I first reviewed Republic Wireless a year ago when my parents were looking to exit their AT&T family plan. I then wrote about the service again after they updated the firmware and released 2 new phones. To recap:
Republic Wireless is an innovative company that I first found while doing research 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 and Republic has grown very quickly.
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 will automatically switch and use Sprint towers just like a traditional cell phone. If you are outside of Sprint towers, Republic will even switch and use Verizon towers, all included at no additional cost.
With new firmware configured, they launched a beta, then they brought the service to the masses. For unlimited talk, text, and 3G 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 changed some things and announced that the old service issues had been resolved and vastly improved. They fixed the dropped calls observed in the Wifi to cellular transition and fixed the messaging problems. The service began working seamlessly, and has continued to improve.
They didn’t stop there. They then proceeded to announce an all new lineup of plans and two new phones – The Motorola (Moto) X and the Motorola G.
They began offering the Moto X with no contract whatsoever for the (at the time) 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 obviously dropped over time.
The Moto G was released in 2 varieties that varied only in storage capacity – 8GB ($149) and 16GB ($179). The Moto G offered most of the same features as the Moto X, for half the price.
A few months after the Moto G was released, Republic rolled out two more phones, the Moto E and the 2nd generation Moto X.
At that time (no longer the case), customers could choose between 4 excellent phones. In order of price:
- The 2nd generation Moto X at $399
- The 1st generation Moto X at $299
- The 1st generation Moto G at $149
- The Moto E at $99
Here is a description of those phones. (If you can’t see the image below, click to make it bigger).
Recent Republic Wireless Updates
Recently, Republic permanently cleared out the old stock of the first generation Moto X and Moto E. These two phones will continue to be supported by Republic, but will not be available for new customers.
As of right now, new customers can choose between the 2nd generation Moto X and the 1st generation Moto E. Both are good phones with good reviews.
Yes, Republic will likely continue rolling out new phones, but only Republic knows when. They don’t leak that information early, and I won’t speculate.
Your Choice of Plans
For these 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 the remainder of your current billing period if you exceed 5GB of cellular data 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 first time you exceed 5GB, they don’t reduce data speeds, just ask you politely to watch your usage.
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 1st generation Moto X on the $10/month plan. They are very pleased with the pricing and the $10/month plan is 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 Sprint 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. If you live in a rural area, even the Sprint voice network can be spotty, which is disappointing. However, if you don’t have access to Sprint towers in your area, Republic will transition to roaming on Verizon towers for talk and text at no additional charge. This is yet another free feature from Republic that is a really nice touch for customers.
Wifi calling and texting seems to work quite well when in range, and we have rarely witnessed a dropped call when moving from Wifi to the cellular network.
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 improvements that Republic continues to make.
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 phones 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. There is nothing else on the market even close to the unlimited $10/month plan right now.
I think Republic is disrupting the landscape of cellular providers and 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.