updated 03:45 pm EDT, Fri September 24, 2010
Monthly pricing competitive with yearly contracts
This is a Sponsored Post written on behalf of Boost Mobile. All opinions are 100% those of the author.
Until recently, most prepaid carriers have lacked smartphone options and appropriate plans for heavy data usage. Boost Mobile is one of the first companies to accommodate prepaid customers who want to upgrade their hardware and take advantage of the same level of service typically tied to yearly contracts. Electronista has taken a closer look at Boost Mobile's latest smartphones, including the Blackberry Curve and Motorola i1. We were surprised to learn that both devices can be linked to formidable smartphone plans, with lower monthly fees than most of the leading carriers charge for similar monthly service on a two-year contract.
Activating the i1 or Curve is a straightforward process, which we were able to complete outside of normal business hours and without needing to talk to a Boost Mobile representative or automated phone system. Each phone ships with an activation kit, with simple instructions that can be completed using a phone or Boost Mobile's web-based portal.
We were able to complete the activation process for each phone in just a few minutes. The i1 takes advantage of Sprint's iDEN network, which requires an included SIM card and enables nationwide Walkie-Talkie (push-to-talk) functionality. The Curve allows users to connect to dedicated BlackBerry services, along with Sprint's 3G CDMA network for fast data speeds. Users can choose an appropriate area code for each phone, while a zip code can be used to determine the next three digits.
Adding money to an account is also a straightforward process. The Re-Boost system allows users to continue their subscription by buying Re-Boost cards at retail locations, paying online using a credit/debit card or Re-Boost number, or adding money over the phone. Although the plans are contract-free, users can easily configure automatic payments.
Boost Mobile offers several options for smartphone owners, each with unlimited voice minutes, SMS/MMS messages, data, web use, and 411 services. Users can also take advantage of unlimited access to social networks, such as Facebook or Twitter, and a variety of instant messaging services. Aside from the basic services, the Curve also allows users to configure BlackBerry e-mail and RIM's range of mobile apps, while the i1 provides access to Android apps and services.
While Verizon charges $90/month for a smartphone contract with 450 voice minutes, or $120/month for unlimited minutes, Boost Mobile charges only $50 for unlimited data and voice access with the Motorola i1. Even the Monthly Unlimited plan for the BlackBerry Curve is available for just $60/month. The company also offers daily plans, which cost $2 for the i1 or $3 for the Curve.
Social networking is arguably one of the most important factors driving many customers to upgrade their cellphones to smartphones with data plans. Without a handset capable of posting updates to Twitter, Facebook or other networks, users are forced to wait until they have access to a computer before uploading content. With Boost Mobile's Unlimited plans, users can post updates and check in with their social networks all day without worrying about accidentally exceeding a data allowance and paying exorbitant fees.
We liked the Facebook and Twitter apps available on the Curve and i1. Both handsets integrate cameras for quickly uploading pictures while visiting friends or attending events. As contacts post updates to their respective pages, the content is automatically pushed to the phones. Even when we were not posting our own messages and pictures, we could kill time looking at up-to-date content from colleagues.
Motorola's i1 offers a full range of smartphone features paired with rugged hardware. The handset is the only Android offering that exceeds MIL-STD 810F standards for resistance to water, dust and shock. Integrated GPS and an electronic compass allow users to take advantage of Google Maps for directions and navigation instructions, while a Swype keyboard increases input speed using the virtual keyboard. We also liked Wi-Fi connectivity and the five-megapixel camera with flash and auto-focus, which can also be used to record videos. The company includes a 2GB MicroSD card for music, videos or other content.
The Curve provides a similar set of features, with a hardware QWERTY keyboard designed for quick messaging or e-mail composition. Users can access their BlackBerry e-mail, or add up to ten additional accounts from other providers such as Gmail. The handset also integrates a two-megapixel camera, MicroSD slot (1GB card included), and a CDMA radio for 3G data.
Overall, the Monthly Unlimited plans represent an enticing option for anyone that wants to step up to a smartphone without breaking the bank. The affordable plans also serve as a potential option for subscribers frustrated with two-year contracts that push $100/month with limited voice allowances and data caps. Although the i1 costs more than a similar offering subsidized with a contract, the cheaper monthly plan still results in a significant savings over the course of a year.