Home Home Tech Telstra's Essentials 8-inch Android tablet for $129 even makes phone calls

Ok, so Android tablets that can make phone calls aren't new, but even so, a 2018 Android Tablet running Android Oreo 8.1 Go for $129 is almost an essential purchase.

Need an inexpensive tablet, whether for yourself, or your family, with a price tag that's much more down to earth than some of the latest models which cost well into the four figure mark?

If that's the case, Telstra's new Essential 8-inch tablet, powered by Alcatel and Android Oreo 8.1 Go edition, may well be an essential purchase this holiday season, as it is billed as "an affordable and versatile tablet designed with families in mind".

Obviously it doesn't have the "top-of-the-line" specs of tablets costing $1000 or vastly more, but as an everyday, family friendly tablet, it'll do the job for the vast majority of standard tablet computing scenarios. 

As you'd expect, this is a 4G-enabled tablet, and not only does it let you surf the Web and run all kinds of apps, but it has a phone dialler built in, making it one of the world's largest smartphones – if you want to look at it that way, of course.

Realistically, though, it's a tablet with a "Quadcore chipset" that promises "a smooth user experience", rather than a giant phone, but you can essentially look at it any way you want, and thanks to Google Lens, as noted below, this tablet can look at just about anything the way it wants to, too.

So, pre-loaded along with the Android Oreo 8.1 Go edition operating system, we're told that "Google Lens is also pre-loaded on the tablet".

"Google Lens is an image recognition app that uses AI-powered technology to helps users explore the world around them. Users simply take a photo or screenshot, and Google Lens will detect and identify the object, as well as offer suggestions based on the object.

"Users can find products online, copy and paste text, learn more about landmarks, add events to their calendar, look up movie posters, identify popular plants and animals and more".

Now, it has to be said that anyone using any modern Android device can download Google Lens to their smartphone or tablet, but Telstra has decided this feature is worth featuring, so we've featured it.

The tablet also offers "Family Mode", which is "a dedicated mode for kids with pre-loaded popular games, cartoons and books. Within Family Mode, parental controls can be easily enabled to set parameters around app accessibility and usage time".

Telstra and Alcatel have also thought of those "worried about the effect on vision associated with screen time", and thus they've ensured the tablet features "Eye Care Mode, which reduces blue light to lessen eye strain".

Here are the specifications:

209.5 x 125 x 8.29mm

8” IPS 800 x 1280 16M colour


MediaTek MT8765B QUADCORE 4 x 1.28GHz

16GB/ 1GB Exp up to 128GB

5MP/ 2MP


Talk Time
Up to 25 Hours (3G)

Standby time
Up to 400 Hours


Operating system
Android GO

Available colours

Additional features
Kids Mode, Eye Care, Google Lens, Face unlock


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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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