I saw the new model (pictured; click the image for a larger version) on Monday at an event in London organized by 3mobilebuzz. They had invited a number of bloggers to see what new phones and other devices mobile operator 3 has up its sleeves for launching in the coming months.
The original Skypephone, launched last October, has proven to be a big success, 3 says, with over 100,000 sold in the UK.
I still have mine courtesy of 3 although I don’t use it much because the phone can’t reliably connect to 3’s 3G network where I am, although it does fine just about anywhere else. A 3G connection is needed for the phone to sync with Skype (only 2G needed to then use the phone with Skype).
Nevertheless, I think the Skypephone is a great product as I said in my first impressions review last November. It introduced the benefits of Skype to many people in a package that really is pretty affordable.
And to see what one keen Skypephone user thinks of the new model, read Chris Dawson’s post.
But a lot has changed in the marketplace since then. Plenty of new devices from many different handset makers are available with more coming. More deals from mobile operators. A higher bar with overall user experience set by the new 3G iPhone. And there are Predictions of a boom time just ahead for smart mobile devices that connect to the net.
So now we have Skypephone S2, a device firmly positioned in the consumer market (as opposed to business) from what I heard on Monday. How does it stack up?
I think the biggest appeal with this new model is HSDPA, sorely lacking in the first-generation model.
It means that you should experience faster data transfer rates and enjoy potentially more reliable internet connectivity.
Skypephone S2 offers plug-in external data storage with a slot for a Micro SD card of up to 4 gigs capacity. It has 50 megs of on-board memory (compared to just 16 megs on the older model phone).
The phone itself has other improvements notably in overall design. A bigger and higher-resolution screen. It comes with an upgraded 3.2 megapixel camera which, while a big improvement on the 2 megapixel one in the current Skypephone, is below entry level for cameraphones (and look at this indicator of where mobile cameras are going: a new Samsung phone with an 8 megapixel camera). Still, it’s better.
Yet I think Skypephone S2 will fly off the shelves from next month as the under Â£70 price point for pay as you go is again affordable compared to what you’d be paying for higher-spec phones like the Samsung I mentioned or the iPhone.
And I haven’t mentioned HP laptops with in-built mobile broadband connectivity nor some cool Huawei devices I saw including one that lets you set up a local area network via mobile broadband. Some commentary about that on What Mobile Forum.
All of these products from 3 will no doubt attract a lot of attention once the launch ball gets rolling.
What interests me most, though, is what’s to come from 3 with Skypephone, as I heard on Monday that there are firm plans for a third-generation model that will be positioned as a business smartphone.
No details yet on what features that business-focused Skypephone may have which, 3 told me, is likely to appear before Christmas. Nor how 3 plans to position it in a very competitive market.
Finally, there’s a terrific post from Ewan MacLeod of SMS Text News who was there on Monday:
I appreciate it. I appreciate all the work that the marketing and public relations teams do for product launches and things like this.
[…] The event, you see, was for the proper people. The trade press. The real journalists.
And what a bunch of total arses they are. The trade press, I mean.
I couldnâ€™t work in mobile public relations. Geez, no. I donâ€™t think I could bear having to brief know-nothing tossers all day.
Those words set the tone: Ewan’s a blogger with passion.
And he can write a pretty good commentary.