Telstra Tough T90 mobile phone

A rugged mobile phone designed to take a beating

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Telstra Corporation Tough T90
  • Telstra Corporation Tough T90
  • Telstra Corporation Tough T90
  • Telstra Corporation Tough T90


  • Tough plastic body, water- and dust-resistant, capable of being thrown around, decent display, solid keys and controls, BlueTick rated


  • Not aesthetically pleasing, no 3.5mm headphone jack, screen reflects indoor lighting

Bottom Line

It may not be the most pleasing mobile phone to look at, b ut Telstra's Tough T90 does what it's designed to do – provide a solution to those who require a phone that can take some punishment. It's a little expensive, though.

Would you buy this?

Targeted at tradespeople or those with an active lifestyle, Telstra's Tough T90 mobile phone is designed to take a beating. Water- and dust-proof, and drop tested for shock resistance, the Tough T90 includes a number of handy features.

Like most ruggedised phones, the Telstra Tough T90's style won't appeal to those looking to make a splash in the fashion stakes. Manufactured by ZTE, it's like tradespeople: effective but certainly not pretty (no offence to tradies intended). The black and dark blue plastic casing is rock solid and capable of resisting some very harsh punishment. The screw on the bottom of the pack cover seals tightly when closed and can be twisted open using a coin. We even managed to play a round of soccer using the phone as the ball on a carpeted area and it survived virtually unscathed. (This isn't recommended everyday use of the phone.)

The Tough T90 includes a basic five-way navigational pad, two selection keys, answer and end call keys and dedicated calling list and clear keys. The keypad is large and each button is well separated. Aside from a rather loud clicking sound when a key is pressed, the buttons provide good tactility and there is an option in the phone's menu to activate audible key tones. We think the keys are a little small to be pressed with gloves, which is a situation that many tradespeople are likely to find themselves in.

The Telstra Tough T90 has an IP54 rating for dust and water resistance, though it's designed to withstand being splashed with water, not taken for a swim at the beach. We held it under a running tap for a few seconds and it worked without any issues.

Surprisingly, the Telstra Tough T90 mobile phone comes equipped with a reasonable display. It's bright, clear and crisp and is easy to see in direct sunlight, though it does reflect a little too much indoor lighting. It’s a little small for watching video content, but it does an adequate job when paired with Telstra's content and services, including Mobile Foxtel. That being said, watching videos or movies isn’t a key aspect of a ruggedised phone.

The Telstra Tough T90's user interface is straightforward and relatively zippy. Unlike many previous ZTE manufactured handsets there is no keystroke lag when scrolling through lists or typing messages. The simple grid main menu and list format submenus are easy to use.

The Tough T90's features won't wow, but there is a basic 2-megapixel camera, a music player and FM radio, Bluetooth and a voice recorder. A built-in GPS receiver is also present, though there is no preinstalled GPS application. A microSD card is located underneath the rear battery cover, but there is no 3.5mm headphone jack and the included headphones aren’t ideal for music as they lack bass and clarity. The Tough T90 works on Telstra's Next G network and is capable of speeds of up to 3.6 megabits per second.

The Telstra Tough T90 is BlueTick rated, meaning it has been recommended by the telco for use in rural and regional areas of Australia. Telstra also plans to release a dedicated car kit for the Tough T90, and this will utilise the direct connect RF port on the rear of the phone.

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Read more on these topics: mobile phones, Telstra



I bought this phone on a plan and immediately got rid of it. The screen was smaller than my ZTE 165 and not as bright. The loudest ring was nowhere near as loud either I tested both with willtell (william tell overture) so I felt it wasnt suitable for my purposes.



The T90 phone is the worst phone I have ever had. It shut down at regular intervals and turned itself off, the screen locked up and you had to pull the battery out to re-start it. I had three replacement phones given to me and every one of them did exactly the same with the last onr straight out of the box, brand new lasting 4 days.

The hands free car kit had it's moments and was not loud enough when the phone was in cradle mode to hear it ring when travelling on the highway.

I have since had the phone returned to Telstra and told them I never want to see one of these T90's or a ZTE phone ever again and instructed them to take the hands free kit out of my car. I have since been offered a Motorola "Defy" and car kit to replace it.

I was on a site the other day and there were four other workers with the same phone and of the four only one had not had any of the same trouble that I had been experiencing but the other three had. If they are locking up and/or turning off unexpectedly take them back to the dealer, as they are a piece of excrement.



I have t90, cannot connect to PC with wndows 7 and phone turns off every time goes through xray machine at airport,..have to remove battery and start again, although last time had to put onto charge....otherwise its not to bad just have to remember to turn off before going through xray and all is ok, maybe this is common problem with T90 where other signal sources turning phone off....



Fantastic phone. no problems. not even with the xray. connects to pc ok. best phone i've ever had. connects to bluetooth, etc.

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Smallish screen.
• • •

As Macka in an earlier post I bought a T90 when they first came out, installed full car kit and big stick antenna onto my fourbie. This phone has never let me down, the big stick sucks in weak signals in fringe areas. Also use it when working on site, have dropped it many times, it's had a couple of dunkings while I wrestle with lures in Eucumbene, dropped from scaffold and bounced it's
way down stair cases.




• • •

Just because it called a telstra tough doen't mean that you can throw it off yor roof and run it over and expect it to still work. Its a phone not tank.




Not this phone
This phone
• • •

Very tentatively signed up to a 2 year contract due to past dealings with Telstra. Thought this phone may be useful. Less than two weeks later got a light splash whilst fishing and that was the end of it. Telstra had a look at it and said "TOUGH". Useless! Still paying for it 18 months later.

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