One of the biggies with the X-Series from Three is the ability to use Skype on your handset. As part of the X-Series deal, you get 5,000 inclusive (“unlimited”) minutes worth of Skype calls — around 2.5 hours a day.
I wasn’t expecting much from the service.
In fact I was expecting nothing short of rubbish.
I have a rather practical outlook when it comes to mobile devices and services that consumers are meant to be using. When my friend James was desperate to show off Skype running on his M2000 Orange Windows Mobile handset, I was only too happy to oblige. I called him, he stood next to his wireless router, answered the call and, hey presto, we were talking. But, the echo from his speaker rendered the service more or less unusable unless he got himself a headset. No problem, the technology worked ok.
Trying this over GRPS or 3g… well… it was just appalling.
So, it is with no small amount of interest that I downloaded Skype on to my N73 and tried it. I activated the X-Series service on Thursday — but couldn’t dial out on Skype via the handset until the next day. Fair enough. Everything had to be activated and whatnot.
‘How the hell does it work, though?’ — That’s what I really wanted to know. Surely it’s not going to use 3g data to transfer the call? Although Three is fast, I wasn’t sure it would be quick enough, well, actually, I was worried about the inherent latency. I needn’t have worried though. The solution is this: Three acts as the voice gateway between your handset and Skype.
So when I click on ‘Ed’ to try and call him, Skype initiates a GSM call (or, well, what looks like a GSM call) to a ‘Skype Services’ number (which looks like a standard +44 mobile number). Then — I imagine — Skype Services rings Ed’s Skype on his laptop… he answers… we’re connected. At least, that’s how it looks like it works to me.
Anyway — Right… Let’s have a look at it then…
I’ve clicked on the Skype logo and that’s it loading…
Now let’s sign in…
That’s it updating and seeing who, from my list of contacts, is online…
That’s the list completed an update… so let’s click the green call button on the handset and see what happens…
That’s it initiating the call…
Now it’s initiating the GSM portion of the call, to call Skype Service…
That +44 number quickly changes to ‘Skype Service’…
And guess what, I’m talking to Ed. At no charge. Wooosh! Wow!
He reckoned the audio quality was more or less perfect. There was a bit of static now and again on the line, but nothing that interfered with our conversation. Very cool.
Now, it works the same way if someone’s calling you. I forgot that I’d left Skype running on my N73 when I was out yesterday afternoon and was astonished to see someone calling my Skype via the N73. Love it.
This is very, very, very good.
It works and I am impressed.
Now, what I’d really like to try: Three-to-Three Skype call. No one I know has a Three N73 yet, though, so I’ll need to wait to try this out.
Skype via X-Series: Officially shit-hot!
Update: Some Skype Mobile features missing that I hope to see soon:
- Ability to send a chat message to someone
- Ability to view missed calls
- Ability to set your status (away, busy, so on)
Update2: If you send me a chat message via Skype whilst I’m using it on the N73, you’ll get this sent automatically in reply:
Ewan @ SMS Text News 03/12/2006 21:10
Auto reply: I am using a version of Skype that does not support receiving chat messages. Try calling instead.