Those kind souls over at 3mobilebuzz, the 3 sponsored website dedicated to getting us talking about the new 3 Skype phone, gave me not one but two handsets pre-loaded with credit to play with over the last few weeks. Which was jolly nice of them. And they assured me I’m under no obligation to write or say anything about the experience, but hey, it would be rude not to (and I get a modest commission if you click the ads dotted around this place).
They’ll be coming to take them back at some point soon so I won’t be able to auction them off on eBay as I’d originally intended. And that’s a double shame because Katharine took quite a shine to the 3 Skype phone I lent her.
Launched around the same time as the hideously overhyped, underpowered and overpriced iPhone, the 3 Skype phone is genuinely innovative and a real bargain at less than £50 on pay-as-you-go. You can watch live TV on it (for 49p/day), which is quite cool and should make iPhone owners jealous.
The key selling point is, of course, the big Skype button that offers free Skype to Skype calls (so long as you keep topped up). To the uninitiated that means using the internet to transmit voice calls and 3 is the only mobile phone network to allow VoIP as it’s called. The quality is no worse than PC to PC, so poor but passable. Now Skype users can bin the headset and look like normal mobile users when making and receiving Skype calls. Remarkably easy to set up, the phone logs on to Skype really quickly and automatically when you switch it on.
A light and thin 86 grams, it feels good to the touch and offers around four and a half hours talk and thirteen days standby time. The two inch display is 176×220 pixels and there’s a two megapixel camera, expandable memory (256MB in the box) and Bluetooth. As you’d expect, it comes with an MP3 (and video) player and web browser. It won’t work in the USA – boo! – because their mobile telephone networks are rubbish. Surprisingly, there’s no video calling.
For less than £50, I don’t think you can go far wrong and it should be at the top of every regular Skype user’s Christmas list.