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Netgear may claim that the SPH101 is the world’s first Skype enabled mobile phone but in reality you’re going to see very little difference in features between this product and those offered by most other vendors. We’ve already taken a look at SMC’s WPSK100 and apart from their build quality and design they deliver pretty much the same set of features. The reason for this is they use the same embedded Skype software and with both phones to hand we could see that the user interfaces were almost identical.
Price-wise, there’s virtually nothing to separate these two products but we found there are more than a few subtle differences elsewhere. For starters, Netgear’s build quality is far superior as the SPH101 is slightly smaller than the WPSK100 and better constructed. In the touchy feely stakes it’s nicer to hold as well and although only around 8g heavier, it actually feels much more solid. One of our testers endowed with petite digits also said that being slightly smaller the Netgear phone fitted their hand better.
Good design extends to Netgear’s keypad as each key is squarer making for easier one hand operations. It has the same joystick at the centre of the left and right function buttons but this was not so pleasant to use as its sharper edges made for a sore thumb during extended operations. However, the backlight is far superior as all the keys are fully illuminated and easy to see in the dark. The 1.8in colour LCD screen on the SHP101 may be the same size as SMC’s but although Netgear doesn’t state its resolution it does look a lot sharper. We also criticised the WPSK100 for poor sound levels as it was difficult to hear it ringing in busy public places. Not so with the SPH101 as this has a speakerphone built into the back of the case making the ring tone much louder and far more difficult to ignore.
And now to the bad points. Both models have a charger socket in the base covered by a rubber plug but unlike SMC, the SPH101 kit doesn’t include a USB cable so you can’t top the battery up from your PC or laptop. Furthermore, although the SPH101 had a headphone socket at the side you don’t get a hands-free kit included. And another thing – the phone has rocker switches to the left and right hand sides for controlling volume levels and switching the speakerphone on and off but neither worked. You can control the ringer volume levels from the Settings menu but we couldn’t find any way of switching the speakerphone off.
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