A Taiwanese company has released a Skype-only smartphone which its makers hope will render landlines and traditional phone bills obsolete.
The “innovatively simple” LinkTel Android phone does not require a SIM card but uses Wi-fi connectivity to allow a user to make free voice and video calls and send instant messages to other Skype users. Calls can also be made to landlines and mobiles at relatively low rates with Skype credit.
“As the whole world is busy incorporating all functions into a single smartphone, we simply want to offer a streamlined phone that focuses on the talk experience through Skype,” said LinkTel chairman Hung-Tze Jan.
The phone has a 4.3-inch display, dual-core 1GHz processor and 2-megapixel camera and retails at NT$1,990 (HK$510).
Chief operating officer Sam Tsai Wen-hsiung said the phone was easy to use and could allow the user to remain online 24 hours a day. He added that it could be used as a house, office, teleconference or travel phone.
LinkTel is Skype’s first co-partner and has run the online calling service in Taiwan for the past 10 years.
Despite competition from Line and WeChat, Skype has 300 million active users worldwide and an estimated 214 billion minutes of international “on-net” calls (Skype to Skype) were made last year, 39 per cent of all international calls and 36 per cent up on 2012. Microsoft acquired the service in 2011.