While the iPod touch might be dwindling in sales, it remains one of the best and cheapest portable media players on the market. I like to think of it as a gateway product to the iPhone nowadays, which is exactly what it was for me. I received the original iPod touch as a Christmas gift over six years ago, upgraded to the second- and fourth-generation models, and eventually moved on to an iPhone.
I haven’t looked back since, but I know there are quite a few users that rely on the iPod touch as their day-to-day device. That inspired me to write this guide on how to turn an iPod touch into an iPhone, something that is more possible than you might think. For the purposes of this article, I am assuming that you have at least a fourth-generation iPod touch running iOS 6 or later. Some of the apps and accessories listed work with older devices and iOS versions…
Best VoIP Apps for iPod touch
Google Hangouts is the best option for iPod touch users looking to make phone calls for free. After signing up for a Google Voice number, you can use it with this app to make free calls in the United States and Canada. International calling is available based on per-minute rates. Hangouts can also be used for sending instant messages, photos, videos and even video calls, making this pretty much the ultimate solution for iPod touch owners.
Perhaps best of all is that Hangouts is a cross-platform app for iOS, Android, Mac and PC, allowing you to catch up with your conversations on different devices. Voicemail and voicemail transcription is also available for free, which is something that a lot of carriers often charge for on iPhone. Hangouts is available on the App Store for free.
FaceTime is another good solution for iPod touch users, but it restricts you to using the Apple ecosystem. You can make free audio or video calls with the app over Wi-Fi, but only to other iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac users. Google Hangouts is probably the better choice here, considering it’s cross platform, but you might prefer the stock experience of FaceTime if you only plan on talking with other Apple users.
Your iPod touch is not a smartphone, but using a VoIP app like Skype over Wi-Fi offers nearly an identical experience. If you are on a low budget, consider inviting as many of your friends and family to install Skype on their device. This way, you can make free calls with those people using the app. Otherwise, you will need to purchase Skype credits from Microsoft to make calls to regular landlines and cell phones.
Fortunately, the pay-as-you-go-rate is as low as 2.3 cents per minute when calling most places worldwide. Subscription rates are also available: $2.99 per month for unlimited calls in United States and Canada, $7.99 per month for unlimited calls in North America, and $13.99 per month for unlimited calls worldwide. Skype is free on the App Store.
Talkatone is an app that iPod touch users should also consider for sending and receiving phone calls and SMS text messages for free using Google Voice. The app provides you with a free United States local phone number with unlimited incoming calls and up to 20 minutes of outgoing calls for free, with the option to purchase additional minutes as needed.
It’s important to note that third-party Google Voice support is ending on May 15th, but Talkatone will still serve a purpose for iPod touch users since it provides unlimited Talkatone-to-Talkatone calls for free. Linking your Facebook account or carrier phone number can earn you extra minutes and features. Talkatone is free on the App Store, with premium features available.
Other recommended VoIP or calling apps for iPod touch
MorphCase is a hardware option for turning your iPod touch into an iPhone, available for both the fourth and fifth generation models. The accessory, which launched on Indiegogo a few years ago, adds a microphone and speaker to an iPod touch to improve the quality of calls made with one of the apps above over a Wi-Fi connection. MorphCase is available for $45 for both the iPod touch 4G and 5G models through its official website.
If you still have a fourth generation iPod touch, the FreedomPop Sleeve Rocket is essentially a cellular hotspot case for your device. It provides access to the FreedomPop data network, which gives your iPod touch up to 4G data speeds in the United States without signing a contract. FreedomPop wireless plans range from 500 MB per month for free to 4 GB for $28.99 per month. The FreedomPop Sleeve Rocket is $93.99 on Amazon.
If you are going to be using your iPod touch as a smartphone, you’ll want to avoid using the built-in microphone and speaker — they don’t sound very good. A portion of the money you are going to be saving each month on not paying a cell phone bill should be invested towards a nice pair of Bluetooth or wired headphones with an in-line microphone and volume controls. Jim gave the Audiofly AF78 Marque Black headphones ($199.95, pictured above) a strong review last year, but there are much cheaper options on Amazon if that isn’t within your budget.
Last, but not least, are the mobile hotspot accessories that many carriers sell for connecting an iPod touch or other devices to cellular data by connecting over Wi-Fi. I’ve saved you the trouble and linked to the mobile hotspot purchase pages for the four major carriers in the United States: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. Many carriers in Canada and other countries also sell mobile hotspots: Bell, Rogers, Vodafone, O2 and more. Prices start at around $50 plus the cost of data-only plans.
Ultimately, an iPod touch will always have its shortcomings compared to an iPhone. But if you are looking to save money by avoiding a monthly cell phone contract, the apps and accessories outlined above will go a long way towards maximizing the use of your iPod touch. If you have any tips of your own on how you can turn your iPod touch into an iPhone, be sure to share them in the comments section down below.