Apple’s iPod Touch + Verizon’s MiFi + Skype = iPhony?

Saturday, December 5th, 2009 9:35AM UTC

no-att

Use an iPod Touch on Verizon's network.

I love Apple’s iPhone, but hate AT&T’s network.  In my opinion, Verizon missed the boat when Apple initially contacted Verizon about the iPhone.  There have been numerous rumors that, once AT&T’s contract expires in 2010, Verizon will get the iPhone.  Based upon previous rumors, don’t hold your breath.  In addition, Verizon now has the Google Droid smart phone, and competition is heating up.  Personally, I don’t expect the iPhone on Verizon’s network anytime soon.  Apple’s rumored iTablet is another story though.

So what is a person to do if they want Apple’s iPhone on Verizon’s network in the U.S.?  The answer is to use Apple’s iPod Touch, with Verizon’s MiFi device, and install Skype.

Apple’s iPod Touch

It’s best to think of the iPod Touch as iPhone’s little brother.  The Apple iPod Touch includes most of the features of an iPhone.  In fact, it has a slightly more powerful CPU because it doesn’t need to conserve battery life for cellular communication.  The iPod Touch is missing:

  • A camera (both photo and video)
  • Features from the map application (iPhone has more)
  • A built-in microphone
  • AT&T’s Edge Network (meaning you only have WiFi available)
  • Telephone capability
  • SMS capability
  • iPhone specific apps that use the available hardware (i.e. the camera for barcode scanning)

Most people I know who use the iPhone use it primarily for a mobile Internet device; viewing web pages, reading E-mails and using any installed apps that require Internet connectivity.  Most don’t use the phone, and in fact many people complain about the clarity of phone calls.

Verizon’s MiFi 2200

So the iPod Touch doesn’t have access to a cellular network.  This is where Verizon’s MiFi 2200 comes in.  The MiFi is a small black box with only an on/off button.  A more detailed review can be found on Gizmodo. It’s a simple device to setup, and perfect for a non-techy.  It converts Verizon’s 3G network into a WiFi G signal with a 50 foot radius.  This means devices with WiFi only access, like the iPod Touch, can access the Internet as if in your home or office.  I constantly carry Verizon’s MiFi with me, and it has worked flawlessly.  It’s great not only to attach an iPod Touch, but works with any WiFi enabled device.  I use it with my Apple portable as if it’s connected to our office network.  Previously you had to either purchase a cellular device that used a PC Card slot, ExpressCard slot, or USB port.  Tethering is available with some smart phones, but I consider it too limited and it also sucks the battery life of your phone.

The MiFi allows for up to 5 devices to connect at once.  Uploads and downloads are approximately DSL speed, and depends upon your area.   From my tests, I was able to get Internet streaming radio while on a LIRR train without interruption.  The only down side is the 5GB/month bandwidth allotment, and it can be pricey at $70+/month.  For an Internet junkie like me that uses it for business, it’s a no brainier and worth the cost of the dedicated device.

Skype

For those not familiar with it, Skype allows for free internet telephone calls.  You can communicate (via by voice and optional video) for free when doing Skype to Skype calls.  For an additional fee, you can get outbound and inbound communications though POTS (traditional phone lines).  It’s been available on Apple’s OS X and Microsoft’s Windows for a while.  We use Skype in the office. and it works great as a means to quickly communicate with remote employees.

Skype recently became available on the iPod Touch/iPhone.  So you can now make phone calls via your iPod Touch!  Call quality is acceptable via the iPod Touch.  Unlike the iPhone, the iPod Touch does not have a built-in microphone.  To speak you need to either tether a Bluetooth device, or purchase headphones with a microphone.  Bluetooth functionality became available after version 3.0 of Apple’s software.

Conclusion

To get an iPhone in the U.S., you have an alternative to AT&T’s network. Purchase both an iPod Touch and a Verizon MiFi 2200 and you’ll have most of the features of an iPhone on Verizon’s network.

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