Friday, 1 May 2009

INQ1 versus 3 Skypephone - A Review

I’ve been using two mobile phones for a few years now, a business phone for work and a personal one too. At the moment I’m using the Vodafone V1615 at work (aka HTC TyTN II/Kaiser 120 and MD Vario III) and I love it.

However, I like to have a smaller phone for my own use, and to keep my personal comms separate from the ones my bosses pay for! 18 months go I got a 3 Skypephone - mainly because Skype calls were unlimited and free, so my partner and I both got one.

Last weekend I walked into my local “3” store and upgraded the basic phone. I had plenty of choices available, but chose the INQ1 for two main reasons:

1. It’s small and simple, just like me. I don’t need a complex phone: I already have one.
2. The tariff offers by 3.

The Phone

The handset is a simple slider, available in black & silver or, wait for it, silver & silver. It’s packaged well, with a series of simple instruction cards to get you started. To be honest, my instructions are still wrapped and I’ve not needed to refer to them yet. After an overnight charge, you’re pretty much on your way with this little beauty. The charging is done via mini usb, which is nice and flexible.

The button feel is reassuring, so texting is much, much easier than the old Skypephone. This is because the slider design allows a bigger keyboard with a much more definite feel. My only disappointment with the slider is that there’s nowehere you can get a good purchase on the collapsed phone, so opening & closing is a little bit fiddlier than it should be. One little indentation near the logo would have sorted that out.

Screen size is great, again thanks to the slider design. It’s big, it’s bright and it’s easily customisable. I ditched the standard logos and chose my wallpaper and screensaver from my Mini-SD (taken straight out of the Skypepone – bonus!) and had my kids on the screen before I’d made my first call. Easy.

Understandable icons and menus drive the GUI, so you should never get yourself confused about where you are or where you’re going with usability.

So, my verdict on the INQ1 handset compared to the Skypephone is that it’s a big improvement.

The Tariffs

I mentioned that we had 2 Skypephones in the house, to take advantage of free Skype chats & calls. Of the two of us, there are 2 types of user:

Me: Few calls; Many skype chats; Many texts; Some messing about on internet & social media sites.
My better half: Many calls to many networks and landlines; Many skype chats; many texts; Almost no internet use.

We are also, importantly, as tight as ducks' bottoms. We don’t want to spend a fortune on fully-inclusive contract tariffs. Thankfully 3 have thought about this, to couple with this entry-level handset.

So, we chose the following tariffs:

Me: £15 a month. 75 call minutes in UK, unlimited texts, unlimited internet, unlimited Skype.
My better half: £18 a month, 500 minutes on calls or texts (1 minute or text = 1 unit of the 500), virtually unlimited Skype, internet charged per bandwidth.

This way we’re both happy that the tariffs suit our phones, and we have common handsets so there are no usability issues at home. We’ve chosen a black one for me, silver for my better half so we don’t leave home with each other’s stuff!

It’s only been one week so we’ll see how they perform over time, but to summarise I have to say it’s been a good choice so far, and not cost us a penny extra.

Can’t say fairer than that…

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