Why The New iPad Made Me Buy An iPod Touch Instead Of An iPhone [Opinion]


Could the iPad make the iPhone as pointless as this old rotary-dial telephone?
Could the iPad make the iPhone as pointless as this old rotary-dial telephone?

I have a confession to make. I have never owned an iPhone. It’s not that I don’t want the most amazing pocket computer ever made. It’s just that I don’t want a phone. Or rather, I don’t want the contract that comes along with it.

For years I carried an iPod Touch, and then the iPad came along, with its monthly, non-contract 3G tariffs. Since then, I still hankered after an iPhone, mostly for its great camera, but also its portability. But right now I use an iPad 2 for everything, even listening to music on the go.

With the launch of the new iPad, though, I think Apple just destroyed any chance of me buying an iPhone. Here’s why I’m going to buy an iPod Touch instead.

The new iPad’s retina display is great and all, but what really gets me going is the camera. I actually use my iPad 2 camera more than is healthy, even though it’s an embarrassment to camera phones from as far back as 2005. With a 5MP sensor, better low-light sensitivity, auto-focus and the lens array from the iPhone 4S, the new iPad’s camera is more than enough for 80% of my photography needs.

What could the iPhone add to this? Not much. It’s pocket-sized, sure, but I always carry a bag, and the iPad is light. It has a flash, but who uses those anyway? And the iPhone, unlike the iPad, comes with an 18-month contract which I can’t just drop if I go live in another country for a few months.

So why do I need an iPod Touch, if the iPad is so damn perfect? Because there are times when smaller is better. Shopping lists, podcasts on the go (even I think that using the iPad as an iPod is dumb), quick-entry of tasks into Omnifocus are a few uses. Another is checking maps in foreign countries, where you might not want to pull out a $900 tablet and show it off.

But there’s one more thing. The iPad can now share its 3G connection. This means it can sit in my bag, while I quickly look up something on the iPod Touch. And if I want to snap a photo of something real quick, with the iPhone’s crappy camera, I can, and it’ll be shared via Photo Stream (the iPod thinks its on a Wi-Fi connection, remember).

What about phone calls, you ask? I make calls to exactly one person: The Lady. For everything else I use FaceTime or Skype. For these rare times, and for emergencies, I have a Spare One phone, picked up for €40 at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Is this stupid? The way I see it, I spend less than I would on a long iPhone contract, get almost all the benefits, and get to buy two new gadgets. What’s not to like?

  • Vincent

    EXCEPT the carriers are allegedly not going to LET you create a hotspot off your iPad at present.

  • Carter Dudley

    The only problem with this concept is that the camera on the iPod Touch really and truly sucks. You would be better off to buy a used iPhone (even a 3GS) with no contract.

  • iyagtr

    Verizon does.

  • iyagtr

    Verizon does.

  • j

     That is AT&T

  • Snoop

    Does anyone actually use bluetooth to tether their iDevices together?  All I ever hear about is WiFi- hotspot use, but nobody ever talks about using BT.  I am considering getting the tether package from ATT for use with my new WiFi iPad coming tomorrow, but I don’t want to drain my iPhone or be broadcasting WiFi signal all day to everyone around me.  Plus the BT is always on.  Thoughts?
    Does the speed suck or something? 

  • K Jackson

    And that is why the jailbreak community has a whole conference.  I used to not understand it but now it makes perfect sense that people are fed up with their devices being crippled by carriers.  Somethings make sense to disable but others are just downright stupid.

  • Chengis Khan

    Just saying… iPhone 4s has a 8 megapixel camera not 5mpx. Apple could have put a 8mpx in it new ipad. Well then it dethrone iPhone as a photographic tool, which it is. Plus some apps as pro HDR are made for iPhone. 

  • Vincent

     I bumped up to iPhone AT&T tethering plan for use on several trips.  Worked fine with my iPad1, and at surprisingly long ranges.  I was in the next room and through the wall still working fine. Only nit is I doubt you can tether multiple devices to it.  I see this as an advantage.  Also at least with iOS 5.0.1 I found the WiFi option really wonky and unreliable sometimes a macbook would see the signal and sometimes not, perhaps this was fixed in 5.1 but don’t have tethering plan right now so cannot test it.

  • Chengis Khan

    I used to use BT with planet. Yeah connection drops and speed is not bad, but when you are used to usb tethering with 3g, BT tethering will appear as if you are using evdo.

  • CJ McEkron Jr

    I think its a brilliant idea. I have an iPad 2 and still cling on to my blackberry. People ask me why I would do that but I get the best of both worlds carrying both devices around. BB = quick email, social media, and phone calls. iPad 2 = when i have a chance to sit down. I think the author is doing a great thing. If the iPad 2 is supposed to be ultra portable why not carry it around? 

  • Ricardo Morgado Ferreira

    100% with you, CS.

  • MySkyizBlue

    Just like they could of put a camera in the first iPad but didn’t because they made it one of the iPad 2’s “new” features.
    Thats one marketing strategy of Apple I really hate.
    leaving out the good stuff for next year just to save a pretty penny

  • Jordan Clay

    That leaves a single fail point.  I would be a little nervous broadcasting out a wifi singnal from my iPad all day. 

  • Matt107

    I think using the iPad or any other tablet as a camera will just make you look ridiculous. I would suggest either the iPhone or an actual camera. And you will get better pictures as well.

  • John Howell

    I gaunt used tethering on the iPad yet but if it is the same as iPhone, then they will have made accessing it just as annoying.
    Unlock phone, have to go into settings, then hotspot, then turn it on. Don’t sleep yet.
    Hook up the guest device to it. All good, you can now sleep the iPad.
    But one your guest device sleeps, the tether will stop. To reconnect you have to open the pad and go into settings again and turn hotspot off and on again. Then you have to remember to go back and turn it off or it shares over the cables connection when you hook up for sync. Just a bit annoying.

  • Fabio Papa

    Charlie, I think you are the exception, not the rule. It’s great that this setup works for you, but how many people do you know that don’t want a phone, carry a bag with them at all times, and regularly go country-hopping?

    So it’s great that this works for you and it’s a testament to the flexibility of the iDevices, but I can hardly see this as a viable solution for anywhere near the majority of people. The iPhone isn’t going the way of the rotary phone any time soon.

    I personally don’t like contracts either, and I like to use my phone on vacation (with a local phone number of wherever I’m at), so I buy my iPhones unlocked without a contract. That hurts the first time around, but if you keep upgrading your phone, it’s only about $200 difference to upgrade. And I can save $150 on my iPad purchases because I don’t need cellular connectivity (3G/LTE) as I just tether it to my iPhone.

  • Daniel Hertlein

    That’s the truth. I brought the newest iPod Touch in October for pretty much the same reason as Mr. Sorrel, then had it (along with my also brand new MacBook Air) stolen less than three weeks later. By that time I realized that the cameras weren’t even close to being equivalent and I brought up a used iPhone 4 with the insurance money. I think I paid $320. 

  • atimoshenko

    In other words, having both an iPhone and a 3G/4G iPad can still be too expensive today. This is the only issue, is it not? If the price difference between an iPhone and and an iPod touch was not big enough to matter, there would be absolutely no reason to choose the latter over the former.

    Considering how quickly technology prices fall, it is only a matter of time before this becomes reality, and when it does we will enter an age of natural multiple redundancy for all of our technological capabilities. All of our devices would be able to do many of the same things with only inherent tradeoffs (e.g. capability vs. portability or other considerations that make one particular physical design more optimised for a given use case than another) dictating our choice of device to use in a given situation.

  • atimoshenko

    It’s not a marketing strategy, it is a product design strategy. If you want to make products as ‘perfect’ as possible (in terms of how problem-free they do the things they can), then you need to learn to walk before you can run. You need to start out simple, and then slowly add complexity while making sure all of the bugs remain ironed out.

    A marketing strategy is product design by feature checklist, where you throw everything and the kitchen sink into the box, and hope that by the time people notice that it all works like crap together, they would have already been seduced by the feature list and bought the device.