Telstra has long had a healthy pre-paid smartphone range in Australia and the company seems intent on keeping it that way. Its latest release is an upgrade to its own-branded budget pre-paid Android phone, the Telstra Smart-Touch 2. It improves on the original in a number of areas, but retains a low $99 asking price.
At the time of its release in March 2011, the original Telstra Smart-Touch was the first Android smartphone to break the $100 price barrier in Australia. A low price meant the Smart-Touch attracted plenty of positive attention, but the tiny, resistive display resulted in a mediocre user experience. Telstra has obviously taken the criticism on board as the Smart-Touch 2 appears to have addressed most of its predecessors issues.
The biggest improvement of the Telstra Smart-Touch 2 is the addition of a larger screen that uses capacitive rather than resistive touchscreen technology. The 3.5in display (up from 2.8in) makes for a much roomier experience, while capacitive touch technology means the screen should be far more responsive than the original model. The relatively low 320x480 resolution means the Smart-Touch 2 won't display the same crisp text as more expensive smartphones, but this isn't a huge deal breaker at this price.
The Smart-Touch 2 also boasts a faster, 800MHz single-core processor (up from 600MHz) which should theoretically improve speed and usability. An upgrade to the 2.3 "Gingerbread" version of Google's Android platform (from the 2.2 Froyo version on the original Smart-Touch) should also provide a speed boost when it comes to general use. Given its entry level market position, we don't expect the Smart-Touch to get an upgrade to 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or 4.1 Jelly Bean, but again, this isn't a real disadvantage given the $99 price.
Perhaps the only odd downgrade on the Telstra Smart-Touch 2 is the camera, which is 2-megapixels compared to the original Smart-Touch's 3.15 megapixel snapper. We're not sure why manufacturer ZTE has gone down this road given that most other features have been upgraded. The camera still doubles as a VGA video recorder.
Other features of the Telstra Smart-Touch 2 include an MP3 player and the standard suite of GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Telstra also includes a 2GB microSD card in the sales package.