The Cheap, $20 per Month Almost-iPhone

The Cheap, $20 per Month Almost-iPhone

Virgin ZTE Peel 3299 + 2nd or 3rd Generation iPod Touch

By: Dappered Tech Correspondent Paul Olson.  Read his other work for Dappered here.

The lines are drawn.   BlackBerrys are for prostitutes and their business-world clients.  Android phones are for nerds and deal watchers.  iPhones are for, well, let’s just agree that a lot of people buy iPhones for the same reason they buy BMWs – it sends a certain social status signal thanks to tremendous marketing.  That’s fine.  But it’s nearly impossible to get an iPhone on a plan that costs less than $80 a month.  (Seriously, if you can do this, share it in the comments.  If you can beat Virgin’s $60 per month unlimited plan, I’ll send you an iPhone replacement battery*.)

So what then?  What if you’re not driven by social status indicators and you just want an Apple device because it syncs to your iTunes and can play Angry Birds and dammit, it does work pretty well with the touching and the pinching and the swiping and the app downloading?   Well, thanks to Virgin Mobile, you have an option – the ZTE Peel 3200 and Virgin’s $20 / 500 MB plan … you just need a 2nd or 3rd generation iPod Touch.

An iPod Touch?

Yeah, so here’s how it works.   This gadget from Virgin piggy-backs on your iPod Touch and gives it a 3G data connection.  If you want to make calls, you’ll need an app like Skype.  If you want to text, you’ll need an app like textPlus.  Your calls and texts will be routed over the Sprint 3G network … which means you could eat up this 500 MB pretty quickly.

Who it’ll work for

If you have wireless internet at home that you’re already paying for, this may make some sense.  It also makes sense if you just don’t talk a lot.   I don’t – last month I used 52 minutes.  And if your a young, male reader of this blog, I bet you don’t chat much either.  If you have access to supplemental data, are an Apple fan that doesn’t want to spend money, and have an old iPod Touch kicking around, this may be perfect for you.

Drawbacks

Technologically, this device doesn’t work with the latest, best iPod Touch.  So no front-facing camera, no video chat, no ‘retina’ display.  That may be enough to kill the deal for most, but consider this – even if you’re not into Apple because of its marketing, other people are.  And one of those other people could very well be the girl at the bar you’re talking to, and when you pull this bad-boy out to sync contact information, you may ice over her yearning loins faster than you can say, “Steve Jobs is sexy.”  That’s a risk that may be worth $80 a month.

Or you could just go Android.  But seriously, watch out if she has a BlackBerry.

*This is a joke – nobody that owns an iPhone can be trusted to replace their own battery.