Samsung Galaxy S III (Boost Mobile) review

The Samsung Galaxy S III is the best smartphone you can get on Boost Mobile, but it'll cost you.
Photo of Samsung Galaxy S III (Boost Mobile)

Following in the steps of its belated launch of the Galaxy S II 4G, the Samsung Galaxy S III is now available for Boost Mobile a year later than it appeared almost everywhere else. And guess what? It’s still a great phone. Sure, it’s pretty expensive at $399.99 up front, but that’s about the going rate to get this phone on a contract-free carrier. And when you factor in the large, impressive display, fast processor, up-to-date software, 4G LTE support, and a great camera, you get the best smartphone on Boost, and our latest Editors’ Choice.

We’ve already reviewed the Galaxy S III on nearly every other carrier under the sun. Boost’s version is physically identical to all the other models, so you can read our review of the MetroPCS device to learn more about its features and physical characteristics. 

Boost’s Galaxy S III is running Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean), one of the newest versions of Google’s OS. Boost left Samsung’s Media Hub, S Memo, S Suggest, and Samsung Apps stores intact, and added minimal bloatware, most of which is deletable. Since not much has changed, we’re going to focus on coverage, service plans, and pricing here.

Network and Service Plans
Boost uses Sprint’s network, and the Galaxy S III is now its third phone to feature 4G LTE support—if you live in an LTE coverage area, that is. Sprint underwent some big changes this year as it moved from its older 4G WiMAX network to its fledgling 4G LTE network. This has been a largely positive transition, as we just discovered in our testing for the Fastest Mobile Networks. Sprint’s LTE speeds have increased in nearly every city, and we saw some very solid Web page performance.

On the other hand, Sprint’s LTE coverage is still mottled in many areas and speeds are slower than AT&T and Verizon on average. When doing some recent testing in Philadelphia, I was only able to get a 4G LTE signal about half the times I tried.

Thankfully, if you aren’t covered by 4G LTE, Sprint’s 3G network has improved considerably since this time last year. Thanks to a considerable upgrade as part of Sprint’s Network Vision project, the carrier was able to double 3G speeds in many cities—though they’re still only running at a quarter of the speed you’ll see on AT&T or T-Mobile. So if you really want the fastest Galaxy S III around, you’re probably not going to find it on Boost.

What you will find, however, is some excellent plan pricing. Monthly plans on Boost start at $55 per month, and get you unlimited talk, texts, and data. That unlimited data figure comes with a caveat: After 2.5GB of full-speed data usage per month (either 3G or 4G LTE), your speeds will be throttled down to 2G 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 makes this one of the least expensive Galaxys you can get.

Pricing, Comparisons, and Conclusions
Sure it’s over a year old on other carriers, but the Galaxy S III is still a great phone, and it’s likely to remain Boost’s best smartphone for the foreseeable future. Boost has two other LTE phones right now: the HTC One SV and the Boost Force. As mentioned earlier, the Galaxy S III costs a whopping $399.99, while the HTC One SV will set you back $299.99, and the Boost Force is a relative bargain at $169.99. Despite the drastic differences in cost, each of these phones represent a good value for the money, so it’s really all about how much you’re willing to spend.

The Boost Force is the least expensive phone of the bunch, but it’s also the least impressive. It has 4G LTE support, good call quality, and plenty of power. But it’s bulky, has a lackluster camera, and a disappointing display. It’s a good price for a decent smartphone—just don’t expect to be wowed by it.

The HTC One SV, meanwhile, is our previous Editors’ Choice for Boost. It’s an extremely elegant, stylish phone, with a much nicer polycarbonate build than the plastic Galaxy S III. It too features 4G LTE support, and fits better in smaller hands. But it has a slower processor than the Galaxy S III, and is still running Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich), which lacks many of the features you’ll find in Jelly Bean. And if you’re thinking about getting the Galaxy S II, keep in mind that while it’s still a very good smartphone and costs nearly half the price of the Galaxy S III, it doesn’t have LTE support, which means seriously compromised data speeds.

All told, the Samsung Galaxy S III has the fastest processor, the latest software, the best camera, and the nicest screen you’ll find on Boost. As long as you’re okay with the price, and Sprint’s network limitations, it’s a very good buy. And when you stack it all up, the Samsung Galaxy S III is a top-notch pick for Boost, and an easy pick for our Editors’ Choice award.

Specifications
Phone Capability / Network CDMA, LTE
Screen Resolution 1280 x 720 pixels
NFC Yes
Dimensions 5.38 x 2.78 x 0.34 inches
802.11x/Band(s) 802.11 a/b/g
Video Camera Resolution 1080p
Battery Life (As Tested) 9 hours 2 minutes
Available Integrated Storage 11.65 GB
Processor Speed 1.5 GHz
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon S4
GPS Yes
Service Provider Boost
Total Integrated Storage 16 GB
High-Speed Data CDMA 1X
Weight 4.65 oz
Screen Type Super AMOLED HD
Operating System as Tested Android 4.1.2
Physical Keyboard No
Camera Resolution 8 MP Rear
2 MP Front-Facing
Screen Pixels Per Inch 306 ppi
Bands 850, 1900
microSD Slot Yes
Form Factor Candy Bar
Screen Size 4.8 inches
Bluetooth Version 4

Verdict
The Samsung Galaxy S III is the best smartphone you can get on Boost Mobile, but it'll cost you.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc