Telstra EasyTouch 4G Android phone

An easy to use Android phone that could use some further refinement

Telstra Corporation EasyTouch 4G
  • Telstra Corporation EasyTouch 4G
  • Telstra Corporation EasyTouch 4G
  • Telstra Corporation EasyTouch 4G
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Good ergonomics
  • Easy widgets are useful
  • Decent battery life

Cons

  • Dim screen
  • Poor quality camera
  • Slight performance issues

Bottom Line

First time smartphone users and seniors will find the Telstra EasyTouch 4G's custom designed widgets easier to use than most alternatives. However, we feel there could have been further customisation and the dim screen and poor quality camera are downsides.

Would you buy this?

Telstra has often released its own-branded devices in Australia and the EasyTouch 4G is another example of that. An Android smartphone designed for first time users, the EasyTouch 4G's custom designed widgets make the smartphone easier to use than most alternatives, but we feel there could have been further customisation to suit first time users.

Simple but bland

The EasyTouch is a little thick, but relatively comfortable to hold.

The Telstra EasyTouch 4G, manufactured by Chinese brand ZTE, is best described as bland. It's constructed entirely from solid feeling plastics, with a glossy, black bezel surrounding the screen and the brushed aluminium-look camera surround on the back the only real attempts to add some style.

We like the removable plastic cover on the back of the EasyTouch 4G, which has an etched, grippy surface and therefore doesn't easily slip out of your hand. Both the top-mounted power/lock button and the volume controls on the left are fairly well positioned for one handed use. The phone is a little thick, but it's relatively comfortable to hold and use. This is important for users who may be switching to a smartphone for the first time.

The screen is quite reflective and viewing angles are poor compared to more expensive phones.
The screen is quite reflective and viewing angles are poor compared to more expensive phones.

The screen is quite reflective and viewing angles are poor.

One nice addition that you don't normally see on many smartphones 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 EasyTouch 4G is clearly well targeted to customers who live in the bush.

The Telstra EasyTouch 4G has a large 4.3in screen with a reasonable resolution of 540x960. The qHD (quarter HD) display does a good job of rendering text, so it should be ideal for seniors or first time smartphone users. Unfortunately, the screen is quite reflective and viewing angles are poor compared to more expensive phones. We found the automatic brightness setting erratic, too, as it often resulted in a dim and dull image.

The back of the EasyTouch 4G has an etched, grippy surface and doesn't easily slip out of your hand.
The back of the EasyTouch 4G has an etched, grippy surface and doesn't easily slip out of your hand.

Handy widgets add to usability

The Telstra EasyTouch 4G runs the 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich version of Google's Android operating system, but the key point here isn't the software version. Telstra has made a number of unique customisations to the interface, highlighted by a set of "easy widgets" that provide quick access to commonly used features.

Four widgets are included. The phone widget provides quick access to the phone dialler and call log, contacts and messages and also displays any missed calls or unread messages. The Internet widget opens the browser, saved bookmarks and the email app, while the media widget will open the camera, photo gallery and default music player. Finally, a settings widget allows users to adjust sound settings, manage Wi-Fi and set an alarm clock.

Telstra has made a number of unique customisations to the interface, highlighted by a set of "easy widgets".
Telstra has made a number of unique customisations to the interface, highlighted by a set of "easy widgets".

The widgets are a good idea and work reasonably well, though its not possible to edit the apps they open.

The widgets are a good idea and work reasonably well, though its not possible to edit the apps they open. For example, the email shortcut will open the generic email app on the phone but can't be set as a shortcut for Gmail. The lock screen on the EasyTouch 4G has also been revamped. A large green rectangle can be held down to unlock the phone, while a red missed call notification and a green new message notification appear whenever appropriate. The feature is straightforward and well designed.

A large font size can be selected from the settings menu, but this doesn't increase the text of icons in the main menu, or the notifications bar. The clock, for example, is small and may be difficult to read for those with reduced vision. The icons in the dock aren't labelled, either, so there may be an initial source of confusion for first time users. A nice touch is the fact that the user manual of the EasyTouch 4G is loaded onto the device as a PDF file.

The customised lock screen of the Telstra EasyTouch 4G.
The customised lock screen of the Telstra EasyTouch 4G.

UI customisations aside, the software that powers the Telstra EasyTouch 4G is very close to a "vanilla" UI. It uses the standard Google icons and topography, so the user experience is similar to a stock Android device like the Google Nexus 4. The TelstraOne app comes pre-loaded on the device, 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, but both are likely to be a little small for users who require a large font.

The Telstra EasyTouch 4G offers reasonable but not outstanding performance. Basic tasks are relatively smooth and fast, though we did notice some slight lag and slowdown when scrolling through long lists and opening and closing apps. First smartphone buyers may not notice this slowdown too much but anyone who's previously used a well performing Android phone may be left disappointed.

Poor quality camera, reasonable battery life

The quality of photos is quite poor.

The Telstra EasyTouch 4G has an 8-megapixel camera with single LED flash but the quality of photos is quite poor. Most of the images we captured suffer from excessive image noise, a lack of detail and inaccurate colour reproduction. The camera is fine to take the odd happy snap, but compared to most of the better camera phones on the market, the EasyTouch 4G falls well short. Video recording quality, too, is below average, and although the front facing camera also lacks quality, it works reasonably well for video calling apps like Skype and Tango.

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

The EasyTouch 4G comes with just 4GB of internal memory but annoyingly, only 2.5GB is free for user space. A microSD card slot can expand this memory, supporting cards of up to 32GB in size.

Despite being a 4G smartphone, the Telstra EasyTouch 4G has reasonable battery life, usually pushing through a full day of use. Heavy users may struggle to achieve the same results, but the smaller screen and mid-range internals are certainly more kind to the 1900mAh battery than many high-end Android smartphones.

The Telstra EasyTouch 4G is available through Telstra stores and online and sells unlocked and outright for $456.

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