New 'Skypephone' – with HDSPA – on way from 3
Mobile operator 3 this week began taking pre-orders for the next version of its VoIP-over-wireless powered Skype mobile device, which features Skype calling and instant messaging integrated directly into the handset.
3 introduced the original Skypephone earlier this year. The new S2 version includes high-speed HSDPA data – improving the performance of Skype calling and overall Web access on the device. It also includes a 3.2 megapixel camera and 50MB of memory plus an expandable microSD slot.
In addition to free Skype calling on the phone, it supports additional Web-based applications including Google, Facebook and Windows Live Messenger. Users navigate between applications via a carousel user interface activated via a “switcher” key on the side of the handset.
The device also can double as a laptop 3G dongle for no extra charge, enabling users to use the built in HSDPA capability as a high-speed connection for a laptop – and enhancing its use as an Internet-focused device.
While U.S.-based operators have begun to lessen restrictions on VoIP calling on wifi- or 3G-connected phones – in part driven by the high margins to be gained on wireless data services – they have not gone so far as to deliver an operator-approved device as focused on Internet calling and applications as the 3 Skypephone.
Specialty Web-based operators such as Truphone have integrated VoIP-over-broadband wireless calling more directly into mobile handsets, but for now target a small number of handsets (such as Nokia E- and N-Series devices and the new Apple 3G iPhone), limiting their reach.
The Skypephone S2 is priced at £69.99 GBP for users on 3’s pay-as-you-go data plans or for free for customers purchasing a monthly data plan. 3 started taking pre-orders on the Skypephone S2 this week. It will be available in stores August 31 and for Internet purchasing starting August 27.
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