Apple iPod touch owners will soon be able to get a case from Sprint that basically turns their device into a smartphone. The ZTE Peel is a clip-on portable wireless router that can give this handheld computer access to Sprint’s 3G network wherever it goes.
This accessory connects to Sprint’s cellular-wireless data network, and gives the iPod touch an Internet connection over Wi-Fi. The Peel can also share its connection with another Wi-Fi-enabled device.
The Peel also functions as a protective case for the iPod touch.
The iPod touch as Smartphone
Sprint is not claiming that the ZTE Peel will make an iPod touch into an iPhone, but this device comes very close.
If the user installs VoIP software on their handheld, they will be able to send and receive voice calls over a data connection. One option for this Skype, which is available for free.
However, potential users should be aware that the Peel can run for only 3 hours on a single charge. That’s plenty for occasional web surfing, but limits its potential as a phone-replacement.
This accessory was developed by ZTE before Apple released its most recent iPod touch, so it works only with send- and third-generation models.
The Peel is 4.8 x 2.6 x .9 inches, and 3.2 oz. It has a 3.2-inch HVGA (320 x 480) display for administrative tasks that is normally hidden behind the handheld.
It supports Wi-Fi b/g as well as WEP 64 Bit (Open or shared).
Pricing & Availability
The ZTE Peel is going to hit Sprint’s store shelves on Sunday, Nov. 14. It will also be available at sprint.com.
It is going to sell for $80. Users will have the option of getting a $29.99 monthly service plan from Sprint, which allows up to 1 GB of data with no annual contract required.