No, Says Boost, You Can’t Activate Your Sprint Nexus S Phone With Us

Boost Mobile is Sprint’s pay-as-you-go sister company. I kind of doubted they’d let me activate my Sprint Nexus S phone on the Boot network. After an hour of transfers with both Boost and Sprint, turns out that was sadly a correct assumption.

I got my Nexus S earlier this year, purchased from Sprint so that I could test out Google Wallet. Google took so long rolling out Google Wallet that I ended up canceling my Sprint account. Even though it was a business expense, I never used it. I found the network to be poor. I resented the “unlimited” pitch that wants to charge extra for certain phones and even further if you want to use a hotspot with them.

By canceling, I ended up paying the full termination fee, which should mean my phone was free and clear to use elsewhere. Of course, unlike GSM-based phones, you can’t just slot in a SIM card from another carrier. It has to all be done online or with a phone rep.

At first, it seemed hopeful. Boost has a great daily plan, where you pay only $2 for unlimited use. When you use up your money, the phone just stops working until you reactivate it. I though this would be perfect for my occasional use needs.

The Boost rep got me through the initial sign-up process, but when they tried to activate the phone, it turned out that Sprint was still reporting it as active and tied to its network.

That was annoying. I’d canceled ages ago, been charged an early termination fee, and Sprint was still effectively locking it to their network?

Calling Sprint was a nightmare. The rep there was incredibly polite, but it took ages to figure out that I just needed this phone unlocked or somehow disconnected from Sprint.

In the end, a Boost supervisor got merged into our call. She explained that unfortunately, Boost couldn’t support my device for the “technical troubleshooting” that would come up, especially since it was a Sprint phone.

That’s probably what annoyed me the most. It’s not a Sprint phone. It’s a Google phone. It’s a pure Google Android device that’s designed to use the frequency of the Sprint network. It should totally work through Boost. The only reason it can’t work is because, my guess is, Sprint won’t allow Boost to do so.

That makes sense from Sprint’s point-of-view. You don’t want your sister company undercutting your overpriced cell phone options by letting them support high-end phones. And for most people, it’s probably fine. If you’re going to use Boost, you’re probably not looking to pay that much for a handset, either.

But still, Sprint — you made plenty of money selling me this phone. Lighten up. Let me or anyone who wants to use an Android phone on Boost, if it supports Android phones — as it does.

This is no surprise to many, but it underscores just how much the US cell phone industry sucks. Last year, I walked off a plane in London, bought a pay-as-you-go SIM card from 3 and slotted it into my Nexus One. I had full web and phone access. No problem. I did the same thing this year in Australia, with Vodafone. No problem.

But in the US, we’re screwed, and it’s not just an Android issue. My several old iPhones — fully paid for — still remain locked to AT&T.

By they way, Virgin Mobile — which uses Sprint — won’t activate anything other than a Virgin phone either. But hey, “it’s the perfect excuse to get a new phone,” it says.

No, it’s not. Not if you have perfectly good phone.

Meanwhile, the whole point of this exercise was to try again with Google Wallet. You know, the mobile payment system that Google is advertising on buses all over New York, I saw earlier this month, but which still works with exactly one phone, the Sprint Nexus S?

I at least got Google Wallet running on the Nexus S, after dusting it off — only to discover that despite having a Google Wallet account already through the web — and with that account synced to the Google Wallet app on my phone — the phone still wanted me to enter the details for the same credit card I’d already registered.

Yeah, Google Wallet’s going to be a winner.

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