Skypephone S2

Can 3’s own-brand Skype smartphone cut it against better-known competition, and does it improve on last year’s original?

The S2 is based on the BREW software platform and Java, so there are a number of third party apps and games available for download.

The actual Skype client hasn't changed from the one found on the original phone. VoIP call quality is often over and above a normal voice call at full signal strength. Skype IM works much like normal SMS, but without the per-message cost. Instead, 3 operates a fair use policy of 4,000 minutes of Skype-to-Skype calls and 10,000 Skype Chat instant messages per month, on top of any conventional bundled voice or text minutes.

The web browser isn't really set up for full page browsing, and struggled with most of the full-page sites we tried to access, but thanks to the addition of 3.6Mb/sec HSDPA data support, pages fly down and mobile-optimised sites look good on the S2's screen.

You can also use the S2 as a Bluetooth modem or as a dongle. Like a dedicated dongle, the S2 has Windows dongle drivers built-in, so that when you plug the phone into a PC for the first time, the pre-configured drivers install, and you can use the phone like a dongle in order to tap the HSDPA connection. For business users, this offers an interesting option as it means users can be issued with a single device rather than a phone and a dongle.

Battery life is also good. Our rundown tests suggest around 100 hours standby with moderate use, which is very good. Keep in mind that prolonged data use will hit the battery hard, but on the plus side, when used as a tethered modem it will pull power from the PC it is attached to.

In all there really isn't anything to fault with the S2. There are things we would have liked to have seen included, like a GPS receiver and a separate headphone socket, but otherwise it does everything it claims to do and does it well. We are particularly pleased with the keypad, something that usually lets down most low-cost handsets, and the fact that for 69 you get a HSDPA-enabled handset that does allow data modem use. Higher-priced handset makers would do well to take notice of what 3 has packaged in terms of software and hardware functionality.

Verdict

Coming alongside the addition of Skype support to 3’s business price plans, the Skypephone S2 adds a much-need element of sophistication as well as essential support for HSDPA to the original Skypephone concept. Add to that its dual use as a dongle and you have a very versatile and cost-effective device for any business user.

Display:2.2in 240 x 320 colour display,

Storage: 50MB internal flash drive, microSD card slot (supports up to 4GB card)

Connectivity: mini USB power/headset socket,Bluetooth, Tri-band GSM/GPRS (900, 1800, 1900 MHz), Single band UMTS/HDSPA 3.6Mb/sec (2100 MHz), Camera: 3.2 megapiel

Software: BREW application platform,

Battery: Lithium ion battery, 7 hours talk time (3G), 262 hours standby, 45 x 14 x Dimensions:102.7mm (WDH)

Weight:95g.

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