I wanted to review Republic Wireless because quite frankly cell phone bills are getting more expensive every day. For many of us it’s one of our biggest expenses and my family’s plan with Verizon is not getting any cheaper, no matter how much we trim down our family plan.
If you aren’t familiar with Republic Wireless, they had the radical idea to offer cell phone service that uses high speed internet some or all of the time, which makes their cell phone service much cheaper, sometimes as low as just $5 a month. Honestly it sounds like a hard deal to beat but it also sounds too good to be true, so I thought a review of Republic Wireless’ phones and service was in order.
Unlike some reviews where people just talk about the plans and phones, I wanted to provide a real user review so even though I already have a phone through Verizon, I signed up for a Republic Wireless plan (the $25 unlimited talk/text/data plan… more on that below), bought a Moto G and tested it all around my area. Before I get to my full review, let me give you a little background on Republic Wireless for those of you who aren’t familiar with their service.
Who is Republic Wireless and why are they so cheap?
The main reason that Republic Wireless is so cheap is that their phones take advantage of something that almost all of us have around us every day – wireless internet access. Instead of using cell phone towers full time like Verizon or AT&T do, Republic’s phones let you place calls using a WiFi connection when it’s available and switches over to the Sprint network when you’re not in WiFi range. Since they’re not spending money building towers, or even paying tower fees (when you’re talking via WiFi) they’re saving money and they pass it along to you.
What’s even better is that having the option to place WiFi calls is really nice if you’re in an a building that has spotty cell phone coverage like a basement or a brick/steel building. In fact it’s such a nice option that T-Mobile has started providing WiFi calls on their phones as well.
Republic Wireless Phone Plans
Unlike some companies (looking at you Verizon and AT&T) Republic Wireless’ phone plans are really simple and easy to understand. Unlimited talk/text/data plans range from $10 to $40, depending on the features you need, plus they range from $5 a month if you only want to use the phone over WiFi which might be useful if you were looking to replace your phone.
The basic $10 phone plan gets you unlimited talk and text via cell tower or WiFi, but data usage is limited only to WiFi. If you’re not planning on checking your email or surfing the web on the go – or you don’t mind stopping in to a coffee shop to do so – this is the option for you.
If you’re a heavy data user like I am then you’ll probably be better served upgrading to one of the other two data plans. With these plans you get unlimited 3G data for $25 a month or unlimited 4G data for $40 a month. If you’re not familiar with 3G and 4G, the basic difference is that 4G is just faster so it’s up to you whether or not the speed upgrade is worth $15 a month.
It should also be noted that although the 3G/4G data plans are unlimited they are slowed down once you get past 5GB of data usage. This is not all that uncommon among carriers, and Republic does give you one “free pass” the first time you exceed, but heavy data users should definitely take note here.
If you’re not sure which one is right for you Republic allows you to switch your plan twice a month, so I would recommend starting off with the cheapest possible plan you think you need and try it out.
Republic Wireless PhonesRepublic Wireless offers four phones currently, the Moto X 1st ($299) and 2nd generation ($399), the Moto G ($149) and the Moto E ($99). All of them are good quality phones for the price, and the Moto X was actually rated as one of the best phones to buy from sites like Engadget and TechRadar. Since I already have a cell phone and I was just using this for a test, I went with the Moto G since it was the cheapest phone at the time (I bought before the Moto E was released) and the Moto G scored pretty good ratings in its own right.
If you’re switching to Republic Wireless because you’re just looking for a basic phone that allows you to do most smartphone functions the Moto E or Moto G should be serve you just fine, but if you’re a former Verizon user who had a high end premium phone like an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy then you’ll probably be more interested in the Moto X models which would be more in line with what you had previously, especially if you had an Android phone. Rather than rattling off the phone specs and putting you to sleep I included a screenshot of all of the available phones and their specs below so you can decide which phone is best for you.
Republic Wireless Review Summary
To be honest I was very skeptical about Republic Wireless when I first heard about them. I assumed that the calls made over WiFi would sound like they were made using a tin can or that the service would drop when I switched from WiFi to cellular, but to be honest the service has been every bit as good as my current Verizon service so far. The calls aren’t quite as crisp as they are on my current iPhone/Verizon combo, but I’m guessing that has to do more with the phone than the service itself.
Overall the Moto G has been a nice little phone and does a good job with pretty much everything I’ve tried to do on it – talking, texting and web surfing, but I do kind of wish I spent the extra for the Moto X instead since all the tech blogs I read keep raving about what an amazing phone it is. Even on a trial I’m getting phone envy!
The biggest downside that I have found so far is that the Sprint network can be spotty in some areas. I live near a medium sized city so it’s not as big a deal to me but if you live in a more rural area (like my parents do) your coverage may vary. Having the WiFi option is nice if by chance you happen to have one nearby, but I would highly recommend checking your Sprint coverage in your area (or better yet, finding a friend who has Sprint) before signing up.
How Much Money Can You Save Switching To Republic Wireless?
How much you can save depends of course on how much you pay now, but my wife and I pay around $130 for our phones through Verizon on a family plan we share with my in-laws (both under contract for now). I’m more of a data power user than my wife, so she would probably be fine with the 3G coverage plan and I would probably want the higher priced 4G plan. If we switched we’d be cutting our bill to $65 a month , so we’d essentially cut our bills in half before the taxes and fees are applied. That would be a savings of $780 per year!!
Why Switch To Republic Wireless?
For the TL;DR crowd, here are my top reasons to switch to Republic Wireless
- Cell phone plans starting at $10 a month
- Great phones like Moto X for $399 or less
- No Contracts!
- WiFi based calls work great in buildings with poor cell coverage
- Save Hundreds Of Dollars A Year vs. Your Plan
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are Republic Wireless phones available in stores?
No, phones can only be purchased at RepublicWireless.com at this time but I’m hoping they’ll be available in stores like Walmart or Target sometime in the future.
Q: Does Republic Wireless offer promo codes or coupons?
No, Republic does not offer promotional codes or coupons at this time. Their phones are still cheaper than almost all no-contract services though so you’re still likely saving money.
Q: Does Republic Wireless Work In Europe, Canada or Mexico?
I haven’t been out of the country to test this during my trial from what I’ve read from other customers the WiFi based calling will work in most areas that give you connection to a high speed network. If anyone has tested this please let me know how it has worked for you in the comments!
Q: Can I Use Republic Wireless Phones on Verizon, AT&T or Sprint?
I don’t believe Republic allows you to unlock your phone and use it elsewhere. Whether it’s technically possible I’m not sure, but why would you want to go pay more on another network anyway?
Q: Can I Use My Existing Phone On Republic Wireless?
No, since Republic has special software that allows WiFi calling that most other phones do not have it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to use your existing phone on the service.
Q: Does Republic Wireless do credit checks?
No, Republic Wireless does not do credit checks since there is no contract and very little risk on their end. This is a great feature for anyone with bad credit and/or someone who doesn’t want another credit check on their report.
Q: Does Republic Wireless offer the iPhone?
At this time Republic does not offer the iPhone and just has the four Motorola made, Android based phones available.
Have you tried Republic Wireless? What has your experience been with their service so far? Let us know in the comments!