Telstra/ZTE T165i Review


Welcome to the Telstra/ZTE T165i  mobile phone review. This model is essentially a T7 model in a more rugged shell – without the folding design.

We where initially impressed with this phone for a number of reasons.  The construction quality was excellent and the materials and feel was better than most ZTE models we’ve had.  Also for once the pictures do look like the actual physical model.  The case for example is rubberised and screen is glossy.

There are few mobile phones made for outdoor activities these days and we are happy to report that this one actually was really quite good.  It’s not weather proof (Telstra does not seem to claim it to be either) to the extent of the Nokia 5140 and the T165i does not appear to have exchangeable covers either.  So dropping it shouldn’t cause too much damage as long as it’s got a decent cover on the screen.  What’s the point then – we don’t know? Regardless the phone feels good to hold.

I expected more functionality to be included with the T165i – afterall the benchmark (and very old) Nokia 5140 had many features all rugged type phone should have.  Features like flash light, thermometer, and SPL.  Sure the T165i has A-GPS – is a fantastic addition, the lack of navigation software is disappointing.

Although a dedicated 3G or NextG phone it also has all the GSM frequencies.  The 3G capabilities allow the phone far more functionality than you’d expect but at a cost – literally.  You need a decent data plan!

The screen was surprisingly good – its a QVGA model, so nice refined graphics.  As for readability in sunlight – well it is OK better than normal phones but no where near super bright.  The screen is set into the screen deeper than most due to the over sized case.

The T165i packs almost all the industry standard hardware like a QVGA ot 240×320 pixel screen,  and A-GPS receiver is now included as part of the phone.   Unfortunately no navigation software but then you can always use Google Maps.  However you’ll need a decent Internet data plan…

The external antenna pod is there for a reason so you get excellent network reception without an external antenna.  Also like most Telstra branded phones there’s an external antenna socket which does wonders when traveling to isolated regions.  It also has an FM radio which is handy but not AM which in isolated regions the only form of radio available.  Most younger users probably don’t even know what AM radio is… A new 3 megapixel camera is also included but we haven’t tried it yet so can’t tell whether its any good.

It’s got lots of functionality through various applications that are standard fare on most mid range range phones but being a NextG like all 3G linked phones is functionality offered through the network’s internet homepage.  Customization functionality is limited to light levels and wallpaper.  Yes it plays music and MP3 ringtones.

The T165i is also Tri-band UTMS and Quad-band GSM, one of the few mobile phone with the complete set of modern frequencies so you should be able to use it around the world.  Interestingly its got a ton of modem capabilities, most interesting is the Bluetooth and Dail-up networking profiles.  It would seem like a inexpensive wireless modem – with the right data plan.


All up the Telstra/ZTE T165i is another typically good mobile phone but it is in a niche market.  Afterall it’s not a truly rugged phone outdoor phone more semi-outdoor.  It is also quite expensive for a mobile phone unless you can get it on a decent plan.  More disappointing is that there wasn’t any MicroSD card included considering the price.


  • Telstra/ZTE T165i
  • Network
    Tri-band 3G HSDPA 7.2 / UMTS 850 / 1900 / 2100 MHz
    Quad-band GSM 850 / 900/1800 /1900 MHz)
  • Design
    Rugged – Standard
    L117 x W51 x D16 mm
    Weight 119 grams
  • Display/s
    Intenal TFT 240 x 320
  • Camera
    2MP auto-focus main camera
  • Connectivity
    A-GPS Reciever
    Bluetooth V1.2 – Supports FTP / HFC / A2DP
  • CPU
    270MHz Processor
  • Memory
    64MB internal memory
    45MB available to user
    Up to 4Gig MicroSD or Trans Flash cards
  • Ring tones
    MP3, MMF, MIDI, Vibration
  • Features
    FM Radio
    MyWords predictive text
    JAVA MIDP 2.0
    Speaker Phone/Hands free
    Customizable backgrounds
    Picture Viewer
    Video calling
    Voice memos
    Calender and organizer
    250Hrs Standby, 3.5 hours Talk Time
  • Package contents
    XP/Vista Compatible PC suite
    Mac OSX Compatible software
    Personal hands free kit
    Travel charger
    USB cable
  • Price history
    Between $499 AUS 2009