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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > iPhone, iPad & iPod > Proposition: Ditching iPhone for 4G iPad mini

Proposition: Ditching iPhone for 4G iPad mini
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Sep 12, 2013, 07:11 PM
 
(X-posting to MacRumors, but a loooongtime MacNN'er)

I'm the kind of person wireless companies love because I pay $80-90/mo for voice minutes I hardly use and a data quota that I rarely exceed. Starting with the original iPhone to present day with my iPhone 4S, that's a lot of money!

As always the new iPhones are great, but feel it's an expensive option for my needs.

Some facts before I lay out the plan.

* An unlocked 16GB 4G iPad mini is $459, with pay-as-you-go data (sweet).
* An unlocked 16GB iPhone 5c is $549.
* An unlocked 16GB iPhone 5s is $649.

My plan is to:

1. Sell my iPhone 4S and Retina iPad and replace both with a 4G iPad mini (may wait for next version). The pay as you go data plans are about $20-30 mo, compared to $80-90/mo as it is now.

2. Try porting my number to a VoIP provider.

3. Use something like Google Voice or another provider to handle SMS messages.

4. Already using iMessage and Google Hangouts to chat with iOS and Android users, respectively so this will flow through 4G and Wifi seamlessly.

Is anyone doing something like this? Would love to hear your thoughts, and think I could get by with carrying it in my hand if it doesn't fit in my pocket. As for it's use as a phone, I might seem doable by using it upside down, as the microphone and speaker locations are reversed. Always an option for a headset, but unnecessary. I'd save over $700 in phone bills a year, and have 1 iOS device that can do everything I want. Thanks!
F = ma
     
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Sep 12, 2013, 08:18 PM
 


I guess the biggest question is whether or not you have good data coverage. I'd be afraid of driving out to the middle of nowhere that has great cell signal but no data and need to make an emergency call. Sure the Mini could replace 99.9% of a phone's function, but if 0.01% is making emergency calls in case of an accident or trouble, I'd think of the cell phone bill as insurance.
     
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Sep 13, 2013, 03:13 AM
 
Bluetooth headsets are dirt cheap and work well - I would strongly advise getting one if you want to try this. That way you could keep the iPad in a backpack and just have the headset in a pocket or on a lanyard to answer with.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
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Sep 13, 2013, 04:00 AM
 
But then he'll look like every lazy movie's token douche bag.
     
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Sep 13, 2013, 06:53 AM
 
What will using the iPad mini as a handset make him look like?
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
milhous  (op)
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Sep 13, 2013, 05:54 PM
 
Not a bad idea regarding headsets, and since Siri's abilities to do more should reduce the need to physically access the device all the time. I have a Motorola S305 stereo headset, essentially headphones with a mic and some buttons. It's not the best out there, but so far gets the job done.

As for emergency calls, I don't think it's a dealbreaker for my situation as I could be with other people and could use their phones, or use the old fashioned method of yelling for help. I think there's also phone numbers for 911 call centers for dialing directly. I'm also college student living on campus, and close to a decent small town. And we get Verizon LTE here as well and they have the best coverage.

It would definitely change the dynamics of talking to someone on the phone, using it more in a speakerphone capacity when needed, or using an external handset/headset, but think it's completely doable.

My only real concern is how "pocketable" it is. In addition, I usually wear a backpack so it could stay there most times. Hmm, perhaps if I was out somewhere, I could holster the mini on my back, like a gun!
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Sep 13, 2013, 08:16 PM
 
I have thought about doing this for a while, myself. I think it is a great idea!
     
milhous  (op)
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Sep 13, 2013, 10:45 PM
 
There's an app called TextMe that does both voice and SMS, and you have to buy minutes and texts a la carte. The only downside is that you're assigned a phone number closest to your location and can't port an existing number in. Sure there's Google Voice, but then one has to use a 3rd party app like Talkatone, and reports indicate it's not a great experience. There's also the Vonage route and using their app, but it's more of an extension for a landline phone. But in this situation, it might be annoying to have a voice phone number, and a texting number.
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Sep 14, 2013, 11:45 AM
 
For emergency calls, get a cheap prepaid phone.
     
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Sep 14, 2013, 12:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by milhous View Post
...My only real concern is how "pocketable" it is.
I tested an iPad Mini in my cargo pocket and it was fine. Plenty of room. It looked like it would even fit in my back pocket, but you probably wouldn't want to sit on it.

In addition, I usually wear a backpack so it could stay there most times. Hmm, perhaps if I was out somewhere, I could holster the mini on my back, like a gun!
Have you heard of Scottevest (http://www.scottevest.com)? You could get a shirt, vest, or jacket with a pocket big enough for the mini and engineered to that it doesn't pull too much.
     
milhous  (op)
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Sep 14, 2013, 04:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by Salsa View Post
I tested an iPad Mini in my cargo pocket and it was fine. Plenty of room. It looked like it would even fit in my back pocket, but you probably wouldn't want to sit on it.



Have you heard of Scottevest (http://www.scottevest.com)? You could get a shirt, vest, or jacket with a pocket big enough for the mini and engineered to that it doesn't pull too much.
Interesting vest!

Someone from MacRumors linked to The Tablet Butler, an iPad mini holster!
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Sep 15, 2013, 03:24 AM
 
I have had the same thoughts for a long time, but always end up preferring a 4" phone fitting in a basic pocket (rather than only in a cargo pocket).

That said, IMO Apple should immediately (i.e. with the next version) add a cell radio option to the next iPad Mini. Easy-peasy that would answer the phablet market, and from there evolution could take its course.
     
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Sep 17, 2013, 04:25 PM
 
The iphone 4s is a pocketable ipad mini, minus LTE, and costs less.
The iphone 5 is a pocketable ipad mini, with A6, instead of A5 and it costs the same.
Both will accept an activated ipad sim and work if you change the APN.
No BT accessory needed.
Skype and Groundwire are the best voip apps.
Facetime and probably Facetime-audio are of even greater quality, but they are a slap on the face for those who were expecting the promised openness to cross-call from Apple to non Apple.
     
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Sep 21, 2013, 09:11 AM
 
As others have mentioned, one of the best things about a mobile phone is the security they provide in an emergency. So I would not try to depend on WiFi exclusively. I carry an old Moto Razr v3 as my cell phone and use an iPad mini for web access, etc.

If you have an antique basic GSM cell phone tucked away in a drawer you can activate it for as little as $10/mo with Consumer Cellular. Their $10 plan includes no minutes and charges 25 cents / minute; but the idea is that you would only use it in a pinch. For $15/mo you get 200 minutes.

Don't be put off by the old people in the sites images. They market mainly to older people who don't need all the fancy features,of a smart phone. But want to have the security of carrying a mobile phone on them at all times. They also offer flexible data and text plans as add ons. They provide the lower cost mobile options that ATT etc. can't be bothered with.

asxless in iLand
     
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Sep 22, 2013, 03:50 AM
 
VoIP over 4G without QoS? Sounds awful.
     
milhous  (op)
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Sep 28, 2013, 03:45 AM
 
Originally Posted by The Godfather View Post
The iphone 4s is a pocketable ipad mini, minus LTE, and costs less.
The iphone 5 is a pocketable ipad mini, with A6, instead of A5 and it costs the same.
Both will accept an activated ipad sim and work if you change the APN.
No BT accessory needed.
Skype and Groundwire are the best voip apps.
Facetime and probably Facetime-audio are of even greater quality, but they are a slap on the face for those who were expecting the promised openness to cross-call from Apple to non Apple.
Audio Facetime is incredible, tried it the other day both while on 3G and Wifi on the 4S. It was great! To clarify, Skype and TextMe isn't considered VoIP by definition as it's a proprietary, non-SIP service. As for Groundwire, I would need a SIP provider, but wouldn't know how to even pick one because there's so many. And there's also Vonage, but that would be overkill and increase cost.

It's absurd that the 16GB unlocked 5S is $190 more than a 16GB 4G iPad mini with a bigger screen and larger battery. Yes, it's not pocketable, but I'm willing to give it a shot. For my needs, I need to read stuff and take/make occasional calls, that's it. Plus I just got a car recently, so the large screen is perfect for navigation and whatever else. The 911 isn't a dealbreaker for me as the area/environment I'm in makes it likely that I can seek help through other means, or again use somebody else's phone.

So I'm still doing this as soon as new iPads get refreshed, and here's my plan for the transition:

1. Pay $20 and port my 10+ year old Verizon number to Google Voice. SMS people can continue to text me at that number and I'll use the Google Voice app for that (currently NOT iPad optimized, btw). There's also no MMS support with Google Voice, but I'm fine with that.
2. Tell iMessage people to message me at my registered email address instead, as the phone number ported out will be invalidated. Facetime Audio will then be the default method for talking to them as well.
3. With Google Voice, I'll be able to keep both my ported number, and the publicly assigned number. They will both be forwarded to my TextMe number.
4. Yes, callers will see my TextMe number so they can optionally add that number to their contacts as well, but will probably continue using my ported number as the primary number to call. Alternatively I can use the Google Voice app to "call" and initiate the connection between TextMe and the recipient. Hopefully Google Voice will show the correct Caller ID information.
5. I can port my number out of Google Voice at any time, for $3.

That's about it. Even if the new iPads don't come out soon, I may port the number out just to cancel my Verizon bill.
F = ma
     
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Sep 28, 2013, 07:18 AM
 
Originally Posted by milhous View Post
It's absurd that the 16GB unlocked 5S is $190 more than a 16GB 4G iPad mini with a bigger screen and larger battery. Yes, it's not pocketable, but I'm willing to give it a shot.
Just a note: "Bigger" vs. "less big", as a feature, has always been more expensive. In the age of electronics minituarization, "Smaller" vs. "less tiny" has always been more expensive, as well.

In addition, the 5s is *substantially* more powerful than the iPad 4.

None of this is relevant to your purposes, but "absurd", it is not in the least.
     
milhous  (op)
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Sep 28, 2013, 11:48 AM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Just a note: "Bigger" vs. "less big", as a feature, has always been more expensive. In the age of electronics minituarization, "Smaller" vs. "less tiny" has always been more expensive, as well.

In addition, the 5s is *substantially* more powerful than the iPad 4.

None of this is relevant to your purposes, but "absurd", it is not in the least.
You're right with the miniaturization argument, and comparing iPhones to iPads directly isn't really fair as they're separate classes of devices. If I were a betting man, I'd say that the next iPad lineup will aim to preserve current pricepoints, and bring the specs on par with iPhones, though it's clear that prices go up when devices get Retina displays, or have the option of getting one.
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Oct 24, 2013, 12:59 PM
 
I did something similar several years ago using an iPhone 3gs and an AT&T data plan with VoIP, I did not have a voice plan. I found that the sound quality was not sufficient, I had frequent complaints from callers and their voice frequently came out garbled as well. I switched to an AT&T prepaid plan. I now have an iPhone 4s using an AT&T prepaid SIM card. It's 10 cents a minute plus 20 cents for text messages. I use very few minutes so my bill comes to $25 every three months - or about $9 a month including tax. Is it possible to put an iPhone SIM card in an iPad Mini and use the AT&T prepaid plan?

I use FreedomPop for data. It's slow, I feel like I'm on dial-up, and also spotty in my area—check their coverage map for your area. Fortunately, I'm in an urban area with plenty of coffee shops and free wifi.

How many minutes and how much data do you use per month? Did you make the switch yet and how is it going?
     
milhous  (op)
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Nov 13, 2013, 04:21 PM
 
Just an update that I ordered a 32GB space gray mini with Verizon on Monday. The waiting game begins. Should be an interesting experiment! Let everyone know how it goes.
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Nov 14, 2013, 05:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by milhous View Post
...Let everyone know how it goes.
We will be here waiting to hear back from you. It should be very interesting. Did you get the original (non-retina) mini? $430?

If I were still a college student with a tight budget and free wifi, I would probably do the same thing.
     
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Nov 14, 2013, 06:06 PM
 
I'm interested in seeing how this goes too. If it were me, I'd probably have a dumbphone for emergency just in case.
     
milhous  (op)
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Nov 14, 2013, 09:16 PM
 
Status: Preparing for Shipment

Next step: Shipped!
F = ma
     
milhous  (op)
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Nov 15, 2013, 12:24 PM
 
Status: Shipped

Delivery ETA next Thursday, but am sure it'll get here sooner.

This is nice because if all works out, I'll be able to cancel my Verizon account before a new billing cycle begins.
F = ma
     
milhous  (op)
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Nov 15, 2013, 12:29 PM
 
One thing I realized last night that might dissuade people from going this route is that, to my knowledge, past iPads, and perhaps including the current generation, don't have a vibration motor, so the only notifications one can get will be through sound and by visual means. There's nothing on the current model's specs page that leads me to think otherwise.
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Nov 16, 2013, 11:26 AM
 
My 3rd generation iPad doesn't have a vibration motor, and I'd expect that the current models don't either.

I have to admit, I'm interested in how your experience going VoIP only turns out. I just got a 5S so I'm in for two years or pay the ETF, but the cost savings is considerable. It's even more considerable when you think about how most communications is carried out today--iMessage, SMS, email, Twitter-- not involving actual voice calls. My own account has over 3000 rollover minutes, so I'm effectively unlimited in talk time, paying for something I barely use.

Please continue to share your experience, I'm very curious.
     
milhous  (op)
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Nov 18, 2013, 10:52 PM
 
Writing this from the mini. Ill try try making some calls tomorrow. This things sweet!
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Nov 21, 2013, 10:50 AM
 
Apostrophe key must be broken.
     
   
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