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Wednesday, 30 July 2008 14:11

Telstra launches fastest 7.2Mbps 'œBlue Tick' phone: LG KF390

Telstra already has phones operating at “up to” 7.2Mbps on its Next G network, but the LG KF390 is the first 7.2Mbps-class phone to achieve “Blue Tick” status, something Telstra recommends for “handheld use” in rural and regional areas.

Although Telstra already has the i-mate Ultimate range of smartphones operating at speeds of up to 7.2Mbps, those two handsets don’t have the “Blue Tick” for recommended handheld use in rural and regional areas.

That said, both i-mate handsets are powerful Windows Mobile smartphones that offer a much bigger set of features while also offering both HSDPA and HSUPA capabilities, so for anyone that needs those features on a smartphone in metropolitan areas, Telstra has you covered there.

But for rural and regional users that want a smartphone that combines a Blue Tick, and 7.2Mbps-class speeds, the LG KF390 is the first and only model capable of doing so without any additional antennas or other gear – at least, for now, as other phone manufacturers will surely follow.

Real-world speeds will range from 500Kbps to 3Mbps, with the phone “able to burst up to 6Mbps in metropolitan areas”. The KF390 is also exclusive to Telstra, working on the 850MHz 3.5G network (but also 2100MHz and GSM/EDGE).

In addition, the phone (like most others) can also be used as a wireless broadband modem for desktop or laptop computers (at Telstra’s expensive wireless broadband charges), and it could save some regional users the expense of getting an additional USB, ExpressCard or PCMCIA modem, especially seeing as Telstra’s data charges through wireless modems or mobile phones are the same.

Telstra makes no mention of the phone also having HSUPA capabilities for fast upload of data as with the i-mate Ultimates, and offer no specifications for the LG KF390 either, so we can only assume the phone is WCDMA upload speed capable of “up to” 384kbps, which for most uses is good enough.

But if you do need the faster speeds HSUPA provides for data use through a computer, you’d want to get a separate data card – and you’d want to also know whether the region you’re in has towers that support HSUPA, although a call to Telstra told me that HSUPA was upgraded and available in a “majority of places”. 

In any case, those needing mobile data in rural and regional areas and are happy to pay Telstra’s rates likely would already have the relevant data cards to hand, and capable of HSUPA at that, but if you didn’t know the phone could easily serve as a broadband modem too... you do now.

Telstra Country Wide’s, Group MD, Geoff Booth, said that while the LG KF390 was the first 7.2Mbps-class model, it was the 8th Next G handset to get the “Blue Tick”. He also explained that: “Perhaps even more importantly you can maximise your coverage with the LG KF390 by connecting it to an external antenna, either through a patch lead or via a directly-coupled car kit.”

So, what else does the phone do, what will it cost and when is it launching? Having seen a photo (which is on page 2), it’s looks kinda utilitarian, LG’s “Chocolate”, “Shine” and “Secret” phones look a lot cooler, but clearly it’s designed to do the job. More on page 2!

Telstra Product Management Executive Director, Ross Fielding, touted the handset’s features, explaining that it is a “sturdy slider handset offering the latest features, including a 2 megapixel camera with flash, a sharp 2-inch screen, large tactile keys, speakerphone, Bluetooth connectivity, media player, video calling, MMS functionality and much more.

Fielding explained that it had the fastest 3G download speeds, something we’ve already covered, and explained: “That capability translates to a faster experience for customers browsing the net, using 3G applications like WhereIs mapping, and downloading content.”

The phone will cost AUD $559 to purchase “outright” from the 4th of August, which probably means it will need an additional fee to be unlocked should you desire that, but will also come on a $30 per month plan over 24 months from August 18.

The KF390 can’t yet be seen at the online Telstra Shop nor at LG’s site, but the Mobile88 site has some more details of the known specifications so far, although I’d imagine that Telstra and LG’s sites will be updated before or on the on-sale date.

The other seven “Blue Tick” phones in the Next G line-up include the Telstra Country Phone (the Telstra 165), the LG TU 550, LG TU 500 (prepaid), Nokia N95, Samsung A412, Samsung A411 (prepaid), and the Sony Ericsson Z750i.

Fielding was happy to note that: “There are now more than 50 mobile handsets and personal digital assistants (PDAs) to choose from in the Next G network range giving customers even greater choice than ever.”

More details on “maximising your Next G coverage performance” can be found from Telstra here.

And here’s what the phone looks like. You can see why Telstra calls it "sturdy"!

LG KF390 Slider - open

LG KF390 - Slider - Closed

LG KF390 - rear view

LG KF390 - front angle view


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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