Premium Skype Android App On 3 Mobile in UK?


If you scour the Android Market for a Skype Android Application you’ll find only one option – Skype Lite Beta. The combination of “Lite” and “Beta” is a good indication that this version is missing a lot of goodies but also gives hope that a non-lite version that has passed the beta stages will add a bunch of features. It looks like 3 Mobile in the UK may be offering/testing these features for customers who purchase the HTC Hero.

If you visit the HTC Hero page on their store and click the “Mobile detail” button, check out the blurb that pops up:


Let’s take a closer look at that language:

Plus, the HTC Hero comes with built-in Skype – so you can make free Skype-to-Skype calls from the UK on 3.

Interesting… this is a huge deviation from the warning Skype provides on the description of their Skype Lite Beta app in Android Market:

Put Skype Lite Beta on your Android Phone

  • Local rate Skype-to-Skype calls.
  • Call from anywhere* WiFi or 3G not required.
  • Send and receive instant messages from your mobile.
  • Save money calling landlines and mobiles abroad.

*Calling unavailable in some countries. Please visit for more info

FREE Skype-to-Skype calls and Local rate Skype-to-Skype calls certainly seem like a deliberate difference to me. Does this indicate Skype testing their premium Android application on 3 Mobile in the UK and doing it a bit “under cover” without a formal announcement? This would be a HUGE advancement in Skype on mobile and with 50,000 to 250,000 downloads already… it looks like an actual production release with premium features will be a real Android Market juggernaut.

The current Skype Lite application forces your phone to place a call over a local number so, regardless of what contacts your touching base with or where you are, you’re still using minutes from your service plan. This would seem to indicate that you can use a data connection or Wi-Fi to make calls since this would be required for an actual solution to be dubbed “free”.

This isn’t the ONLY feature that people are eagerly anticipating Skype add but its a very, VERY big one. I’m reaching out to both Skype and 3 for a response, hopefully they can clarify and in a perfect world, we’ll learn when this will hit other areas if it is indeed what we think it is. Of course maybe 3 Mobile just weren’t as careful as they should have been in their wording… but we’ll find out soon. And I wouldn’t be surprised considering these folks officially market and sell a WinMo based “Skypephone“.

A couple months ago Andy Rubin himself responded on the issue of VoIP Android Applications… I wonder what his thoughts would be on this? He is a hard man to get ahold of, but since I have YOUR attention already, share with the group!

UPDATE: A representative of the firm handling 3 Mobile’s PR has gotten back to me with the following update: “I can confirm that the HTC Hero when bought on 3 comes with a specific Skype on 3 application which allows you to make completely free Skype to Skype calls. The application is easy to find and download via the My3 portal on the handset.”

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. it’s just a matter of time. isn’t lte a pure ip data network, anyway?

  2. I used to be on 3 and had Skype on various phones they offer. In every case Skype called a number to route the call through, but these calls didn’t come out of my minutes.

  3. Skype on 3 Beta is available in the market now. I downloaded it, but it doesn’t work on my T-Mobile pulse. I’ll keep plugging away at it in hopes that a later version does work.

    It certainly is about the only app I would pay for, the ability to use Skype on my phone.

  4. Yep, 3 already have Skype on a large number of their phones, and it’s entirely free to use whether over 3G or wi-fi.

    It’s free to use even if you don’t have a contract – you could just get a 3 sim card and get free Skype calls forever without ever topping up.

  5. Just to clarify things – this app still places a call over the PSTN network in order to connect your Skype call.

    However, our partnership with 3 means that we’re able to offer this for free in the UK. Skype-to-Skype calls are therefore completely free, and calls to landlines and mobiles outside the UK are charged at our normal rates.

    Hope that helps :)

  6. Skype-Lite is for all intents and purposes completely worthless. The whole point of Skype is VOIP.

    The iPhone has VOIP Skype. Considering AT&T and Apple are essentially two pillars of the evil empire, that’s ridiculous.

    Skype had initially said the original SDK didn’t allow for VOIP. Now what’s their excuse? Maybe it’s under development…

    However, if Skype doesn’t step forward and get this running on Android, then someone else will fill the void.

  7. @RM
    “However, if Skype doesn’t step forward and get this running on Android, then someone else will fill the void.”
    Google Voice maby? :)

    I have payed for Skype for 3 years even though i cant use skypein in Canada. I realy hoped to see it working normaly one my phone, and so far I can not do anything as Canada’s Android Skype client only does TEXT messaging to other Skype clients. :(

  8. As Peter Parkes said, skype still without free wifi connection. Very bad :(

  9. I just installed Fring for Android (still Alpha version), and SkypeOut worked great for me via Wifi.

    But there are some bugs.

  10. Only 3 Network has free Skype. Highly unlikely that it will be available on Android. it’s the deal 3 has with skype. For well over a year they’ve been offering free Skype. What’s more exciting to ke is that 3 is offering Hero. They are not notorious for having great phones on offer. Also Hero is on T-mobile, Orange and now 3!

    Gimme a H!

    Gimme an E…..

  11. I switched off 3 in June because of a lack of Android options. They are my favourite UK operator and I was sad to leave them.

    When my Vodafone contract in up in 18 months and they’re playing competitively in the Android sphere I’ll be happy to go back to them.

  12. I have an existing no-name “3” phone in UK with unlimited Skype calls on it (I have to top up every 90 days by 5-10 pounds).
    The phone seems to use the data channel as it sometimes drops the call at busy times (remember that data is lower priority compared to a call, a regular call will be only dropped when an emergence call comes in).
    As I can have unlimited calls via skype to any fix phone in my home country for about 4 euros it completely replaces an existing phone service for that.

    regards, ETG

  13. I think this is a non-story. 3 has been offering free, unlimited Skype calls over its data network for ages. You don’t need wi fi for it. It works brilliantly too. So it’s hardly surprising they’ve built it into the Hero.

    Probably doesn’t mean the other networks will follow suit though. The best we can hope for is a wi fi enabled Skype for Android

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