PROS / Taking into account its autopay savings, Boost's prices are the most affordable we saw during our review process.
CONS / Its device selection is limited to Android and iOS phones – no Windows Phones, BlackBerrys, tablets or mobile hotspots here.
VERDICT / Boost’s growing data allocation is a great reward for loyal users, and its prices are as low as they come. If you already own a Sprint device and want cheap service, it’s tough to beat.
Like no other cell phone company on our lineup, Boost Mobile leaves us torn. On the one hand, it’s incredibly affordable, with some of the cheapest full-featured cell phone plans on the market. It offers discounts if you sign up for automatic payment plans (which you’d do anyway if you picked one of the Big Four carriers), and in a unique twist, steadily grows your data allocation over time. It even has an unlimited 4G LTE data plan that’s cheaper than what’s on offer from its direct competitor, Cricket Wireless.
On the other hand, Boost Mobile operates on Sprint’s network, the weakest of the four major carriers. It has a limited device selection and is extremely restrictive about what phones you can and can’t bring to the service, again because of its allegiance to Sprint and the restrictions Sprint has put in place. Most people have to buy a new phone from Boost if they want to use its service, and once they do, they can’t easily transfer to another provider if they’re unhappy.
From a budgetary standpoint, of course, Boost is incredibly attractive. The company's main plan for smartphones costs $35. For that, you get unlimited talk, text, 411 directory assistance and all the extra features you'd expect from your provider, plus 2GB of high-speed data. After every three on-time payments, that allocation goes up 500MB, topping out at 5GB after a year and a half. Should you go over that limit, you still have access to the web; you are merely throttled down to 2G speeds.
The best cell phone plans are the ones that minimize restrictions on you, which is why the $60 unlimited data plan is so enticing – and it’s just $55 if you sign up for automatic payments. You might not need it, though, since Boost has joined a growing list of providers who offer free music streaming that doesn’t count toward your data cap. The downside: Only a handful of streaming apps have partnered with Boost, and iTunes, Spotify and Google Music aren’t among them.
We were actually surprised by the diversity of Android and iOS phones available from Boost Mobile, but the selection ends at those two operating systems. Fans of Windows Phones and BlackBerry devices will be disappointed. Boost does carry a wealth of cheap preowned devices, so if you're on a budget, you can still find something.
If the best cell phone providers are the ones that are most affordable, then Boost Mobile deserves recognition. Its cheap prices and welcome discounts give you superb value for money. You don't have the same degree of choice as other providers when it comes to picking your phone, and its coverage can be spotty in some areas thanks to its reliance on the Sprint network. If you just want cheap cell phone service, though, Boost could well be your best bet.