Telstra F256 Review

Welcome to the Telstra/ZTE F256 mobile phone review. Once again Telstra has physically and rebranded a ZTE model. Rebranding in this fashion is quite farcical since when you go back to Telstra to get the phone fixed and told to go to ZTE. Telling it ‘like it is’ Telstra, if you want to rebrand phones with your logo then you have a responsibility to get it fixed. That goes to all manufacturers who do this sort of thing.

The ZTE F256 was another initial release phone for the the Telstra NextG network. It’s was one the the only flip phones that was available at the time of the network’s launch back in 2006. Lately this model has dropped significantly in price and also become a pre-paid phone. You can get only on the pre-paid scheme but locked to the Telstra network for as low as $69. (Previously it was priced at $249) It now undercuts the F152 and F56 by half. But is it good value?

Top save you reading the entire review if you get bored easily, the F256 is really just a flip phone version of the F152 and F156 but cheaper!

Battery Life

The battery life of the F256 is very good. On standby essentially 7 days. With normal usage 3-4 days. Since it operates on the NextG (850Mhz 3G) network its a bordering on excellent in most instances. Note that batteries are not compatible with the F156.


The phone operations are very fast. Menu navigation and running applications are flawless. Turns on and off quickly too!

Since it’s a 3G phone loading web pages and streaming videos work really well. It does have HSDPA so the quality of the streaming video quality and the sound is just as good as more expensive phones. However the volume of the loud speaker is on the soft side.


Picture quality is OK for a mobile phone. Like older 3G phone it has only one camera that you rotate if you want a face shot or regular photos or video camera. Picture quality is the same as the other phones in the ZTE lineup. See the specifications for more details. It has the capability to record videos in MP4 format or 3GP format which is nice.

Media Player

The MP3 player included is basic missing multiple playlists, EQ, ID3 tag display, and easy navigation. At least it sounds reasonable through the head phones. The only problem is that is uses it’s micro-USB connection as the headphone socket. So you can not charge the phone or do data transfers and listen to music through the headphones at the same time. This is not a media focused phone so we were not expecting a lot of functionality anyway.


The internal screen used on this phone reflects its pricing position. It’s the industry standard circa 2006 176 x 220 pixels with 262K colours. Specifications indicate a sharp and clear screen but in reality it’s nothing special. Its probably because of its slightly larger is size. The screen’s back light is very good with adjustable levels.

The external screen is small but appears sharp and clear indicating that it’s a TFT – no specifications where included in the box so at a guess it’s 80 x 40 pixels.


Like almost all Telstra/ZTE phones the major flaw is the construction materials. Don’t believe the pictures it doesn’t look as good in real life. Yes like the others it is sturdy but just looks and feels bargain basement. The flip mechanism works well and is sturdy. The buttons look like they are metal but we think they have just glossy surface so we think it’ss plastic. The deforming micro SD card cover is a shocker but at least it has one!


It is a 3G phone so you’d expect a reasonable offering. Indeed it doesn’t let you down. It has everything you’d expect in a mobile phone made in 2007. However it lacks a lot of customization features that would make ownership more enjoyable. Also lack of any additional content in terms of games of wallpaper images for wallpapers was also disappointing. All manufacturers include at least 1 or 2 additional images and games that have been optimized for the phone’s screen these days. At least there are the numerous ring tones.

For the customization features it does have it has pre-set phone groups and custom ring tones. It can run JAVA games and other applications but we haven’t tried it yet.

Call quality

Overall very good. Callers and us where heard without any break up or static. We where impressed that the F256 has the ability to connect an external antenna – to boost the signal – this is a rare feature in 2008 and I hope they continue to include it. We certainly use it.

It has almost all frequencies you need 3G HSDPA and UMTS in 850Mhz or 2100Mhz, GSM 900, 1800 and 1900. Not many phones have dual 3G frequencies which is thus a stand out. Network reception seems in our ‘marginal’ area is good but should be better. In fact the GSM signal was always better then the 3G signal for Telstra. Whether its the actual network coverage or phone receiver we aren’t quite sure.


All up the Telstra/ZTE F256 is a good mobile phone. In fact the entire range or variants of the current ZTE line-up are reasonable phones. All use the same underlying phone OS hence all have the same functionality. Price differences are just that and dependent on demand and marketing of particular models.

For the price catergory for 2008 they are in they are hard to beat. For example not many are Tri-band GSM and dual band 3G phone with bluetooth, memory card expansion a decent screen. The only thing missing are more customization options. Only being able to change wallpapers and ring tones is pretty lame in 2008.

So a good, stable but cheap looking mobile phone. If your after ‘personality’ in a phone look else where.


  • Telstra/ZTE F256
  • Network
    3G HSDPA / UMTS 850 / 2100 MHz
    Tri-band GSM (900/1800/1900 MHz)
  • Design
    Flip or clam shell phone
    L99 x W49 x D19 mm
    Weight 125 grams
  • Display/s
    Intenal TFT 176 x 220, 262K colours
    External TFT
  • Camera
    1.3 MP main camera
  • Connectivity
  • CPU
    225MHz Processor
  • Memory
    64MB internal memory
    47-48MB available to user
    Up to 2Gig Trans Flash cards
  • Ring tones
    MP3, MMF, MIDI, Vibration
  • Features
    MyWords predictive text
    JAVA MIDP 2.0
    Bluetooth V1.2 – Supports FTP / HFC / A2DP
    Speaker Phone/Hands free
    Customizable backgrounds
    Picture Viewer
    Video calling
    Voice memos
    Calender and organizer
    200 Hrs Standby, 180 Mins Talk Time
  • Package contents
    Vista Compatible PC suite
    Personal hands free kit
    Travel charger
  • Price history
    Between $69-249 AUS PRE-PAID 2008