March, 2017 updates: Republic is offering discounts on the Moto G (4th Edition). All varieties are $20 off for a limited time, bringing the Moto G4 Play to $129.
Original Republic Wireless Review:
I first reviewed Republic Wireless two years ago when my parents were looking for a new carrier. 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 high quality, low cost cell phone providers. The founders had a vision to utilize high speed internet to lower the usage of cellular data, and therefore lower the cost to end users.
They took the Android operating system and developed a custom firmware that integrates WiFi broadband internet with cellular coverage. When you connect to a Wifi 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 cellular towers just like a traditional cell phone.
With new firmware configured, Republic launched a beta and brought the service to the masses. 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.
To fix the initial problems observed in the beta release, Republic Wireless made a number of firmware changes and vastly improved their network transition. They fixed the problem with dropped calls and fixed the messaging problems. The service began working seamlessly, and has continued to improve with each new update.
They also announced an all new lineup of plans and phones. They began offering the Moto X and Moto G. A few months after release, Republic rolled out two more phones, the Moto E and the 2nd generation Moto X. These phones will continue to be supported by Republic, but will not be available for purchase by new customers.
Big Changes in 2016
On July 28th, 2016, Republic once again raised the bar. They announced several major changes that were effective immediately:
- All new Republic Wireless users will utilize the T-Mobile network (Existing plans will remain on the Sprint network for now).
- You can now bring your own phone (must be on the list below and T-Mobile compatible) to Republic. All that is required is a Republic SIM card (available online for $5).
- Or, you can buy a new phone directly from Republic. All new phones sold by Republic are unlocked.
Republic Wireless Phones
As of right now, new customers can choose between the following phones:
- Moto Z – $699
- Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – $599 (on sale right now)
- Samsung Galaxy S7 – $649
- Samsung Galaxy S6 – $499
- Nexus 6P by Huawei – $499
- Moto Z Play – $449
- Nexus 5X by LG – $299
- Moto X Pure Edition – $299
- Moto G4 Plus – $299
- Moto G4 – $199
- Huawei Ascend 5W – $179
- Samsung Galaxy J3 – $179
- Moto G Play (4th Edition) – $149
You have two options with these new phones:
- Purchase one of these unlocked phones directly from Republic
- Or, buy a T-Mobile compatible version elsewhere and activate your phone using a Republic wireless SIM card ($5).
These phones require no contracts whatsoever. If you decide to leave Republic, you can take the phone and use it on another carrier.
How do the Republic Wireless phones compare?
All of the new phones being offered are solid Android smartphones. You really can’t go wrong here, but I’ll share a few of my thoughts on selecting a phone.
Best Budget Phone: Moto G4 ($179) or Huawei Ascend 5W ($179)
Both of these phones are a great value, and both offer similar modern features that users love:
- Latest Android 6.0.1 update
- Similar battery life and capacity
- Almost identical size and weight
- 5.5″ 1080p High Definition (HD) screen
- Similar processors, RAM, and performance
- 13 megapixel rear camera + 5MP front camera
- Both have 16GB storage + MicroSD memory card slot
The Moto G4 has two major advantages:
- The G4 has internal antennas for all major U.S. carriers. If you ever needed to leave Republic, your Moto G4 would work with any other U.S. carrier.
- The G4 supports up to 128GB microSD memory cards, while the Huawei Ascend only officially supports up to 32GB memory cards.
The Huawei Ascend 5W also has a couple of advantages:
- Full metal body looks and feels like a premium phone
- Fingerprint scanner for locking and unlocking the phone provides additional security
For the vast majority of smartphone users, both phones are more than capable and will provide a solid user experience.
Best Overall Phone – Nexus 6P ($499)
The Nexus 6p is a fantastic high-end Android phone. It has received praise for the following features:
- Beautiful 5.7″ Quad HD AMOLED screen
- Snapdragon 810 (8-core) processors
- Fast charging 3,450 mAh battery
- Dual Focus HD rear camera
It is an outstanding unlocked phone for power users.
Other Solid Choices
Another great mid-range alternative to the phones mentioned above is the Moto X Pure Edition for $299.
The Samsung S6 and S7 are also excellent flagship phones, with excellent user reviews. If you are a Samsung fan, you can’t go wrong with either. The only concern for some is the steep price tag.
The only phone I would avoid is the Samsung Galaxy J3. It’s the same price as the other budget phones, but has far fewer features.
Republic Wireless Plans and Coverage
Republic also completely overhauled their network and plans. The older Republic phones ran on the Sprint network, and had to be purchased directly from Republic. All of the new phones are unlocked, and run on the T-Mobile network. In many areas in the country, T-Mobile has better coverage than Sprint, resulting in fewer headaches and dropped calls.
As of right now, customers can select from the following plans:
- $15/month: Unlimited talk and text on T-Mobile and WiFi. Data on WiFi only
- $20/month: Unlimited talk and text on T-Mobile and WiFi. 1GB data on T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network
- $30/month: Unlimited talk and text on T-Mobile and WiFi. 2GB data on T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network
- $45/month: Unlimited talk and text on T-Mobile and WiFi. 4GB data on T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network
- $60/month: Unlimited talk and text on T-Mobile and WiFi. 6GB data on T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network
- $90/month: Unlimited talk and text on T-Mobile and WiFi. 10GB data on T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network
The $15/month plan is the base plan, offering unlimited talk and text (but no cellular data).
The $20/month plan is probably the best value for most users. For an additional $5 per month, you get 1GB of high speed cellular data each month. When Republic tested these plans with a large sample of customers, they found that the average user needs about 0.5GB of cellular data each month (because WiFi is so widely available to use for free).
Republic will allow you to upgrade your plan (add additional data) at any time during the month.
The Republic Wireless Guarantee
Republic Wireless offers a money back guarantee on all products purchased through Republic Wireless.
There are two different types of guarantees:
Phone Guarantee – Generally, Republic offers a 14 day guarantee for all devices. Following the date of delivery, you have 2 weeks to use your device on Republic. If you are unhappy for any reason, you can return the device for a full refund (device must be undamaged, in its original packaging).
Service Guarantee – After activating your new phone, Republic provides a 14 day guarantee for monthly service. If you don’t like the service, you can request a full refund of the initial service charge.
If, for any reason, you decide Republic isn’t for you, you can contact Republic for a full refund on your device and service within the 14 day window.
Our Experience on Republic Wireless
Three different members of our family are long-time Republic Wireless users. Each has a different phone and different plan. Overall, the experience has been very good. Our family has rarely witnessed a dropped call when moving from WiFi to the cellular network.
I also have past experience with the Moto X and the Moto E. I have been really impressed by the quality of the phones and service. The quality of calls over WiFi has been very good, with no noticeable decline in call quality when compared to cellular calls. I haven’t noticed many bugs or glitches in the latest firmware either.
All things considered, it’s a good experience. Other cellular companies are still trying to charge 2-3x the price of Republic’s unlimited talk and text plan, so we’ll have to overlook the minor flaws and appreciate the improvements that Republic continues to make.
Republic Wireless Review Summary
There are very few carriers that can compete with Republic Wireless right now. All of the Republic plans are reasonably priced, and the $20/month plan is a superb solution for most users.
I think Republic is disrupting the landscape of cellular providers and doing consumers a huge favor in providing this service. The new phones and plans are huge step forward, improving upon an already top-notch service.
You can check the plans and details out further at the Republic Wireless Site. Thank you for reading my Republic Wireless review.