Yes, the iPod Touch can replace your phone

Can you use the 2015 iPod Touch as your primary phone? Yes you can! Because of Apple’s Continuity feature, which allows you to call and text on any of Apple’s devices. It’s the low cost way to upgrade your trusty old iPhone 4s.

I know, I know. All the reviews (e.g. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8) say that the iPod Touch doesn’t work as an upgrade to an iPhone. But they are mistaken. I know this for certain, because I recently bought the 2015 iPod Touch (6th generation) to use as my primary phone. And, yes, it works.

Who is this for?

You must:

  • Have Wi-Fi in your home, work or school.
  • Not be obsessive about online social networks when outside Wi-Fi range.
  • Accept the smaller screen size (when compared to iPhones from 2014 onwards).
  • Be willing to carry an additional 99 g (3.5 oz) when out and about.
  • Not be intimidated by the iOS Settings app (you’ll have to use it at least once).
  • Find it attractive to have something that’s a little different and a lot cheaper.

What’s required?

You need an old but working iPhone acting as a Wi-Fi bridge for phone calls and messaging. The phone must be running iOS 8 or newer with the Continuity features enabled. The iPhone 4s is the oldest model supported. You must be ready to keep bringing this phone with you, so the old phone’s condition, especially the battery life, plays a part.

The cheapest, smallest upgrade possible

The reward is a modern iOS device that replaces your phone almost all of the time, for a fraction of the price of a new phone. When comparing the iPod Touch to an iPhone 6 (both A8 processor, 16 GB storage, new from the Apple Store) the iPod is roughly a third of the price of an iPhone (depending on region; in Norway, where I live, it’s exactly a third).

The iPod Touch is much smaller that a present day iPhone. It’s up to you to device whether this is good or bad. It’s very thin and light. It doesn’t feel like it needs a protective cover, so for the first time, I don’t use that, which makes the difference even bigger. It’s actually twice as thin as a covered-up 4s!

iPod-vs-iPhone-1

Calling, texting and browsing

SMS and MMS service on the iPod Touch is excellent. Messages appears both on the iPhone and the iPod. The syncing is downright impressive.

Phone calls are good when both Wi-Fi and cell coverage is good. A detail which is interesting and convenient: If you have a modern, dual-band router, phone calls are still possible when the iPod is on the newer, faster 5 GHz Wi-Fi band while the phone remains on the older 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi band. Obviously, the distance to the router is important during phone calls, so I leave my old bridging iPhone nearby the router when I’m home.

iPod-vs-iPhone-2

When outside Wi-Fi coverage, your iPod is offline unless you use the iPhone as a hotspot – which I don’t. Also, my old iPhone 4s’ battery is in a condition that makes it hard to use for browsing and social networking tools. This means that I’m mostly offline when I’m travelling. For many people, this is a deal breaker. For me it’s a feature – I can smile to people and look out the window. If I get bored, I can still read books and play games. Real games, not those shitty ones that require a constant uplink.

What’s missing?

Apart from a modem, what else does the iPod lack in comparison to a modern iPhone?

Most important, and the only actual pain point: It doesn’t have a vibrator. This means it can’t “buzz” silently in your pocket.

In addition, NFC is lacking, so Apple Pay doesn’t work. There’s no Apple Watch connectivity. No GPS, TouchID or 3D Touch. Also maybe no gyro. At least, Hyperlapse doesn’t work.

None of these are deal breakers to me.

Conclusion

This is the low cost way to upgrade your iPhone – as long as your willing to bring your old phone with you, and as long as you don’t spend all your time on social networks when you commute.

 

 

 

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About Bjørn Solnørdal Tennøe

Interaction designer, happy camper & biker, proud father to three krazy kids.
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