Skype has teamed up with UK mobile operator,3, to introduce a new low cost handset that offers free Skype to Skype calls and instant messaging.

The 3 Skypephone is a fully-featured 3G internet phone with Skype built-in. In addition to Skype calls the phone makes conventional calls and can be used to access 3’s broad range of other services.

It's the first time an operator has offered a mass market device which is tailor-made for free calling over the internet from a mobile.

The handset was developed by Skype and 3 in partnership with Qualcomm, using Qualcomm’s BREW platform to enable Skype to work with core handset features such as address book and messaging.

Additional features include a 2.0-megapixel camera, bluetooth and internet access. The 86g device has a 2-inch screen and a 320-hour standby time. The 16MB of internal memory is expandable to 1GB using a microSD card.

The 3 Skypephone ships in the UK next month and costs £49.99 on a Pay as you go tariff or free on a contract.