The iPod Phone: Could Apple Enter the Budget Music Phone Market?

Apple are well established in the smartphone market – but could the iPhone giant branch into the budget basic phone arena and put its own spin on it?


A few months ago, I saw a concept for a retro Apple flip phone, and it got me thinking: What if Apple dipped its tech toes in the non-smartphone market?

Motorola-ROKR-E1-01In 2005, Apple tried this with its collaboration with Motorola creating the Rokr E1, which could sync and access iTunes – but was limited to 100 songs and slow transferring. It wasn’t successful.

Fast forward to 2016, and there is still a market for basic phones. Phones that primary function is making and receiving calls rather than a ‘do everything’ phone that the iPhone covers. These basic phones can handle calls, text messages, and may have a camera and a card slot – but not much else.

The lack of features comes with a bonus of incredible battery life – harking back to the days of when Nokia and Motorola were king and you charged your phone’s battery weekly rather than daily.

iPod Legacy

The Apple iPhone evolved from the iPod days, combining their music player with a touch screen phone – but what if Apple went back and thought about it again.

Apple are a media-centric company, so them throwing out a totally basic phone is very unlikely, but what if they lowered the processor, cut the RAM, shed the touch screen, dropped the App Store, forgot about ultra connectivity, and had an average camera.

How about making an ‘iPod Phone’? Apple have been critised recently for their lack of attention to the iPod in the last few years. This could be a way of reviving it? There also rumours that iPhone sales are slowing down. This could be another market for them to get in to.


iPod Phone concept by Simon Royal. Merging the basic idea of an early iPod Nano with phone functionality.


So what could be under the hood of this music phone?

  • Processor: 150 MHz ARM chip, upped from the non-touch iPods to give it a faster OS experience.
  • RAM: 128 MB, similar to newer Nokia and Samsung feature phones.
  • Screen: 2.2” LCD screen with LED backlight.
  • KeyPad: T9 keyboard with iPod touch wheel for music, contact scrolling, and controlling music/call volume.
  • Storage: 16 GB/32 GB/64 GB versions – without losing 10% of it to OS storage like you do on iOS.
  • Connectivity: GSM/UMTS for phone calls – no data, no WiFi, and Bluetooth for audio attachments.
  • Camera: 3mpx autofocus cam – because nobody wants a phone without a camera, even if i’ts basic.
  • Ports: Lightning port for charging, syncing, and docking + 3.5mm earphone socket.
  • Battery: 1200 mAh for ultra long battery life and music playback.

No high speed internet, no Safari, no iMessage, no Siri or FaceTime – just a pure phone and music device in one. It would take things back fifteen years when we lived without the constant notification distractions of social media – when the digital music era was gaining ground and everyone jumped on the MP3 wagon.

There would be no need to worry about iOS updates or your device slowing down and getting out of date, as this device would ship with phoneOS and be subjected to a few bug fix updates via iTunes – and that is it.

If it was crammed with too many features, it would be in danger of becoming a mediocre feature phone that usually has some social media options or a low-end smartphone, and that would be missing the point. This would be a music phone only.

You wouldn’t need to worry about protecting and treating it carefully like we do our expensive and fragile smartphones, as this would be a solid aluminium device with a plastic screen and resilient to everyday life.

Its lack of connectivity would mean sorting out music, transferring photos, and any future updates would be done via connecting to your computer and using iTunes – just as early iPods did.

Would You?

Could you see yourself shedding your smartphone for a music phone. I know this has been done before. Phones with music as their main function have long been around with the likes of the Sony Ericsson Walkman range.

So often Apple are accused of reinventing the wheel, taking other peoples ideas and adding their shine to it, perhaps this time they could use it to their advantage. The budget phone done Apples way.


This article is a little tongue-in-cheek. I don’t think anybody can see Apple going down this route. But its an interesting idea.

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