Hands On: Telstra Tough Max

Hands On: Telstra Tough Max

Are you one of those people who gets a little rough with their gadgets? Telstra has a fix for you, in the form of a dust and waterproof phone aimed at those who spend a lot of time outdoors. Check out the video as we have a little fun testing the Tough Max.

The Telstra Tough Max packs a 1.2Ghz Qualcomm MSM8916 and 2GB of RAM. You get 16GB of storage, expandable up to 32GB with a microSD card. The 4.7” screen uses an IPS panel and has a 1280 x 720 resolution which equates to 312 PPI. The rear shooter is 13MP (with flash), while the front is 5MP.

It doesn’t include NFC, but it does have wireless charging. The battery is 2500mAH, which Telstra reckons gives 12 hours of talktime, or up to 390 hours on standby. The phone measures in at 142.9 x 71.9 x 12mm and weighs 163g grams. It uses 2G/3G/4G networks, and has a connection port for an external antenna.

Unlike other phones, it’s designed to get dirty. Really dirty. Well, not like 50 Shades Of Gray-dirty, but probably just as rough.

The Tough Max is available for $480 outright, or on a range of Telstra plans starting from $62 a month.

For more info about the phone and to check out the plans, head to the Telstra web page.

After getting dirt in every orifice, the Tough Max was hosed off outside with no special cleaning. It scrubbed up pretty well, though a few of the indentations catch a bit of gunge.

The pictures below are of the phone after we had our fun too – no glamour shots here.

The Tough max includes a (glass style) screen protector, which held up pretty well to the abuse, though now has a few marks. It’s definitely worth having though and the screen feels pretty much the same with it on.

We directed some water into the USB port, and after a little time to dry off, it plugged in and charged / transferred data just fine. Since the phone has wireless charging, a little USB port cover would have been handy though.

The phone is surprisingly lightweight to hold, with an easy to grip rubbery feel. Compared to using a protective case though is quite slim.


The Tough Max runs Android Lollipop, and as expected these days, is fast and smooth to use. There is no compromise on hardware – it just works like any other phone.

The waterproofing seems to give the audio quality a slightly flat quality, but it’s not enough to cause a problem.

The ringer (and speakerphone) on the other hand are way too quiet, even at full volume. It’s fine indoors, but in a loud environment, a supercharged ringer and vibrate function would be much appreciated.

In full sun the screen is easily readable, but slightly brighter would have still been nice.


Telstra rate the Tough Max as IP67, and waterproof for 30 minutes at 1 meter and dust proof. So in other words, no problem if you drop it in a pool, but don’t take it snorkelling.

The phone can use Telstra’s 4GX network for extra fast data, and is Blue Tick rated. Which means that you will get better coverage and faster speeds in rural areas.

It also has a handy button on the top that if held down, activates the flash as a torch.

How does the 13-megapixel camera hold up? It’s no stand out in the current smartphone battlefield, but does a pretty passable job. Some pictures we snapped are below – like any self respecting tradie we hit the garden and photographed some flowers.

So should you buy it? Absolutely – provided you need the tough capabilities. There are not a lot of options in the extra durable phone market, but the Tough Max is definitely a simpler option than trying to use extra cases.

It’s also pretty affordable considering the specs and features.

Want more Tough Max? Telstra also made a bunch of their own amusing videos to show off the phone – check them out below the pics.