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Boost Max from Boost Mobile review: Android phablet with no contract

Boost Mobile Boost Max

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Boost Mobile has great news for anyone hoping to buy a phablet from a no-contract carrier. The Boost Max offers a big, beautiful display with no commitment and a low monthly outlay.

The Boost Max sports the standard, easily configurable Android home screen.
The Boost Max sports the standard, easily configurable Android home screen.
Beth McIntire
The Boost Max phablet from Boost Mobile offers an array of cool features and a stunning 5.7" HD display.
The Boost Max phablet from Boost Mobile offers an array of cool features and a stunning 5.7" HD display.
Beth McIntire

The term "phablet" has come to refer to a smart phone with a screen large enough to seem halfway between a mobile phone and a tablet. While some object to the idea of carrying around such a out-sized device as their mobile phone, others love the extra screen real estate.

The Boost Max runs Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) and offers the most wanted phablet feature - a large, high-quality screen for ease of reading messages and articles, joy of watching videos and comfort of enjoying Kindle books. The device measures 6.5" by 3.25" by .4" with a 5.7" screen size. For comparison, a standard small tablet computer probably has a 7" screen, and a premium smart phone like the Samsung Galaxy S4 sports a 5" display. All current iPhone models have 4" displays.

Games like Words With Friends and Angry Birds look fantastic on the Boost Max, as do YouTube videos. Text looks clear and easy to read whether in messages, articles or ebooks.

With a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor and 1 GB RAM, the Boost Max makes short work of installing programs and runs them smoothly. The touchscreen functions well with just the right amount of sensitivity for tasks like scrolling, typing and game playing.

The Max comes with 8 GB of onboard memory, expandable with an optional microSDHC card. I recommend picking up a microSDHC card and also using Dropbox or Google Drive free cloud storage to offload your pictures and videos and save space on your phone.

The Boost Max's 8 MP camera takes beautiful photos and 1080p HD videos, and the front-facing camera takes 1 MP pictures or 720p HD videos. The device contains built-in photo editing software that lets you go far beyond simple cropping to include adding text, doodles, borders or special effects such as blurring or old time black and white. You can even add one or more of an included array of cartoon-like objects to a photo, such as a mustache, hat or sunglasses.

Such a huge display means the onscreen keyboard, complete with multi-function keys, is larger and makes typing easier than on smaller phones. Of course, Android phones also offer fantastic voice recognition for dictating many tasks, such as searching the Web and composing messages.

The Boost Max, made by ZTE, also offers a cool feature called SmartView that lets you see multiple apps on the screen at the same time, kind of like on a Windows computer.

Battery life impresses on the Boost Max, lasting a few days between charges with light usage. The Boost Max contains a non-removable battery, meaning you can't carry a spare or replace the battery on your own if it dies.

Boost Mobile uses Sprint's nationwide 4G mobile network on the Boost Max. The company doesn't charge extra if you go over their 2.5 GB monthly data allotment, but they may slow down the speed to 3G or below. You can easily monitor data usage using a free widget such as 3G Watchdog (which monitors both 3G and 4G data) or by checking periodically under Settings, Usage. You'll probably want to use Wi-Fi whenever possible, since it conserves your mobile data usage.

With Boost Mobile's low monthly fee of $55 (which can decrease to $40 with 18 months of on-time payments) and no limits on data, voice or texting, it's an ideal choice for teens. You won't see any surprise bills if your kid decides to send 10,000 texts in a month. Anyone certainly enjoy saving a lot of money on their monthly mobile phone bill, though.

Boost Mobile currently offers a special deal - a $30 bill credit with any new phone activation plus a discounted monthly rate of $35 for 6 months. It then goes up to $50 but can decrease to $40 if you pay on time for 12 months straight.

In addition to being able to buy a new phone at any time with no penalty, you can also return a Boost Mobile phone within 14 days if you decide you don't like it. Just save all the original packaging.

All mobile carriers have some dead areas. If you'll need frequent access to a reliable mobile network, I recommend trying a friend's phone that uses the Sprint network in your neighborhood or workplace to make sure you have adequate coverage. On the Boost Max, I found 4G or 3G coverage most places I went, with adequate speed for my purposes on either platform. If you use Wi-Fi much of the time, you probably won't care much about where you have 3G or 4G coverage.

The Boost Max costs $299.99 online with no strings attached. Mobile phone prices tend to fluctuate, so you may want to periodically check prices on Boost Mobile's Web site to see if the phone you want has gone on sale.

Samsung's Galaxy Note 3, probably the world's most popular phablet, costs $199.99 with a two-year agreement with AT&T or $299.99 from Verizon Wireless. While the Note 3 is undoubtedly a well-loved device with better specs than the Boost Max, whether it's worth spending the extra month-to-month money depends on your individual wants and needs.

If you're in the market for a phablet and wouldn't mind saving a few bucks every month on your mobile bill, the Boost Max should make your list of devices to investigate.

If this article helped you or if you have further suggestions, please feel free to comment below.

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