Apple Peel 520 Review: Turn Your iPod Touch into a Phone

Transforming your iPod touch into a functional phone has been a topic of interest for many, with solutions ranging from Skype to Line 2. However, these methods lack the ability to incorporate actual cellular functionality. This gap is filled by the Apple Peel 520, a sophisticated case that integrates a phone system into your iPod via the dock connector. Unlike the data-only Sprint ZTE Peel case set to debut this Sunday, the Apple Peel 520 supports voice calls and SMS through standard GSM SIM cards.

Users can choose any service provider by inserting their own SIM card. I recently acquired a $10 H2O Wireless SIM card from Best Buy, which worked seamlessly with the device.

Inserting the SIM and pressing a reset button initiates a setup process that, once completed, enables the device to make and receive calls.

Setting up the Apple Peel 520 involves jailbreaking the iPod touch, adding specific repositories, and installing tailored software. Additionally, the physical setup of the Peel hardware is required, including charging, inserting the SIM, and preparing the device for operation. Due to the complexity, this device is recommended only for those who are technically inclined and willing to invest time in setup.

Concerns arise with the installation process, as it involves adding a repository that is considered risky and unethical by some. The distributor based in the Netherlands is reportedly working on a solution to avoid this issue. The hardware itself consists of a case that houses the iPod touch, connecting through a dock connector and snapping together to enclose the device.

While the case allows access to the iPod’s screen, it covers most physical buttons, which can be less responsive than direct touch.

During my testing, I encountered issues with the battery connection, which were resolved after cleaning the connectors and changing cables. Once operational, the device accepted the SIM card, and a series of chimes indicated readiness. However, the Peel case felt bulky and slightly uncomfortable compared to the sleek iPhone 4, and call quality was often inferior, with noticeable muffling and background noise.

Despite these drawbacks, the Apple Peel 520’s ability to handle both incoming and outgoing calls and texts is a significant advantage. It operates like a typical cell phone, ringing for incoming calls and allowing immediate conversation access through the software. This functionality, especially the integrated SMS feature, may appeal to heavy texters looking for a cost-effective solution.

Priced at just US$89, including global shipping, the Apple Peel 520 offers a budget-friendly alternative to traditional iPhone setups, though it lacks data capabilities.

Victor

Larry is a dedicated writer for TUAW, bringing a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to the Apple news community. With a keen eye for detail, Larry covers everything from the latest iPhone releases to in-depth reviews of the MacBook Pro and Apple Watch. His insightful articles help readers stay informed about the ever-evolving world of Apple products. Larry’s commitment to delivering accurate and engaging content makes him a valued member of the TUAW team.