Use iPod Touch As A Phone To Save On Bills

The iPod Touch can be more than the oft-ignored stepbrother of the iPhone – with the right hacking touch, it can be a replacement for its much loved sibling.

CNN spotlights a man who uses a Touch as his phone, thus skirting costly voice charges from phone providers. He places calls with a Skype app, using a headset to make up for the device’s lack of a microphone and carries a credit card-sized MiFi gadget that hooks him up to cellular networks.

He tells CNN:

“My iPod Touch gets notifications, so I see the incoming messages immediately. It’s pretty easy to stay in touch.”

The man says his monthly bills for the setup run $40 – a trifle compared to what most iPhone owners pay to AT&T or will begin paying to Verizon next month.

What unconventional maneuvers do you use to cut down on cell phone bills?

To reduce wireless bills, some try an ‘iPod phone’ [CNN]


Edit Your Comment

  1. jesirose says:

    Does he have texting? And data on wireless only or on the mifi?

  2. mbd says:

    > What unconventional maneuvers do you use to cut down on cell phone bills?

    I don’t have a cell phone. Cuts down 100% of my cell phone bills.

    • Straspey says:


    • obits3 says:

      I don’t have home internet or phone right now as I would rather have my EVO for about the same money.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Why not? Real question. I’m very curious about people who don’t have cell phones. A lot of people who don’t have a cell phone have a landline, but I don’t see the benefits of having a landline being greater than the benefits of having a cell phone. And when you’re home, isn’t it redundant to have both?

      • Alvis says:

        Maybe because he’s not a drug dealer or stock broker.

      • foofad says:

        Some people just enjoy not being reachable when they don’t want to be.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          But there’s no rule that says you have to answer every phone call you get.

          I guess I just approach it from the reasoning that I want to be reachable when I choose, but when I choose to be reachable, I’d like to be reachable regardless of where I am. I spend about 10 hours of the day away from home and don’t give out my work phone number.

      • ConsumerA says:

        Combine VOIP with a prepaid plan and you can save $$$. I pay $18 a month for VOIP and just a few dollars a YEAR on prepaid cellular. 95% of the time, I’m around wifi at home or the office and can make and receive calls for free. For the other 5% of the time I’m not in wifi range, I pay 10 cents a minute using cellular service.

        • ConsumerA says:

          Forgot to mention that my VOIP allows me to use a SIP softphone client on my cell phone…which allows me to make calls for free on my cell phone.

      • MNGirl says:

        I don’t have a cell phone. I use to have a HTC Hero, while I worked as a cell phone salesman. Now I just have a MagicJack, which is $20 a year. I just don’t have that many people I talk to. If someone really wants to get a hold of me, they know they can just e mail me, call my landline, ect. The phone bill just wasn’t worth it anymore.

    • mbd says:

      I can’t speak for why anyone else does not have a cell phone, but for me, I don’t feel the need to be constantly in touch. I had a cell phone a few years ago, and people got offended if I did not immediately answer/respond. A phone is for my convenience, not the convenience of those who call me. Yes, I have a land line as part of my cable tv package, and my desk at work has a phone on it. If someone needs to get a hold of me they will call one or the other, and/or leave a message. If they want me bad enough, sooner or later they will get a hold of me.

      Being a techie kind of guy, it is not a Luddite issue, it is an issue of cost vs benefit for me.

      I certainly don’t have a problem with friends who are glued to their cells, but I did laugh and found it kind of sad, at the youtube video of the cell phone user walking into a fountain last week.

  3. obits3 says:
  4. Southern says:

    Yeah, people have been using Skype on IPod Touches for what, 3-4 years? Nothing really new there, although the addition on the MiFi could make it somewhat more portable.. But now you’re carrying *2* devices, having to keep both of them charged..

    I’ll stick with my Android & Cricket plan for $55 that gives me unlimited everything.

  5. GoPadge says:

    I jailbroke and unlocked two iPhones (1 3G and 1 3GS) and have service on a T-Mobile pre-paid plan, 1500 min / text and 30 MB of data for each phone for $60 / month total. We have wifi at the house and work, so 30 MB of data on Edge gets us by most months.

  6. Press1forDialTone says:

    “What unconventional maneuvers do you use to cut down on cell phone bills?”

    LOL – …and if you tell me, I can make a list and sell it to the cell phone service providers
    or if I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy, just use them myself and pass them on to my loved

    I’m sorry, it just sounded so funny.

  7. mikeluisortega says:

    How long would the battery of a Mifi last compared to a regular cell phone? Especially if you have it on all the time to receive calls. I think this just isn’t worth the trouble of carrying two devices in make shift fashion and worrying about two different batteries.

    • golfinggiraffe says:

      Actively using a MiFi gives you something like 3-4 hours. Standby time is something like a day and a half. Extra batteries run around $20, and if you normally carry a briefcase, bag or pack, you can pick up an extended battery (a bit too thick to keep in your pocket) that doubles the time for about $50.

  8. Brontide says:

    $54/month in NY including all taxes and fees ( yes, I have an employer discount code ). 450 minutes/month and the limited data plan. I will probably go back to pre-pay and use my iPad come the end of the year ( and my contract ).

  9. TooManyHobbies says:

    Google voice. My texting is via the web interface. it rings my pay-as-you go mobile (Virgin Mobile, $5/month) and my landline. That way when people call me at home, I answer on the landline rather than using up minutes.

  10. sumocat says:

    Terribly irresponsible of them to not mention the lack of emergency calling.

  11. ConsumerA says:

    I have VOIP at home (for about $18 a month) and it allows me to use a SIP softphone client on my cellphone. When I travel abroad, I can call back to the US for free via a wifi connection on my cellphone. When running the SIP application on my phone, I also receive incoming calls made to my home number (as long as I’m connected via wifi). If someone tries calling my cell number, I just wait until I have wifi access and call them back…all for no additional cost on top of my regular VOIP bill.

  12. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    My PSP can do that. Just waiting for the day Sony disables THAT feature!

  13. Outrun1986 says:

    If you have the iPod touch 4th gen it has a built in mic so you don’t have to use a headset but it works much better if you use regular headphones so you can hear clearly. I use whistle on my touch however it only works when it is on wifi but is otherwise totally free. I don’t know how much money you are really saving with this as you can easily get a plan of some sort for what he is paying, unless you really talk A LOT and even with that the battery on the touch isn’t that great. You also have to keep up with the battery of the touch and the mifi, plus pay for the mifi, iPod touch and potentially extra batteries for each. There is also no emergency calling but if you need 911 you could carry around one of many dumbphones as they all call 911 even when there is no service. You would just be carrying around more stuff though.

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      Yes, the 4th gen iPod touch has a microphone. On the back of it! Which would make using it as a quasi-phone rather inconvenient if you’re in a not-so-quiet environment, as that mic would pick up background noise about as well as your voice. I personally haven’t used mine as a phone (though I do have the Skype app on it just in case the mood got me) so I’m guessing YMMV.

  14. Razor512 says:

    Cellphone service is too expensive so I use skype and a decent browser to head to the google voice website on my windows mobile pocket PC (pretty good for a 6 year old pocket pc, I can use google voice to text and receive text messages and skype to make calls with a little bit of skype credit. Since I live in the city, there pretty much wifi hotspots everywhere.

    I simply VPN into my home connection and do what ever I need to do :).

  15. Stella says:

    Apparently you can do this for free without Skype using free app TextFree with Voice:

  16. evilpete says:

    I’ve done this with my spare cell phones.

  17. Wolfbird says:

    $40? What? Ours costs $3 for unlimited NA Skype outbounds. We can’t do inbound calls (I don’t know why, it’s not my phone) but since we don’t like being bothered that’s actually a good thing.

    We switched to this system after discovering that it’s less expensice to not use our shitty Bell Canada cell phone (using it more than a few times a month puts us over out minutes allowance). We still have to pay for both of them but it sure beats getting dinged with mystery charges every month (which are significantly more than $3).

    I used to not have a phone at all and that was perfect, but my mother didn’t like that.

  18. tz says:

    The 4th gen iPod touch has a built-in mic, but if you don’t want speakerphone, you can use the headset. and it does video calls with skype and fring. And I have a Mifi. Yes, it works, but the mifi latency is a bit long. It works better with direct mifi. There may be an app for non-jailbreak, but I also have a SIP app and a service like Vonage, but cheaper.

  19. dangermike says:

    Does the thought of using an ipad as a phone remind anyone else of that Trigger Happy TV sketch? (HELLO? NO! THAT’S RUBBISH!!!)

  20. JonBoy470 says:

    Really… Seems like altogether too much effort. Spend $50/month and get a BoostMobile phone with unlimited everything.

  21. tz says:

    Google voice number, in the “friends and family” or any plan that you can specify one number not to use any minutes inbound or outbound. Have GV present the GV number for caller ID, and put GV on the speed dial and use that instead of direct (or have GV call both phones from the computer). My SIP is with Callcentric that has $3 free incoming (if you don’t have 9-11 – and swear to never using it in the USA). It can receive (and email) faxes and voicemail. There was this old number I wanted to keep that is voicemail-only (redirecting them to my GV number if they need to get ahold of me quickly).

    Prepaid for special occasions. I have a Tmobile gold plan SIM that works in my Cliq and nearly every other SIM phone. I use it for international calls instead of Skype. I rarely SMS, but use this when I need to. Before GV, if I had Looong calls or many of them (like when looking for a job) I would burn these minutes so I wouldn’t go over my main plan – I can keep it to a small number, and the minutes rollover if you add cards, for me once each year.

  22. ellemdee says:

    I kept my cell bills low over the years by getting in on good retentions deals. I’ve been with the same provider for the last 10 years, so I’ve managed to stack some retired perks and grandfathered plans that are no longer available or that weren’t offered to everyone. I pay about $48 a month (including taxes) for 1000+ minutes, unlimited calling to 5 numbers (including landlines), 300 messages, and unlimited 3G data without the need to carry around any extra equipment. Less than $10 of my bill is messaging and data.

  23. Cetan says:

    I make my own iPhones at home?