Taking a Look at the Peel 520 II Plus [Review]

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This review is a guest post written by iFans forum member Mike.

Can you hear me now? Good. What about now? Perfect.

No, you are not reading the lines to the next Verizon commercial, instead, you are reading about the call reception received by my new iPhone wannabe. The Peel 520 II Plus has aided my iPod into maturing and becoming the phone it always wanted to be. The Peel is a GSM compatible case that converts your iPod Touch 4g into a phone without the daunting data plan or carrier lock-down.

This device can be carried across GSM networks like AT&T, T-Mobile, and other Global powerhouses without the need of baseband unlocks or the exuberant price tag at the Apple store. With this device, users are able to sport a new genre of smartphones at the cheapskate price they desire.

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What comes in the box.

Specifications:

  • Color: Black or White
  • Dimensions: 122.0 × 62.0 × 13.5 mm
  • Weight: 90 grams
  • Battery: 1600 mAh
    • Standby: 300 Hours
    • Talk Time: Up to 6.8 Hours
  • Radio
    • Quad-Band GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz)
    • GPRS (Data)
    • Bluetooth
    • FM Radio
  • Built in Vibration motor
  • Caller ID equipped
  • Installation CD included
  • Screen protector provided

Design:

The iPhone 3G and 3GS have won much appraise for their curvature and looks. In fact, some people have neglected to update their device due to the aesthetics of the current iPhones. Keeping this in mind, while trying to reduce the device’s footprint, Exquis has designed this new peel to bear a sleek, curved look. Although the peel looks different from older iPhones, it has a slight curvature body with a matte back and glossy rim, similar to many Samsung phones.

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The back of the Peel, sporting its matte back and slight curved look.

The device is also designed with convenience in mind. For one, the device does not cover your camera with a clear plastic that attracts dust and requires constant cleaning like the older 2ng gen Peel. Speaking of its predecessor, the new peel is much thinner in size and compares to the iPhone 3Gs in size and tickness. The Peel also sports a side buttons that conveniently adds a hangup/reject call button to the phone. However, users will be disappointed to note that they will need to take off their gloves to answer a call.

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The peel sporting its thin profile and useful hangup button.

Design: ★★★★

Features:

Compared to its competitors, this Peel packs major features that draws all tech geeks alike. Among the basic features, one will find Quad-Band GSM and GPRS capabilities that will enable users to call and surf the web through their providers. Although GPRS cannot compare to the speed offered by 3G and 4G handsets, it does give users the ability to attach an unlimited data plan on their Peel for a cheap price. At AT&T, a US carrier, unlimited plan will run you about $10 a month, not $30 for a 2 gig cap.

In addition to the aforementioned, the Peel also sports more advance features such as Bluetooth capabilities. These Bluetooth features enable users to connect to hands-free devices, allowing for convenience and safety. Aside from Bluetooth, the Peel also has a built in FM radio receiver that allows users to enjoy their favorite station and rebel against Apple’s stand on FM radio on the iPod Touch. Should these features drain your iPod’s battery, as you navigate through the menus, the Peel will allow you to transfer charge from your Peel to your iPod. This feature is useful for heavy iPod users and gamers alike. To charge the battery, the Peel also sports the same 30 pin dock connector that will allow users to charge both the Peel and the iPod simultaneously. This innovation is different from other Peels where the devices have a second connector, for charging purposes. Finally, one must not ignore the removable back-plate that enables users to replace a broken back plate or battery, a feature that is sure to wins much appraise from a fellow tech geek.

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The Peel’s 30 pin dock connector used to charge the Peel and iPod.

As Steve Jobs once wrote, good artists copy, great artists steal. The Peel’s software is an excellent example of stolen artwork from the Cupertino Company. Sporting a similar look to the iPhone’s calling and SMS apps, makes this device a true keeper and the envy of all iPhone knockoffs in the market.

Added to this, is the bonus of a favorite call list that adds a speed-dial system to your new iPhone’s calling app. In addition to the expected, aforementioned apps, this peel comes equip with 2 more dedicated apps, an FM radio and a GPRS app. These apps, like Apple’s apps, sport simplicity, ease of use, and style. Aside from working flawlessly, all 4 apps are not plagued by the IMEI software issues that tormented many second generation users as they updated beyond iOS 4.3.x.

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The different apps that will power the different features built into the peel.

Although not really a feature, it should be noted that the Peel 520 II plus does not suffer from the audio jack issue that plagued its predecessor. This means that you will be able to use the volume buttons on you iPod to change the audio levels, something the older peel could not do.

Features: ★★★★★

Protection:

Lets face it, our pockets and purses are war zones for our electronic devices. In the course of a day, our devices are exposed to bumps, keys, pens, money, etc. That being said, Exquis knows how valuable your device is and provides a screen protector to combat these elements. In addition to the screen protector, the peel also protects the stainless steel finishing on your device from scratches. Although nice, it is nicer to know that the peel is built sturdy and of durable plastic that protects the device in the event of a drop. I have unintentionally dropped my device a few times and must say that the iPod remained unharmed (no dents or scratch on the chrome plate) and the Peel still runs beautify.

Protection: ★★★★★

Reuse:

The old 2ng generation peel would have received a low score in this department. Frankly, not being able to change the volume of your iPod hinders the original function of an iPod, to play music. However, this new Peel–the 2nd generation plus–no longer suffers from that audio issues and allows users to change the volume of their iPod. Added to this bug fix, is the ability to swap charge from the Peel to the iPod which adds reuse value to the Peel.

With its superb call quality, amazing battery features and fixed audio jack, the peel is a device you will use everyday.

Reuse: ★★★★★

Value:

OK, this is where cheapskaters are going to moan, but hear me out. Priced at $135 dollars, you are buying a FM receiver, portable battery pack, MiFi-like system, and phone for your iPod. Alone the FM receiver and battery pack could cost you about $100. Added to this, the thin profile of the case adds to portability and management, increasing the the device’s usefulness. That said, you are truly getting a bang for you bucks.

Value: ★★★★★

Final Thoughts:

This Peel is much better than the old 2nd generation Peel. The software support, features, hardware fix, and stylish design makes this a true keeper. With this device, one can even argue that their iPod is better than an iPhone. I know the iPod’s processor might not be in par with some iPhones, and yes, we have less ram. However, can an iPhone charge itself or does it have an FM radio? Well, if the aforesaid statement was a bit of a stretch, let agree that the Peel is a wonderful device that is amazingly priced.

Overall Score

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Peel 520 II Plus

† All prices are in US currency.
Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
This accessory, product, or app was received as a sample. Thanks Aaron for the product sample.

 

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