Boost Mobile Buyer’s Guide

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Are you looking to pick up a new no-contract smartphone? You’ll find quite a selection at Boost Mobile as they have everything from entry-level models up to the cutting edge stuff. Indeed, there are plenty of Android handsets to choose from. We’re here to help you figure out which one is for you. But first, a few details to provide a little clarity.

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A quick primer on specifications

Today’s top Androids feature big, gorgeous displays, fantastic high-resolution cameras, and lots of memory. Toss in some quad-core and octa-core processors and some killer high capacity batteries and you’ve got mobile devices that would rival your computer from just a few years back.

As 2015 gets underway and the next generation of smartphone approaches, we’re looking at devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 and its dual-edged variant, the Galaxy S6 Edge. We’ve also seen the arrival of HTC’s flagship model, the One M9 and are looking forward to the LG G4.

[toggles title=”Display”]Many of today’s upper end smartphones feature screen sizes that dance around the 5-inch mark. This isn’t to suggest that you need a large display to have a powerful experience or that the two are directly linked together. But, with that said, you won’t find too many high-end models with screens below 4.5-inches.

In terms of resolution, a lot of the displays you find at the top of the food chain are 1080p or higher. Some may dabble in the 2K resolution or Ultra HD; as to whether it is discernible to you, it’s hard to say. Does a 720p screen mean you’re getting a poor image? Hardly, it’s still considered HD and on a panel of 4-inches, it’s not like you’re going to squint.[/toggles]

[toggles title=”Processor”]Much of what you’ll find in the new crop of top-tier smartphones will employ octa-core (8 cores) processors. There are a few companies making these chips, including Samsung (Exynos), Qualcomm (Snapdragon), and MediaTek. As to whether the average person can see the differences between them, that’s debatable. On the other hand, enthusiasts might gravitate toward a certain chipmaker or series of processor.

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line has been in a vast majority of smartphones over the last year but others are slowly clawing for market share. In terms of speeds, the octa-core processors clock in around 2.0GHz. Note, however, that not all eight chips may be operating at the same speed. Some, for instance, may be set up with four cores at 1.5GHz with the other four running faster.[/toggles]

[toggles title=”Storage”]We’re finally starting to see Android smartphone makers get away from the 8GB and 16GB storage capacities for upper end devices. Sure, you’ll still see that happening across the entire spectrum, but we do have 64GB and 128GB options happening. A lot of models will offer external storage via microSD however that’s not necessarily a given.[/toggles]

[toggles title=”Memory”]It is not uncommon in this generation of handset to see at least 2GB of memory with some of the stronger models boasting 3GB RAM. What does this mean to someone buying their first smartphone? Not much, really. But, just like buying a computer, you’ll want to future-proof yourself as much as you can. In other words, spend a little more up front if you can afford to do so. You can’t add memory to a phone down the road.[/toggles]

[toggles title=”Camera”]A common misconception for customers is to equate megapixels with image quality. While it does make a difference in image size and resolution, it’s not a foolproof way of determining which cameras are better. Toss in HTC’s unique “UltraPixels” camera and things get even muddier. How does a 4-UltraPixel image compare to a 16-megapixel image? Many of the newer phones feature 16-megapixel or 20-megapixel rear camera sensor. Around front, the norm is now floating around 4.0-megapixel and 5.0-megapixels.

Things you may want to keep an eye on, or that tell different cameras apart, include the ability to record in 4K video resolution. Additionally, some cameras can record in slow-motion, feature optical image stabilization, or offer touch focus on the screen.[/toggles]

[toggles title=”Battery”]Even with an increasingly efficient software experience, battery life is an area which can really frustrate users. Can we go all day with our devices and not plug into a wall? For most people, the answer is yes. For heavy users and gamers, though, it becomes more maybe and, occasionally even a no.

One of the benefits of a larger device is that it often comes with a larger battery. Most of the stuff you’ll find today comes with a removable battery whereas the upcoming models are starting to go with non-removable types. Does it matter to you? In many cases, the internal units are strong and powerful and last all day. Looking at the top of the line you’ll find that the capacities dance around 2500mAh – 3000mAh.

One thing to keep in mind is that you can often buy extended batteries, sometimes built into cases. You’re almost never ever stuck with what you buy out of the box and you can always buy a portable power bank.[/toggles]

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The latest version of Android offered by Google is 5.0 and 5.1 Lollipop. The 2015 line is launching with this release while last year’s models are still coming with iterations of 4.4 KitKat. The general rule of thumb is that the newer the phone or the higher the profile, the better the chances of receiving a timely update to Android.

Hardware makers will often load a custom user experience on top of the Android build. This is often done to differentiate its line of devices from other smartphones on the market. In a nutshell, Company A may try to win you over with customized features, apps, and services. Once you’re hooked on its set up you’re more inclined to return to them for the next device.

As each version of Android becomes more feature-rich and polished, smartphone makers have tried to keep pace with their own builds. Over time we’ve seen companies like Motorola pull back almost 100% from its custom software to a near stock Android experience. LG, Samsung, HTC, and others have consistently refreshed the software to reflect the changing times and mobile user needs.[/toggles]

High End

Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung’s 2015 flagship smartphone is quite the departure from its normal offering. Employing more premium materials than in previous generations, the Galaxy S6 will undoubtedly be a top-selling model this year. Not only are the specs on par with the best, its look and feel will seem brand new to existing Galaxy owners.

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Samsung Galaxy S5

Released in spring 2014, it’s the most popular series of Android models to date. While it hasn’t sold as well as some of the previous generations, you can hardly go wrong with a device that is in its fifth iteration. Hardware includes a 5.1-inch display, 16-megapixel camera, 16GB storage, and a 2800mAh battery.

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ZTE Boost MAX

Packing a massive 5.7-inch display, this model does run an older version of Android (4.1 Jelly Bean). On the other hand you’ll find 8GB storage with microSD expansion card slot, an 8-megapixel rear camera, and a 3200mAh battery. It’s a nice mix of mid-range hardware highlighted by the big screen.

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Motorola Moto E

A rare case of pretty powerful hardware and leading edge software, the Moto E is also blessed with a low-end price point. The 2015 edition of Motorola’s phone runs Android 5.0 and features a 4.5-inch display and 4G LTE support. Toss in a 290mAh battery and microSD expansion and you’re rocking one of the most value-packed devices of the year.

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LG G Stylo

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The newest model on this list, the LG handset brings a massive 5.7-inch display and Stylus to the table. Running the most current flavor of Android (5.0 Lollipop), you’ll find an 8-megapixel and 5-megapixel camera combo and a 3000mAh battery. And, while there’s 8GB storage internally, you can add up to 32GB more via its microSDHC card slot.

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Mid-Range

Samsung Galaxy Prevail LTE

Featuring some of the specs you’ll find in the Galaxy S4 era of Samsung smartphones, this model offers a 4.5-inch display, 5-megapixel rear camera, and a 2000mAh battery. Lift up the hood and you find 8GB storage, 1GB RAM, and a 1.2GHz quad-core processor. Still not too shabby for a no-contract 4G device if you ask us.

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Sharp AQUOS Crystal

The lone Sharp model on this list, the phone features an edgeless 5-inch display. What does this mean to you? It’s a huge screen that doesn’t feel massive in hand. Running Android 4.4 KitKat you’ll also find 8GB storage as well as a quad-core processor and 1.5GB RAM. It’s about as upper mid range as you can get for Boost Mobile.

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ZTE Warp Sync

Boasting a 5-HD display, the ZTE is a little more robust than other mid-range devices from Boost. Details include an 8-megapixel rear camera and 1.6-megapixel front-facer, you’ll find 2GB RAM and 8GB storage with microSD support. Other touches include Dolby Digital Plus and HD Voice calling.

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Kyocera Hydro Icon

While the Kyocera Hydro Icon doesn’t sound all that different from the other mid-rangers from Boost, it does feature something most don’t: water and dust resistance. Toss in a Military Standard 810 rating and you’ve got a device that can take a drop, dunk, or trip into the desert. The Android 4.4 KitKat, 8GB storage, and 1.5GB RAM are admirable for a no-contract handset with rugged specs.

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ZTE Speed

Running Android 4.4 KitKat and featuring a 4.5-inch display, the ZTE phone bears a resemblance to the LG Tribute and HTC Desire 510. Although a touch smaller in screen and battery, it does boast double the internal storage at 8GB. Other specs include a 5-megapixel and 2-megapixel camera combo, 1GB RAM, and 4G LTE support.

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Entry-Level

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LG Realm

Decidedly entry-level by just about all no-contract standards, the LG runs a semi-current Android 4.4 KitKat and offers a 4.5-inch display. Specifications include a 5-megapixel rear camera, 4GB storage, 1GB RAM, and 4GB internal storage. Powering things is a dual-core 1.2GHz CPU; don’t expect high performance here.

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Motorola Moto G

A slightly lesser-powered take on the Moto E (see above), this one has the similar design language. With a 4.5-inch 720p display, 5-megapixel rear camera, and 2070mAh battery you’ve got enough to cover the bases. The same goes for the quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor with 4GB storage and 1GB RAM.

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galaxy_s3-boostSamsung Galaxy S3

It’s a few years so that’s why we’ve moved the Galaxy S3 into the category of entry-level devices. But, don’t let that fool you into thinking the specs are low-end. In fact, we struggled with keeping this one in the middle of the pack. With that said, look for a dual-core processor with 2GB RAM and 8GB internal storage. The backside offers an 8-megapixel camera while the front has a 2-megapixel selfie-shooter.

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LG Volt

Just a touch beefier than the other entry-level LG phone, the Volt comes with a 4.7-inch display, an 8-megapixel backside camera, and 8GB storage. The drawback, however is there’s no external storage support. But, thanks to a 3000mAh battery you do have a device that last all day and then some.

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HTC Desire 510

The only HTC smartphone on the Boost Mobile roster at this time, the Desire 510 is a cousin of the One series that has become popular in the last two years. Powered by a still-decent Android 4.4 KitKat, you’ll find a 4.7-inch display, 5-megapixel rear camera, and 2100mAh removable battery. Sure, it’s only a quad-core processor with 1GB and 4GB storage, but it gets the job done for most.

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LG Tribute

Nearly identical to the aforementioned HTC Desire 510 in specifications, the Tribute also runs Android 4.4 KitKat. Screen size is a smidge smaller at 4.5-inches but you’ll find the 1.2GHz quad-core CPU, 1GB RAM, and 4GB storage. As is the case with many LG models, this one includes custom software touches like Knock Code.

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