Motorola phone offers Android on prepaid plan

McClatchy Newspapers

Product: Boost Motorola i1, a no-contract touch-screen Android smart phone.

Features: Runs Android 1.5 operating system with Opera Mini Web browser and nationwide walkie-talkie on Nextel’s network. Has a 5-megapixel camera with a flash and 4X digital zoom. Comes with 2GB microSD card (supports up to 32GB). Optional SWYPE virtual keyboard.

Price: $349.99 at Boost Mobile stores. Unlimited monthly talk, text and Web costs $50 a month.

Ups: It’s a prepaid phone that you don’t have to be embarrassed to show off, since it has the perks of an Android interface and downloadable applications. The photo application has some perks, like geo-tagging and the ability to take panoramic photos.

Downs: Because it runs on the Nextel iDen network, it’s a slower connection than other carriers. It also limits files sent via SMS to 100kb, so forget about sending videos through text messages. It’s recommended to download Android apps while on a Wi-Fi connection.

It’s also a slower processor than many of the modern Android smart phones (600MHz) and there’s an occasional delay in response because of it. It also runs an older version of the Android operating system.

Bottom line: This is the first time an Android phone with push-to-talk capability is available on a prepaid plan. The $400 price feels steep when it’s not a top-of-the-line Android phone, but that’s because it’s not subsidized by a two-year contract. Prepaid fans can finally get a modern phone, but there’s a sacrifice of a slower network and processing speed. That sacrifice might be worth it for someone who has bad credit or wants a set monthly price without being locked into a contract.