I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Sprint. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
I love my phone. Or rather, I love what my phone should be able to do for me. Unfortunately, I often have conversations that include “What?” “Say that again?” or the dreaded “You’re breaking up!” Having switched carriers more than once, I’ve started to figure out what cell providers in Chicago work well for us and which ones tend to have more issue. And of course, I’ve made the decision in the past to bite the bullet and go with a cheap provider and accept dropped calls because the most reliable providers are so ungodly more expensive.
Fortunately, that decision was made a long time ago and things have really changed in the cell phone business since then. I see ads on television all the time for providers who have upgraded their capabilities and coverage, and Sprint has really made an effort in Chicago lately. My husband had Sprint as his provider before we got married, and it worked great in the suburbs but wasn’t to fantastic downtown. Now it’s a different story altogether. Sprint recently upgraded cell towers and replaced equipment at cell sites throughout the Chicago metro area, which means faster speeds and better call quality – yay to no dropped GPS or calls. And it’s all done with 4G LTE and HD voice (high definition voice). And yes, I tested the reception downtown, and I was amazed by how well it worked!
Boost Mobile Prepaid Plans
And with Sprint’s Boost Mobile division, that high quality can also translate to a far lower cost. I’ve seen other providers who offer low cost plans, but many of them run on 3G networks and at slower speeds, which makes their low cost maybe not as worthwhile as they might seem at first glance. Boost Mobile – which has been around since 2002 – runs on Sprint’s full network and has the same high quality network speed. Couple that with a $35 per line monthly access charge, and I’m seriously rethinking my current cell phone situation. A provider that gives 50-60 Mbps at such a reasonable cost? It’s hard to justify so many of the other pricing plans I see out there.
Given the speed with which the cell phone market is changing, I love the idea of a pay as you go plan for a number of reasons, too. It offers so much more flexibility, and I’m also realizing the with tweens who are getting ready to enter the phone market, having a pay as you go phone may be the right choice for us. If we find that they aren’t able to maturely handle the responsibility of a phone or they are grounded from the phone for a period of time, it’s easier to manage than if we are locked into a two year contract.
The Boost Mobile plans are all unlimited talk and text, with different levels of data options. Right now, you can get 1GB of data per month for $35, 5GB for $45, and 10GB for $55. Compare that to most other plans out there, and they put them to shame. It was easy to activate my own plan via the Boost Mobile website – which I had to do from my computer and not from the mobile site. Within five minutes I had set up my new phone and prepaid my plan. The starter kit comes with everything you need, including my personal favorite – a way to recycle your old phone so it doesn’t simply become a paperweight.
For the Boost Mobile plan, I’ve been playing with an LG Volt, which is a nifty little smart phone. It has some different twists from the phone I’m used to using, but I have to admit that it’s pretty fun in terms of how you access various functions within the phone itself. The one thing I missed was my Swype – but since it’s an Android, it was easy to enable since it is preloaded but just not the default keyboard (under settings, choose language and input then select Swype).
About the LG Volt
The LG Volt retails for $179.99 (plus tax) and runs the latest Android 4.4 Kit Kat operating system, which means that I don’t run into an issue with trying to download apps and discovering that they aren’t compatible with my phone (which I’ve had happen with other less expensive phones I’ve tested). The camera works great with an 8MP rear facing and 1.3MP front facing camera that takes some really nice shots. I had fun testing it out with some Halloween photos of the wee ones, and they turned out great!
Best New Apps
More fun? You can use QuickMemo to make notes on any screen on your phone. This is great for photos or maps or websites you want to remember or add notes to. It is a menu item when you slide down from the top to execute a Quick Memo. From there you can draw on it – and erase if you’re like me and make a mistake. I used it for a Girls Night Out dinner we’re planning for next month to help me remember where we’re eating (and when), something I pull up easily as the time gets closer. Once you have your photo or screen edited as you choose, simply screen capture it and share as needed – which is great to make sure my friends know where we’re going, too! (To take a screen capture on an Android, just press the volume down button and the power button simultaneously for two seconds.)
I’m a huge fan of some of the other preloaded apps that come on the LG Volt. Next Radio is one of my new favorite apps. I’m a music junkie and love having it on in the background while I work or clean the house or… pretty much any time actually. With Next Radio, I can listen to any participating local FM station – and there are plenty in the Chicago area. The only thing I’m not a fan of with this program is that you have to plug in earbuds or an external speaker to make it work. You can still listen to your stations via your phone’s speakers, but they have to be plugged in then you choose the option to output to speaker via the menu.
The most useful preinstalled app? I lose my tv remote all.the.time. Or rather, my husband puts it where it doesn’t belong and then I can’t find it. My LG Volt has an easy, preinstalled solution with QuickRemote. All I have to do is set up my tv from the easy preselect menu and ditto with my cable box. I can set up different tvs, too, so I can control ones in different rooms simply by selecting the correct nickname for the setup. And then? I can change channels and even access OnDemand programming and DVR functions rather than merely being able to change the channel up or down. Because I always know where my phone is! Score – this works so much better than other universal remotes I’ve tried downloading on other phones I’ve owned.
It never fails to amaze me how many different functions our phones can accomplish today. When I got my first phone, it made phone calls – very expensive phone calls – and that was it. Today I can pay so much less and receive so much more, and every time I play with a new phone, I discover new features, like Guest Mode where I can personalize the phone for me or for others (like ahem, my children) so that I can control which apps and capabilities are available.
And Boost Mobile? It’s a great combination of flexibility, functionality, and cost, making this a very viable solution, whether you’re single, a couple, or an entire family – especially with the upgraded cell towers Sprint has added in Chicago.