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Boost Mobile LG Volt review: Nice low-cost Android smartphone

Boost Mobile's new LG Volt offers a bargain-priced no-contract smartphone.
Beth McIntire

Boost Mobile's LG Volt offers an exciting option for people who've stuck with long-term mobile commitments because they didn't believe they could afford to buy a decent phone off-contract.

It may surprise you to learn that you can get a great phone for less than $200 without signing onto a long-term contract. You also give up very little in terms of bells and whistles when you forgo the more expensive smartphones for an LG Volt, which you can currently buy online for just $179.99.

The HD voice enabled LG Volt runs Android 4.4 KitKat (the latest Android version) and sports a 4.7" qHD display with Corning Gorilla Glass 2. Its 1.2 GHz quad-core processor with 1 GB of RAM offers smooth, peppy performance for installing and running apps. The LG Volt weighs just 4.8 ounces and measures 2.6" by 5.18" by .41", making it a good fit for your pants pocket or purse.

The LG Volt offers 8 GB of onboard memory with roughly 4 GB available for apps and media. Since you can add a microSD card for additional space, the 4 GB shouldn't prove problematic for most people.

Gorgeous display, excellent camera
Gorgeous display, excellent camera Beth McIntire

Gorgeous display, excellent camera

Games like Angry Birds Go and Words With Friends play flawlessly and look gorgeous on the LG Volt's vibrant display. YouTube videos also look phenomenal on the LG Volt's nicely sized screen. Text in messages, Web pages and even Kindle books looks clear, crisp and easy on the eyes.

You can leave your digital camera at home and take excellent photos and videos using the LG Volt's 8 MP camera with 1080p full HD video. Pictures turn out sharp and clear and allow for Android's standard slate of photo editing tools. I recommend using free cloud storage such as Google Drive or Dropbox for automatically backing up your precious photo and video memories and syncing them with your computer, if desired.

The camera lets you shoot in various modes, such as Panorama for creating a wide-view photo, Continuous Shot for taking six photos rapidly in a row, Time Catch for capturing the moment right before you press the shutter button and Sports for capturing fast-moving people or objects without blur.

Easy to operate
Easy to operate Beth McIntire

Easy to operate

The LG Volt offers a fairly typical onscreen keyboard with multi-function keys, meaning you can hold in a letter briefly to get a number. The keys are nicely sized for accurate typing, but as with other Android phones, you can forgo the keyboard and dictate your commands, messages and Internet searches using Google's excellent voice recognition technology. I like using this to dictate notes into Evernote, but I know others who regularly speak their emails and text messages.

Battery life on the LG Volt rivals the more expensive Android phones, easily lasting a couple of days between charges with moderate usage. Over the past year, Android phones have drastically improved on battery life, something smartphone users have rightfully complained about since the first iPhones came out.

The LG Volt uses Sprint's 4G LTE/4G LTE Enhanced mobile network where available or 3G otherwise. With's Sprint's ongoing, ambitious 4G LTE network expansion, I've picked up a strong signal almost anywhere I took the LG Volt, with particularly good coverage in large cities.

All mobile carriers have some dead areas. I recommend checking with a friend who has a mobile phone on the Sprint network and spends a lot of time in the same workplace and/or neighborhood where you spend most of your waking hours, to make sure you'll have adequate coverage.

Boost Mobile's plans come with unlimited voice minutes and text messages and start at $40 a month for 500 MB of full-speed data. For $50 a month, you can sign up for 2.5 GB of data, or get 5 GB for $60 a month. Boost Mobile's phones come with a 14-day return policy along with free three-day saver shipping if ordered through Boost Mobile's Web site, no contract and no activation fee. You can also keep your current phone number.

Great overall phone
Great overall phone Beth McIntire

Great overall phone

Boost Mobile doesn't cut you off if you happen to go over the monthly data ceiling but can slow down the speed significantly. Using Wi-Fi whenever possible will help conserve your data allotment. You can track your mobile data usage under Settings or download a free widget such as 3G Watchdog (which actually tracks both 3G and 4G data usage and warns you if you get close to your limit).

Boost Mobile also offers extra services for additional monthly cost, such as visual voice mail, which lets you browse your voice mails and touch to listen. The company also offers a generous referral bonus to customers who refer others to sign up for Boost Mobile service and also a trade-in program, whereby you can get an account credit for sending them certain phones for buyback.

If you compare features of the LG Volt and current iPhones, you'll probably find little to justify spending more than twice as much money or signing a long-term contract to choose the latter. An iPhone will get you more built-in memory, but you can't add a microSD card to any iPhone to increase storage space. Apple's iPhones also have notoriously poor battery life and woefully outdated onscreen keyboards that you can't replace with a substitute keyboard app like you can on an Android phone.

Scanning the phone's user guide is a great way to pick up on features you otherwise might not know about, such as how to use Smart Video to make the phone pause a video if it detects you've stopped looking at it. You can also activate Smart Screen so that the phone won't turn off the screen as long as you keep looking at it. If gestures interest you, you can select options to have the phone pause a video, snooze or turn off an alarm or silence incoming calls by flipping the device.

If you'd like a full-featured smartphone with a low price and no strings attached, it's hard to beat the LG Volt.