Best phones to replace your 2G handset

Alex Kidman 25 November 2016

woman_phone_shutterstock_450

The 2G network is just about gone, and with it, any reception for your existing 2G-only handset, which means you need a new phone.

The proportion of Australians with 2G-only handsets is, according to carriers relatively low, but there’s always the chances that you’ve either stuck grimly to your existing handset (because it works, and hey, why waste money?) or you’ve got a friend or relative who still persists with their ancient candy bar brick phone.

The bad news for them, especially if they’re on the Telstra network, is that soon those old phones may as well be bricks. From 1 December the only spot on the Telstra network where you’ll still get 2G signal is Christmas Island, so unless you plan to move there sharpish, the time to upgrade that handset is now. Frankly even if you did a 3G handset would be a better buy, unless you plan to never set foot on mainland Australia again, because any 2G-capable phone on Christmas Island would still be a brick everywhere else.

But which phone should you choose? Here’s our pick of the best handsets to replace your ageing 2G device. For the sake of simplicity (and because they’re switching off first) we’ve concentrated on phones available through Telstra specifically; we'll update when Optus and then Vodafone switch off their networks in 2017.

Best budget phone

Telstra Flip T20

telstra-t20-flip_450
QUICK SPECS – Screen size: 2in | Storage: 128MB | Weight: 90g  | Rear cam: VGA | Battery: 900mAh | Screen res: 176 x 220

If you’ve persisted with a 2G handset up until now, the chances are good that your phone usage needs are pretty simple. Telstra does sell a cheaper phone than the Flip T20 in the form of the Cruise t126, which at the time of writing would only set you back an astonishing $9 if purchased online, but we'd also suggest looking at the T20 simply because it's rated for Blue Tick compatibility, which is important if you're a regional phone user. In either case you're paying relatively little for what is quite a simple but 3G-enabled phone.

Best mid-range phone

Telstra Signature Premium

TelstraSignaturePremium2_450
QUICK SPECS – Screen size: 5.5in | Storage: 32/128GB | Weight: 143g | Processor: Qualcomm MSM8952 Octa-Core | Rear cam: 13MP | Front cam: Ultrapixel | Battery: 2,150mAh | Screen res: 1920 x 1080 | Display density: 440ppi

You might think that a self-branded phone would be something of a compromise, but Telstra’s Signature Premium phone is actually an HTC A9 rebranded for Telstra. Calling it premium is maybe a bit of a stretch in performance terms, but viewed as a mid-range option it’s actually quite compelling at the contract prices Telstra offers it for.

You can read our full Telstra Signature Premium review here

Best premium phone

Google Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL

QUICK SPECS – Screen size: 5.5in | Storage: 32/128GB | Weight: 168g | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 | Rear cam: 12MP | Front cam: 8MP | Battery: 3,450mAh | Screen res: 2560 x 1440 | Display density: 534ppi

Google's own-branded handset would make for a great shift from 2G, simply because it's designed to work very smoothly with all of Google's other services, and especially for its innovative Assistant feature that can cleverly parse natural language queries based on your own profile. It's uncannily like magic, and it's matched with a great camera and the promise of the latest Google Android updates in the future.

You can read our full review of the Google Pixel XL here.

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

QUICK SPECS – Screen size: 5.5in | Storage: 32/128/256GB | Weight: 168g | Processor: Apple A10 Fusion | Rear cam: Dual 12MP | Front cam: 7MP | Battery: 2,900mAh | Screen res: 1920 x 1080 | Display density: 401ppi

Apple can take a lot of the credit for the current wave of smartphone popularity, and like the Pixel XL, the iPhone 7 Plus represents the best of what Apple can bring to the market in 2016. It's not a low-cost option, but it is an exceptionally nice phone.

Read our full review of the iPhone 7 Plus here.

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7
QUICK SPECS – Screen size: 5.1in | Storage: 32/64GB | Weight: 152g | Processor: Octa-core Exynos | Rear cam: 12MP | Front cam: 5MP | Battery: 3,000mAh | Screen res: 2560 x 1440 | Display density: 577ppi

Samsung's Galaxy S7 was announced back in March, but it's held its place in the premium pantheon, and quite rightly so, with a superb design, expandable memory, excellent camera and powerful processor.

You can read our full Samsung Galaxy S7 review here.

Yeah, we know, this doesn't give you one "best" phone, but that’s because in the upper premium space there’s a lot of competition and as such, you’ve got some interesting choices to make. You may have been the kind of 2G user who bought the best 2G phone back in the day, and if you like a touch of luxury and want to be cutting edge right now, these three phones represent the best of the best in the premium space, easily earning their places on our top smartphones of 2016 list.

Want more details on any of these contract phones? Here’s the full rundown of Telstra’s offerings.

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