Best phones for the new Telstra and Optus 4G 700MHz networks


WhistleOut
09 January 2015

The new 700MHz 4G networks from Optus and Telstra promise improvements to range and indoor coverage for 4G users, but will your phone work with it? Not all phones are 700MHz compatible.

So, which ones work and which are the best? Both Optus and Telstra have a great range of phones and, luckily, quite a few of them work on 700MHz.

Telstra 4GX

Telstra calls its 700MHz network ‘4GX’, which is a reference to not only its superior speed, but also that Telstra owns enough contiguous bandwidth to offer category 6 (CAT6) 4G LTE. CAT6 is a quicker method of providing 4G, which makes the 4GX network the fastest in Australia. It has nothing to do with the 700MHz frequency other than that it happens to be the frequency on which Telstra chose to implement CAT6.

Right now Telstra has just two phones compatible with the CAT6 standard: the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the esoteric Galaxy Edge. These phone are also compatible with 700MHz frequencies and utilise the full power of the 4GX network, where possible.

Optus 4G 700MHz

Optus doesn't have a fancy name for its low frequency network, nor does it utilise CAT6, due to lack of bandwidth. Instead it uses the (still very fast) CAT4 standard. While you'll certainly get higher numbers if you use a speed test on the 4GX network, both options will provide 4G fast enough that it would take a seriously avid user to notice the difference in the kind of things you use the internet for on your phone.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Released in late 2014, the 5.7 inch 2K (2560 x 1440) display of the Galaxy Note 4 offers around 75% more pixels than a traditional 1080p HD display. It’s beautiful, crisp and bright. It’s also big, although not as much as you’d expect. Despite being larger than the 5.5 inch display on the iPhone 6 Plus, the phone overall is of similar size.


Samsung Note 4
Telstra Plans
Samsung Note 4
Optus Plans

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

The pair of iPhones from 2014 should need little introduction. They are both bigger than their predecessors; the iPhone 6 measures in at 4.7 inches and the 6 Plus at 5.5, compared to the 4 inches of the iPhone 5s. They also both offer outstanding camera performance, although the larger 6 Plus is the slightly better of the two thanks to optical image stabilisation. Finally, Apple has finally fixed its battery issues. In many reviews the iPhone 6 Plus often lasted two days, while the iPhone 6 was more of a day and a half affair. At the very least that means it will comfortably go a whole day.


iPhone 6
Telstra Plans
iPhone 6
Optus Plans
iPhone 6 Plus
Telstra Plans
iPhone 6 Plus
Optus Plans

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact

'Compact', like 'mini', carries with it certain connotations when applied to phones. On top of indicating a smaller size, it usually means weaker hardware and a generally worse device than its full-sized namesake. That's not really the case with the Xperia Z3 Compact. In almost every way it is the equal of the flagship Xperia Z3, except for a slight decrease in screen resolution. It is fast, smooth, highly water resistant and features a fantastic 20.7MP camera. If you want a 4.7 inch Android but still want a top-tier experience then the Xperia Z3 Compact is your best, and only bet.


Xperia Z3 Compact
Telstra Plans
Xperia Z3 Compact
Optus Plans

HTC One (M8)

The One (M8) was the first 700MHz-compatible smartphone released in Australia, beating the Galaxy S5 out by mere weeks. Although it’s been around since early 2014, it’s still one of the most, if not the most, beautifully crafted handsets around. HTC may not quite stand up to the likes of Apple and Samsung in terms of sales, but if you’re after quality then the One (M8) is one of the better phones to hit shelves in the last year.


HTC One (M8)
Telstra Plans
HTC One (M8)
Optus Plans

Samsung Galaxy S5

The Galaxy S5 sold incredibly well in 2014. It’s a fast, powerful phone with 5.2 inch 1080p display and IP67 water-resistance rating. That means it can survive a drop in the toilet or sink no sweat, just don’t leave it in there overnight. The camera was pretty good, too. It was possibly the best on the market until the iPhone 6, 6 Plus and the Galaxy Note 4 all came along.


Samsung Galaxy S5
Telstra Plans
Samsung Galaxy S5
Optus Plans

LG G3

LG may not be the first brand you think of when it comes to phones, but with the LG G3 it proved that it could party with the rest of them. The G3 sports a 5.5 inch 2K display, but manages to have such small bezels that the phone itself is only slightly bigger than the Galaxy S5. The camera is great, user interface is fun and, best of all, the price is a bit lower than other flagship handsets.


LG G3
Telstra Plans
LG G3
Optus Plans

Sony Xperia Z3

The Sony Xperia Z3 is the full-sized version of the Z3 Compact. It's a powerful, attractive device with 1080p display and the same stunning 20.7MP camera found on its smaller sibling. Thanks to its high water-resistance and dedicated camera shutter button, you can even use the Z3 to take photos underwater.


Sony Xperia Z3
Telstra Plans
Sony Xperia Z3
Optus Plans


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