Affinity Consulting Blog

I've often wondered why phones can get as large as tablets (the awkwardly named "phablet") and combine the functions of both devices, yet small tablets (iPad Mini or Samsung Galaxy Tab 3, for example) lack a phone function.

I wonder no more.

According to Rick Broida's excellent Cheapskate blog on CNet, "FreedomPop will sell the Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 with free, no-contract service, or let you bring your own Sprint-compatible, data-capable tablet to enjoy the same privileges. Either way, you get the following every month: 500MB of data, 500 text messages, and 200 voice minutes. Free. No strings attached. If you want more of anything, obviously you'll have to pay for it. But given that the average smartphone user consumes only around 750MB of data per month, it's a safe bet many folks will get by just fine on 500MB." As Rick writes in his post, FreedomPop is offered refurbished tablets only, which is fine so long as they are refurbished by the original manufacturer.

Rick points out that it is a better deal to buy a refurbished iPad Mini directly from Apple, but make sure you get the Sprint compatible version that will work with FreedomPop's data and voice service. In fact, unless a new iPad in on sale somewhere for a fantastic price, buying a refurbished model directly from Apple is almost always the best and least expensive way to get an iPad, iPad Air, or iPad Mini. My iPad 4 Verizon Wireless model was purchased that way, saving me over $100, and it works great. FreedomPop's $199.99 deal on the Galaxy Tab 3, however, is excellent.

So how do you make and receive calls on a tablet? Use a headset with a microphone (wired or Bluetooth). I've been doing something like that for years using either my iPad 4, my old iPad 2, or my iPod Touch with either a wired or Bluetooth headset using Skype. I have a Skype subscription that lets me call regular and cell phones, not just computers. However, this usually requires a Wi-Fi connection. You could do the same thing with Google Voice.

FreedomPop's voice service will let you make calls whereever the Sprint cell network works. Using a tablet as a cell phone isn't for everyone, but it is a cool and free option using FreedomPop's plan.

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