Raisoo Peel T4 Raisoo | GSM Adaptor Case | $129 The iPod Touch is a great device, it can do games, play music, display photos, show off videos, browse the web, take pictures, and even be used as a voice recorder. So what’s setting the iPhone apart from the iPod? It’s a phone. For about half a decade, the iPhone has always had this advantage over the iPod, and really no answer was given. In today’s day and age, smartphones run rapid. They are everywhere, and it’s close to impossible to live without one. However, it’s also impossible to get a smartphone without a bank-robbing data plan. Raisoo’s solution to this is their T4 Peel, which essentially turns your iPod into an iPhone. Specifications Dimensions: 4.9” (125.0 mm) × 2.51” (64.0 mm) × .49” (12.5 mm) Battery: 1600 MaH Standby: 300 Hours Talk Time: Up to 6.8 Hours Radio Quad-Band GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) GPRS (Data) Design When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone, he made a really bold statement when he said that smartphones of yesteryear had way too many buttons, it was aggravating. So his solution was to remove all the buttons except for 4: the home, power, and two volume buttons. The first thing you’ll notice with the Raisoo Peel is that it indeed has 6 buttons. In addition to the basic four buttons, the T4 will add an answer and end button. This isn’t an entire failure though, you can now answer phone calls with gloves on; take that iPhone users! The Raisoo Peel goes against Steve’s ideas of keeping a phone to the least amount of buttons possible, but the result is a more glove-friendly phone. The phone itself has some thickness to it, almost doubling the width of the iPod may seem unsatisfactory, but in reality it really isn’t as thick as it seems. What is more apparent is the increased size. Adding an additional half inch and quarter inch to the height and width respectively to the iPod is much more noticeable. Overall, the size increase isn’t too bad, especially knowing it packs a really large battery with it as well. As you can see, the Peel itself is almost twice as thick as the iPod. The actual design scheme of the Raisoo takes after the iPhone 4. The iPhone has really shaped the way we think of design: modern, sleek, and beautiful. It’s no wonder why they looked to the iPhone’s design when taking the Raisoo’s looks into consideration. There, however, is no glass used at all. Instead, users are given a thick, strong plastic. The black glossy plastic looks really beautiful, almost as beautiful as the iPhone’s back. The back of the phone has the Raisoo brand name and website in beautiful reflective lettering. To add to the Apple-ness of the Peel, the words “Designed by RAISOO in China” are written on the back as well in the same lettering. This being a quick knock off of Apple’s “Designed by Apple in California” phrase. The back also contains a nice large camera hole for the iPod’s cam to still be able to see. The words Raisoo are printed beautifully on the back of the Peel that has a nice, large camera hole. The rim of the Peel is composed of a beautiful brushed aluminum just like the actual iPhone. The buttons also resemble the iPhone’s being nicely rounded in aluminum as well with the + and – signs on them. The power button, like the volume buttons, is also aluminum and has the usual pill shape we are all accustomed to on our iDevices. Besides the buttons, the Peel also has a dock connector and headphone on its rim. The dock connector, for some odd reason is flipped 180 degrees. That means that you have to flip the dock connector upside-down to connect it. I have no idea why Raisoo did this, but it can become problematic for any Apple accessories like docking stations and speakers. Like the dock connector is the recessed headphone jack is also a huge deal. After the original iPhone, many companies should have learned that recessed headphone jacks weren’t the way to go. Repeating Apple’s mistake again is not a pleasant thing. Using a staple of design as their base, Raisoo really comes and creates something almost as beautiful as the iPhone itself. Although it uses the same aesthetics, there is still one thing that it cannot defeat: thickness. Also, it does have the notorious recessed headphone jack. Overall, the shiny, large case is sure to give your iPod another edge it didn’t have in the past. Design: ★★★★ Features Now on to some fun stuff, features. Now, being able to replicate phone functions on an iPod can become a hard, daunting task. The Raisoo Peel T4 is definitely up to this hard task though. The Peel offers users the normal quad band radio to make calls and receive texts. Although it isn’t 3G, it is universal and will work all around the world. The GPRS also allows the phone to receive data. Speaking of data, the Raisoo Peel is not a smartphone. AT&T, T-Mobile, even Verizon will never be able to figure out what phone you are using because the IMEI will never match up to a smartphones. Thus, they can’t put you on a smartphone plan! What does this mean? Well, with AT&T, you get a 10 dollar unlimited data plan. You heard right, unlimited, for 10 dollars. No smartphone in the world can currently get unlimited data unless grandfathered in. Even if you do, that plan costs 30 dollars. The cheapest limited plan for a smartphone is still 15 dollars. Unlimited for 10… Take that iPhone! Now, one of the downsides to this is that the phone you are using has to run on Raisoo’s proprietary software. Basically put, you’ll be forced to use their phone and messaging apps. Don’t fear though as the apps are designed to reflect the GUI that the original iPhone used for its phone and messages apps. The messages app, however cannot go into landscape for me, which was a let down. These apps have various settings which allow you to set ringers, volumes, and other things. The GUI takes from the iPhone’s, so new users don’t have to adapt to a new interface. Now the phone also has something else the iPhone is missing, dual sim. This phone, unlike the iPhone can also take dual sims. So if you don’t like your work-issued smartphone, then you can simply pop their sim card into this one and the problem is solved. Now not only do you not have to carry around 2 phones, but you don’t have to use the nasty Blackberry. The phone also connects to the iPod through its 30-pin dock connector. The external dock connector is flipped, but still uses the same 30-pin dock connector Apple is known for. The phone supports dual sim cards and will connect to the iPod via a dock connector. Ah, the headphone jack, the one thing an iPod cannot live without. The Raisoo Peel uses a 3.5mm standard headphone jack to ensure all your headphones work. Testing out headsets, although it says they are supported, the microphone didn’t seem to work for me when trying to save voice memos and use voice activation. Another problem I had with the headphone jack is that you can’t change the darn volume on the thing! Why would you do this. As an avid audiophile, I know two things: loud music is bad for your ears and loud music makes your music sound worse. Making any iPod user choose between listening to their iPod and using it as a phone is torturous! As stated before, the headphone jack is recessed, one bad strike. You can only play the headphones on full volume, two bad strikes. You have to choose between iPod and phone, strike 3… Having many features is what really makes this phone amazing. 10 dollar unlimited data plans, dual sims, internal batteries, the list goes on. This forces me, an avid audiophile, to choose between music and phone; you might as well put a gun on the table. Still, for anyone who doesn’t use their iPod for music (I ask why you have an iPod), this will definitely be a great option for you. Features: ★★★★ Protection Now, when you go off and purchase any product for a big buck fifty, you would hope that it is built like a rock. In actuality, the Raisoo is built like a rock. The thick plastic that surrounds the Peel is extremely strong and will hold its ground against just about any amount of force you put at it. The metal band surrounds the plastic and is built to be strong. The buttons, connectors, plastic, everything on the iPod is protected when in the snug little case, except for one thing, the face. The front of the iPod is left 100% exposed, which can be hazardous if dropped face first. The face of the iPod is left entirely unprotected, not a good thing. In the two weeks I was testing this Peel vigorously, I was unable to put one scratch on it, which is a lot to say knowing how much damage my iPod goes through on a regular basis; thank god for cases. The plastic is still shining strong and boldly holds the Raisoo name. Protection: ★★★★½ Reuse I don’t really know many people who do not use their iPod for music once in a while. So the headphone jack comes back to haunt the score of the Peel once more. If you are one that regularly uses their iPod to listen to music, I would avoid this case until that bug is fixed. Let’s put it this way regarding volume, they make my volume limiting Etymotic EtyKids too loud for me. I don’t even want to fathom what it’d do to any regular low-impedance headphone. If you don’t use your iPod for music, then this device is for you. The dual sims, convenience you’ll get from not having two devices with you at all times, and even the cheaper plans will get you to keep using this device. You don’t entirely give up on design, but it is slightly a little large for a phone. Nonetheless, if you don’t plan on using your iPod for music, by all means, this is a great deal. So it all boils down to one thing, do you use your iPod for music? Unfortunately, I, like many others, do. The fact that you have to choose is bad enough. The large size is another incentive to stop using the case as well. Otherwise, the reuse value is extremely great. Reuse: ★★★½ Value The overall value of this is actually going to be good. The saved money on a data plan alone can definitely get this case to pay for itself in a good year. The case is still feature packed, offering countless smaller things that it’ll do for you. Having an iPhone 4-type design also helps it greatly in value since it also looks sexy. Again, one downside to it not being a value is the currently-tainted headphone jack. Another downside to this is that many accessories that do plug into the dock connector do not work. They will charge your iPod, but that's it; there is no audio output for the dock connector. Although the Raisoo Peel does do what it's supposed to, it does it at the expense of some features we all take for granted. Value: ★★★½ Final Thoughts Raisoo actually did a good job with the hardware on this phone extension for the iPod. It’s actually quite thin compared to other cases and has a splendid design. All the phone features work really well as advertised. Of course, the downside still exists, until the headphone volume problem is fixed, I really can’t see myself using this Peel, but that shouldn’t stop you if you don’t use your iPod for music. I’d like to thank Alex for the product sample. Overall Score Raisoo Peel T4 † All prices are in US currency. This review was written by the iFans.com Review Team. Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star. This accessory, product, or app was received as a sample. Thanks Alex for the product sample.