It was a bit less than a year ago that I looked at the original Skypephone. Like the original, the new Skypephone S2 is only available from 3 in the UK. You have two payment options. You can get it on a Pay As You Go basis for £69.99 or on various contracts from free. Online the cheapest contract on which it is free is an 18 month £12 a month deal. The original Skypephone remains available for the time being and will cost you less.
As its name clearly indicates, the Skypephone is intended to help you make use of Skype’s free VoIP calling. Now, you can plonk a Skype client onto other wirelessly enabled mobile devices. Laptops (PC, Mac and Linux), Windows Mobile devices, Nokia’s N800 and N810, and even the PSP. In some cases, it comes pre-installed. But none actually market themselves as made for Skype in the same way as the Skypephone and none have the Skype idea quite so fully integrated.
So, for example, when you switch this handset on, a rolling menu along the bottom of the screen offers you access to various apps including Skype. Choose it and you can sign in or create a new account. If you are already an account holder slapping in your Skype name and password is enough to get you going.
Working from memory, I don’t think the Skype application is much changed from its previous incarnation. If you’ve used Skype on the desktop you shouldn’t have any trouble. The old fair usage policy remains intact too. You get 4,000 Skype to Skype call minutes and 10,000 Skype to Skype IM messages per month.
Call quality was good during testing – in fact better than I can get through my desktop Skype setup at times, though as with any Skype setup I’ve used I did sometimes need to reconnect for better call quality.
Why would 3 want to offer Skype to Skype VoIP calls and Skype IM for free? Isn’t it bad business sense to offer people the chance to make free phone calls?
Well, Skype reckons you’ll use other stuff this handset has to offer that will make it money. It has added Facebook, Windows Live Messenger, an RSS reader (with a 30 feed limit), Google Mail, Google Maps and Google Search to that rolling menu. Then there is general Web browsing to add to the pot. And ordinary voice calls. And the fact that the phone will act as a 3G dongle for your laptop thanks to the provided cables, so hopping onto the 3 network for a bit of HSDPA speed browsing is possible. With all that going on 3 reckons it can make money from users of this handset.
3 Skypephone S2