the mother board of the phone. Will we run into the same issues with this telstra phone??

Jane Richardson

14

All I want is a user manual so I can take time to browse and use this phone to the best advantage

Beeonline

15

Kerri,
Patch lead attaches under pop up plug on bottom right back of phone
I previously used Samsung Omnia (piece of crap) & I was always worried about damage using patch lead.
I work & live in an extremely bad reception area & have always had signal strength problems with a range of phones & carriers. The Frontier gives the best results so far & I now don't bother with the external antenna which was a great help with previous phone.

Kerron

16

Does anyone know if the clockface and App Icons can be removed from the Home Screen?

Dom

17

Great phone. BUT unable to find a hard cover or even any kind of cover to fit. I

Can anyone suggest anything. It's

Dom

18

Great phone. BUT unable to find a hard cover or even any kind of cover to fit. I

Can anyone suggest anything. It's

Ceri Ross

19

Has anybody else had problems with very poor photo quality - not happy with the camera on this phone at all

Rhonda

20

I also have just purchased a Telstra Frontier (from a Telstra store) and I am not happy either. I was not told by the staff that I would not be able to purchase a cover or a screen protector for this phone. I have tried several place both in person and online all to NO avail. NOT A HAPPY customer

Carol Jorgensen

21

I am not impressed as when I purchased my phone from the Telstra Store in Kadina, SA, I was told that I would be able tp purchase a cover from another store or on-line. I have had the phone for 3months now and have been into heaps of other shops plus on-line with no luck. If only Telstra staff were more knowledgable about their products a lot of time and energy could be saved.

Phil

22

Bought one because it had a Telstra Blue Tick yet get no signal at all anywhere in the house or outside. Never known such poor signal reception. Yet to try taking it back to JB HiFi - would have been simpler if I had bought from Telstra at same price.
Seeing other post guess that reception you get is just a matter of luck!

Daffodil in darwin

23

I think I've got a lemon. Clock sets itself overnight to whatever time that suits it. Usually corrects itself as I move around, but not this morning. I have travelled over the Northern suburbs of Darwin, and it is 1 hour behind actual time. I wonder does this mean that if I set the alarm the night before it will go off an hour late next morning?
Took it back to store for other issues, and they had to reset to factory settings for it to work. Any body else had such?

John

24

how does one open it to replace the battery ona frontier phone

Daffodil in darwin

25

John, looking at phone from the back, in the bottom left corner you will see a small opening between front and back case. I find it easy to insert the back of a kitchen knife in and gently twist, no sliding up or down.
And another thing! Some people calling me from both land lines and mobiles (any networks) get a recorded message saying that " The number you have called is not available on this network, please check with your service provider."
Anybody else had this prob?

chris

26

nope very happy with mine no problems you guys are stuck in the 19th century fast fast 4g and I live in the city battery excellent cant fault cant anything as of yet its my new best friend

Tony Devos

27

I bought the frontier from a store in Northam ,W.A 3 weeks ago ,i find it's reasonably good for what i paid $199,the reception is good,the phone is a delight to use but the only problem i have is that the camera is the worst I've had.i had no trouble getting a cover, still I'm happy enough with it .i hope that the software update on phone will cover the camera issues .

Bree

28

I am also looking for a cover for this phone, Tony Devos where did you get your cover? I don't suppose finding a waterproof / dust proof cover is likely!

Em

29

How do you use video call

Lyn

30

I am really impressed with the Frontier 4G especially for the price and as it is a prepaid. We don't have 4G yet but with 3G, I get all the service I need. No trouble fitting a universal screen saver. Tony Devos, I would be interested to know where you got your cover. Also I noted that Aless said a Samsung Galaxy II fits okay. I don't buy a mobile phone for a camera - I have a nikkon to take photos on, so that's not a problem. Battery life is excellent! Very happy!!

slarti

31

Its a budget phone so don't expect it to be too good. Is not bad either. I like ability to save webpages that wasn't possible in the handful of phones I had the last ten years since the se 801!!! Its just the single flash in the camera so it too bright for close up but remember how everyone had eyes closed by the time dam flashing was done.. not to show off then no shame either.

Ron Downe

32

GPS is always searching for location.
I live on the Sunshine Coast and work in Townsville.
Both of which are big cities.

Doug

33

Brought this phone about 3 weeks ago.
I'm quite impressed with it so for reception in isolated areas ie back of Kalgoorlie in the desert, which is very handy.
As this is my first smart phone I don't have anything to compare it too, but I'm really happy about the way it preforms so far.
The one thing that was a big selling point was price, article states $299, I purchased mine for $199 dollars, which I think was a bargain.
It may not have all the flash of more expensive smart phones, but if like me who mainly use it for calls, text and the odd picture you could do worse.

Bruce Y

34

Leather phone case made by MERCURYAV and I have brought one online.

Robyn Lilley

35

The camera on this phone is atrocious. Thought it was me untill I saw the other reviews. Very disappointed. Also very difficult to see in the sunlight. Not very happy and wouldnt recommend it . I wish I had spent more money on another brand, but wanted a pre-paid and this one was the only one offered to me at the Telstra shop near where I live.

Tas

36

Just picked up a Frontier from Telstra for $149 after cracking my Galaxy S2 screen today two months out from contract-end. Gotta say i'm pretty happy with the package at this price. 4G is intermittent, as is expected out in the melbourne suburbs but the phone is responsive, has most of the necessary features of the Galaxy S2. The main camera is of tolerable quality- I only take the occasional photo so it didn't really bother me too much, but the front-facing camera is pretty weak. Sunlight glare off the screen is a bit annoying too.

All in all great value for money for a cheap 4G phone, pretty happy for now.

FYI if you want an alternative JBHI FI were quick-selling Nokia Lumia 520's for $150 on a $60 month by month contract.

Jessie

37

Can you please tell me how I remove the back off this phone to insert the battery?

penny

38

does anyone know how to turn of the shutter sound?

Pauline

39

Just got this phone after having to replace my other zte earlier version. I find this one does not pick up reception signal very well compared to the old one. I have it connected to an on roof aerial via a patchlead, and even then the signal takes for ever to try to pick up, and even then sometimes won't. The other zte picked up straight away.
As for battery life, well, mine hasnt quite got the excellent capacity like everyone else is saying they have. Maybe it just needs a few more full charges.
I ordered online through ebay a leather flip case and screen protectors. They are out there. Just gotta look for them.

Sue worth

40

Hate this phone. Bought it for the camera. Used up $87 in credit in 4 days, although made only a couple of calls. Can't get a cover. Not connected to Internet. Telstra staff unhelpful. Very poor purchase. Will be more careful next time.

Sue worth

41

Hate this phone. Bought it for the camera. Used up $87 in credit in 4 days, although made only a couple of calls. Can't get a cover. Not connected to Internet. Telstra staff unhelpful. Very poor purchase. Will be more careful next time.

Ken Bryan

42

Can someone please send me a link to the user manual for this phone? Thanks

Philomena

43

i have just bought a telstra frontier, how do I delete the calls, that I ring

Indra

44

Just ditched my blackberry and bought this phone for $149 from Dick Smith. Couldn't be much more happier. Fast 4G, good reception, good gps and easy to find accessories from ebay. The camera is not so good though.

Ken

45

Price now $119 at Officeworks

june

46

I am unable to pair this phone with my cars bluetooth hands free, it can not even see it. and also after pairing with my laptop it is not recieving files.
Can anyone offer any soloution to these problems

kath

47

it's a phone, not a camera...you're supposed to make phone calls, send msg etc not take pictures. get a camera to take pictures...only thing I'm missing is a software to transfer data across from pc

Jay

48

Buy I phone 5s you will not be disappointed !!

Bryce

49

Still has not got 4.1 yet :( does anyone know when it will be getting it

churchdiscover.com

50

Telstra said price soon $129. Thus cheapest 4G phone. Like Google maps for navigating (takes practice). But Voice disappeared. Cost exy $19/mo leaving WiFi on always connecting to Wireless Telstra 4G modem. (I bring this with phone to save $.) Coles has special of prepaid $160/yr not $180. Calling 1300# for a few times per week for 2 months used all my credit. Contact list editing not good. Camera is better on 5mp. I screen snap laptop text to read. Processing power no probs. churchdiscover.com

Shirley

51

Should the return. home & optional displays be on all the time on the Telstra Frontier G4 mobile phone, as they aren't on mine

Shirley

52

Can someone answer this "Should the return. home & optional displays be on all the time on the Telstra Frontier G4 mobile phone?, as they aren't on mine" and I only bought it on the 08/11/13, and if it is a fault I want to take it back to the shop where I purchased it from before it gets too late. Thank You.

jkelly

53

i receive calls - phone ringing - showing who is calling - but i cannot answer - tap screen or swipe screen it just keeps ringing - i looked in "barred" and no items are ticked - - so i miss the call - text messages are received ok - can anyone help ?? - one thing i have inserted my contract sim card with all my contacts

Sandy Busuttil

54

Phone got damp.When I plug it into the charger a red circle of light flashes continuously..Phone wont turn on.Thought I had contacts on sim card but when I put sim into new phone,no contacts.Are telstra stores able to retreive the contacts from the damaged phone at all.sany

grahame

55

I purchased my Frontier xmas eve from Dick Smith for $99. Not being used to smart phones it is difficult to use. The help ap is confusing. Any advise re deleting call log would be appreciated, also how to delete unwanted aps/widgets as it doesn't work as the help ap says it should

Greg

56

Hi i just purchased a frontier, i have read a lot of reviews here, i must say i am very happy with it, for the price it is fine. if you want junk just buy a samsung! i paid $600.00 for the samsung and it was not much better. the screen died on the samsung, $200.00 to fix and can be sold for $220.00 on ebay. thats dumb. the frontier yes has a few draw backs but i can buy 6 of them to one samsung. you work that out. as i said my one works fine. cheers. plus if you can't fine screen cover look on ebay $7.99 you get screen cover, phone cover, plus free shipping, for those who can't find them type "telstra frontier screen cover" if you still can't find them DO NOT DRIVE A CAR please.

Marnie

57

Not a good phone would not recommend it I have had this phone replaced twice with reception problems & it turns itself off. And again having a problem with it turning itself off & have only had the phone since May 13. Must have got a lemon each time as no one has mentioned about turning itself off.

geoff

58

covers for t81 can be found on ebay with a bit of searching from hong kong or china hope this helps

JOE

59

IT IS A NICE FONE,BUT I ALSO SAY THAT TELSTRA SHOULD LET ANY CUSTOMER, NOW THAT A COVER FOR THIS FONE , IS NOT AVAILABLE,,,,,IN THE MARKET

BIG MISTAKE TELESTRA WE SHOULD BE IMFORMED ,

sammy

60

I'm kind of annoyed with the phone now, when I go into my gallery it says there are no photos or videos, but when I go into settings storage it says I have 1.5g worth of photos and videos...can anybody help?
I'm also disapointed in the quality of the camara, I'm 14 so I obviously enjoy takeing photos with my friends and having decent looking photos, but all the photos I take looks pixilated, is there any way to fix that?
Also is there any way to get auto-correct or dictionary on the phobe?

Sharon

61

When I answer or make calls the person on the other end can hear me but I can't hear them even though I can see the line is open and I'm being charged for the call. This is an intermittent problem. Why is this happening? Does anybody else have this problem?

Anonymous

62

Can anyone help i have spell check or dictionary on message tool bar

Ian

63

as mentioned, there's support forum on the zte.com.au site along with patches and documentation. The camera is average but everything else is pretty powerful. Oh, and no upgrades to Kitkat for youl. I already asked.

Dave

64

I bought one of these phones about a week ago & so far I'm very happy with it. I upgraded from a Telstra T28 Active Touch only because of the pitiful amount of internal memory & being unable to shift stuff onto an SD card to free up memory. I'm also restricted because I need a phone with an external aerial socket to get decent coverage in rural areas. I paid around $160 for an unlocked Australian stock phone & for the money I think it's a good buy. Same internal memory as a Telstra Dave (2.5GB) but half the price. After owning a couple of these ZTE phones I'm convinced that you either get a good one or a lemon - so far I've been lucky. Totally pointless trying to compare these phones to more expensive ones but if you can get an Australian stock Frontier for a reasonable price I think they're good value.

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lake

3.5

1

Pros
large screen
Cons
no user manual in set up box
• • •

first smart phone ever for me. yes I have had a few probs, but like everthing else a bit of time and effort and am getting there. Like previous sayed it would be good if there was a user manual readily available on line, I could then sit and study it while practising on the phone. I also got my case etc on e-bay

Margie

4.5

2

Pros
Good phone
Cons
Time keeping
• • •

Is anyone having trouble with the time on this phone? it's always 10-20mins behind when i look at it in the morning? have done everything to try and fix it

june

2.5

3

Pros
touch screen
Cons
cant connect to car
• • •

All things for this phone can be purchased at this web site, screen covers, phone covers chargers ect.
www.mobileacc.com.au/index.php?route=product/category&path=25_133

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