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Next G mobile phone reviews

We test the outback reception of 19 phones, including models from Apple, HTC, Sony, Samsung and Telstra.

Last updated: 23rd December 2014

If you regularly travel outside metro areas, a mobile that works on the NextG 850Mhz frequency is your best bet for uninterrupted coverage in the outback. We review 19 mobiles, priced from $79 to $999. Our testers hit the road to tell you which phones:

  • have the best reception 
  • have the best call sound quality 
  • are the easiest to use

Want to know how we make sure the phones will perform when you need them to? Read more about how we test Next G mobile phones.

Brands and models tested

Before you buy

If you're thinking of moving to Telstra or Vodafone and bringing your own mobile phone, or you're a Telstra or Vodafone customer looking at buying a new phone from somewhere else, it's more important than ever to ensure your smartphone works on the 850MHz frequency. If your mobile only works on 2100MHz, you won't be able to do much more than call and text. Telstra has created a "Blue Tick" program to indicate phones with superior reception performance on its NextG network (what Telstra calls its 3G network).

We found that although all the Blue Tick mobile phones performed well in the outback, several mobiles without the Blue Tick performed just as well including a couple of premium smartphones as well as a talk and text cheapie.

To find out if your phone will work on the Telstra (or Vodafone) 850MHz frequency, visit Telstra's website. You'll need your mobile's unique 15-digit IMEI number, which you can find by entering *#06# into its keypad.

Reception 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 backtracking is necessary to locate the exact point at which a particular handset fails.

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