The new ZTE Peel case for the iPod Touch
Have Sprint as your cell phone carrier and also have an iPod Touch? Always wanted to have a Sprint “iPhone?” Well, then you’re in luck, as Sprint and a company called ZTE have announced that starting November 14th (this coming Sunday) you’ll be able to pick up a $79 iPod Touch case that has a built-in Sprint 3G mobile WiFi hotspot. In other words, it will allow you to have access to Sprint 3G wherever you are as if you had a Sprint iPhone!
And the data pricing for the hotspot is also not great but not so unsurprising, coming in at $29.99 a month for 1 GB of internet with no need to sign a contract (also awesome is that you don’t have to be locked in for 2 years and can cancel and restart whenever you want, something you can’t do if you had a traditional smartphone plan. This also makes it easier for someone who doesn’t have Sprint to pick one of these up, as they don’t need to cancel their current cell phone carrier or have two different cell phone contracts to get a 3G-enabled iTouch).
While this is definitely very cool, not everything is perfect here if you figured this would transform your iTouch into a real, full-fledged iPhone. For example, there is no calling or texting app built-in to the iPod Touch, so there is no simple, “out-of-the-box” way to text or call (and as we said above, there is no voice plan so you don’t even get a Sprint number. You could however, use something like Skype or Google Voice to supplement for the lack of said texting and calling apps, as both would allow you to text and call over the internet and both also are available as iOS apps). But even with that type of solution you would still need to either carry headphones with a mic everywhere you go or answer calls on the iTouch’s speaker (as you know, the iTouch lacks the front earpiece found on the iPhone for calls). Another downer to all this is that the case, which has a battery life of about 3 hours, is designed for the 2nd and 3rd gen iTouches with no back camera opening to allow for the new 4th gen, FaceTime packing iTouch (update: Sprint has let us know that the ZTE Peel does support the 4th Gen iTouch, just it won’t fit as well as it does the 2nd and 3rd gen iTouches. And of course you can only then FaceTime using the front camera).
Oh, and this mobile hotspot, unlike Sprint’s other hotspots like the Overdrive and MiFi, only allows for 2 connections– and with your iTouch taking up one already, this means you’ve only got one extra to play with (which I guess isn’t the worst considering that to tether an iPhone on AT&T runs an extra $20 a month on top of the similar $25 2 GB data plan, where while you gain a GB, you have to physically connect your iPhone to your computer to share said internet). Unlike the Overdrive, this little guy doesn’t pack 4G support (and you can of course use either of those mobile hotspots with any iTouch, but they don’t offer the added convenience of having it always on your iPod as a case).
Even with some of these drawbacks you gotta admit that it’s still pretty cool to be able to so easily make your iTouch more iPhone-like, particularly without having to go over to AT&T to do it. So, Sprint users– any takers?