3 Skypephone Series
|Type||Brand name / Joint venture|
|Headquarters||London, United Kingdom|
The 3 Skypephone series is a range of 3G mobile phones made as a global project by the 3 network. The project was initiated by the 3's global handset team, some of whom later went on to found the new mobile phone company INQ. The phones were sold in Australia, Austria, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Macau, but the service has now been discontinued everywhere except Australia, Ireland and the UK. 3 offers 4000 free Skype outbound voice minutes with the phones. Initially, the quota expired after 90 days (30 days in Ireland) unless the user purchased another topup or was on a pay monthly plan. This restriction was lifted by the network in 2009, where calls could still be made and received without the need to "top up" with credit. The service is advertised as "unlimited" in the UK; however, it is subject to fair use limitations, as in other countries.
The Skypephone series uses the normal 3G or GSM voice network for handling Skype calls, which permits users to make Skype calls within 3's 3G network or when the user is out of range of the 3G network and is roaming on one of 3's partner 2G networks. The two Skypephone models are not unique in using normal GSM or 3G voice protocols for handling Skype: Three's Symbian and now-defunct Java ME-based Skype clients also do this, but they do also need a data connection for low-bandwidth communication with Three's servers while the voice call is being set up. All other mobile Skype applications (such as Skype for iPhone) use a GPRS, EDGE or 3G packet data connection to handle Skype.
The Skype application used is native to the 3 Skypephone series and is a Brew application, whereas other mobile Skype clients are 3rd-party downloads and are either Symbian or Java ME based (the latter is now defunct). An advantage of using the standardized 3GPP circuit-switched (CS) voice protocols for handling calls is that it does not require a constant GPRS, EDGE, 3G or WiFi data connection, all of which consume significantly more battery life than CS voice. 
The 3 Skypephone series use a USB connector for recharging and Phone-to-PC communication – allowing them to recharge when plugged into a computer. Phone-to-PC connections are also possible over Bluetooth.
Free Skype-to-Skype calls and instant messages are only available in the country where the phone was purchased, or while roaming on 3’s sister networks. Skype-to-Skype calls and instant messages are subject to a fair use policy of 4,000 minutes of outgoing calls and 10,000 instant messages per month (depending on country).
For 3 Pay As You Go customers, the Skype functionality was subject to activating a minimum top-up (value depending on country) and valid for 90 days (30 days in Ireland) from activating their last top-up, but 3 removed the minimum top-up requirement on 1 May 2009. There is now no need to add any top-up at all. Skype is fully available instantly.
The future of the series is unclear, as the carrier's parent company have launched their own phone manufacturing subsidiary, INQ. The Skypephone project was a collaborative effort, with the 3's global handset team working closely with Skype and Qualcomm. According to Skype, the Skypephone series, if it were to continue, could possibly be continued on a different network from 3.
In the Irish market, the phones have been discontinued since the introduction of INQ handsets in January 2009.
- "Help for Skype: I heard that Skype had been discontinued on the 3 network, is this true?". Retrieved 2 October 2011.
- "The World’s best phone?". 28 November 2007.
- "3 Terms and Conditions". Retrieved 26 July 2009.
- "Can INQ Cell Phones Whack iPhone in the Knees?". 8 October 2008.
- "3 reveals the Skypephone to hacks". 29 October 2007.
- Stephen Fry's blog and Guardian article about Skypephone 2
- Victor Keegan at the Guardian on the Skypephone 2
- Three Skypephone Portal in English, Danish, German, Italian and Swedish
- Three Skypephone WAP Portal in English, Danish, German, Italian and Swedish
- Three Skypephone at three.co.uk
- Three Skypephone Review at Gadgetvenue.com
- Skypephone S2 on Skype official website
- Video walkthrough of main features on YouTube
- christianlindholm.com's review
- tonyblews.co.uk's review (part 1) and (part 2)