Telstra TicTalk

Parents will probably love it, kids will probably hate it. What is it? Why, it's the Tic-Talk, Telstra's play for the presumably lucrative junior mobile phone market.

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Parents: How do you feel about your children being beaten up?

Some would say that it builds character. Others would suggest that it instead builds lifelong psychological scarring and the odd broken bone. Depending on your viewpoint, Telstra's TicTalk -- essentially a mobile phone for the very junior crowd -- is either a tool to help prevent bullying, or in fact ensure that it will happen to your child.

That might seem like a big swathe for one product to encompass, so we'll explain ourselves. The TicTalk is a limited use -- based on calling profiles and numbers that you, as a parent, approve -- mobile phone in an unusual form factor that most closely resembles the love child of a stopwatch and an overly amourous Tamagotchi. On the not being bullied side, having an easy way to contact you may be a good safety measure for your child. On the being bullied side, the rather ugly physical nature of the TicTalk, combined with the fact that media-savvy kids will cotton on that it's not a "real" mobile phone, could lead to your offspring being on the receiving end of more than a little taunting. That's a social issue that the TicTalk itself probably can't address, but if Telstra's going to pitch to this market, then it's something that they're somewhat inviting by virtue of simply being in the market.

The TicTalk itself is a chunky (53 x 23 x 84mm) silver ovoid shaped phone with a relatively small greyscale LCD in the middle. We're still not sure if it resembles a Tamagotchi, a stopwatch or something out of HR Giger's worst nightmares. It sports the simplest interface layout possible, with two selection buttons on the left hand side and a clickable rocker on the right hand side. There's no dialling pad, or even virtual dialling pad, but that's to do with the rather interesting way that the TicTalk manages its calling functionality. It's arguably a bit large for the pockets of most of the target audience, although it'd fit fairly well into the average schoolbag.

The TicTalk itself is a standard GSM phone that out of the box won't in fact work. That's because it's designed to be activated from Telstra's Kids In Touch Web portal. There you can activate the phone -- and the site notes that any and all changes can take up to 30 minutes to propagate to the phone -- and then enter the numbers that can be called from the phone. Only numbers that are pre-approved can call the phone too, which is a nice safety feature. You can also set the times the phone and inbuilt LeapFrog games can or can't be used, and how many minutes of calling can be used for normal dialling (for, say home phone numbers) or as "reward" minutes -- to, for example, your child's friends. It's also possible to send SMS-style messages -- of the "when are you coming home?" variety -- to the TicTalk via the Web interface.

Aside from basic phone functionality, the TicTalk also features four LeapFrog educational games -- Hangman, Monkey Math, Monkey Spelling and Math Defender. These are all basic educational games controlled mostly with the rocker. It's possible to tie the number of reward minutes on offer to success in the games, as well as to set word lists for Hangman via the Web interface. The TicTalk also features a basic personal organiser, photo gallery, stopwatch, simple sound gallery -- which in itself will probably see a few TicTalks confiscated in classrooms -- and even a magic eight ball application.

As a phone, the TicTalk is understandably a bit basic, and it's also rather on the loud side; if your'e a parent who can't resist calling their little snooky-ookums while they're in the playground to tell them exactly how much you WUV them, you might want to tone your language down a little to save your offspring terminal embarrassment. Telstra's figures rate it as being good for up to eight hours talk time -- more on that shortly -- and just over four days standby time, so you're not likely to be out of contact with your kids due to battery issues.

There are issues with the TicTalk, however. For all that it is a rather well targeted vertical application of mobile technology, the pricing of the unit and plans are a touch on the rich side. Each TicTalk will set you back $259 -- that's a fair chunk of change for something that could rather easily be lost or bullied away from your child -- or $0 on a 24 month plan. The currently available plans come in $15, $20 or $30 per month, with a measly 15, 40 or 60 minutes of postpaid calls -- also mean that the claimed eight hours talk time isn't likely to be challenged by too many cash-strapped parents all that quickly. It's also rather bad value in the current climate of virtually-all-you-can-eat capped plans.

There's undoubtedly a challenge with the TicTalk as your child gets older; younger children will probably like the simple nature of the unit, and the fact that they're trusted with a phone unit, but older kids may well bemoan the fact that it's a very locked down unit that doesn't look like their friend's mobile phones, or act like them in many important ways. The rather high asking price, coupled with the rather expensive calling plans makes it a difficult phone to recommend -- after all, for the asking price you could buy around four to five very cheap prepaid mobiles, plug them in with very limited cost SIM cards and just try to trust your kids. It's just a thought...

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Jassmine posted a review   

My son suffered from bullying also but the incident happened the moment I gave him a Just5 phone. With just a press of a button, he can contact me, his dad, his teachers, and some friends when in situations like this. What I love more about this phone is that it allows him to call, send SMS, and nothing more. It has no camera, mp3 player, and games that can only divert his attention away from his studies. Check this phone out at


Meggs posted a comment   

The Good:Can limit size of phone bills

The Bad:Can’t ring other numbers if needed (pro and con), My daughter (now 13) hated it and begged for a real phone for 2 years, Unreliable – had lots of difficulty with charging, buttons and reception

If you choose to buy it watch your bill- Telstra charged us intermittently over a 16 month period for WAP/internet access which the phone does not have anyway- up to $13 a month extra on top of cap – had this access ‘removed/cancelled’ at least 3 times and had to have money recredited to account several times. My advice – buy a ‘real phone’ and show your kids your bill to show how much calls cost – if they don’t understand the sums they are too young for a mobile phone.- Transact has a $19 cap for $100 worth of calls – basic Nokia phone – better phone, better value by far.

<a href=>hp ipaq 514</a>

hp ipaq 514 posted a review   

The Good:Very easy to use.
Intuitive menu design.
Finger-friendly keypad.

The Bad:Nothing.

Great device for engineers which works in tunnels or in caves etc. Hard body and stylish case. Fast responsive and also cheap.


bids_for_bubs posted a review   

The Good:Simple to use (my son is 5 and knows how to call me!)

The Bad:A bit chunky but being used by a 5 year old, it needs to be!

What a fabulous idea! My son spends time at my house and his fathers and being able to call me (without having to ask his father's permission) is very important to me and my son.


Kim posted a review   

The Good:So far I think the pros def. out-weigh the cons.

The Bad:too many ridiculous comments to get a good idea.

I am considering buying a phone for my child. I am currently looking at this and other options. It would be a lot easier to make a solid decision if the imature and rude juveniles wouldnt bother to leave so much useless feedback. Talk about getting a life? This is why kids need to be limited to cell phones and internet access as well!


Robyn posted a review   

The Good:Little bit of comfort knowing children can reach you if they need.

The Bad:Concerns about getting lost.

I think this is a great idea. I don't have one of these phones but would llike to get one for my girls. In this day and age its a good idea to have a safety net for your children. As I have two young girls that some nights after school walk to thier nana's it would be comforting to know they can contact us when needed. Wether we like it or not there are times when our children are not with us.


Gnomzee78 posted a review   

The Good:Simple design and easy to use.

The Bad:Too many features. I would prefer a design similar to Ikids as this just has 5 buttons for use.

I have not used this handset, so can only ideally give it a conceptualy rating of 7 out of 10 so far. However to those that bag it ie: ANON who is 15, then you need to remember that this is a phone for 10 or younger. It is more expensive as it has other features that cost more than a generic camera (dime a dozen these days), it is more expensive as it has GPS built in. I will forgive you as you are 15 and have other trendier things on your mind than practicalities. This phone i will be purchasing for my Grandma, so she has contact with us, without the stress of having to navigate Camera's, internet etc.


hatetelstratictalk4evva posted a review   

The Good:* Nothing.

The Bad:* Everything. Its like we have gone back to when phones just began, no colour, camera, video, or cool stuff.

Well, I dont have this phone, but it seems stupid and idiotic. What sort of kid would want to walk around with a thing like this? It was really stupid of Telstra to make mobiles, coz all of their mobiles suck... overall, this phone is terrible.


fotini posted a review   

The Good:Can not say as I can not use the phone

The Bad:Can not say as I can not use the phone

Telstra have sent me 3 phones and have not been able to use to phone as keep sending me the phone with 2 sim cars and activating the wrong sim card. I have had difficulty in trying to locate a number for the manufacture to seek help as telstra are not able to help.


"my kids love it"

mstarly posted a review   

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User Reviews / Comments  Telstra TicTalk

  • Jassmine



    "My son suffered from bullying also but the incident happened the moment I gave him a Just5 phone. With just a press of a button, he can contact me, his dad, his teachers, and some friends when in s..."

  • Meggs


    "If you choose to buy it watch your bill- Telstra charged us intermittently over a 16 month period for WAP/internet access which the phone does not have anyway- up to $13 a month extra on top of cap..."

  • <a href=>hp ipaq 514</a>

    hp ipaq 514


    "Great device for engineers which works in tunnels or in caves etc. Hard body and stylish case. Fast responsive and also cheap."

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