LG Marquee, Sprint's Skinny Android, Coming to Boost Mobile

Boost Mobile will offer the skinny LG Marquee on its prepaid, unlimited network for $280 starting Jan. 23. Sprint offers it free with a new contract.

Sprint's Android-running LG Marquee will soon also be available from Boost Mobile, the carrier's pre-paid brand. The svelte but little-talked-about phone-or "one of the best-kept secrets in the Android smartphone category," in Boost Mobile parlance-will be available Jan. 23 for $280 without a contract when paired with Boost's $55 Android Monthly Unlimited plan with Shrinkage.

The plan includes unlimited talk, text messaging, Web, email and calls to 411. Shrinkage is Boost's very cool savings offer with the terrible name.

With Shrinkage, customers can receive a $5 reduction to their monthly bill for every six on-time payments they make, decreasing from $55 to $45 to $40-where Boost says enough is enough and the monthly fee holds steady.

Shrinkage also applies to its BlackBerry Monthly Unlimited Plan and its general Monthly Unlimited Plan.

The Marquee is slightly longer and wider than an Apple iPhone 4, but actually thinner, at 0.36 inches to the iPhone 4's 0.37. It features a 4-inch touch screen with multitouch capabilities, a 1GHz processor with 4GB of internal storage, a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 2-megapixel version up front, GPS, Stereo Bluetooth, WiFi and mobile hotspot potential. On-board apps also make it easy to comment or post photos to social-networking sites such as Facebook.

The Marquee also comes preloaded with Mobile ID packs-bundles of interest-geared apps, widgets, ringtones and wallpapers for people who like sports, say, or dogs.

The hurting economy of the last few years has been a boon to the prepaid market, and Boost Mobile has been a strong asset for the financially iffy Sprint, helping it to reduce churn and boost revenue. Analysis firm Atlantic-ACM has forecast the prepaid wireless market to grow from 2010's $19.3 billion in revenue to $25.3 billion by 2015.

A mid-2011 report from the New Millennium Research Council (NMRC) noted that while from the fourth quarter of 2009 to the fourth of 2010, traditional prepaid subscriptions lost ground, during the same period unlimited prepaid subscriptions grew by 7.4 million users, or 45 percent. As of this month, the NMRC expects that one in four U.S. wireless subscribers now has a prepaid, no-contract plan.

Noting the trend, in September 2011, even the nation's largest wireless carrier-while driving a trend to boost high-end smartphone subsidies from $200 to $300-got in on the act, announcing the nationwide availability of a prepaid, unlimited talk, text and Web plan for $50.

Verizon spokesperson Brenda Raney said at the time, "Prepaid plans, which have historically been marketed to lower-income customers, are becoming more attractive as the cost declines and phone choices improve."

While the LG Marquee could be a good choice for the contract-averse, those wanting to avoid the up-front $280 may actually consider purchasing it on the Sprint network, where, with a two-year contract and online special, its $349 price tag has been reduced to $0.