iPod touch goes 3G thanks to Sprint, ZTE

If you’re still sitting on the fence, debating between signing your life away to get an iPhone or limiting your data mobility with an iPod touch, Sprint now offers a third option that you might consider.

On the heels of Verizon’s iPad-plus-MiFi bundle and its own iPad-plus-Overdrive case, Sprint will soon give the second- and third-generation iPod touch some 3G wings with the ZTE Peel. It might look kind of like a Mophie Juice Pack, but instead of juicing up your battery life, the ZTE Peel packs a 3G radio and mobile hotspot onto the back of an iPod touch. So if you’ve been looking to hit that “iPhone without the phone” sweet spot and avoid high-priced voice plan contracts, this may be what you’ve been waiting for.

Not all may be unicorns and rainbows with the ZTE Peel, though. At $80, the price isn’t bad, but on the downside the Peel’s internal battery is only rated for three hours of continual use and its hotspot features allow only for two simultaneous devices (presumably including the touch itself). And despite giving you 3G data service, you still won’t have access to the voice network, which means your texting and voice calls will have to resort to third-party solutions like Google Voice and Skype.

For the launch, Sprint will offer only one data plan: $30 per month for just 1GB of data. By comparison, AT&T’s 3G-friendly data plans for the iPhone start at $15 for just 200MB, but AT&T doubles the Peel’s monthly bucket of data for only $25. The silver lining? Unlike AT&T, Sprint doesn’t require you to sign a contract for the Peel’s data plan or even to purchase the device.

The ZTE Peel goes on sale Sunday, November 14 through Sprint retail stores and its Website and is compatible with Mac OS X 10.5 or later as well as Windows 7, Vista, and XP. So, anyone thinking about snagging the Peel and a Sprint data plan instead of an iPhone on AT&T?

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