What is a Skype phone?
You've heard the hype about the Apple iPhone, and may even have one on order, but with the Skype phone handset on its way to Australia you may want to get a better understanding of what the new kid on the block has to offer.
Free Internet phone calls
Skype, which was recently bought by eBay, provides free Internet phone calls for a low monthly access fee. The platform it is based on is called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). It's cheap to get started and super cheap to call long distance. Very popular with techies and backpackers Skype has a rapidly growing following as many households are now taking a serious look at the service as well.
Till now to access Skype (which is fast becoming the genericised term for VoIP) you needed a headset connected to your computer via cables. The new Skype phone is mobile - so you can make calls to other Skype users while on the move, and even send text messages. In Australia it is being introduced in partnership with mobile phone group 3Mobile. The phone will also allow non-Skype calls which will be charged at the usual mobile rates.
What the new Skypephone means is that you no longer need a computer to access the Skype service. For users, the Skype phone may mean much much cheaper calls than you have been paying with the same level of convenience people have come to take for granted with their mobile phones.
Mobile Internet phone
The Apple iPhone, on the other hand, is a portable web browser and phone rolled into one (mobile broadband in the palm of your hand). It offers a rich HTML mobile browsing experience and the sleek Apple styling devotees have come to know and love. Meaning, users can read a web page while downloading your email using a Wi-fi connection or EDGE. You can also store images, videos and mp3s on your iPhone - so it's kind of the Grand Daddy of iPods. It also offers calls on the move - like any other mobile phone - but it is the deeper technology experience that has elevated it to cult status.
iPhone versus Skype phone
Where the iPhone is a portable storage device, phone and web-connected "computer" all in one, the Skype phone is a wireless Internet phone that, with the new Skype handset, offers mobile convenience and free calls and text messages for a low monthly subscription fee. Both are revolutionary in their own ways.
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