Telstra aims to get push-to-talk technology that needed push with the launch of the TalkNow ZTE 159 phone; a 3G tough phone built for the outdoors that comes with an assisted GPS feature and a new Talk Now function that instantly turns the phone into a walkie talkie.

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The ZTE 159 is perfect all-around phone for manufacturing, trade, construction, and even transport industries who have a lot of ‘on the field’ users.

In addition to the AGPS function and Talk Now function, it also comes with a Xora TimeTrack function that can track any device connected to your ‘network’ by logging in to the Xora website. By activating ‘Shift Start’ on the mobile device, users will be logged on to the network and can be immediately tracked down by any office supervisor or administrator who visits the Xora website. 

The Xora TimeTrack also allows a supervisor to schedule and/or dispatch jobs for a mobile user. In this way, users can immediately download all assigned or available jobs and see all the corresponding job details. It is also a 3G unit that connects to Telstra’s Next G network, providing users with blistering uploading and downloading speeds. 


The build quality and layout of the keys is similar to the F165 (Country Phone). The number keys are big and well-spaced, making it easy for anyone to input numbers or letters when composing text messages. The 159 has a dedicated Foxtel, Telstra Biz, Back, and Clear keys, as well as five-way navigation keys that also functions as hotkeys to Telstra My Place, Main Menu, Message folder, and Contact list. In addition, volume control buttons and a Telstra Talk Now (TTN) button can be found on the unit’s left side, while a USB port for charging and syncing files can be found on its right.

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TTN: Turns your phone to a long range walkie talkie

The large and bright screen with clear text and icons made it easy for us to navigate through the menu and access the various functions.

Different options like Tools, Browser, Multimedia, Games and Apps, and Telstra My Place were easily accessible with the touch of the OK button. Programs like File Manager, Calendar, Stopwatch, Calculator, World Time, Bluetooth, Syncml, GPS, Alarm, and PocketNews are found under the Tools option, as other applications like Telstra Business, Foxtel Mobile, Yellow search, BigPond Music, Web Mail, Call 1234 Info, BigBlog & Photos, Whereis Maps, Downloads, and My Stocks can be found under the My Place sub-menu.

The 159 also comes with a Message, Contacts, and Calls sub-menu for quick access to stored e-mail or SMS, stored numbers on the handset and SIM card, or calls made to and from the handset.

The Telstra Talk Now function lets a user talk to other users and is similar to a walkie-talkie or two-way radio device. For $10 dollars a month, the TTN service allows a user to make a Push to Talk call, send a text message, leave a voicemail, or start a conference call with up to 30 users all at once. This feature is most useful for business or tradesmen that constantly need to communicate with important contacts or colleagues at any single time. This feature is easy to use: simply press the TTN button, highlight the user/users you want to talk with, and press the TTN button again. It took less than five seconds to establish a connection between two units and we have found the connection to be clear and free of static.


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The 1.3-megapixel camera located at the back of the 159.
The AGPS function (under tools sub-menu) gave us our exact GPS location and we were able to use the Whereis maps to go to nearby points of interest like ATMs, restaurants, hotels, etc. Although the ZTE 159 is not a substitute for stand-alone navigation devices, the phone was still able to take us where we wanted to go.

The Telstra F159 has a 1.3-megapixel camera that can take photos up to 1024 x 1280, can shoot videos, and even perform video calls with the use of the secondary camera. This phone does not have any memory card slot available, which limits the number of photos and videos a user can take. Then again, this phone will be used by business professionals, so there is really no need for any memory card slot to be available.

Telstra promises up to 400 hours continuous idle time in GSM mode (350 hours in WCDMA mode) and up to 250 minutes of talktime on the GSM network (300 minutes in WCDMA). Using the phone for video calls will give you up to 150 minutes, while watching Mobile Foxtel reduces the battery life significantly.

Roll over to the next page for product specifications, conclusion, and final rating.


The perfect on-the-go 3G phone – that is what we think about Telstra’s new ZTE 159. An RRP of $729 may seem expensive, but with features like TTN, AGPS, and XORA software on the phone, it is clearly a good investment.

The Telstra TalkNow function is available for only $10 per month for unlimited access to all of the Telstra TalkNow features when you sign for a 24 month Telstra Business plan. AGPS adds extra functionality to the Whereis software and will not incur charges.

Product Specifications:

Handset Standards:
WCDMA 850MHz, 2100MHz with HSDPA data
900MHz GSM, 1800 MHz GSM, and 1900 MHz GSM

225MHz processor, 262K colour screen, MMS Video and Picture, E-mail, Calendar, Speakerphone, Voice Recorder, Bluetooth, MP4 video, MP3 audio, 1.3-megapixel camera, video call, USB connectivity, MIDP 2.0 JAVA

Storage Space:
60MB Internal SDRAM

Continuous Idle Time:
400 hours in GSM mode, 350 hours in WCDMA mode

Continuous Talk Time:
360 minutes on GSM network, 300 minutes on WCDMA network, Video call 150 minutes

Battery Life:
400 charge cycles

Dimensions: 123 mm x 51 mm x 23 mm
Weight: 160g

Telstra TalkNow ZTE 159 | $729 |  | www.telstra.com.au

For: Tough construction; Telstra Talk Now feature; AGPS function; Xora TimeTrack program; Ease of use
Against: No memory card slot; Cannot use PTT to mobile phones in another service provider
Conclusion: A phone that implements TTN and AGPS functions well. Possibly one of the best outdoor business phones we have seen this year.

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