Well this is interesting. Back in April, Sprint caused a bit of buzz by promoting an iPad case that converted a built-in superfast 4G data connection into a Wi-Fi signal for use with up to five devices. The idea was that you could plop your Wi-Fi iPad into the case and use Sprint’s connection for data on the go.
In reality, it was little more than a protective bag with a pocket for Sprint’s $100 Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot. The idea was there in theory, but it wasn’t quite as elegant a solution as it perhaps could have been.
However, recent FCC documents show off a protective phone-sized case called the “Peel” that features a built-in 3G connection. According to Phone Scoop, the case “seems to be a specially designed Wi-Fi hotspot device that could offer EV-DO networking to an iPod touch in a package that could be clamped to Apple’s Wi-Fi-only iPod. The apparent naming also suggests a relationship; a Peel for an Apple device.”
The FCC’s site hosts the device’s user manual—it’s officially called the ZTE3200—but the guide makes no mention of an Apple product (or any particular product at all, for that matter). Battery life is listed as 40 hours in standby mode, though there aren’t any promises about real-world usage other than to say that “Battery life depends on the network, signal strength, temperature, features, and accessories you use.”
So don’t expect to be able to leave Skype running on an iPod Touch and walk around all day connected to Sprint’s network like you’d be able to do with an actual phone. The standard Overdrive product from Sprint lists usage time of 3 hours or 36 hours of standby. And the cost for the monthly data plan would likely fall in line with similar products at $60 per month for 5GB of data, shared with up to five devices at once.
Still, it’s an interesting idea if you’re dead set on skirting a $100+ smartphone plan. A no-contract, pay-as-you-go model might be even more appealing, too. No word on pricing or availability but the fact that there’s an actual FCC listing seems to indicate that it could make it to market relatively soon.
More on Techland: Sprint Overdrive Hub