Devices | Entertainment |

Google’s Pixel 6 Pro – a gamer’s perspective

By IAmFallFromGrace December 17, 2021

Console-quality gaming on a portable device has been something we’ve all dreamed about for decades. Now it finally feels like we’re basically there – and Google’s latest handset, The Google Pixel 6 Pro is a perfect example of a phone that really shines when you just want to drive a McLaren Senna around Mexico or explore the massive Halo Ring on the go.

For the last couple of weeks I have been trialling a new gaming set up – The Pixel 6 Pro mounted to an Xbox gaming controller and streaming via Microsoft’s cloud gaming service Xcloud. I have to say the experience has been genuinely impressive.

I focused mainly on two Xbox Cloud Gaming titles during my time with the Pixel 6 Pro – Forza Horizon 5, and Minecraft Dungeons – both of which I have also played on my high-end PC and Xbox console. The fact that you can play these games, from almost anywhere on the Pixel 6 Pro with little to no compromise is really something special.

The first thing we need to talk about is the screen.

When it comes to playing console-quality games , you want something big, clear and responsive. The Pixel 6 Pro with its 6.7-inch screen and 120Hz variable refresh rate is exactly perfect for this . The screen feels large enough to be immersive, while not too unwieldy to carry around – your gaming sweet spot.

High refresh rates like on the Pixel 6 Pro have been popular in gaming monitors for a while and have been an area that some have found lacking when it comes to gaming on your mobile. It can makes your games all feel smoother and can even give you a slight edge with your reaction speed.

To make the most of high refresh rates, you need some serious processing power under the hood, which the Pixel 6 Pro has in spades – with Google’s first ever mobile chipset called Tensor. The best compliment I give is that I didn’t even notice it – as in, games and apps all ran extremely smooth without any hiccups and just how I hoped they would.

Variable refresh rates are not only good for gaming but are also great for assisting with battery life, offering high speed when you need to tackle some bad guys with the Master Chief and low rates when you need to conserve power. It is definitely noticeable, and I was getting a comfortable full day worth of battery life without much problem.

Gaming on it constantly will of course, drain that faster, but you should still easily be able to play Halo on your daily commute with plenty left over.

The final piece of the gaming pie on a mobile device, especially playing Xbox Cloud Gaming, is having a great network connection.

Xbox Cloud Gaming streams your game to your phone kind of like Netflix does a movie, so a reliable and fast network connection with low latency makes a difference for a successful session on the go. The Pixel 6 Pro is compatible with 5G and so I spent a lot of time gaming on Telstra’s 5G Network.

What I noticed was, the speed at which you can load up Xbox Cloud Gaming, select the title you wish to play, and jump into the gameplay was super smooth. There was no long loading screens, no long waiting times for servers, mere seconds and you’re back into your game from where you left off on your console or PC. Overall I had a great experience.

Finally, my top tip: A bunch of these games are touch-friendly, and a large screen like on the Pixel 6 Pro’s helps, but you’ll get the most out of it with a clip on controller.

Devices | Entertainment | Tech and Innovation |

The best smartphones and gaming accessories for Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta)

By Harry Tucker November 5, 2021

I’ve had a bit of a revelation lately – a bit of a late-to-the-party one – but gaming on your phone is really fun. I used to always think of it the same way my mum does: playing a bit of Candy Crush or Words with Friends to pass the time while watching a burning crème brûlée on Masterchef.

In my head, if you wanted to game, actually game, it was getting your set up right in front of the big TV with your beefed-up Xbox and hoping no one would come and disturb you while you are in the final-five of an epic Warzone battle. While this is still great, I’ve discovered (after being locked down for months), that being able to play anywhere you want can be even better.

To really get the most out of this though, you are going to want a few things: Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, a compatible phone, a mobile gaming controller (required for some games) and a great pair of earphones or headphones.

“But what are the right ones for me?” I can hear you asking. Fear not, we have your back.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

There are loads of great games on both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store, but if you want to really be playing console-quality games on your phone, you’re going to want to nab yourself Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to access its new Xbox Cloud Gaming service. While most of this guide is about playing on your phone, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate also works on your PC and tablet to get you into the action no matter what device you’re on.

Xbox Cloud Gaming brings an Xbox to your phone, wherever you have an internet connection with 10Mbps or higher. Just like Netflix does with movies and TV shows, Xbox Cloud Gaming lets you play over 100 console games that you can play directly on most devices you already own – including your phone. We’re not talking some weird games you’ve never heard of either, there are proper AAA titles at your fingertips. Forza Horizon 4, a bunch of Halo titles and Destiny 2 are all there.

If you already have Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, cloud gaming is included in your subscription at no extra cost. If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s normally $15.95/month, but we offering the first month’s subscription on us, free to eligible Telstra customers.

We did a big write up about Xbox Cloud Gaming and how it works with Telstra if you want to dive more into that, too.

The best phones for gaming

I know that not everyone is willing or able to spend the same amount on their new smartphone, so I thought I’d break these down by price range to help find something for most people.

Google Pixel 6 Pro – RRP: $1299

Google’s latest have really taken things up a notch this year, which makes them perfect for gaming, particularly its powerhouse Pixel 6 Pro model. It’s got a gorgeous 6.7-inch screen with Google’s Smooth Display technology, which features a buttery smooth 120hz refresh rate, all wrapped in ultra-strong Gorilla Glass Victus to make sure it’s protected when you’re out gaming on the go.

What makes this particularly special for gamers though is Google’s first-ever processor called Tensor. Tensor is a beast – apps launch faster, your battery lasts longer and features like Google Translate run better than ever.

It’s also one of the first devices to launch here that features mmWave 5G, so if you’re able to connect to a mmWave site (available across selected suburbs, with more rolling out soon), you can experience faster speeds and even lower latency when you’re gaming – perfect for Xbox Cloud Gaming.

Oppo Find X3 Pro 5G – RRP: $1499

The Oppo Find X3 Pro 5G is also an amazing choice. With a fantastic 6.7inch screen (also with a 120hz refresh rate), top of the line processor and VOOC ultra-fast charging it’s perfect for gamers.

VOOC fast charging is really its differentiator here, with the ability to charge 40% battery in just 10 minutes, you’ll never have a problem with power if you want to duck out to the park for a quick gaming session (provided you have a VOOC-compatible charger). Likewise, with 5G, it’ll be easy for you to stream Xbox Cloud Gaming on the go without a hitch.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 – RRP: $2499

If you want to up your K:D ratio, this is the one to get. The folding form factor gives you a huge 7.6-inch screen, almost double most other phones when it’s open, plus a 120Hz refresh rate, which makes it perfect for gaming. I’ve been using it as my primary gaming device recently and I’ve honestly never been better at Halo in my life.

On top of the gorgeous, large screen, it’s got a top of the line processor so you never find yourself lagging, supports 5G for low ping and fast download speeds and Samsung’s Game Booster mode blocks out all your notifications and background tasks so all you need to focus on is that final corner in Forza.

Outside of gaming, it’s packed with awesome cameras, an all day battery life and supports Samsun S-Pen for note taking on the go (sold separately).

The best phone accessories for gaming

Before I dive in, I’ll let you in on a bit of a secret. As a Telstra customer, our Telstra Plus rewards program gives you points to say thanks for being with us, and you might just have enough points sitting in your balance to pick up some awesome accessories with a big discount or just by using points.

When it comes to accessories, we have two great gaming controller options you’re going to want to try out, including the Razer Kishi. It comes in both Android and iPhone models and plugs right into your device’s USB-C or Lightning port. It stretches out to fit most phone sizes, while the controls themselves feel as good to use as any dedicated console controller.

It’s available for $155 outright or you can pay it off over 24 months. If you have a few Telstra Plus points lying around, it’s also available for 52,000 points.

Available only for iPhone, your other option is the Backbone One. It’s a collapsible controller, making it easy to stash away in your backpack and connects to your iPhone with the lightning adapter. Best of all, it also includes a 3.5mm headphone jack so you can connect your favourite gaming headset straight to your iPhone.

The Backbone One is available for $179.99 outright or you can pay it off over 24 months.

You’ll truly feel like you’re playing your Xbox on the go.

With your sound, most people fall into two camps: people who prefer small ear buds, or those who want giant cans over their ears.

Either way, you’re going to want something noise cancelling to really immerse yourself in the action. On the earbud end, Beats new Studio Buds offer incredible sound with active noise cancelling at a great price, sitting at $199. While for the same price, if you’d rather some over the ear headphones, Sennheiser’s HD 350BT are a great option.

Entertainment |

How to turn your phone into a gaming console: the best controllers for Android and iPhone

By Campbell Simpson September 30, 2021

The long-awaited launch of Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) means that you can now use your smartphone to play Xbox games even when you’re not in front of your TV. Wherever you have a fast internet connection, all you need is a compatible device – but it gets even better with a handheld controller (required for some games).

Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) bursting onto the scene in Australia gives you an all-access pass to the library of games that you already know and love if you’re a Xbox Game Pass fan, without even having to think of downloading games or updates – just open the app and dive right in. Over 100 incredible Xbox and PC titles are available from day one and more are on the way, including some fully touch-enabled titles.

Your phone, when it’s teamed up with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and a solid Wi-Fi, 4G or 5G connection, will let you jump into a game of Forza Horizon 4 or Gears of War at a moment’s notice. There’s one other piece of the puzzle for maximum fun, though – a quality gaming controller.

Of course, you can use the standard Xbox Wireless Controller with your iOS or Android device by pairing it over Bluetooth – which is handy if you’ve got a spare controller that you keep for whenever friends come around, or if you don’t mind nicking your Player 2’s.

But truly portable gaming means a truly portable controller – one that you can carry around, clip your phone into and just start blasting. So here are two of our favourites!

Razer Kishi – iOS & Android

The Kishi comes from the gaming peripheral experts at Razer, and it’s been a tried-and-tested favourite of mobile gaming fans for years now. If you’ve got an Android phone with a USB-C port, then the Kishi will almost certainly fit it – it’s one of the most universally compatible phone controllers we’ve used.

Any recent Samsung Galaxy S or Google Pixel device will fit snugly, and you can check any other device’s dimensions to see if it will fit. The iOS variant, which replaces USB-C with a Lightning port, has a universal fit for iPhone models since the iPhone 6s, including the newer plus-sized Pro Max models.

What we love about the Kishi is how straightforward it is – just pull the two tabs at the back of the controller and it extends to a size large enough to make sliding your phone in easy. Once your phone is securely connected to the Kishi’s port, gently squeezing the two controller halves together locks your phone into place. When you’re done gaming, slide your phone out and clip the two halves back together – the Kishi will even fit into a pants pocket for travel.

It also has a USB-C charge-through port (or Lightning for the iOS model), so you can keep your phone charged while you’re playing whether that’s from a power bank or from your normal wall charger. And because it’s hooked up to your phone directly, there’s no extra lag from a wireless controller. You can equally happily set it up for just a quick game or two, or settle in for a long gaming session with the Kishi.

The Razer Kishi is great fun to use. Its control scheme is perfect for Xbox games, with two joysticks, a D-pad and four main buttons, as well as extra buttons that map to the Xbox’s Menu, Xbox Home and View buttons. Two bumpers and two triggers complete the ensemble – you couldn’t ask for anything more! The joysticks are well damped and click satisfyingly, and the buttons feel great to press. It makes a spin around the track in F1 2019 more fun than it has any right to be.

Backbone One – iOS

The Backbone One is another great choice if you’re looking for a sleek, slim portable controller to turn your iPhone into a Xbox Cloud Gaming powerhouse. With an adjustable width that will fit iPhones from the 6s onwards, you can drop almost any iPhone into the Backbone One and get gaming straight away. (Backbone has a solution on the way for iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max users – these phones have a slightly larger camera bump.)

Like the Razer Kishi, the Backbone has a relatively flat profile which means you can easily slide it into a bag or pocket. The Backbone One has a Lightning charge-through port on its lower right side, so you can plug in your iOS device charger and keep playing without burning through your iPhone’s battery life.

Where the Backbone One differs to the Kishi, and why you might prefer it as an iPhone user, is that there’s no clips to press to unlock the Backbone from its compact position – instead, all you have to do is pick up the controller and pull its two halves apart.

Since it’s spring-loaded, it’ll naturally settle back into place and clamp your iPhone tightly once you’ve placed it into the controller and plugged it into the Backbone’s iPhone connector.

The Backbone is a little more sleek and streamlined than the Kishi, which might make it more appropriate for smaller hands, and its two hand grips are easy to hold onto for long periods of time and during those tricky boss battles.

It has the same mix of two joysticks, D-pad, four main buttons and all the bumpers, triggers and extras you’ll need for playing Xbox Gloud gaming titles on your phone, wherever you have a strong internet connection. We like the fact that the Backbone has a 3.5mm headphone jack, too, so you don’t have to use a pair of wireless earphones if you don’t want to.

Whichever phone gaming controller you choose, it’ll open up a new world of gaming on Xbox – so get up off the couch, hit the road and start playing!

Entertainment |

X Marks the Spot with Xbox Cloud Gaming

By Nathan Gumley September 30, 2021

As someone who previously spent a bit of time travelling pre-COVID, the concept of being able to play Xbox on the go was an awesome idea when I first heard about it.

At airport lounges, hotel rooms and during breaks in the day, playing the games I love has always been a great way to kill time. Mobile games were OK, but nothing beats reminding my mates who’s the Forza king or getting a chicken dinner on PUBG.

The last couple of years may have been different, but the ability to access my Xbox is still a challenge – especially given there’s always a bit of a fight over who gets to use the TV with everyone at home! I always have my phone with me though, so using its screen is the perfect solution…

With Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta), launching in Australia today, you can do just that. Whether you want to take a break at the local park, play in the spare room without a TV or even on your camping trip – you can play the latest Xbox games on your compatible phone, tablet or laptop wherever you have a fast internet connection. No console required.

At launch, there are over 100 incredible Xbox titles to play, including the likes of Forza Horizon 4, Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Destiny 2. Best of all, Xbox Cloud Gaming is part of your Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, so if you already have an account, you’re good to start playing at no extra cost.

Think of it like the ultimate subscription for gaming. You get a whole library of games that you can play on all your devices instantly, wherever you have internet. There is no downloading games, no downloading updates, you can just dive in and play –and your saved data syncs across your account, so you can pick up where you were playing last. Also, highly anticipated games like Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite will be cloud enabled for those with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription (which we now offer).

X marks the spot

To make the most of Xbox Cloud Gaming and to celebrate its launch in Australia, we’re also giving 10 Aussie gamers the opportunity to win an amazing pack to up your game with a virtual treasure hunt.

We’re calling it X Marks the Spot and well, it’s eXactly what it sounds like. We’ve put our hiding hats on and have hidden 10 cloud gaming packs in virtual locations across the web.

Here’s a hint: each location was picked due to some significance to Telstra or Xbox. The first person to find each virtual location will win a prize pack.

The prize packs? Five winners will take home an epic Samsung Galaxy S21 5G phone to take your gaming everywhere, a Razer Kishi gaming controller and a 12 month subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which includes access to Xbox Cloud Gaming.

Another five winners will be firing up an Xbox Series S console, a Razer Kishi gaming controller for their mobile phone and a 12 month subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which of course includes access to Xbox Cloud Gaming.

So… it’s time to start hunting!

Clues and locations:

  1. The company’s place to chirp and cheep – Found HERE by Jamie, Goonellabah

  1. It’s a game improvement, sure, but the match sounds like a rooster – found HERE by Xudong, Rowville

  1. Crosses staff on every shouting line – Found HERE by Jamil, Raby

  1. This blade sounds fishy – Found HERE by Luke, Roseville

  1. Follow it to the letter and you’ll know where to go – Found HERE by Wesley, Calamvale

  1. A sudden mark of shame for quick movements, it’s an elegant home for streamed entertainment – Found HERE by Corwyn, Evatt

  1. Recreational webs – Found HERE by Ben, Woolloongabba

  1. A keep in Vic’s capital has a battleship to lend – Found HERE by Simon, Craigie

  1. The company swaps upcoming victorious redhead – Found HERE by Keeshan, Dayton

  1. The company swaps the opening of five pretty stallions for speed – Found HERE by Lee, Australind

Update: Well, wow. Just, wow. We’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the number of entries (you would have thought we’d learn from last time!) and have only just sifted through the rubble. While we double-check our numbers and sort out a couple of photo-finishes, we can confirm that all the clues have been successfully found.

We’ll post the list of winners Saturday, and will contact our 10 most intrepid X-searchers to get those prize packs delivered. Thank you all so much for all your effort! Keep an eye out for more Xs out there – you never know what we might do next.

Thanks, the competition is now closed!

You can find all the terms and conditions for this competition here.

A match made in gaming heaven

5G is the perfect match for Xbox Cloud Gaming as it delivers the low latency, high capacity and fast speeds needed for a superior gaming experience outside of the home. Telstra’s 5G now covers more than 75 per cent of the Australian population – the largest of any telco – with more than 3,200 suburbs and over 240 cities and towns across the nation. So, it’s not just inside the big city CBDs where Telstra gamers can enjoy the benefits of 5G, and where 5G is not yet available they will switch to 3G/4G.

To enjoy the benefits of 5G, Telstra gamers will need a 5G compatible device and a mobile plan with 5G network access.

As the exclusive telco partner for Xbox Cloud Gaming, we’ve also worked to optimise our networks to make sure Telstra gamers have the best experience possible both at home and out and about. Eligible Telstra customers who are new to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate from Telstra can also get the first month’s subscription on us (normally $15.95/month), giving them access to Xbox Cloud Gaming as well as more than 100 high-quality console and PC games. Existing Telstra Xbox All Access customers will also have access to Xbox Cloud Gaming service from tomorrow as part of their included Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription.

At home, if you’re playing on WiFi, we’ve also got you covered with Game Optimiser in our nbn Smart Modems making sure that you can race the streets in Forza Horizon 5 this November 4. Eligible Telstra customers can also get the first month on us.