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ZTE Skype S2x
The S2x is Three’s latest Skype phone that enables you to make Skype calls from the handset in the same way you make normal mobile calls. This is the third Skype handset that Three has introduced, so is it a case of third time lucky?
The handset is certainly the best-looking Skype phone yet. It’s actually built by ZTE, the same Chinese company that manufacturers Three’s budget F102 3G handset, but whereas that model was obviously quite plasticky, the S2x is a more solid and high-class affair. It has an aluminium battery cover that reminds us slightly of Nokia’s old and rather pricey 8800 and we like the thin strip keys on the keypad as they not only look quite stylish, but are also very responsive when tapping out text messages. The phone is relatively small, too, as it measures just 102.9mm x 45.4mm x 13.75mm, and although the aluminium used on the case makes it a little bit heavier to hold, it also helps the phone feel more robust than most candy bar shaped handsets.
Naturally, the phone’s 2.2in screen can’t compete with the displays found on today’s touchscreen phones, but it’s very bright and considering its small size, its QVGA resolution is impressive. Text on web pages viewed in the browser looks quite small, but it’s still easily sharp enough to read without having to squint at the screen.
Obviously, the phone’s key feature is its Skype support. If you already have a Skype account, setting the S2x up to work with the service couldn’t be more straightforward as you simply tap the centre of the D-pad to launch the Skype client and then enter your username and password. The handset will then log you into the service, download your Skype contacts and neatly integrate them into the phone’s main address book. If you don't already have a Skype account you can sign up directly from the phone rather than having to create an account on your computer.
The Skype services work similarly to those on a PC. Skype-to-Skype calls are free, but you have to pay if you want to call standard mobiles or landlines via the SkypeOut service (Three restricts SkypeOut usage to non-UK numbers, but as most people use Skype for cheap foreign calls, this is not such a big issue). To use SkypeOut you buy call credit in advance rather than having calls show up on your mobile bill and call charges are generally much lower than normal mobile or landline calls.