Smartphone users are looking for ways to shave money off their monthly bills, and prepaid carriers — who offer lower-priced plans without many service bells and whistles — are one of the obvious ways to cut your costs. MetroPCS and Boost Mobile seem to sense that, as the two prepaid carriers have spent the last couple months rolling out new deals to attract new customers.
MetroPCS Tiered Data
Data tiers have adjusted after a summer promotion; tiered plans can use data as a mobile hotspot
Boost Mobile Tiered Data
Lets you use LTE data as mobile hotspot
MetroPCS Unlimited Data
$60 plan adds 10GB of LTE hotspot data; video streaming is limited to 480p
Boost Mobile Unlimited Data
Includes limits on video, music and game streaming; features 8GB of hotspot data
In the latest salvo, Boost's monthly rates now include taxes and fees, matching a similar offer from MetroPCS. Boost has also cut the cost of adding additional lines to your plan, while MetroPCS has adjusted data limits on tiered plans and altered the discounts you get for adding multiple lines.
But which carrier is the better choice? The decision comes down to network performance and data-plan options. Here's how MetroPCS and Boost stack up.
MetroPCS Key Strengths
- Uses T-Mobile's superior network
- Unlimited data plan is more attractive
- Choice of tiered data plans
Boost Mobile Key Strengths
- Families can save more on unlimited data plans
- Better customer service
- Tie-in with Tidal streaming music service
A comparison between MetroPCS and Boost Mobile on network coverage is really a comparison between their parent companies. MetroPCS is owned by T-Mobile, while Boost is a Sprint subsidiary.
That would seem to tilt things in MetroPCS's favor, as T-Mobile has one of the better-rated networks, according to assorted testing firms. OpenSignal's latest report says that T-Mobile has the fastest network speed and greatest 4G availability of the four major carriers. Ookla agrees that T-Mobile has the fastest network, and while Sprint's speeds are improving, it still brings up the rear. A dissenting voice comes from RootMetrics, which actually puts Sprint ahead of T-Mobile in its RootScore ranking system.
Sprint can point to several areas where its network is improving. That OpenSignal report noted that Sprint's network speeds were getting faster and its 4G availability was on the rise, too. In RootMetrics' testing, Sprint actually tied with AT&T and Verizon for the best texting performance. Sprint points to results from Ookla that show its LTE Plus speeds up 28 percent over the last seven months.
Still in our 4G testing, MetroPCS was noticeably faster and more consistent than Boost. MetroPCS had an average download speed of 22.1 Mbps in the six cities where we tested, compared with 16.8 Mbps for Boost. MetroPCS also averaged 1 minute and 41 seconds on our app download test; it took Boost 36 seconds longer to download that same app in our test. Both MetroPCS and Boost matched the performance of their parent carriers, which helped give MetroPCS the edge here.
MetroPCS has been tinkering with its data allotments and discounts on multiple lines, which give it a leg up on Boost. If you need wireless service for a family of four, though, a special offer from Boost can save you big bucks.
Individuals have four plans to pick from at MetroPCS — two with data limits and two offering unlimited data.
MetroPCS offers the best prepaid plan for individuals who don't need unlimited data. For $40 a month, you can get 5GB of LTE data. (That's less than the 6GB MetroPCS was offering over the summer, but still more than MetroPCS used to provide for $40. And it's bigger than a comparably priced Boost plan.) If your data needs are minimal, you can opt for MetroPCS's 2GB plan.
MetroPCS's unlimited plan starts at $50 a month, though you're restricted to 480p resolution on video streaming — that's about DVD quality — and you can't tether. Pay for MetroPCS's $60 unlimited plan, and you get 10GB of LTE hotspot data, though the video streaming restriction remains. MetroPCS says it costs an extra $10 to stream video at HD resolution.
Boost has just two options. A $35 plan offers 3GB of LTE data; the carrier used to offer a $5 autopay discount, but that program has been discontinued. So now you're paying $5 more than MetroPCS's basic 2GB plan to get 1GB more of data.
If you want to look at things from a different angle, you can nearly double your data by paying just $5 more per month at MetroPCS. As with MetroPCS, if you go over your data allotment at Boost, your speeds slow until the end of the billing cycle.
Boost's unlimited plan costs $50, the same monthly rate MetroPCS charges. Like MetroPCS, you're restricted to 480p streaming on video. But Boost also limits music streaming to 500 Kbps and streaming games to 2 Mbps; those limitations don't exist at MetroPCS. You can pay an extra $10 a month at Boost to lift those restrictions, which lets you stream video at 1080p, music at 1.5 Mbps and games at 8 Mbps.
Boost's $50 unlimited plan has one edge over MetroPCS's equivalent plan: you get 8GB of LTE hotspot data. MetroPCS makes you pay an extra $10 for hotspot data on its unlimited plan.
Both Boost and MetroPCS offer discounts when you add multiple lines. MetroPCS has adjusted its discounts following a summer promotion, leaving Boost with the more substantial discount, particularly on unlimited plans.
At MetroPCS, it costs you $30 a line to add an extra line of data. That's no savings at all on the 2GB data plan, but it's a $20 discount if you go with the $50 unlimited data option.
Boost charges $25 for each extra line, no matter what plan you have. That's a $10 savings on the 3GB plan and half off the carrier's $50 unlimited plan. That gives Boost an edge, after MetroPCS changed pricing for extra lines. Basically, for each line of data added, a family at Boost will save another $5 off of what they'd pay at MetroPCS.
One line of unlimited data
Two lines of unlimited data
Three lines of unlimited data
Four lines of unlimited data
Boost offers even bigger savings with a special promotion that it's extended to the end of the year. Switch over to Boost from MetroPCS or Cricket, and you can get four lines of unlimited data for $25 per line. In other words, a family of four pays $100 a month. That's $40 less than what the same family of four pays at MetroPCS under the current promotional rates.
When we tested the customer support offered by nine wireless carriers earlier this year, Boost finished in the middle of the pack, tied with its parent company Sprint. That still placed Boost ahead of MetroPCS, which — despite some improvements to its customer service — still finished in seventh place.
Boost's customer support is both speedy and friendly, and you can get a lot of help just by searching the company's surprisingly robust website. When we posted questions to Boost's Twitter and Facebook accounts, we received prompt responses, even if they weren't always completely helpful ones. Boost tries to use automated menus to solve your problems when you call its customer-support line, but subscribers who want to get help from a real live human might find that approach frustrating.
MetroPCS used to bring up the rear in our customer service rankings, so its seventh-place finish (out of nine) this time shows some improvement. The MetroPCS website lists more information than it used to, but phone support remains hit-or-miss. (It is available 24 hours a day, though.) We got slow responses to tech-support questions posted to social media.
MetroPCS and Boost are fairly similar when it comes to phone selection, with both carriers putting an emphasis on low-cost models.
Boost offers 28 phones as of this writing, with 19 of those devices costing $200 or less. (One of those low-cost devices is a flip phone.) Refurbished phones mean you can save a bundle on aging models, like a 16GB iPhone 6 available for $179. Among newer models, Boost sells the Galaxy S8 for $600, $129 less than what you'll pay at MetroPCS; Boost also sells the iPhone 8, which is not currently available at MetroPCS. You'll also find nice exclusives like the attractively priced ZTE Max XL.
The ZTE Zmax Pro is a MetroPCS exclusive.MetroPCS can point to some good exclusives of its own, like then ZTE Blade Z Max. It offers a slightly larger selection than Boost with 34 models as of this writing — that includes two flip phones. You'll find 25 phones for less than $200 at MetroPCS.
Both carriers let you bring your own phone; though on Boost, your device will need to work with a CDMA-based network.
Extras and Perks
Going with a prepaid carrier often means giving up the kind of bonuses one of the Big Four carriers dangle at customers. But MetroPCS and Boost do offer some benefits to their subscribers.
MetroPCS offers a Data Maximizer with its tiered data plans, giving you the option of streaming video at lower resolutions so that you're not consuming as much data. If you've got the 6GB plan, you can stream music from Pandora, iHeartRadio, Apple Music and Spotify without using up any of your allotted LTE data. Both tiered data plans also let you use your phone as a mobile hotspot.
Tidal Hi-Fi's app interfaceLike MetroPCS, Boost lets subscribers on its tiered data plan stream music from select services — six in Boost's case — without it drawing from its data pool. Boost customers can also sign up for six free months of Tidal HiFi, a streaming service that normally costs $20 a month. Subscribers can also earn account credits by installing the Boots Dealz app, which puts ads and offers on their phones. Both the 3GB and unlimited plans let you use your data as a mobile hotspot, with the unlimited plan offering 8GB of LTE hotspot data each month.
If you're debating whether to choose MetroPCS or Boost, MetroPCS ticks off the two most important considerations — coverage and price. T-Mobile's network performs better than Sprint's in more areas, and MetroPCS customers reap that benefit. MetroPCS plans offer more options, including a more compelling unlimited offering.
Boost customers can expect better customer service, and if you buy a device through the carrier, you'll have a solid selection of affordably priced handsets (though MetroPCS is no slouch when it comes to the number of phones that cost less than $200.) While MetroPCS's plans are generally more attractive, Boost's pricing on multiple lines promises noteworthy savings to families, particularly on unlimited data plans.
MetroPCS remains the better option for most users. But Boost has enough going for it to make the decision tougher than you might think.
Image Credits: Tom's Guide
See Also : Best MetroPCS Phones
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