Skype Mobile from Three
by Paul Perrin

The most notable feature of the Skype mobile is that you get free* calls to other Skype users, and can receive calls from other Skype users while on the move** - and of course see their Skype online status.

Your Skype contact list can be merged with your main contact list and vice-versa.

Making a Skype call is as simple as locating a contact in the address book and selecting ‘make Skype call’ – being 3, you may also have the option of ‘phone call’, ‘text’, ‘video call’ etc. Alternatively hitting the ‘Skype ’ button takes you to the Skype control page from where you can select the contact to call.

The quality of Skype calls is noticeably worse than a standard mobile phone call, however I don’t believe the quality on the mobile is any worse than from a desktop PC.

Being constantly logged-in to Skype (if you so choose), means your Skype status can be simply updated from the hand set – available, busy, out to lunch, not available etc.

Generally the phone is a pretty standard modern device, with camera (for photo, video and video calls), Bluetooth, java application support etc.

There are three main ways into phone features – the ‘menu’ for access to general phone functions, ‘launcher’ for quick access to the primary online applications (some free/always on, and some requiring ‘paid for’ internet access***), and ‘planet3’ which your portal into your 3 account and services.

3 pay-as-you-go has a very flexible pricing structure, giving everyone a the ability to ‘pick and mix’ the features and services that they want, and to ignore (and not pay for) services that they don’t want/need.

For instance I got a pay-as-you-go handset (£49.99) and paid for £20 credit – later I realised that it would make more sense to top up as little as possible, because the free Skype access runs 30 days from when the top up is added. Skype doesn’t use your credit, but only runs for 30 days from when any credit is applied. So you'll have to top up every 30 days, whether you have run out of credit or not. Although I don't know what happends if you don't top up - whether skype uses your credits, or just stops working all together.

I then used some of my pay-as-you-go credits to purchase some add-on packages - £2.00 for a months access to 8 TV channels - £5.00 for a months internet access (this is not needed for Skype and some other internet features, but is required for most general internet use).

One of the other notable free internet features (in addition to Skype ) is MSN instant messenger

I really took the TV package just to see what it was like and at £2.00 for a months access it seemed pretty cheap. I was pleasantly surprised at the picture quality and the sound volume was very loud even on the lowest setting.

I was stunned by what was available, however this was not just down to the Skype element of the phone, a good proportion was due to 3’s feature packed and flexible standard package.

(*) Skype use is free for contract customers, and pay as you go customers get 30 days free use following a top up (so if you don’t top up every thirty days you will have breaks in your Skype access).

(**) The service currently supports Skype to Skype calls. Some other services including Skype in, Skype out and Voicemail are not (currently) supported

(***) The services in this list include – google and yahoo search, MSN messenger, ebay, Facebook and youtube.

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