Telstra recently unveiled its very own Telstra-branded 4G Android tablet. Considering Telstra’s previous attempts at a tablet it’s not surprising that this is the first Telstra tablet we’ve seen in a while and, more than that, it’s a somewhat curious move when you take in to account the trouble well-known Android manufacturers are already having in the market.
One thing Telstra certainly seems to have learned is what audience to target with an Android tablet; specifically the cheaper end of the market. While high-end Android tabs by Samsung, Acer and HTC have all seen questionable returns, both Amazon and Google have had rousing success by making cheap and affordable, yet still functional tablets.
Another point to note is that, while a Nexus 10 tablet is on the way from Google, so far the budget tablet market’s heroes have been 7-inchers. Telstra’s 10-inch tablet may very well appeal to more than a few customers who are after that budget tablet pricing, but with the 10-inch experience. However, while the Telstra 4G Tablet is being marketed as a more affordable 10-inch alternative, do its specs and pricing add up as an industry contender?
Interestingly enough targeting the more fiscally minded demographic, coupled with the fact that this tablet works on the Telstra 4G network, actually has a good chance of selling well enough to turn a profit. As mentioned before there aren’t too many great options for cheap 10 inch tablets at the moment and the 4G tablet market is even smaller. If this had been released, say, 6 months from now we’d definitely question this move by Telstra, but as it stands we can definitely understand Telstra’s timing.
Not only may this prove to be a good move for Telstra in terms of direct sales, but Telstra is currently involved in a marketing war against Optus in the fledgling 4G market. Currently Optus and Telstra are the only two carriers with their own 4G networks, so for Telstra to have this affordable 4G option could help cement it as Australia’s premier 4G provider.
Of course it’s yet to be seen just how good the Telstra 4G Tablet runs in the user’s hands, but as far as specs go we can at least make a few early guesses. Let’s take a look.
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Not a bad start, but not a great one. Ice Cream Sandwich isn’t too out-dated yet but we think it unlikely that a Telstra-branded tablet manufactured by ZTE will be seeing any OS updates to 4.1 Jelly Bean in the near future, if at all.
Still, 4.0 is a decent tablet OS and the omission of Jelly Bean isn’t exactly a deal-breaker. But it’s not a tick in the plus column, either.
16GB on-board memory
This is also ok. Memory can be expanded to 32GB via a MicroSD slot, but 16GB is fairly standard for less-expensive tablets.
5MP Rear Camera and 2MP Front-facing Camera
This is pretty good. Of course one can never judge a camera by its MP rating, but 5 on the back and 2 on the front is becoming fairly standard amongst high-end tablets. We’re a little surprised to see it here, to be honest.
4G LTE Connectivity
Massive perk. Telstra currently has the largest 4G network in Australia and there are very few 4G tablets to contend with; the new iPad 4th generation being the obvious prime contender.
Dual-core 1.5GHz Processor
Once again not a particularly strong point here, but if Telstra can keep the price down then it shouldn’t be an issue.
Pricing of the Telstra 4G Tablet
Now for the do or die moment. Telstra has made itself a decent tablet that might actually be a contender in the lower ends of the market and it costs… $480. By comparison the new 4G retina display iPad 16GB model is $539.
This is probably where the Telstra 4G Tablet loses almost all of its momentum. If Telstra could have kept that price tag down just a little more we think it would have been a viable contender against not only other budget Android options, but also the iPad. As it stands it’s still not a bad-sounding device, but its future is questionable.
Still, it can be obtained for as little as $39 per month on a 24 month Telstra contract ($1 delivery fee upfront – weird), which is kind of nice. Once again by comparison the Retina iPad is $48 per month, adding up to a difference of $216 over 2 years. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 4G is just $43 per month, meaning just a difference of just $96 over 2 years.
Still, this time around Telstra at least looks like it’s fronted a functional tablet with modern hardware, which is a good step in the right direction. Who knows, maybe next time will be even better.