Telstra Blue Tick Part III – readers regret trusting Telstra (smartphone)

Telstra Blue Tick Part III relates to a reader’s experiences with so-called Blue Tick phones. It covers their experiences with a Telstra store that seems happy to sell these and expensive 5G plans despite knowing where the reader lives!

This original issue started when another reader contacted me about a Telstra Blue Tick-certified phone that was no better than an uncertified one! We did some digging, and the result: Is Telstra Blue Tick accurate for rural phone reception? Then, another reader contacted me, and his experiences were equally unimpressive. Read Telstra Blue Tick Part II – Reader’s experiences are not good.

I ventured that we would hear more, and this is reader Mark’s experience.

We live near Jondaryan outside Toowoomba in Queensland. I have an old iPhone 8, and my wife has an older iPhone. These have served us well, and we can always make and receive a phone call. The batteries were shot, so we went to the Telstra Toowoomba store last year, where we first bought the iPhones.

We had not even considered phone reception might be a problem but were steered towards a Blue Tick Android phone because Apple was not Blue Tick-approved. On the salesperson’s advice, we bought a Samsung Galaxy S23 and an S21 FE outright and were convinced to upgrade our plans to the Telstra 5G $72/180GB plan. We did not even know about 5G, but Telstra said it was faster, and we liked that idea. Later, we found that we couldn’t get 5G in our area, and the salesman had conned us.

As we don’t use the iPhone for much apart from photos, mail, and Spotify, the swapover was easy. Although I struggled to remember the iCloud passwords to get photos, we found them written down on the original phone boxes.

As we started to use the new phones, we noticed that the reception was not as good as the old iPhones. The S23 was OK, and I could get a call in the house, but my wife often had to go outside to receive calls and reduce dropouts. She was furious!

We phoned Telstra Toowoomba Store, and they took us through Wi-Fi calling over the internet, which solved in-home calls. I asked if there were phones with better reception, and they said Blue Tick was the best, so no. I asked if we could swap these for iPhones, and they said no, because the phones were not faulty.

We read your Telstra Blue Tick articles. What can we do?


Jondaryan – I remember the wonderful wool-shed country dances in my youth. According to RFMSA, Telstra has one tower at Rutledge Road (Tower 4403001 with 4GX Band 28/700 and 1800Mhz and 5G 850MHz), and you may get some coverage from Greenwood Cemetery (4401006 and 28/700MHz).

While I could recommend that you complain to the Telecommunications Ombudsman, its powers are more focused on network availability and billing issues. And under Australian Consumer Law, you probably did not make it a condition of sale that the phones worked as well as your old iPhones. You could approach the Queensland Department of Fair Trading to see if you have any leverage and mention the upsell to expensive 5G plans when the sales person should have known better.

The real issue is that the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has an Exynos processor and modem, and our tests stated it was ‘strictly a city/suburbs phone’.

The S23 (all versions) has a Qualcomm SD8 Gen 2 processor and modem and should have better reception (as you found).

Three things to try.

  1. Look under Settings> Connections>Mobile Networks>SIM and Preferred Network type. It is likely set to 5G/4G/Auto. Switch it to 4G/3G (it generally gives a stronger signal than trying to connect to 5G by default).
  2. Load the free Network Cell Info Lite & Wi-Fi app (Google Play) on both phones to get some statistics. You need the Speed test (Mobile LTE – you may have to turn Wi-Fi off) and the RAW tower data. If you don’t understand the results, send screenshots to me at [email protected].
  3. You can check tower coverage at RFNSA. If they are more than about 15km away or blocked by hilly terrain, this may explain the problem. You may get better coverage from Optus—who knows? Or you could consider You can boost mobile phone reception at home or on the move.

As Telstra will not refund the Samsung S21 FE, try using it as a trade-in. I would advise looking for another Samsung S23 ($1199 at Harvey Norman) or the Motorola ThinkPhone ($999 and in stock from JB Hi-Fi Toowoomba) to replace the S21 FE. Harvey Norman and JB generally allow returns if your phone reception does not improve. Make sure you get that understanding from the store first.

What have we learned from Telstra Blue Tick Part III?

  • You cannot necessarily trust Telstra Blue Tick’s testing methodology.
  • Look for Qualcomm SD6 (Good), SD7 (Better) and SD8 (Best) processors.
  • Use the free Network Cell Info Lite and & Wi-Fi to get accurate statistics for home phone reception.
  • Don’t pay for an expensive Telstra 5G plan. Instead, get a Boost Mobile $35/45GB 4/5G pre-paid plan that uses the same Telstra network.
  • Ensure that whatever you buy is on the condition that you can get a full refund if it does not work at home.

Will there be a Telstra Blue Tick Part IV?- send us your experiences to [email protected].