3’s original Skypephone was nothing short of a revolution for VoIP access when it first rocked up in 2007. Fast forward three years, and the sleek new Skypephone S2x is aiming to give the brand a new lease of life, after the INQ range stole its thunder last year.
A brief peek at the blower leaves you in no doubt that this is a far classier effort than previous 3 Skypephones. Gone is the all-over plastic look, replaced by a glossy black finish that’s supplemented by chrome buttons and a much sturdier metal battery cover.
Free calls for life
While cosmetic changes make the Skypephone S2x a more classy proposition than its predecessors, the central tenet of the phone remains unchanged.
The central nav key acts as a gateway to the phone’s dedicated Skype app. All you need is a Skype account to log in and start making free calls over the Skype network, or Skype out if you’ve loaded your account up with some cash.
You can also easily integrate Skype and SIM contacts on the mobile’s phonebook, so you can make standard or VoIP calls at the press of a button. Last.fm’s inclusion is also welcome and again just requires a log in to get you to your dedicated radio stations and favourite bands.
Sadly, the music side of things is let down by the lack of a 3.5mm jack. It’s a feature that’s become standard on even the most basic of mobiles and its disappearance here is something that we struggle to understand, especially as the Skypephone S2x isn’t the slimmest cell on the block.
While the Skype functionality and recession-friendly pricing are the Skypephone S2x’s calling cards, it is let down by some design niggles.
The keys seemingly take their cue from old-school Sony Ericsson Walkman phones. Unless you’re a slender-of-finger hand model or a child, they’re just way too small.
Afflicted with podgy digits, our text messages frequently descended into gobbledygook. Likewise, the navigation and menu keys, bar the hulking Skype button in the centre, are smaller than John Terry’s chances of ever captaining England again.
By comparison, Nokia’s 6303i and C5, both in the same price range, offer much better messaging skills – something to consider if you’re after a phone that does more than just make cheap calls.
But while there are legitimate complaints to be made about the Skypephone S2x’s design, the battery life is not to be baulked at.
We went through four days of solid texting, calling and Skypeing before we had to find some juice. And with a standby time of 333 hours, this is a warhorse for those who are sick of smartphones and their tawdry battery lives.
The 2MP camera is lagging behind the competition, though, and while we managed half-decent shots, even those taken in good light appeared grainy and nowhere near the standard we’ve come to expect from even the cheapest of handsets.
But this is a small complaint considering the price. The Skypephone S2x is all about keeping things cheap. At just £70 on PAYG and with Skype calling thrown in, this is the perfect phone for those keen to save pennies as the budget deficit bites.