There have been several stories about FaceTime calls over 3G since the launch of the iPhone 4. People have made calls over LaptopMag, which was covered by Wired and Gizmodo, among others. LaptopMag performed a FaceTime call using a HTC Evo 4G’s Hotspot feature. The consensus was that it worked, but audio and video was bad.
I also found online a DeviceKnit Blog article about FaceTime over 3G (aka FaceTime without WiFi). This requires a Tethering Plan from AT&T and a laptop. DeviceKnit stated the tethering plan would be an extra $15 a month. What what I saw, it would be more for me and I’d have to worry about Data Usage.
Since the iPhone 4 Jailbreak isn’t public and I don’t have it, I looked for a simpler solution using my Unlimited iPhone Data plan. I found it in my trusty Jailbroken iPhone 3GS, using MyWi.
I succeeded and have made 4+ successful FaceTime calls from my iPhone 4 (Airplane mode with WiFi on), over my iPhone 3GS WiFi (via MyWi) and out into the Internet via my AT&T 3G.
What’s important here is that SMS isn’t a factor on the iPhone 4 once you have done the initial FaceTime registration. AddictiveTips has a post talking about SMS and FaceTime. My findings seem to conflict with what was reported there.
Some other thoughts:
- If everyone starts doing this, likely AT&T will find resources they never knew they had to hunt down the abusers.
- Audio and Video was poor
- I’m happy to test this out with a member of press, but not just anyone since you could be AT&T and I don’t want to get cancelled!
Here was my setup
- iPhone 4 -Unit A (Connections: Carrier 3G & Home WiFi)
- iPhone 4 – Unit B (Connection: WiFi only to iPhone 3GS) Airplane mode w/ WiFi on.
- iPhone 3GS JailBroken ( Connections: Carrier 3G & WiFi via MyWi
- MicroSIM adapter (Check Craigslist too!)
I went to the AT&T store and got a new MicroSIM my iPhone 4 – Unit B (I kept getting “No SIM” message, unrelated to this experiment).
After confirming new MicroSIM works, I put the iPhone 4 into Airplane mode. I put the active MicroSIM in my 3GS with MicroSIM adapter.
I took original MicroSIM and put it in my iPhone 4. This SIM was disable by the carrier. It couldn’t send SMS. Turned WiFi on.
I activated MyWi on the 3GS. Connected the iPhone 4 to the MyWi peer-to-peer WiFi connection.
I placed a test call from iPhone 4 – Unit A to iPhone 4 – Unit B. Success!
I also later have a quick FaceTime call with a very nice, random person, from Twitter who was in a Florida Airport via WiFi, about to board for a return trip to Chicago. Connection was poor as stated.
To me, my experiment proves:
1. iPhone 4 – Unit B, which originated FaceTime call, in Airplane mode, with WiFi on, connected to 3GS running MyWi : Doesn’t send a SMS over carrier data. Thus isn’t a SMS, proper. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe it’s like an SMS, bit it’s NOT a SMS going over carrier data since my SIM is deactivated.
2. I’d expect to see an iPod Touch with a camera in the future since FaceTime isn’t designed to rely on SMS over carrier data for every connection.
I’ll add some photos and maybe a video later, if people want.
If you have what it takes, (literally, you need to have all that stuff, MicroSIM adapter, JB iPhone 3G or 3GS, a deactivated extra MicroSIM from AT&T), you may find that once your IP changes you may have FaceTime call errors. I resolved by turning off the iPhone 4. Installing the known good MicroSIM, booted up, got carrier data, and then entered Airplane mode. Swapped SIMs and I was back in business.
I’m happy to answer reasonable questions.