3 Skypephone S2: Redesign ahoy

three-skypephone.jpgNow this is nice. 3 launched their new Skypephone yesterday, and wow – I’m impressed. It’s sitting right here in front of me, and this thing looks a lot nicer than the old Skypephone version 1. It’s got lots of brushed aluminium and black plastic, and nice clicky buttons, as well as a very small form factor – it’s 103 x 45 x 14mm.

Also in the upgrade are the camera – up to 3.2-megapixels, and there’s applications for Skype (obviously) but also Facebook and Windows Live Messenger. Using the Skype app you can call people over the HSDPA connection, or send chat messages. You can even plug it into your laptop via USB where it’ll act as a dongle and give you internet access on the move (where there’s 3 network coverage, anyway)

But will this save you a bucket of cash, or will the data charges kill you? I’m pleased to say that this will likely save you that aforementioned bucket. The phone itself costs £69, but unlimited data on a pay-as-you-go deal will just cost you £5 a month. Alternatively, you can get the phone free on any of 3s Mix & Match tariffs and pay a fiver a month for 1GB of data.

Personally speaking, I’m strongly considering picking this up on Pay-as-you-go for £70. We use Skype a lot at Tech Digest, so it’ll be useful for that, but I’ll be using it mostly just as a wireless dongle. I can also use it as a secondary phone for emergencies. I’ll be testing a review model out extensively first, and will let you know what battery life and HSDPA coverage is like across London. Look out for a video review soon.

Update: As Krikor points out in the comments, there’s an application that you can download onto many phones that does a bunch of the stuff above for free. It’s called Fring. You won’t get the wireless dongle functionality, but on the other hand it is free! Thanks Krikor.

3 Skypephone

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Duncan Geere





Duncan Geere3 Skypephone S2: Redesign ahoy
  • http://www.britswedeguy.cc BritSwedeGuy

    This does presuppose being able to get a decent connection with 3 – colleagues of mine who have 3 are virtually uncontactable and always end up using landlines instead!

    • Duncan Geere

      I’ve heard talk of 3 having coverage problems, but I’ve never used a phone on 3 myself, so I’ll be sure to keep a close eye on the signal bar over the next week or so. Thanks for the heads-up!

    • Aqeel

      Hi I’m Aqeel. I am thinking of buying a Skypephone but first, I

      just want to know does it cost to use MSN/Windows Live Messenger

      on the Skypephone? Anyone who knows, please could you let me know

      ASAP? Thanks!

      Aqeel

  • http://krikor.info Krikor Ohannessian

    why do you need this, when you can have fring on your regular mobile phone?

    • Duncan Geere

      Fring doesn’t give you the wireless dongle functionality via USB, and some handsets aren’t compatible with Fring, but other than that, Fring does a lot of the stuff this device does.

      If you don’t need that dongle functionality, then I’d highly recommend giving Fring a go, too. Let me update the post.

  • Mike

    The Skype service on 3 uses the regular voice network. Mix & Match Tariffs and Pay As You Go all include Skype access – no need for the £5 per month data charge to use Skype. Good value for the dongle though.

    • Duncan Geere

      Thanks for the clarification Mike. I agree – definately good dongle-value.

  • Cedric

    Fring’s call quality quality could be significantly better and it is not able to keep you logged into a VOIP service provider – allowing you to receive calls. Oh and before I forget you have to entrust a 3rd party with your login credentials

  • Courtney

    I’ve had a three mobile for over a year now and i’ve never had any network problems.

    • Duncan Geere

      Whereabouts do you live, Courtney, if you don’t mind me asking? I hear it’s variable across the country. I haven’t had any problems in London, but I’m aware that not all of our readers live in big cities.

  • Karim

    The fring thing sounds good but it isn’t an “always on” integrated application like skype on the skypephone is it?

    • Duncan Geere

      Well, you can make it sit in the background, but then it eats battery like no tomorrow.

  • Jin

    I’ve also got 3 for about 9 months now. In Newbury, network performs a lot better than the O2 that my company uses. :p Even while walking in the fields I’m connected to MSN all the time. No complaints here… and did I mention that Skype and MSN on the phone is just incredible?! :p Wonderful! GO Three!

  • jarrad

    can you get the 3 skypephone S2 in australia?

    • Duncan Geere

      According to this page, the answer is yes :)

  • luke barrett

    well if u dont know – orange and three are working together for talk and text and this has been going on since 9 months ago – so signal should be better – if not could be your handsets needing a software update so it can pick up the orange masts. also 3 are going to be working with t mobile as with t mob are bringing out a rival to the i phone as t mobs hsdpa aint that good at the mo

  • Ian

    I have had the skypephone s2 for 3 weeks and it is crap. the screen is to small, it only has 50mb of memory, the ring tones are rubbish and the keys are to close together as some times I hit 2 keys instead of one. I prefer my old samung d900. easier to use and alot more memory and features..

    • Duncan Geere

      Sorry to hear that, Ian. I quite liked it, but I don’t think I’d ever use it as my primary phone for exactly the reasons you’ve listed.

  • Trevor

    You can put a 4gb SDcard into it for the princley sum of around £8.50. Personally I find the screen a decent size and of good quality and as for ringtones it uses mp3′s so you can put your own on. I always have some kind of signal even if it is not full 3g but then i live nowhere near any cities. My only niggle is that the screen doesnt always come back on when the phone has been in my pocket and im not sure what is causing it

    • Duncan Geere

      I had that problem, too, Trevor. Also, I might be being dense (I didn’t RTFM) but I couldn’t find a way to easily lock the screen?

  • gareth

    On the whole, the phone is very good. However, neither gmail nor google maps work as they are not compatible with the phone. You’ll get a lovely “Sorry, Google Maps[Gmail] does not work on your Amoi 8512″ . Not acceptable. I eargerly await a patch for the phone/google apps…

    • Duncan Geere

      Agree – I’m a big user of both those services, and their lack is a significant issue for me too.

  • Martin

    Quite like the phone so far… but disappointed that the Google apps are not working… Also frustrated with the amount of rubbish that I am not allowed to remove from the phone.

    RE: the network issues… I’ve been a three customer off and on since it was launched following various deals elsewhere… but i’ve never had connection issues even with some really dodgy old phones. 3 have a bad rep but most people are fine.

    However it used to be the case (and probably still is) that their coverage is not over the whole of the UK… where it is three in big cities its fine, and where there is no coverage it uses other networks (orange? i thought it was o2)… the majority of the problems are on the fringes of 3 areas where the phone is switching between networks

  • GeoNeil

    Luke, 3 roam on Orange’s 2G network when you’re out of their 3G coverage (because 3, unlike everyone else don’t have their own 2G network) they used to use O2 (my old USIM can still connect to and use O2)

  • Andy G

    The lack of Gmail and Google Maps means it’s going back to the store. I was sold the phone on the understanding that these were usable on this model. Indeed the S2 User Guide explicilty states (on p.4.1) that Gmail and Google Maps are compatible with the phone.

    It’s mis-selling!

    • Duncan Geere

      I’m going to look into this for you guys. I’ve dropped an email to 3′s PR company. Don’t suppose you’ve got a scan of the user guide saying that, do you? I didn’t get a user guide with the review model we have here.

  • shane geach

    I bought the S2 phone over 2 weeks ago and I have had no problems with it what so ever, the camera is superb quality for less than £100 phone. The apps including skype work fantastically. And I am planning to buy loads more for every one I know that has skype and msn.

    I thank 3 and the designers for the new version. i’ve even convinced o2 customers to change and they love it …….. sorry o2 but thanks to three I can now keep in touch with family with out having to pay an arm and a leg for call charges from a landline hahahahahaha……..

    • Duncan Geere

      Three assure me that Google Maps and Google Mail are now working on the device, too. There was a glitch, but they claim they’ve fixed it. Anyone able to verify that?

  • Mark

    Gmap still doesnt work. Finally downloads and looks like its the v2 version just released, but all the menus and messages have [] instead of characters. The same goes for the new version of maps which I downloaded direct from google (get a 404 error when I try the 3 link). I suspect both apps detect the phone as having a chinese location setting so trys to use a chinese char set. Spoke to 3 and before they cut me off they said I had to go to a 3store and try one there to verify the fault as no one else has had this issue! ive read on the skyphone forum that others do have this issue.

    • Duncan Geere

      Cheers for that, Mark. I’ve passed the info on to our contacts at 3, and we’ll see if we can get something done. I can verify that I have the exact same issue on the review handset we have in the office – boxes instead of characters.

      Anyone else having the same problem? Please post below, and I’ll pass your queries on to 3.

  • shanegeachs gf

    i agree with my boyfriend shane that the skype phone is the best and its easy to use and a good way to keep in touch with family and friends.

  • Duncan

    I was all set to buy an S2 next week but after reading this will wait for a few weeks extra.

  • Jonnyx

    My SE K850 died recently and I needed to a cheap phone to tide me over until I can upgrade in Dec. I paid £59.99 for the Skype S2 phone from my local 3 store and all I can say is that I’m blown away. I’ve always considered myself to be a phone snob, and I shuddered at the thought of having to use this for the next 8 weeks. The phone is wonderfully intuitive, it’s hand-down the best UI that I’ve experienced in recent times (bar the iphone). The build and finish are excellent, I don’t think I’d raise an eyebrow if it were double the price. Screen is very bright and clear at 2.2″.

    I’ve found coverage with 3 to be excellent over the last two years. Their 3G network has the best coverage in the UK, and it falls back to Orange when there is no 3G coverage.

    For £59.99, I cannot recommend this phone highly enough.

    • Duncan Geere

      Very comprehensive info, thanks Jonny :)

  • Derek

    I downloaded the Google Mail software this morning and noticed there are boxes instead of characters. Let us hope this is fixed soon.

    • Duncan Geere

      I’ve dropped 3 another email, asking what’s going on.

  • mark

    well if you have to email them again can you ask them when or if the s2 is geting the new windows live messnger. as the older skype phone has all ready got it and with the new INQ1 phone coming out. i just wish they would sort out the probs with the older phones before bring out new ones. because i still got the same prob’s with google apps that you have.

  • steve

    the version 1 of gmail works ok on the skype s2. i do have gmaps working fine now, just waiting for v2 gmail to be updated to stop the boxes problem! looks like many of us are waiting… sigh.

  • Nan

    I’m having the same problem with gmail on my S2 skypephone– I downloaded the app, but everything is displaying with the little boxes instead of characters. I’m disappointed about this, but otherwise I like the phone a lot.

  • Simon

    Hi all,

    I have the gmail app and the gmaps app working on my Skypephone S2, but as someone already mentioned they are the older versions downloaded using a pc and transferred onto the phone using bluetooth. One thing I have noticed is that the AMOI 8512 can be changed to Skypephone S2 using My3. Go to the My account section and then set my mobile. This allows the phone to download the gmail app and install it, but unfortunately you still get the boxes instead of characters.

  • Nancy

    Little confused about availability of the S2 in Ireland. One comment above had a link to a page, but that page only listed 3 Skypephone, not specifically the S2.
    I can only find the S2 at the co.uk version of the 3 site, but then in a review of the phone, the editor evaluating it said he had to first put in which country he was in, Ireland being one of the choices. If I go to the 3 ie site, the S2 is not offered. Can anyone clarify?

  • Dan Heaney

    I am interested to know if sync software is provided with the S2 and has it been improved in comparison with the S1 version? Can one log appointments on the calendar and input contacts easily using the keyboard? How easy is it to then transfer them to your PC Sync software?
    Any comments please

  • Hanna

    Do you think i should buy this phone, after using a nokia 6120c for over a year? Or should i save up and get a sony ericsson w890i?? I use internet ALOT on my phone.. So i dont know what would be a good phone for internet and good camera.. Oh and music of course.

    • Duncan Geere

      I wouldn’t recommend the Skypephone for what you seem to be after. Something more multimedia might float your boat – the N95, or N96 perhaps? Maybe even an iPhone? Depends how much you want to spend, really.

  • Lynnette

    Hi I am looking to buy the new skype phone for my son who is home for a few months but dont know if it will still be ok to use it when he returns to Mexico. We are all Skype users and speak to him online all the time but thought it would be nice to get the phones so we can call him when we are not at home. Can you advise please asap

    • Duncan Geere

      Lynnette,

      He’ll need a mexican sim card, 3g network, and adequate coverage – which might be tricky to find. I’d stick to the software solution for the time being if I were you. Over here, on the other hand, you should be fine.

  • Lynnette

    Hi Duncan thanks for the swift response I do however have another question for you before I commit to buy. My son has some 50 skype contacts worldwide that need to be able to see him online at all times so they can contact him, can this be done with the phone, is it showing you online to other skype users all through the day? or do we have to buy some type of package to allow this so whats the cost and how does that work? also does it have to be via a wifi hotspot or does this work by satellite? for example if he is on the a boat in the middle of the sea will it still work?
    many thanks once again.

    • Duncan Geere

      Hi Lynette,

      Yes – the phone presents you as ‘online’ to your contacts. It works through 3G – cellular technology. Anywhere you can get a decent phone signal will give you access. A boat in the middle of the sea, unless there’s a cell tower on board, won’t give you access.

      You’ll need some sort of internet package from the phone provider. In the UK, that’ll cost you about £5 a month.

      Hope that helps.

  • m charane

    hi I am a foreign student and need to call my wife regularly in algeria .I’m thincking to buy 2 S2 phones one for her and one for me .could you please confirm that I can do that using the skype option in the s2 phones?does she need to keep the 3 network simcard to be able to call me (no 3g network in algeria )?I’m most interested in the skype functions than anything else..
    kind regards

  • barbara

    I have had the skypephone S2 for 3 weeks now and despite instructions I cannot download music from my cd’s. Anyone any ideas please?

  • adolfamoilover

    i think the skype phone s2 or its predessor are the best pound for pound fone on the market .not only can you get a 1 meg internet connection for your pc with the help of a few forums to turn the phone into a modem for £5 a month but it has google maps on it too ……. this is the most functional phone i have ever had and ive been thru some good ones …

  • Andrew

    I have a skypephone s2 for about 6 weeks and still cannot get email (which was part of the sales pitch) & googlemaps (get it with the boxes). my settings on 3 are set to skypephone s2. Overall I am very dissapointed as I bought the phone specifically for email & skype (which does work great). does anyones ear piece work? mine connection is not a tight fit & therefore the ear piece is intermittent.
    I think it would be a GREAT phone if email worked, you could sync to your calendar (phone book works fine) & applications like googlemaps worked.
    At present without email I don’t rate it for me & will change when my contract is up.

  • Francis

    Mixed feelings about the phone. Got it principally for its Skype capability. Useful on the move, but if I prefer my PC when possible for the better sound quality. Text input is a bit rough. What really works well, though, is the modem. Plug it into your laptop and you’re off. And it works when the dongle doesn’t.

  • Kris

    Can someone please explain if it is possible to use regular Skype credit via this phone?
    Can I phone people on my Skype contact list that are not Skype users, and expect the cost to come out of my Skype credit? or am I expected to use the normal functions of my phone and 3′s 12 per minute rate?
    Many thanks

  • Rob

    @ Kris:

    Yes you can use skype out credit on the phone but not for calls to phone numbers in the same country, i.e. you can call someone in australia but not someone down the road, you get a message telling you off.

    Can i also say that if any one is thinking of moving to Aus it’s actually cheaper to get one of these with the £5 data option and use it roaming on the 3 aus network than to get a data plan in australia! Data costs a fortune over here. You can also call home to blighty using your inclusive minutes which is great!

    • Andrew

      Rob,
      I am about to visit Australia, what do I need to do to get the roaming without paying the earth, will I also be able to use Skype with this?

      Steve,
      you can get the phones from 3 (online or instore) or direct from skype. I think the phone will only work on the 3 network.

  • Steve

    Thanks everybody for all the info re the Skypepone S2. Now. Can anybody tell me where I can buy one?

  • Aqeel

    Hi,
    Please could let anyone let me know whether it costs to use MSN Messenger on the Skypephone S2? Please let me know as soon as possible! Thanks!!

    Aqeel
    …my email address is “cena_word_life@hotmail.co.uk”.

  • Daniel

    Hi all
    I am living in Australia.i willing to buy 3 skypephone s2(locked to three UK) from uk .can i use it with local 3(Australia)nertwork?

  • ian

    had this for a while now and for what it is and the price (£39 now) it is a great little phone.
    many round here, North East UK, said they had problems with signal but i have not experienced this.
    this phone does not in any way ‘pretend’ to be a rival to such as the iphone, it is intended to be (as i see it) a cheap alternative that will give you what you need without the bells and whistles.
    as a dongle…perfect, £5 a month gives internet coverage, the phone installs itself and i was getting a good solid connection.
    bad points?….well, i hate predictive text and the phone seems to want to use it on everything, although it is easily changed via a key press or two it can be annoying….the phone ‘auto-locks’, a great idea if you are the type to forget to lock it but i have not found a way to lock it myself or remove the auto-lock for when it is just sitting on my desk.
    gmaps worked first time for me.
    £10 top up gets 300 texts, 150Mb internet usage, free 3 to 3 and skype (double that if you top up online)
    i paid £49 for mine, got £10 credit for keeping my number, can leave skype and MSN running all day and visit facebook etc (almost) as many times as i want.
    cheap to buy, cheap to run and considering that some of the newer phones are £35 a month or so (for a few extra useless aps and a better name) i consider it excellent value.

  • ian

    had this for a while now and for what it is and the price (£39 now) it is a great little phone.
    many round here, North East UK, said they had problems with signal but i have not experienced this.
    this phone does not in any way ‘pretend’ to be a rival to such as the iphone, it is intended to be (as i see it) a cheap alternative that will give you what you need without the bells and whistles.
    as a dongle…perfect, £5 a month gives internet coverage, the phone installs itself and i was getting a good solid connection.
    bad points?….well, i hate predictive text and the phone seems to want to use it on everything, although it is easily changed via a key press or two it can be annoying….the phone ‘auto-locks’, a great idea if you are the type to forget to lock it but i have not found a way to lock it myself or remove the auto-lock for when it is just sitting on my desk.
    gmaps worked first time for me.
    £10 top up gets 300 texts, 150Mb internet usage, free 3 to 3 and skype (double that if you top up online)
    i paid £49 for mine, got £10 credit for keeping my number, can leave skype and MSN running all day and visit facebook etc (almost) as many times as i want.
    cheap to buy, cheap to run and considering that some of the newer phones are £35 a month or so (for a few extra useless aps and a better name) i consider it excellent value.

  • Alanthehat

    I love that it appears as a CD with the drivers when you plug it into a new PC!

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