Skype Video Chat Comes to iPhone: But Does It Work Well?
It’s finally here: video chat a la FaceTime for iPhone 4 from Skype. It’s designed to work over 3G and Wi-Fi networks, but there are a few snags among all the goodness. Here’s some perspective …
According to 9to5Mac.com, Skype for iPhone 4 chews away a hefty chunk of data — about 3.4MB a minute. But the good news is that it’s compatible with Skype on desktop computers. Video chat will proliferate only if everyone has access to it in some shape or form, which is why Apple released FaceTime for the Mac, and obviously why Skype finally now supports the front-facing camera.
It works with the new iPod Touch and the iPhone 3GS, although to enjoy a face-to-face chat you’d have to flip the iPhone 3GS around or maybe use a small mirror, since the camera is located on the back of the phone.
Fellow blogger Matt Weinberger and I tried out Skype via 3G to see just how well it works, since 9to5Mac gave it such glowing reviews. We didn’t experience all the smoothness 9to5Mac did. In fact, after several failed attempts at connecting, we finally managed to establish a video chat that lasted about 10 seconds before the entire thing just froze and canceled the call. The image was fuzzy, but it wasn’t terribly pixelated.
Equally frustrating was my attempt (again, over 3G) to connect to my MacBook Air with the iPhone 4 for video chatting. As you can see in the image, my connection wasn’t optimal for a video chat, and the call failed shortly after that message popped up. Then according to my Mac, my iPhone had logged out of Skype. Weird. Although I had three bars of network service, which had been more than enough bars to do any sort of web-related activity successfully before, I think the key to 3G chatting is having full five bars of service.
In the mean time, I’m sticking with using WiFi. Besides dealing with a crummy connection, I’m eating up my data plan using the service over 3G.
For now, I think 3G usage falls more into the realm of “because you can” reason than being a true practical feature of Skype. That may all change with 4G, but we won’t know until a 4G version of the iPhone is released.
It’s worth noting reports that FaceTime over 3G using jailbroken iPhones is quite useful, so it’s possible that Skype’s back end for connecting video calls may be the culprit.
Have you had video chat success with your iPhone 4 and Skype? Let us know.