I can't tell you how many times I've had someone ask me over the past six months when Boost Mobile was going to get another Android smartphone. Boost has great plan prices and somewhat decent phones, but they were lacking that one mid-range smartphone that could really satisfy the masses. Now they have that. It's the Samsung Galaxy Prevail. Yes, you will still have to make a few sacrifices in terms of performance, but at least the option is there. So the next question is, 'How many sacrifices am I going to have to make?' Is the Prevail actually a viable option or did Boost Mobile let down it customers again with a sub-par Android offering?
After testing out the Prevail, I can tell you that it's not a complete disappointment. I've tested out several mid-range Android smartphones so I know that the Prevail could have been better. However, it could also have been much worse. It's not going to knock your socks off, but it performs well enough to satisfy your mobile needs. What exactly do I mean by this? Well, just read the rest of the review to find out.
Design & Features
The physical design of the Prevail is one of my favorite aspects of the phone. You may not expect much from a mid-range smartphone made by Samsung, but they've actually done a pretty good job of making it look both modern and luxurious. The metallic trim that encases the shell and the slightly tapered edges of the top panel capture the technological character of cell phones today, while the soft-touch, matte finish on the back and side panels compliments the trim the way a luxury car's leather seats would its polished exterior. These minute design details may go unnoticed to most consumers, but they certainly do add to the phone's appeal.
In terms of size, the Prevail is no different from most phones these days. Measuring 4.43-inches tall, 2.26-inches wide, and .47-inches thick, it fits well in your hand without feeling bulky or heavy. The 3.2-inch display may be slightly undersized depending on what you prefer, but it was bright and clear despite its low resolution of 320x480 pixels. Typing may be a problem for people with larger hands, but I predict that problem could be easily solved by simply rotating the keyboard to landscape mode.
The four typical Android buttons for Menu, Home, Back, and Search are capacitive touch buttons, not physical buttons. The right spine of the phone contains only the dedicated camera button and the left side contains the volume rocker buttons and the slot for an included 2 GB microSD card. The phone supports up to 32 GB of additional memory to supplement its 117 MB of internal memory. The 3.5mm headphone jack is on the top of the phone along with the Power/Screen Unlock button. The microUSB charging port is on the bottom.
Usability & Performance
To the delight of most customers I'm sure, the Prevail ships with Android 2.2. There is no manufacturer overlay so this is simply stock or vanilla Android. There is no custom dock at the bottom of the homescreen or a modified notification bar with toggle buttons. After using Android for some time now and having had the opportunity to use different custom UIs, stock Android has become somewhat boring to me. That, however, is based solely on opinion and shouldn't necessarily be taken as a negative. The phone does ship with a few Boost Mobile custom apps, but it wasn't overkill. Some of them were completely necessary apps to mange your account or buy more minutes and the others are so few in number that they're easy to ignore. Samsung has included its Task Manager app, something I think a lot of consumers will, if not then should, appreciate. For people who are using Android or a smartphone for the first time, a mask manager may not be the first app they think to download, if they know to download one at all. Having one already installed makes its discovery and use more likely.
I was a little disappointed by the performance of the 800 MHz processor. I guessed that because the phone uses stock Android and ships with a decent processor I shouldn't really have a lot of problems with lag. I understand that some is to be expected from a device of this caliber, but even with those somewhat mild expectations, I found the lag to be a little too much. There were times when the display simply wouldn't respond. There were times when I would try to open an app and the phone would freeze. On a few occasions the phone locked up and I couldn't even power it off to restart it. I had to remove the battery. This may not be a problem with everyone, but I definitely noticed in on a consistent basis.
The Prevail ships with the stock Android keyboard, of course, as well as the Swype keyboard. I've always found the Swype keyboard to be very useful when using a phone with a smaller display. As I pointed out earlier, you could easily use the keyboard in landscape mode where it's larger, but Swype can be used just as handily while still in portrait mode. You don't have to carefully press each key precisely. Rather, it's only necessary to drag your finger to that key and end up somewhere in its general vicinity. The autocorrect will take care of the rest.
I have to say that I'm pretty disappointed by the camera on the Prevail. I understand that megapixel count is not the only thing that determines picture quality and a device of this caliber is definitely not going to have the best camera on the market. Even considering that, a 2-megapixel fixed focus camera really seems inadequate. As I suspected, picture quality was not good at all. Because of the lack of a focus, pictures were blurry and grainy. The lack of flash also limits you. In all, don't expect much from the camera.
I've been testing the Prevail in the Dallas, TX area and have found 3G speeds to be normal though somewhat low if you were to compare them to a larger carrier's 3G. I've always found prepaid carrier's 3G data to be slower than normal so averaging roughly 300 Kbps down and 400 Kbps up wasn't surprising to me, even with a phone using EVDO Rev. A. Thankfully, the phone also supports WiFi which gave me no problems.
Battery life on the Prevail was about what you would expect for an Android smartphone. Android is not the most battery-efficient OS out there, what with all the widgets and multi-tasking you have at your fingertips, so your typical Android phone will last a day or less with normal use. The Prevail's 1500 mAh battery lasted about a day-and-a-half with little use but with multiple live widgets and notifications going on in the background. With normal use, it still will probably only last one day, but at least it will be a full day, whereas on other Android phones it may only last until you get home from work in the evening.
I said this a few times in the video review for the Prevail and I'll say it again here. In all areas, the Prevail is about what you would expect. It's an inexpensive mid-range smartphone from a prepaid carrier. Yes, it did lag sometimes. Yes, the display is not the best one out there. Yes, the camera is disappointing. Overall, it did it's job with no amazing bursts of speed or heightened performance. There are better phones on the market in this same category, but there are also worse ones. The Prevail is right in the middle but at the top of the pack for Boost Mobile customers.
What's Good: Android 2.2; stock Android (if you're into that); good battery life; appealing hardware design; good price.
What's Bad: Occasional lag and freezing; poor camera quality.
The Verdict: It may not be the best mid-range Android smartphone and it's not going to blow you away, but its performance was adequate enough for me to recommend it to anyone already using Boost Mobile.