Similar to the company’s own 4G Case for the iPad, the ZTE Peel looks just like a slightly oversized case for the device, however, inside is a 3G radio and mobile hotspot that allows you to connect with your iPod Touch over Wi-Fi.
The Peel will be priced at $80 and will launch on Sunday, November 14 through Sprint’s retail stores and website. The price isn’t too bad, however, the downside is its mediocre battery life: under continual use, the Peel’s battery will only last for three hours, and despite giving you 3G data access, it won’t give you access to the voice network. So even if you were to jailbreak your device and install Apple’s own Phone and Messaging apps like you’d find on the iPhone, you won’t be able to use them.
Instead you can use third-party applications like Skype, Google Voice, and the long list of messaging applications in the App Store.
The ZTE Peel is compatible with Mac OS X 10.5 as well as Windows 7, Vista and XP, so you can also hook up your notebook for data access on the go. You’re limited to connecting two devices simultaneously, however.
To begin with, Sprint will only be offering one data plan for the device: for $30 per month you’ll get 1GB of data. This compares to the 2GB of data you’ll get from AT&T for a $25 per month iPhone. However, choosing the iPhone means you’ll need to sign in to a contract, whereas the Peel is contract-free.
So is the ZTE Peel coupled with an iPod Touch a suitable, contract-free alternative to an iPhone? Or does the lack of traditional phone calling and text messaging mean that the iPhone remains the best choice?[via PCWorld]