Brands and models tested
- Apple iPhone 5
- Blackberry Z10
- Google Nexus 4
- HTC One 4G
- HTC One XL
- HTC Windows Phone 8X
- LG Optimus G
- LG Optimus L3
- Motorola Razr HD
- Nokia Lumia 520
- Nokia Lumia 920
- Samsung Galaxy Note II 4G
- Samsung Galaxy S4
- Sony Xperia Z
- Telstra Easy Call 2
- Telstra Easy Touch 4G
- Telstra Frontier 4G
Our in-house tester, Scott O’Keefe, and testers Josh and Ben from the Kondinin Group’s Farming Ahead magazine rate the following aspects of each phone:
Reception Range testing is conducted at Oxley Downs in NSW, which is chosen for its flat topography surrounding a Next G phone tower and lack of interference from any other nearby towers. No other mobile network reception is available in this area. Josh and Ben travel away from the tower in 500m increments (using GPS) and place two-way calls with the various handsets. At the limit of reception, some back-tracking is necessary to pinpoint the exact point at which a particular handset fails.
Telstra has a Blue Tick program to indicate superior reception performance following a series of in-house tests. Our testing found that while all the Blue Tick mobile phones perform well in the outback, including the top model for network sensitivity test, several without the Blue Tick perform just as well, including a prepaid Nokia Windows phone that performed better than all but one mobile.
Ergonomics Scott assesses the keypad, touchscreen and keyboard, as well as general handling and menu controls when using the phone.
Call sound quality is tested by a panel receiving one call made from a landline to each mobile handset, and another made from each mobile handset to a landline desk phone. The sound they hear in each case is the same wave file recording of the tester reading from a document into a high-quality microphone recording to a wave file on a computer.
SMS use is examined by writing and receiving an SMS and checking the suitability of the display for texting.
Email Our testers see how easy it is to set up an email account as well as send, retrieve and read emails.
Web browser performance is scored on how easy it is to start the browser, navigate to sites, enter addresses and use favourites and bookmarks. We also note models with Wi-Fi connectivity.
Daily use Scott conducts a series of everyday tasks with each handset, including accepting a call, saving a call as a contact, bringing up the address book, adjusting the volume level and diverting an incoming call to the message bank.
Durability is tested by conducting a heat test (fully charged and in standby mode) with models placed in a hot environment at 60°C for three hours, followed by a drop test in which each handset is dropped onto a hard surface from a height of 80cm, four times on each of their six faces with calls made after the 12th and 24th drops.