Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Telstra Corporation F159
- Dust and water resistant to international standards, ruggedised design, impressive layout and implementation of controls, HSDPA-capable, GPS
- Large and chunky size, poor multimedia performance, no memory card slot for extra storage
The F159 improves on its predecessor by adding assisted GPS and Telstra's TalkNow service.
Price$ 729.00 (AUD)
Almost identical in design to the F158, Telstra's F159 adds assisted GPS functionality, is ruggedised to an international standard and features the Telstra TalkNow application. The F159 is also water and dust resistant, making it an ideal companion for tradesmen.
The ruggedised candy bar design of the F159 certainly isn't very attractive, but it does the job. The orange and black F159 is dust and water compliant to international IP54 standards. Although we can't formally test these claims, we did drop the handset a few times on various surfaces (including concrete) and splashed water on it. It passed both of these tests with flying colours.
The design itself is notable, but the sheer size of this handset may be a hindrance. It's especially chunky and feels quite heavy in the palm of our hand. Despite the size, the display is quite small. The controls are impressive though – they are well spaced, comfortable and easy to press, making general browsing and messaging a pleasant affair. They are also quite large so they can easily be pressed wearing gloves, for example, if you are at work.
Being a Next G handset, the F159 is naturally a HSDPA capable device, and supports speeds of up to 3.6Mbps on the Telstra network. Running on Next G means the F159 has access to the full range of Telstra content, including Mobile FOXTEL, Yellow Pages and WhereIs mobile. The F159 really hasn't been designed with entertainment or multimedia in mind, but as it's aimed at tradesmen, this isn't really a concern. In fact, the FOXTEL and Telstra shortcuts on the home page should be user programmable – we'll take a guess and say that most tradesmen wouldn't be interested in these functions.
Telstra has added assisted GPS to the F159. The handset doesn't come with an application to utilise the GPS, but Telstra claims that applications will be downloadable as they are made available. Our review handset was pre-installed with Xora Time Track, an application for businesses to track their workers including a time module, location module and job module. From the phone itself, users can start and end a shift, request or end a job, get further details on that day's work and send a message to multiple workers. A company can then monitor their workers exact location and other details by logging into the application on the Web. Here they can easily track and record the locations, hours worked, and jobs performed by their employees. It's an excellent example of the appeal of GPS and purpose built applications to enhance productivity.
Telstra's TalkNow feature is also available on the F159. This application allows you to contact up to 30 people using this service at the same time, improving operational efficiency for businesses and corporate users. With TalkNow you can see what contacts are available, use Push To Talk (PTT), make conference calls, leave group voicemail messages and send group texts.
The F159 is very easy to use. The main menu features colourful icons in a simple grid layout, with a list format for most sub-menus. The F159 supports standard SMS, MMS and e-mail messaging, all with standard T9 predictive text input, while Bluetooth supports handsfree headsets but can't stream music to a wireless set of headphones. PIM features include an alarm, calendar, stopwatch, calculator and world time, while Telstra includes a USB cable in the sales package for file transfers and connection to a PC.
A 1.3-megapixel camera on the rear is included and photos were about what we'd expect – colour reproduction is quite poor and image noise is an issue, but they look decent on the F159's display, even if the screen is low specified and has a poor viewing angle. A front-mounted VGA camera is also present to allow for video calling over the Next G network. You can save photos on the 64MB of internal storage but there is no memory card slot. Telstra also offer an external antenna that clips to the F159 to provide better reception in rural areas.
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