This is my new super great phone! I saw the reviews about it before it came out and promised myself I would get one. I now have 6 of the blighters! one for every member of my team at work. Here is my 3 Skype phone review
The cost was just 49.99 for a PAYG model, I didn’t even need to buy any credit because your first month of Skype calls are included for free. Sweet.
I have been using it quite a lot over the past 2 weeks and I thought I’d share my experience with a phone that can give you free calls to the world..
Easy peasy, just go in and demand one, pay the 50 squids and walk out with it. It’s that simple! (don’t forget your 1p change)
(You can buy one online here)
You can choose from 3 colours; Black, White with blue, White with pink.
I like the black one best, it seems more ‘rubbery’ which is important for me because I keep dropping my phones (I have too many) and this one was no exception.
Again, easy peasy Japanesey!
I was told in the shop that it would take up to 24 hours before all the features were enabled on the phone so the only thing I could do when I first got it was to dial 444 to activate the phone. Luckily, it only takes 5 minutes after the call for the phone to work with receiving calls.
I tried to set up Skype straight away but it kept getting stuck on the ‘connecting’ screen which is my own fault for not being able to wait for the 24 hours to pass before I tried so I decided to explore the other options instead.
Interface: Easy to navigate through the various options, I found the menu system to be quite intuitive and easy to change settings for profiles and other options. There is a button on the side of the phone which allows you to swap between running applications which is useful for finding a contacts info while you’re doing other stuff (like watching geek tv or calling through Skype).
Bluetooth: It works well, easy to scan for available devices and connects quickly. The quality and range is pretty good too, as well as the amount of different devices that you can bluetooth including a stereo headset. I was able to connect my laptop to the phone and use it as a bluetooth modem pretty quickly. The download speed was pretty darn good too (in a 3g enabled area).
Internet (bluetooth): As soon as I had connected as a dial up bluetooth modem, the first page I saw on my laptop browser was from Three telling me that I was about to start browsing the internet and will be getting charged per MB, there was also an option to pay £5 for a months worth of browsing. Pretty good value for having my laptop able to connect to the internet wherever I am.
Internet (phone): The phone can connect to the internet in a variety of ways;
- Through the menu button, go to ‘browser’ and you’re away. Just enter the web address you want to go to and off you go surfing.
- Use the ‘launcher’ and choose between Google or Yahoo search, go straight to 3′s music channel where you can download tracks and videos from 1.49 or pay 49p for a full days access to non-stop music, visit the TV channels page. Click straight through to ‘My3′ where you can check your balance and buy add-ons.
- Use the ‘Planet3′ button on the phone to go straight to 3′s walled garden style interface where you can check your balance, buy add-ons, see news articles, buy music and more
I was pretty impressed with the whole internet usability on the phone, the screen is a decent resolution and navigation is easy using the square button in the middle of the phone which scrolls through the available links one at a time. The speed of downloading and displaying on the screen was one of the fastest I have experienced on a mobile device.
Value Added Features: Live TV! at first, I thought this was going to be a gimmick with no real-world value. As it turns out, the live tv is fantastic! hehe, my missus was able to watch a full episode of X-factor while we waited in the car the other night. For just £2 per month, you can have unlimited access to the TV channels.
The quality is what you would expect from streaming content but on a small screen you don’t notice much in the way of mpeg artifacts (those blocky bits that happen on real player). The sound wasn’t too good through the phones speaker but that’s down to the compression used so it can be sent down the 3g connection, still definitely usable though. When listened to through the included headphones, it gets better.
You can watch a variety of channels;
BBC1, ITV1, FHM, BBC3, Nickelodeon, Kiss, BBC News 24, Comedy Channel, ITN, National Geographic, MTV and Kerrang.
There are also options to view Aardman Animations, Geek TV (yey!) and MTV Trax.
One thing I liked was when I clicked on a TV channel, it took me to a page with a TV Guide of what is on the channel and whether it was going to be shown via downloading or not (some programmes aren’t licensed for viewing online). The live-ness of the channels is almost realtime, just a couple of seconds difference between whats on my TV and what gets shown on the phone.
Three provide you with a lot of content that you don’t have to pay for like updates to X-factor which keeps the missus happy at work
Camera: The camera provided is a 2 megapixel affair, the button for taking the picture is on the bottom right side of the phone so you can take pictures in landscape format. The viewer display is surprisingly bright when taking pictures, the lag time between pushing the button and the picture being stored is not too bad (better than my N95 anyway). The pictures themselves come out pretty good too with not too much in the way of the white balance problems that you get with camera phone pictures.
Cellular: The phone picks up a 3g signal well enough and there’s always 2g if a 3g signal isn’t available, the quality of a cellular call is just what you would expect. The phones speaker is nice, it doesn’t distort the calls and is clear. Calls and text messages cost just 12p per minute flat rate to any network and at any time. You can stretch the minutes to get even better value 3p per minute calls by paying for an addon.
I just found out that receiving calls in Hong Kong is free if you’re using a UK Three phone. Cool!
Skype: The big kahoona, the reason why I bought the phone in the first place..
It works! and it works well, I’m impressed with it a LOT.
You can sign up with a new username direct from the phone without too much trouble, you don’t even need to enter any personal details like a name or email address which is pretty good for anonymous users. You can also sign in with an existing account (obviously).
You can add a contact and also store the Skype name in the contacts details as well as fax numbers, email address, picture, homepage, notes, voice and video ringtone and group setting. Pretty thorough.
Adding a new contact is pretty quick, the request came through to another Skype phone within a couple of seconds and took just a couple of seconds for the contact to show on the originating handset after the request had been authorized.
Making a call takes a few seconds to connect as it needs to initiate a data connection, the 3 lady tells you that the call is connecting and then you hear the ringing tone. Call quality was pretty good too, better than I was expecting even when I wasn’t in a 3g network. Also, the fact that 2 brand new phones can call each other via Skype (almost) straight away without any calling credit is an amazing feature and one that I’m sure is one of the major reasons why someone would buy a Skype phone in the first place.
The chat function is almost instant too, sending Skype chats between phones takes just a few seconds to go through and could save a text-maniac a fortune in charges if used properly! You can use a standard T9 dictionary input which speeds things up even more or use the multi-press method (for people that can’t spell).
Receiving a call shows up as an incoming mobile call from 3 and can be initiated from another Skype Three phone or in fact, from any Skype enabled device (pda, pc, mac etc). I was able to receive calls made from a Hong Kong Skype connection and the quality was just as good as a call from a local Skype. Pretty impressive.
Accessories: The phone comes with a mains charger, a USB cable (USB to mini-usb) to charge and connect the device to a PC for the sync software, a stereo hands free headset and a 256MB micro-SD card (upgradeable to 1GB). The manual is pretty easy to read and follow (typically I don’t even open the manual!) and everything fits nicely in the box.
When you connect the USB cable to the phone and PC, you can choose the option on the phone to Sync or use the phone as a USB mass storage device making transfer of music files and videos a snap to do. (and good for emergency storing of office documents)
Customer Service: This was the reason I (and many others) left Three the first time I used their phones, their customer service was pants!
This time around though, it is quite good. I had reason to call them because a music download I paid for didn’t come through, I managed to get through to someone with a good standard of English within a few rings. They were able to check my account pretty quickly and came back with an answer within 1 minute of hold music. The answer was what I was expecting, I should really wait 24 hours after activating the phone before trying any of the paid services but I can always go back to the same page and choose the option to ‘re-download’ the track and I wouldn’t be charged which was exactly what I did.
I have called them a couple more times to ask about features and they always had an answer for me, one person even suggested that I could take the phone back to the shop and have it exchanged without trouble or get a refund if I wasn’t completely happy.
The customer service in the shop was good too, there were enough helpful assistants available to see me straight away when I walked in and they knew their stuff well enough. Best of all, they were smiling! (much better than the Vodafone creeps who ignore you if they think that you only want information and therefore not earn them any commission!)
Overall, I am supremely impressed with the phone, service, features and support. It’s nice to have a slim little phone that is easy to use, long on battery life (320 hours standby, 270 minutes talk time (voice)) and actually lives up to it’s hype (SkypeHype!). I’m a sucker for feature rich phones that take up a lot of pocket space and battery power that end up disappointing me within minutes of the 14 day return policy running out but this phone surprised me and has made me consider transferring my 02 contract phone to Three.
It’s a small phone that fits nicely into any pocket, it’s not heavy and it does everything a phone should do very well. The extras like live TV were an added bonus and something that I find myself using again and again while I wait for clients/buses/the missus getting ready and at 2 quid a month – a real bargain!
Topping up is as easy as any other phone, you can do it over the phone, over the internet or at any PP shop (the ones that do electric keys and other phone topups). The top up is permanent, it says it never runs out which makes this phone ideal for buying an elderly parent or child to use as an emergency phone.
Charges, 12p per minute flat rate to any UK landline or mobile phone at any time of day. You can buy add-ons that allow you to call from as little as 3p per minute or pay a bit more and get inclusive minutes to any network.
Roaming is automatic when you go abroad so you don’t need to phone in advance to activate it.
Skype calls and texts are completely free as long as you have topped up at least £10 within the last 30 days. This is something that could potentially save you hundreds of pounds in charges. Ask your children (if you have any) how many texts they send to their friends per month and compare that to unlimited (subject to fair use) Skype chats you can have for a tenner and you’ll see why this phone is such good value.
Almost everyone I have shown the phone has bought one, my entire workplace now uses them and it will save us a bundle in text and call charges. The charges for calling other phones is better than my other PAYG phone (vodafone) and using it as a bluetooth modem will really help with my travels.
I give it 5/5 and I heartily recommend everyone to go and get one now! For 50 quid, it’s a fantastic Christmas present for a loved one.
You can get one at the Skype shop for 49.99GBP with FREE delivery or visit any Three shop and get one there.
Buy a Three/Skype phone online with FREE delivery here.
You can see the other colours available here