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.
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