FreedomPop, the carrier offering free and cheap data plans on Sprint’s network, today announced that it’s bringing its free voice, data, and text plans to tablet users starting with the iPad mini and Samsung Tab 3. Since LTE iPads only support data over their cellular connection, the carrier provides iPad users with Apple headsets with mics for making calls and an app that routes calls/texts through its own VoIP platform.
While there are competitors like Skype that enable VoIP calling on iPads already, FreedomPop has a couple things going for it. The company’s CEO Stephen Stokols notes that “unlike some apps, we actually provision a new unique phone number and enable voice mail, number porting, etc, on it” …
It’s also offering iPad users the ability to take advantage of the free voice, text, and data plan that it already offers to iPhone and smartphone users. That includes 500MB of LTE data, 200 voice minutes and 500 texts – and is offered to both those purchasing a new tablet through FreedomPop and those bringing tablets over from another carrier.
“It’s also important to note, that tablets are restricted today, not only can you not make calls/texts, but apps like whatsapp or Uber that require a phone number to be associated also don’t work, these tablets will allow for this capability.”
FreedomPop is selling the devices directly to customers including the first-gen iPad mini for $319 and the Samsung Tab 3 for $199. It supports other iPads, but Stokols says it picked iPad mini for its form factor and price point. It’s worth noting that the $319 price point is a significant discount from the $429 Apple still sells the first-gen LTE iPad mini for (Apple sells refurbished models for $319, however).
The company didn’t speak much about any agreement with Apple for the new offering but did say “we are engaging apple, and are formally partnered with sprint who is supporting us.”
Update: FreedomPop confirmed the $319 iPad mini is refurbished and in “like new” condition.