It would be tempting, and not entirely wrong, to think of Boost Mobile as the Mini-Me to its parent company, Sprint.
Boost uses Sprint's network and essentially offers the same performance. And like Sprint, Boost is pushing unlimited plans, though with a few more restrictions than what Sprint now offers.
Carrier Performance (33/40 points)
As noted above, Boost relies on Sprint's network; as a result, you'll deal with the same limitations in performance and reach that Sprint customers face. On the bright side, there's no significant difference in network speed whether you use Sprint or Boost. When we tested LTE speeds around the country, we recorded an average download speed of 16.8 Mbps for Boost, compared to the close-enough-for-government-work average of 17.7 Mbps for Sprint.
Boost's unlimited plan is not as limitless as it seems.
Compared to other prepaid carriers, Boost was slow. It lagged a tick behind its fellow Sprint subsidiary Virgin in download speed and well behind the 22.1-Mbps average that MetroPCS put up. However, Boost is much speedier than both Cricket and Straight Talk based on our testing.
Plans (16/25 points)
Boost used to reward subscribers for on-time payments by letting them build up the size of their monthly data allotment. But the newfound popularity of unlimited plans prompted Boost to scrap that program. Instead, the carrier offers two plans: one with 3GB of LTE data for $35 a month and an unlimited data plan for $50. (That 3GB plan is a step up from Boost's old 2GB option.) Boost no longer offers discounts for autopay enrollment, but it now includes taxes and fees in its monthly rates, just as MetroPCS and Cricket do.
The $50 unlimited plan is not as limitless as it seems, though. Boost restricts your video streaming to 480p resolution; in addition, you'll be able to stream music only at 500 Kbps and games at just 2 Mbps. MetroPCS' $50 unlimited plan has the same restriction on video (though not on music and games). Like MetroPCS, Boost now has a $60 a month unlimited plan that lets you stream HD video. Boost's Unlimited Plus offering doubles the amount of hotspot data you get to 20GB, though. Boost's website suggests this is a limited time promotion.
Additional lines on Boost cost $30 each for the $35 and $50 plans; you can add extra lines to the $60 Unlimited Plus plan for $40 per month. A current promotion lets families of four switch their service to Boost in exchange for unlimited data for $100 a month, or $25 per person; Boost has extended that promo through April 16.
When calling Boost for tech support, be prepared for a lot of automated menus.
Customer Service (14/20 points)
To get answers to questions during our undercover customer-support testing with Boost, we had the best luck using Twitter and Facebook. Responses on social media are prompt, though you should expect a little back and forth, especially on Twitter. Boost offers some fairly thorough online resources, too, but the carrier lacks an online chat feature for getting more detailed responses.
Our biggest frustration came from Boost's phone support, which is seemingly set up to discourage you from talking to an actual person. Be prepared for a lot of automated menus, which will try to answer questions about your account.
Phone Selection (6/10 points)
Expect a solid mix of phones from Boost. Among dedicated prepaid carriers, it has the second largest selection, after Straight Talk, with most phones available for less than $300. The biggest knock here is that Boost's bring-your-own-device offer is restricted to devices that work on the carrier's CDMA network.
Featured Boost Phones: iPhone X, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, Galaxy S8, LG X Power, ZTE Max XL, Moto E4 Plus
Special Features (2/5 points)
Boost subscribers now get the same Tidal benefit available to Sprint customers — six free months of Tidal HiFi, which normally costs $19.99 a month. If you opt for Boost's tiered-data plan, you can stream music from six different services, including Spotify and Pandora, without it hitting your monthly allotment. Boost also offers a free video-streaming app called Boost TV, but to take advantage of content from ABC, A+E Networks and Fox, you'll need to upgrade to the premium package, for $10 a month.
For international use, Boost sells a $5-a-month add-on that lets you make unlimited calls to Canada and Mexico and text internationally. You also get up to 8GB of data roaming while traveling in Mexico. The $10 package includes all of that plus calls to landlines in more than 70 countries and 200 minutes of mobile calling to more than 50 countries.
If you want to knock some money off of your bill each month, you can sign up for Boost Dealz. You'll be exposed to ads and offers whenever you unlock your phone and, in exchange, will get a $5 account credit every 30 days.