At least two Chinese companies have created some very special accessories for owners of an iPod Touch who can't afford an iPhone: cases that turn their handheld into a smartphone.
Two new iPod Touch cases -- the Apple Peel 520 and the tPhone -- are both being touted as offering capabilities for voice calling and texting while also giving physical protection to the handheld computer.
Priced at just $57, the Apple Peel is made of rubber. The more expensive tPhone costs anywhere from $100 to $150, but includes a hard plastic cover. A jailbroken iPod Touch is required to use either.
A few weeks ago, the FCC seemed to have outed a third such device by posting a photo showing a product that looked a lot like the Apple Peel and tPhone. The picture made a reference to Sprint, too. However, the U.S. federal agency has since taken down the photo and most of the related documents from its site, apparently at the request of ZTE Corp., a Chinese company which had made an FCC filing for U.S. product approval.
The Apple Peel
If you think an iPhone is expensive in the US, it's even more so in China. In an instant messaging (IM) conversation with CNN, the Apple Peel's inventor gave economics as his inspiration for coming up with the unique rubber cover for the Touch.
In China, an iPhone is priced at anywhere between $588 and $730, whereas the iPod Touch goes for a mere $230, according to the Apple Peel inventor, who would identify himself only as Maxpy.
The Apple Peel includes a battery and dock connector, plus a SIM card slot for enabling voice calling. Yoison Technology, a start-up company founded by Maxpy, also provides software with the case to give the iPod Touch its iPhone functionality and to enable texting.
Those who are interested in buying the Apple Peel will probably have a wait on their hands: Maxpy told CNN that mass production of the product is on hold until Yoison determines whether the Peel violates any intellectual privacy (IP) rights. So far, Yoison has only pre-sold about 150 of the iPod Touch covers on the Chinese e-commerce site Taobao.com.