Telstra Signature Premium Review

Alex Kidman 18 July 2016


Telstra’s Signature Premium sits oddly in the premium space, simply because while it’s a pleasant enough device, it doesn’t really push hard enough to be truly "premium".

Telstra has had countless phones over the years with its own branding stamped upon it, all the way back to rotary dial devices with Telecom logos embedded in the plastic. In the smartphone era, these have always been budget devices pitched at the low-usage, low-cost end of the market.

The Telstra Signature Premium is a different kind of play for the nation’s biggest telco, as it’s a more premium-feeling device. As with previous Telstra-branded efforts, it’s not a device that’s built by Telstra. Instead, it’s a rebadged HTC A9, a device that’s otherwise not officially available in Australia.

SmartphonesTelstra Signature Premium
Screen size5.0in
ProcessorQualcomm MSM8952 Octa-Core
Rear camera13MP
Front camera"Ultrapixel"
Display density440ppi


Upsides: Why you’d want the Telstra Signature Premium

  • Premium feel: For a phone with more of a mid-range than high-end price, the Telstra Signature Premium feels good in the hand. It has the same ridged, easy to find power button found on the HTC 10, and the heavy black and grey accents gives it a more serious, professional look.
  • Fingerprint sensor: Telstra prices the Signature Premium in the mid-range space, and that’s an area where good fingerprint sensors are few and far between. The Signature Premium’s front mounted fingerprint sensor isn’t the quickest we’ve seen, but for basic biometric authentication it’s entirely serviceable.
  • Good camera optics: The Telstra Signature Premium comes with a 13MP rear camera with inbuilt optical image stabilisation. This is becoming more common in premium phones, but less so in what’s a mid-range phone at heart. The use of OIS gives it a slight edge when quickly shooting snaps, although predictably if you push it in low light you’ll get grainy results. The front facing ultrapixel camera works well for selfies in most conditions as well.
  • Subtle Telstra branding: The Telstra Signature Premium’s use of specific Telstra branding is nicely understated, with a small Telstra logo on the back and Telstra-specific apps preloaded on the device.


Downsides: Why you might not want the Telstra Signature Premium

  • Mid-range performance: Buy a phone with "premium" right in the name, and you could reasonably expect premium performance. While the Telstra Signature Premium isn’t a terribly sluggish phone, it’s also not terribly quick amongst even mid-range phones. Here’s how it compares using Geekbench’s inbuilt benchmark against a range of similarly priced competitors:
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Single Core (higher is better)Geekbench 3 Multi Core (higher is better)
    Huawei P917366357
    Huawei Mate 817386092
    LG G523055243
    Sony Xperia Z520765165
    Samsung Galaxy S613474569
    HTC One X98924558
    LG G411903313
    Oppo R98673303
    Google Nexus 5X11883198
    Telstra Signature Premium7453116

    It’s much the same story when it comes to 3D performance as well:

    Handset3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited Result
    LG G529597
    Sony Xperia Z519197
    Huawei Mate 817947
    HTC One X916877
    Oppo R911053
    Telstra Signature Premium9559

    Benchmarks don’t tell the full story, and as long as your needs are mid-range, the Telstra Signature Premium should largely satisfy. Premium, however, is not how we could describe its general application performance.

  • Battery life fails to impress: The Telstra Signature Premium packs a 2150mAh battery behind its 5-inch display, which isn’t a terribly large amount of power to place in a phone of this size. Predictably, this means that its overall battery life performance isn’t terribly impressive in a comparative sense:
    HandsetGeekbench 3 Battery Test DurationGeekbench 3 Battery Score
    Huawei Mate 811:14:406659
    Samsung Galaxy J210:05:202689
    Huawei P98:26:304948
    LG G57:36:104561
    Google Nexus 5X7:14:204062
    HTC One X97:03:103971
    Samsung Galaxy S66:51:304115
    Oppo R96:41:504018
    Telstra Signature Premium5:48:503260
    Sony Xperia Z55:41:303414
    LG G45:27:503224

    It’s certainly feasible within those figures to get a full day’s battery life out of the Telstra Signature Premium, but only if your usage is moderate.


Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?

The Signature Premium is easily the best phone Telstra’s put its own branding to, but then the field for that honour was never terribly wide. As a straight up mid-range offering it’s perfectly suited to the needs of mid-range users, but this is a particularly competitive field right now.

As such, whether you were looking at the Telstra Signature Premium as an outright purchase option or on contract, it would pay to consider the many other phones available at similar price points, some of which seriously leap ahead of what the Signature Premium is capable of. To throw up just two examples, the Huawei P9 is available at a similar contract price and has a considerably better camera. Outright, we’re seeing the much more powerful LG G5 sold at prices near that of the Signature Premium.

Where can I get it?

Telstra offers the Signature Premium for sale outright for $648, or on contract over 24 months.

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