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3 Skypephone S2 - 3 Skypephone S2

By Sandra Vogel



  • Recommended by TR
3 Skypephone S2


Our Score:


In design terms, this phone is a big step forward from the original Skypephone. The Skypephone S2 feels a lot less plasticky in the hand and its steel backplate and metal keys help make it look and feel like a much higher end handset than its predecessor did. It is small in the hand and pocket at 103mm tall, 45mm wide and 14mm thick and I weighted it at exactly 100g. The screen is a 2.2-inch 320 x 240 pixel offering. It is a bit small for Web browsing, but generally it presented no problems.

The black and sliver livery works well, and I like the large select button. The D-pad forms a relatively thin frame that surrounds the select button, while the softmenu, Call, End, menu and clear keys are also thin. They are arranged in two C shapes to the left and right of the D-pad. Beneath them, the number keys are long silver lozenges. All the keys are well raised from their surroundings and I found I could use them at about two thirds of top speed. The stubby fingered may find them a bit a fiddly.

Side keys amount to left-mounted volume rockers, a right-mounted camera key and a right-mounted carousel interface key. This calls up that rolling menu from whatever application you are in at the time. Each press cycles you through the apps list and pressing the D-pad button switches into the highlighted one.

This is a supremely clever idea as it means you don’t need to resort to the handset's main menu to get to apps on the phone. Even better, you can add apps and websites to the switcher. But this doesn’t seem to go as far as it could. It seems that the list of apps you can add is limited to the on-board games.

It is a real shame there is no front-facing camera for two-way video calling. The back-mounted camera shoots at 3.2-megapixels and as you can see from my test shots it leaves a bit to be desired. Many of the test shots I took were fuzzy. The coloured dish photographed indoors under normal household lights is lacklustre. The flowers show the fuzziness problem well, though colour reproduction is acceptable. The chair is quite sharp and its white quite uniform, although detail in areas of strong highlights is completely lost. Overall, I have seen better from a 3.2-megapixel camera.

The phone has 50MB of built in memory and a microSD card slot very inconveniently located under the battery. It plays music and, on my rundown test, delivered precisely six hours of tunes. 3 says the handset is good for 410 minutes of talk and 262 hours on standby. Sadly, the headphones share the PC connectivity and mains power mini USB socket. A 3.5mm headset would have been so much better.

Other apps not mentioned include a Web browser, three alarms, calendar, calculator, notepad, stopwatch and voice recorder.


If you are a keen Skype user, this handset could be an ideal buy. I do have some niggles but 3 has certainly moved its Skypephone concept on, considerably, since its first outing.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


September 19, 2008, 12:23 pm

Ok, first of all, hands up everyone that swap their memory card in their phone on a regular basis. For most people I think it's a none issue as long as the phone has a USB 2.0 interface and supports drag and drop of files.

Secondly, why don't you advocate 2.5mm headset jacks instead? They are standard and there's a wide range of headsets on the market that relies on a 2.5mm plug standard. There are very few 3.5mm headsets out there and although I understand your urge to be able to use headphones, it's still easier to find a 2.5mm adapter with a built in mic and a 3.5mm socket for your headphones than it is to get the same with a 3.5mm plug on the phone side.

Can you please find something else to complain about, as I'm getting fed up reading the same stuff in every single phone review you write.


September 19, 2008, 12:23 pm

Can a 3 broadband SIM be used in this phone to use Skype? Does it work?


September 19, 2008, 1:35 pm

just a question, does this phone get unusually warm when making calls? my mum has the original black skype phone and it gets unbearably hot when making calls - so much so that she has to resort to using the handsfree or loudspeaker.

although anybody else i've asked with the white version didn't share my complaint, i think it must just be the phone itself.

anyway, personally, any device with the ability to play music should come with a 3.5mm headphone port - the phone's built in speaker stinks, and the bundled usb headphones stink, and i was unable to switch the usb headphones with another make, say, motorola because it wouldn't pick it up. plus i haven't personally seen usb to headphone adapters. in this day and age...

Jay Werfalli

September 19, 2008, 1:51 pm

Awright Lars! Hope Typhoon Sinlaku has moved on now! As for the phone review, I can understand where Sandra's coming from as I do actually swap my card out on a regular basis on my Nokia 5310 - I find the file transfer process much quicker when the card's plugged into a separate reader (especially when copying over nearly 2GB's of music in one go). That phone also has a 3.5mm jack and I love it for that simple reason.


September 19, 2008, 10:01 pm

@HY i'd presume not, as they block 'x-series' programs on my broadband sim from three which is currently in my phone. It's a pain because that blocks orb, and i'd expect it does the same for skype too.

I've tried contacting 3 to get it added to my account but they say the x-series addon cannot be added to a broadband contract. sucks!


October 6, 2008, 12:18 pm

I quote from the original blurb on this site: "... the Skypephone is intended to help you make use of Skype’s free VoIP calling...."

On PAYG phone, the cost of a skype call is free .... Ah yes, but not quite. If you want the skype service you have to top up 㾶 every 3 months with Three. No credit bals carried forward. So that's 㿔/year if you want to use the skype service. Three salesman said, no top up no skype.

Jonathan 3

January 27, 2009, 2:53 am

This isn't going to be a feature review as such, more of a "having had it for 3 months, these are the bugs three deny the phone has and apparently have no plans to fix". It's also to let you know "you're not alone" if you had the same bugs or experience trying to get support from 3 customer services.

It's not all bad - I think the phone itself, an Amoi 8512 is actually a well-made, robust and fast phone. Also, the built-in modem works excellently via bluetooth and the cable - I easily get a sustained 1.3Mb down and 400k up, and it works fine for downloading BBC iPlayer stuff. It also allows me to use the "٣ for 3Gb" package, rather than the "㾶 for 1Gb" package with other "mobile modem" users appear to be stuck with (correct me if I'm wrong) and with a 2-pack for 䀏 I'm not complaining on price!

Major Bugs:

Phone rebooting - I think this is a problem with the battery voltage sensor, because I was on the verge of taking both back and giving up (3 CS had "never heard of this" before!!) when they started behaving. I assume a few cycles of battery charge had done the trick (it was rebooting even with full battery).

The Gmail application was one of the selling points of the phone, and there is actually an inbuilt preset to download it. Until very recently, it didn't actually work (just giving square blocks for text). There is finally a working download of gmail and google maps, but before, When you called three CS, all you hear is that "no-one else has reported this problem" or "please reboot the phone" or "your signal is poor" or "please send it back for reflash" - and yet, both handsets are identical and I can find over 20 other forums posts with the same problem. Just me, eh? Maps still has a problem in that after about 600k, it says "out of memory", despite having 20Mb of phone memory and 1.8Gb of card memory left.

Other little annoyances are the lack of testing - when using the inbuilt browser, the error messages are less than helpful - how about:

"Received response with status code other than 200 that does not have body part However, notification is not given of redirection unless settings is to display body part when dialog is canceled."

When you send a message, it says "message has been sent to...", but when the other person reads it, it says "message has been sent to...", so it's difficult to know whether it has actually been received - it should, of course, be ""message has been received by...". Also, when selecting multiple items for deletion (pics, messages etc), it says "delete the marked?", which is poor English. Spelling mistakes pepper other areas of the phone, too. Not a problem, just not very polished.

When in text message function, the message count takes 20 mins (to do 400 messages)

You can't uninstall the useless pre-installed junk that clutters up the applications menu, and you can't remove Sky Sports from the feeds list. It also won't accept passworded feeds.

Java rendering problems - one of the first things I did was download Opera Mini which beats the pants off any other mobile browser, however they phone has a java graphics rendering problem with causes vertical stripes one pixel or so wide down the screen, so although it's readable, K for example would end up looking like <

Strange phone book error - or perhaps it's just me not understanding how the phonebook works:

I have set the phone to display "contacts displayed on SIM and phone", and I have copied the phone contacts to the SIM. However, there are just a few contacts which don't show in the contacts list, either when browsing or adding to an sms. But when you try and add the contact again it says "contact exists - overwrite?" (or something) and when you get an incoming call, it displays that caller's name. BUT I can't find it in the phone book!

Back button "bug" - I've seen several posts with people complaining that the back button is broken and causes the screen to break into blocks - actually, that's the way it's meant to be - the "blocks" are preview windows of page history, and this is quite a good feature, although it caught me out at first.

Here's an annoying which has nothing to do with the phone, but Yahoo and ebay FORCE me to use crappy mobile versions based on my IP! I've tried several suggestions, but if I'm using my home PC connected by the mobile modem, it is absolutely infuriating to be forced into a mobile version of the site. But that's not the phone's fault, just something I thought I'd mention if someone had a solution!

Other questions:

How can I mass-delete loads of rubbish from the T9 dictionary?

How can I backup text messages?

Overall, the phone has potential, but I'm very disappointed by the lack of support for both applications, and from three themselves. Almost every category you browse shows "sorry, there are no applications for this phone". It needs a firmware update and some support, although there is a forum at



March 2, 2009, 11:16 pm

To further the above comment, there are several other issues with the phone:

Once the text message inbox fills up to ~800-1000 texts (a tiny fraction of the phone's memory capacity), I began receiving every text message multiple times. Each message would arrive somewhere between 2-15 times (averaging about 4), over a period of up to three days. Eventually, as the inbox filled up further, the phone stopped receiving messages at all. I contacted three and this is a known software issue with the phone, and apparently up to the manufacturer to fix. There's no way to back up any texts (except 20 to the USIM), and they have to be deleted regularly because of this.

Also, the phone tends to freeze whenever it receives a text, the delay increasing proportional to the number of messages in the inbox, up to about 20 seconds for every text. Combined with the bug about receiving every text many times, this is extremely annoying.

Finally, the phone adds just about everything you type that's not already in the dictionary to the dictionary automatically. This includes combinations of existing words and punctuation like "10pm", "but...", "٣" and anything you happen to mistype. Just once is enough for it to be added.

Oh yeah, and the thin keys are horrible to type with, and make it very difficult to text without looking, as it's almost impossible to tell which thin row of keys your thumb is resting on.

Jonathan 3

March 20, 2009, 12:48 am

kaalakiota - thank you very much for your posting about the inbox - I had exactly the same problem. Of course, three said it was a problem with my sim and I'd need a new one. I figured out to delete some texts - I'm never letting three near anything of mine again!


July 17, 2009, 6:14 pm

It takes a lot to impress me, and with the 3 Skypephone S2, I am very impressed.

At £70 it was good value, at £40 (at which it is on temporary offer) it is an amazing bargain. I found phones costing considerably more, are nowhere as well made as this phone. The phone, according to my receipt, was originally selling at £106!

I have recommended this phone to several people, and all have gone out and bought it. They have not been disappointed.

They ability to use Skype, was all I wanted. That and to have a mobile phone, send texts. Everything else was a bonus.

Yes, the text when web browsing is very tiny, but too my surprise, it is not too difficult to read, though I have difficulties when tired.

I wish icq was an installed application.

The camera is not very good, and with 3.2 mega pixels it should have had an optical zoom.

There are minor gripes.

Yes, it should have a headphone socket.

The strobing bars as it is charging give no indication of the state of charge.

The battery, with occasionally accessing of the net, is lasting a day.

The phone gets hot in use which gives some idea of the power drain. I like the metal back plate, but I strongly suspect it is there as a heat sink.

Contrary to what one comment has said. You do not have to top up your credit to get Skype. It is free. If you do top up with credit you get for 3 months hundreds of free texts and free 3 to 3 calls.

It is annoying you cannot ditch the preloaded junk.

It should have the ability to access 3 e-mail, but this does not work.

I'm baffled why 3 offer a 3G dongle, when all you need to do is plug in your Skypephone.

Big problem I am having is with the 3 signal level. No bars a lot of the time, very slow download, many lost connections.

I plugged the Skypephone into my laptop, and found a data rate of 110 kilobits per second. 1 Megabit per second would have been acceptable, but ten times slower than this! I tried downloading icq 6.5. 7 kilobits per second!


August 20, 2009, 6:43 pm

Eats up battery power very fast.

Also you cannot use any bluetooth device for skype calls. I tried to use it car bluetooth handfree kit , it did not work.

Bluetooth device works fine for landline or mobile phone calls.


December 28, 2009, 6:07 am

Skypephone S2 - is it a lemon?

Unfortunately I purchased a S2 just before Xmas and am having *great* problems with it.

Firstly it doesn't really browse the Internet - as extensively advertised by '3' - most mobile pages are short snippets of text on a screen so small the characters are unreadable. For a start it is impossible to go to My3 to check the balance of my account, I shall have to resort to a laptop to do that - if I can get it to connect to my account pages (which is an issue belonging to another thread). And as for accessing my Skype account pages - forget it - so I can't even do a top up with Skype on the S2.

Secondly frequently any web page displayed gets split into three overlapping panels - the middle one partly displayed but showing the central area, the other two, one on the right and one on the left, smaller and still only partly displayed. At this point the phone then becomes unresponsive and effectively crashes. I then have to switch it off and on again to reset it.

Thirdly it doesn't make calls to all Skype users. I tested it for some friends who have Skype on laptops and it seemed to call them OK - but not every time. But my brother in the Netherlands has a different Skypephone and it refused to connect and call him. Monitoring Skype on my laptop he had a small green tick icon against his id. On the S2 the icon was a greyed out cross. I tried refreshing the Skype connection (with the S2 this means switching the phone off and then on again) - yet no green tick showed against his Skype id. Also everytime I tried to connect to a Skype user the S2 started to make the connection, then displayed a square with an ! in the middle with a message underneath stating 'Divert on' - and then the connection usually crashed as unobtainable.

Fourthly the s/w driving the S2 is not stable - the phone frequently freezes - and the back button doesn't work. To get any response I have to switch the damn thing off and then on again.

On Boxing Day I tried sending a normal mobile text massage to a friend sitting beside me. She's on CWH T-Mobile. It took TWO HOURS TO FILTER THROUGH.

And I can't use the S2 with Skype for calling Skype Out nos. especially those in the UK.

Actually lemon is too good a description for S2 and '3' - cr&p is a much more suitable word.



July 3, 2010, 2:23 pm

i had (i lost it) this phoone and it is excellent, even if i didnt top up i still got unlimited skype to skype mins and unlimited windows live, all for £50 and £10 every 3 months


September 3, 2014, 2:26 pm

The worst phone ever. Speakers stopped working after 2 months. Warranty terms are not specified and ZTE representatives in the UK did not respond to calls or letters. Sound level is very low and can't be adjusted. The lid is loose. Switching on takes unreasonably long for a basic phone. The main reason for purchasing was "Free Skype forever", but Skype stops supporting old devices in coming weeks (Skype application kept signing off and jumping from Automatic to Manual sign in by itself all the time).

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