Hands on: Skype on the iPhone

Skype has arrived on the iPhone. So we've been making some calls and deciding whether it's great news for us - or if it's been too hobbled by Apple in order to keep its operator chums happy.

Free to download now, the app will go online if you're only on a cellular connection, but you can only make and receive calls if you're on Wi-Fi. You can, however, send and receive chat messages and there's a whole tab to see these separately.

The Skype icon also shows you if you have any chat messages waiting via the standard iPhone red number in the top right. It's not the quickest-loading app, but it's certainly not the slowest we've seen.

As per the early reports, you can perform calls to either your Skype contacts or SkypeOut calls to your iPhone contacts. There's also a keypad so you tap in other numbers should you wish. Obviously, you'll need to have Skype Credit though and you can buy this via the profile tab which redirects you to a Safari window.

This annoyingly takes you out of the app, though this is a standard iPhone annoyance. You can also buy Voicemail or an Online Number this way.

Another frustration is that the app signs out if your keypad locks, but it does reconnect quickly when you swipe and unlock. Skype has plugged into the iPhone's camera, so you can update your profile pic, while you can also edit your profile information or change your status - all directly from the Profile tab.

Sadly though, you can't see your Status when in the other tabs. This is a bit of a pain, especially if you wander out of connectivity or your keypad locks.

Will we get more features?

Call quality was excellent as expected. Skype has worked to improve call quality a great deal across all of its software apps and it's certainly paid dividends in recent calls we've had.

So, as expected, Skype on the iPhone is very much a first version and we'd expect Skype to implement changes quickly just as it does with its desktop app. However, in terms of look and feel we think it surpasses other apps offering connectivity with Skype contacts on the iPhone such as Fring and Truphone and the core functions of Calls and Chats don't suffer as a result of the lack of extra features.

Will we ever get features such as Voicemail or conference calling inside the app? It's certainly up for debate – Apple has to be very careful not to alienate its network partners who have invested big money in its handset.


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site T3.com. Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.