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.
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 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.
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 has recently dropped.
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.
These were excellent phones that helped expand the Republic customer base. And just recently, they have released two additional phones that I want to review today.
Republic Wireless Review 3.0
By now, I can safely say that most Republic bugs have been ironed out and the service is very good.
Customers can now choose between 4 excellent phones that are available. 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
(If you can’t see the image below, click to make it bigger).
If you don’t know what any of the technical jargon means, I’ll sum up the important differences and share my thoughts.
The nicest phone?
Hands down the 2nd generation Moto X. It’s faster than it’s predecessor with a faster processor and RAM. It has a much better camera, a much better screen (1080p vs 720p), and a better battery than all the other Republic phones.
It’s just a better phone than the original Moto X (2nd opinion here), and if you are thinking about spending $300 or more on a phone, spend the extra $100 for the 2nd generation Moto X.
The best value?
The Moto E wins it for me. It’s a very good budget level smartphone, with expandable memory (none of the other phones have expandable memory with Republic).
The Moto E has a snappy dual core processor, a sharp 4.3 inch screen, a decent camera, and the latest Android version pre-installed.
In all honesty, I find few reasons to recommend the Moto G above the Moto E. The G has a slightly faster processor, but a similar camera, screen, and battery life. From what I’ve observed, the G simply is not worth the extra money for basic, every day users (Again, just my opinion).
Keep in mind that budget level smartphone does not mean piece of junk. All of these phones are modern pieces of technology that can multitask and perform all the basic smartphone functions without a hiccup.
The biggest difference in component quality will be observed during very demanding applications or games. If you don’t play high-end mobile games, and you don’t run specialized software, you will hard pressed to notice any differences during everyday use. Or at least that’s been my experience.
The bottom line?
If you aren’t worried about the upfront cost, get the newest Moto X. It’s a great phone.
If you are worried about the upfront cost, look at the Moto E. It’s a very nice phone for under $100.
If you think I’m a fool, pick any of the four and be happy.
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 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 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.
That said, 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.
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.