The iPod Touch could soon ship with a 3G antenna, bringing the consistently-popular MP3 and media player one step closer to the more full-featured iPhone. That's the rumor this week from a Dutch tech site called Apple Spot, which claims that consumers would purchase SIM cards from their providers, and snap those SIM cards right into the back of the iPod Touch. And voila! You've got 3G.
So does the rumor hold water?
9 to 5 Mac is skeptical, and Wayne Lam, a senior analyst for IHS iSuppli, told CNET that a 3G antenna would likely be cost prohibitive for Apple. Still, it's worth pondering the existence of a 3G-capable iPod Touch, especially since Apple has forecast "cloudy" skies ahead. Witness the rise of iCloud, a service that only works with an Internet connection. 3G antennas means that the Web would extend beyond the reach of normal Wi-Fi. Plus, considering all those VoIP programs, with a 3G iPod, you could just do away with your iPhone, right?
Maybe. But as Jared Newman points out over Time, in its current iteration, "the iPod Touch isn't fully equipped to replace a smartphone. The iPod Touch lacks a speaker by the ear, so you'd have to take calls by speakerphone or by attaching a headset. There's also no built-in GPS chip, so any location-based services would have to rely on Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower triangulation, which is less accurate," Newman points out.
Over at Gizmodo, Mat Honan has a very different reaction: He'd welcome a 3G-capable iPod Touch, which would be just like a phone, minus the "onerous" voice plan. "I'm still paying AT&T about $100 a month for the voice and data plan on my mobile phone," Honan writes. "Meanwhile, I pay about $30 a month for the data plan on my iPad. If I could use a similar plan on my iPod, and port my existing number to Google Voice, it would be a huge cost savings to me over the course of the year."
Well, we see his point. But the fact is that most casual users will likely fall on the Newman side of this particular debate. Yes, Google Voice is good, and yes, voice and data plans can be exorbitant – and even "onerous" – but what happens if you stumble into an area with a strong voice signal and absolutely no 3G connection? Worse yet, what if you live in one of those areas? Clearly the iPod phone plan is not completely foolproof.
Thoughts? We'd like to hear 'em.