A small electronics team from Shenzhen has the tech world buzzing with a new device that could add a new lease of life to Apple's iPod Touch while at the same time making a dent in sales of its iPhone. Apple, meet the Apple Peel 520 - pun intended - which the team says can turn any iPod Touch into an iPhone. The gadget is expected to move into mass production just as soon as it clears the small obstacle called intellectual property rights (IPR). The Apple Peel 520 is based on an idea that a 24-year-old mainland programmer came up with about a year and a half ago. It encases an iPod Touch - which is a media player, personal organiser and Wi-fi platform all rolled into one - and provides it with additional functions such as voice calling and text messaging by using a built-in SIM card slot and battery. Needless to say, it has caught the eyes of Apple product fans since it was revealed online late last month. It has also attracted the attention of popular US-based gadget sites such as Dailytech.com and Engadget.com, which translated the first review of a prototype of the Peel written by a Guangzhou-based technology company - one of two gadget websites to receive a copy. One thousand copies of the device have been made. The remainder are in a warehouse in Shenzhen. Yosion Technology, the company responsible for the Peel and which employs fewer than 10 people, told the South China Morning Post yesterday that the positive response its design had received so far had won it great interest from manufacturers. 'We could start mass production overnight, but before we do, we and the manufacturers need to solve the possible IPR problem,' a member of the team said by phone. The man, who said he was the firm's spokesman, said the idea for the Peel came from his 24-year-old brother, a young programmer who had just graduated from university. 'He thought it was inconvenient to have a mobile and an iPod Touch at the same time and decided to combine them into one,' the spokesman said. So his brother quit his job, borrowed some money from family and friends and started his one-man research and development effort in late 2008. According to Yosion and two early reviews, the Peel contains a good battery, dock connector, vibrator and a SIM card slot. It allows 41/2 hours of talk time and 120 hours on standby. But to have the device properly function as a phone, the reviews said users will have to 'jailbreak' (break into the software of) the iPod Touch and then install Yosion's software. Both reviews said SIM cards used in an iPhone will also work in a Peel, which will help maintain high quality for voice calls. The Yosion spokesman said the firm wasn't too concerned about the IPR problem, as its main focus was the software for the device. 'But the manufacturers [who have expressed interest] are concerned about violating Apple's copyright. So our top priority at this moment is to consult with legal experts,' he said. Yosion said the online price for the Peel would be about 388 yuan (HK$445). Chen Hui , a Guangzhou photographer who bought an iPod Touch in 2008 for about HK$1,800 and an iPhone early this year, said he would not have bought an iPhone if the Peel had existed at the time. An iPhone 3G costs more than 4,000 yuan on the mainland. 'It is worth a try to make the iPod Touch a phone at just one-tenth of the cost [of an iPhone],' Chen said. The Yosion spokesman said they had not contacted Apple as they were such a small team and did not expect to be given a channel to talk to the technology giant. Apple's offices in Hong Kong and Beijing could not be reached for comment yesterday.