Blog Post

Prepaid Phones Get Smart With Android

Boost Mobile today said it would offer the Motorola i1, the first Android (s goog) phone for the prepaid market in the U.S., a move that makes prepaid plans more compelling from a device perspective. The prepaid phone market in the U.S. had a huge growth spurt during the recession thanks to better devices, better coverage because of roaming agreements and a price war that made the value hard to ignore.

Boost, which is a subsidiary of Sprint (s S), is following the trend of prepaid operators offering smartphones and higher-end devices to consumers at an unsubsidized price. As values go, prepaid isn’t a bad deal for certain people, and the addition of smartphones to the line-up is a nice touch, although getting nationwide data coverage on some prepaid networks isn’t as smooth as nationwide voice coverage.

As for the devices, they’re generally behind the overall market. For example, this Motorola (s MOT) Android phone runs Android 1.5, which is several updates behind the cutting-edge Android phones running 2.1 or the 2.2 Froyo update that came out last month. Leap Wireless (s leap), which runs the Cricket prepaid service said earlier this year it would offer an Android phone. For users this means that not all of the apps in the app store will work, and that the interface isn’t as good. However, when compared with a BlackBerry (s rimm) or a non-smartphone, it may be enough to keep someone who wants a smartphone without giving up the ability to pay $50 a month for voice and data.

Related GigaOM Pro Research (sub req’d): What Happens When Data Friendly Phones Come to Prepaid?

7 Responses to “Prepaid Phones Get Smart With Android”

  1. Streetpounder

    The reason being is simple. Boost is mainly on the iden network. The data throughput of that network is like 19.2 Kbps or something. It doesnt hurt them in the least to have people on unlimited data at modem-like speeds because they will never be able to generate a huge usage per timeframe. The limited boost that is on cdma is limited to a few base model phone that dont inspire heavy usage (i.e. no android phones). So basically the whole boost model is a glorified market scheme that give low bandwith users unlimited access on a limited connection and makes them look awesome on the advertisement front. Imagine how much more bandwidth would be used at 3G speeds on an unlimited plan vs on iden`s modem like speeds. That my friends is why there is no boost on the sprint 3g side for android smartphones.

  2. Alyssa

    I definitely choose prepaid over contracted phones. Its a little upsetting that I pay $99/month with Sprint when I could be paying $50/month with Boost. I actually emailed the President, Mr. Hesse, complaining how unfair it was that I wasn’t receiving equal treatment as the Boost customers when Sprint in fact owns Boost. If you have the same problem or any interest in saving the extra $50 per month, I reccommend emailing him as well at

  3. I prefer service plan instead of pre-paid because: on average talk i pay the same or less with a good service plan, for a good service plan i get a cheap phone, the phone is vital so i won’t say that this month i don’t use it and the next one i do.

  4. I never know quite what to make of posts like this. It doesn’t take long if you peruse various online forums to realize that there are already tens of thousands in not many more using Andriod handsets in the U.S. prepaid and paygo. Perhaps it would have been better to say that this is the first “official” release for the prepaid market.

    • onecallednick

      I think eventually most people will have smartphones on prepaid services. Why would people pay $120/mo on verizon to use an android phone when they could pay $60/mo on cricket? Let’s do some math:
      $250 for an android handset upfront on cricket + 60/mo X 24 months for total cost of ownership for 2 years = $1,700.
      $99 Droid Eris with 2 year contract + 120/mo X 24 months = $2,979
      Almost twice as much, all for the “priviledge” of a “subsidy”? Horseshit. Eventually people are gonna catch on.