Some Boost Mobile users got a taste of 4G last year, when the carrier gained access to Sprint’s abandoned ’4G’ WiMAX network. But now Boost has access to Sprint’s speedy, shiny new 4G LTE network, which blows WiMAX away. It’s still not available in most markets, but you should go for LTE if you’re interested in a faster online experience in the future. Right now, the $299.99 HTC One SV is your best bet. It’s a little pricey, but 4G LTE support, along with plenty of power and a high-quality, stylish design, make it our new Editors’ Choice for smartphones on Boost.
Design, Network, Plans, and Call Quality
The HTC One SV is the nicest looking phone on Boost, hands down. Sure, the flaming orangey-red color probably isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it’s certainly eye-catching. The phone has a black, glass front panel, with red buttons and red detail on the earpiece speaker grille. There’s a metallic-looking band around the slanted edge of the phone, separating the front from the polycarbonate back. At 5.04 by 2.63 by 0.63 inches (HWD) and 4.3 ounces, the phone will fit into most hand sizes like a glove.
The 4.3-inch, 800-by-480 Super LCD2 isn’t the highest-resolution display available on Boost (that would be the 4 inch, 960-by-540-pixel panel on HTC’s EVO Design 4G). But it gets super bright, and has excellent viewing angles, which make it great for multimedia. The three haptic feedback-enabled touch buttons below the display are responsive, and typing felt fine on the on-screen, Swype-enabled keyboard.
Boost uses Sprint’s network, and the One SV is just one of two phones to feature 4G LTE support—if you can get it, that is. It’s only available in a limited number of cities right now, so chances are you’ll be stuck with significantly slower speeds until it comes to your town. In last year’s Fastest Mobile Networks tests we found Sprint’s 3G network to be the slowest of the nationwide networks. We got a chance to test Sprint’s 4G LTE network and found it to be a vast improvement.
That said, if you fall into the limited LTE coverage zone, Boost offers some incredible deals. Monthly plans cost $55 per month, and get you unlimited talk, texts, and data. There is a slight catch on that unlimited data: After 2.5GB of full-speed data usage per month, your speeds will be throttled significantly until the end of your billing cycle. But your monthly payment reduces by $5 after every six months you pay your bill on time, until you reach $40 per month. $40 per month for unlimited everything is about as cheap as you can get.
Sprint LTE is limited in New York City, where we tested the One SV, so all of our tests were conducted over 3G. Call quality is average. Calls made with the phone sound clear and natural, with good noise cancellation. But earpiece volume is rather low, which made it difficult to hear calls I took outside. The speakerphone sounds loud enough to hear in the car, but not if you’re driving with the radio on and the windows open. I had no trouble connecting to a Jawbone Era Bluetooth headset and standard Android voice dialing worked fine. Battery life was good at 9 hours and 1 minute of talk time over 3G.
Android and Apps
The One SV is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm S4 processor. That’s not as fast as the 1.5GHz dual-core chip in the Boost Force, though both phones turned in similar benchmark scores, and both perform admirably in day-to-day use. That makes the One SV one of the fastest phones on Boost. Combine that with 4G LTE or Wi-Fi and you should be very satisfied with the phone’s performance.
(Next page: Multimedia, Camera, and Conclusions)
The One SV runs Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) with HTC’s Sense 4.1 overlay. There’s no word on an update to Android 4.l or above (Jelly Bean), so you shouldn’t count on it. HTC Sense looks bright and friendly, with seven home screens; all but one come preloaded with apps and widgets. You can customize these screens to your liking, but it’s nice to have some direction for beginners.
In addition to the all of the usual Google apps and services that come standard with Android, the HTC One SV comes preloaded with some additional apps like Dropbox, TuneIn Radio, and Twitter. I happen to like all of these apps, but it’s annoying that you can’t delete them if you don’t. Of course, you also have unfettered access to the Google Play store, which has over 700,000 additional third-party apps.
Multimedia, Camera, and Conclusions
You get 4.15GB of internal memory, plus an empty memory card slot under the battery cover, which is very difficult to pry off. Once off, I was able to plug-in microSD cards up to 64GB for lots of additional storage.
Most of our music test file formats played back fine, except for WAV and WMA. Audio was good through both wired and Bluetooth headphones. Beats Audio software is on board, which really dials up the bass and treble. I was also able to play MPEG4 video files up to 1080p resolution, which looked great on the phone’s bright screen. There’s no HDMI out, but you can use HTC’s Media Link HD accessory to wirelessly stream videos to TVs. HTC also includes a Media Share app, which allows you to share music, photos, and video over Wi-Fi with DLNA-enabled devices.
There’s a 5-megapixel camera on the back of the phone. Shutter speeds are nearly instantaneous; I was only about to capture 0.1 second of delay. And if you hold the Camera button down, you can fire off a burst of 20 consecutive shots, then let the phone automatically choose the best one. Photos taken with good lighting look sharp and clear, though low-light caused many images to look blurry. The camera also records sharp 1080p video at 24 frames per second indoors and 30 frames per second outside. There’s a 1.6-megapixel front-facing camera that records VGA video and takes somewhat soft, but not bad, images.
When we first reviewed the HTC One SV on Cricket Wireless, we gave the phone 3.5 stars. That’s because Cricket, and other contract-free carriers like U.S. Cellular, offer a much wider variety of high-end smartphones, like our perennial favorite, the Samsung Galaxy S III. Boost may not offer the Galaxy S III, but it does offer rock-bottom contract-free prices, which makes the One SV a stronger option.
The HTC One SV is better than Boost’s other LTE phone, the Boost Force, in nearly every regard. It has a nicer display, a better camera, and a much higher-quality build. But the Boost Force has a slightly more powerful processor, and costs $100 less, so it’s worth a look if you’re interested in getting LTE on a tighter budget. The Samsung Galaxy S II 4G, meanwhile, still has a big, beautiful display and a fast processor, but it runs on WiMAX, not LTE. That makes the HTC One SV Boost’s best balanced smartphone, and our new Editors’ Choice.
|Phone Capability / Network||CDMA, LTE|
|Screen Resolution||800 x 480 pixels|
|Dimensions||5.04 x 2.64 x 0.36 inches|
|Video Camera Resolution||1080p Rear|
|Battery Life (As Tested)||9 hours 1 minutes|
|Available Integrated Storage||4.15 GB|
|Processor Speed||1.2 GHz|
|CPU||Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8930 Dual-Core|
|Total Integrated Storage||8 GB|
|High-Speed Data||EVDO Rev A, LTE|
|Screen Type||Super LCD 2|
|Operating System as Tested||Android 4.0.4|
|Camera Resolution||5 MP Rear|
|1.6 MP Front-Facing|
|Screen Pixels Per Inch||217 ppi|
|Form Factor||Candy Bar|
|Screen Size||4.3 inches|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc