I first wrote about Republic Wireless several months ago when my parents were looking to dump their AT&T family plan. To recap:
Republic Wireless is an awesome company that I first found when doing research for my post on the cheapest cell phone providers. The founders had the crazy idea that they could utilize a high speed internet connection to lower the usage of cellular data, and therefore lower the cost to end users. It worked.
They took the Android operating system and developed a custom firmware that integrates Wifi high speed internet and Sprint cellular towers. When you are in range of a Wifi broadband internet connection, Republic Wireless phones automatically make calls and send messages through the internet, which is very cheap to do. Once you are beyond Wifi range, the phone would automatically switch and use Sprint towers just like a traditional cell phone.
With new firmware configured, they launched a beta, then they brought the service to the masses. For unlimited talk, text, and data, the price was $19/month. Absurdly cheap.
This new service was configured for only one phone – the Motorola Defy XT (now extinct), and it had a few bugs that slowed growth. The transition from Wifi to cellular towers was buggy and sometimes resulted in dropped calls. MMS (multimedia messaging) also had problems and required an Android app to work in full capacity.
Republic Wireless Review 2.0
After those initial problems, Republic Wireless announced that the old service issues had been resolved and vastly improved. There are no more dropped calls in the Wifi to cellular transition and no more messaging problems. The service now works seamlessly.
They didn’t stop there. They then proceeded to announce an all new lineup of plans and a new phone offering – The Motorola (Moto) X.
They began offering the Moto X with no contract whatsoever for the ridiculous price of $299. The same phone was selling for about $600 off-contract at any of the other major cellular providers, although that price has recently dropped a bit.
I won’t do a full review of the Moto X, as that has been covered elsewhere, but I will share a few impressive specs:
- WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
- Android 4.4.2 firmware
- 4G LTE capability
- 4.7″ AMOLED™ 720p HD Touch Display
- X8 Mobile Computing System with
- 1.7 GHz Dual-Core Processor, Quad Core Graphic Unit, and 2GB RAM
- 16GB Internal Memory
- Integrated 2200mAh Lithium-ion battery, mixed usage up to 24 hours
- 1080p HD Video Capture & Playback
- 10 MP Camera w/ Auto-focus and LED Flash, 2 MP Front-Facing Camera
- Access to thousands of apps through Google Play
Cutting the Price in Half…Again
Just recently, Republic has once again upset the overpriced cell phone providers by offering a new phone to their lineup – the Moto G.
The Moto G comes in 2 varieties that vary only in storage capacity – 8GB ($149) and 16GB ($179). These are very nice phones that offer almost all of the same features as the Moto X, for half the price. Here is a comparison of the two:
If you don’t know what any of that means, I’ll sum up the important differences.
- The screen is actually slightly sharper on the Moto G, according to most reviewers.
- Performance is better on the Moto X, with a slightly faster processor and twice as much RAM. This difference will be almost nonexistent for 95% of users. Only high end games or extreme multitasking will allow the Moto X to shine.
- Camera is better on the Moto X.
- The Moto X has 4G LTE network access, but the Moto G can only do 3G.
- Battery life edge goes to the Moto G, primarily because 4G data eats juice.
- The Moto X has two extra features: active display and touchless control.Active display shows the date and time without unlucking the phone, immediately when you pick it up.
- Touchless Control lets you control your phone hands-free by speaking commands. Train your phone to recognize your voice, and it’s always ready for the launch command, so it’s ready to execute voice searches and unique device commands.
Your Choice of Plans
For these sweet new phones, Republic has 4 plans available.
- $5/month – This is unlimited usage on Wifi alone. No Sprint cellular usage
- $10/month – Unlimited talk and text on Sprint and Wifi. Data on Wifi only
- $25/month – Unlimited talk, text, and 3G data** on all networks
- $40/month – Unlimited talk, text, and 4G LTE data** on all networks
Republic will allow you to switch plans up to two times per month, and will prorate your bill accordingly. This change can be done at any time through the online dashboard on your Moto device.
For example, if you’re always surrounded by Wi-Fi, you could choose the $5 or $10 plan. If you have an event planned and know that you’ll need high-speed data, you could easily bump up to the $25 or $40 unlimited data plan, then back down again when you are ready. That’s a sweet feature.
Or consider international travel. Republic makes it easy to downgrade to the $5/month WiFi only plan, which can successfully be used while traveling abroad. This is an outstanding feature for frequent travelers!
**While Republic Wireless does guarantee unlimited data usage in appropriate plans, there is a minor disclaimer. The terms of service permit Republic to reduce the data speed for a billing period if you exceed 5GB of data while using cell during the billing period. They also give you a break and will forgive you for exceeding 5GB of data once every 6 months as a courtesy.
The entire Republic structure is built on the idea of minimizing cellular usage. Prices are low because they expect users to utilize high speed Wifi connections whenever possible. If you download movies 8 hours per day on the Sprint network, they are going to lose money on your account, which is why they limit the total data usage.
Our Experience on Republic Wireless
Three different members of our family are currently on Republic Wireless plans. All are using the Moto X on the $10/month plan. It’s amazingly cheap and a great option for those people who don’t need data outside of a wireless high speed internet connection.
I’ve also been able to play around on the 3G and 4G networks. All in all, things are not perfect. I don’t think the Sprint network is the greatest, and the 3G coverage can be spotty in various parts of the country. Wifi calling and texting seems to work quite well when in range, but we have still seen a few dropped calls when moving from Wifi to the cellular network. It doesn’t happen all the time, but does happen.
That said, there really isn’t anything else on the market that is a viable option at this price point, so we’ll have to overlook the flaws and appreciate the continued improvement.
Republic Wireless Review Summary
There is nothing else on the market that can compete with Republic Wireless on a price basis right now. The new $149 smart phone and unlimited plans starting at $10/month make up for the few technical difficulties that we have experienced.
The unlimited plans are a great value if you always need data, but the $10/month plan is the best deal available for users who can stick with Wifi for data needs.
I think Republic is changing the game and I think they are doing consumers a huge favor in providing this service. With the recent changes and new phones, they offer an outstanding service.
You can check the plans and details out further at the Republic Site.