Republic Wireless Review 2017: Unique Service and Better Phones
Shopping for a new cell phone plan can be difficult because of all the options out there. Most consumers are fully aware of the offerings by the four major carriers, which are T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint, along with potentially a few smaller carriers. One of the more innovative options among those smaller carriers is Republic Wireless, a low-cost provider which focuses on Wi-Fi broadband internet instead of cellular data. This allows the carrier to offer plans to its customers at a lower rate.
The way the Republic Wireless team did this was by using the stock Android operating system to build their own custom firmware, which combines Wi-Fi calling and more traditional cell coverage. How it works is that the customer's phone automatically handles calling and messaging through a Wi-Fi internet connection whenever the phone is connected to one, drastically lowering the costs of those services. When the customer isn't connected to a Wi-Fi network, their phone will automatically switch over to traditional calling and texting using cell towers, just like any other smartphone.
Once Republic Wireless had its custom firmware setup, it tested how that would work by launching a beta program. At that time, the service was only available for one model of phone, the no-longer-available Motorola Defy XT. The beta service wasn't entirely successful, as going from Wi-Fi to cell towers could cause issues with multimedia messaging (MMS) and calls dropping.
Republic Wireless continued to improve on their technology and were able to significantly improve the transition from Wi-Fi to cell towers and vice versa, alleviating the problems with calls and messages. The hybrid Wi-Fi and cell tower service started working just as it was intended, and improvements continued in every update.
After that, Republic Wireless announced that it was adding several more phones to its lineup. The first two additions were the Moto X and Moto G, and just a few months after those phones were released, the Moto E and the second generation of the Moto X came out. Although Republic Wireless still supports all those phones, customers can't buy them anymore.
Recent Big Changes
There were big announcements recently from Republic Wireless as it made changes to multiple aspects of its service.
There was a network change. Previously, Republic Wireless operated on Sprint's network, and existing customers stayed on that network. New customers, on the other hand, would be on the T-Mobile network.
Republic Wireless updated its phone police for the switch to T-Mobile, offering a wide range of new, unlocked smartphones that worked on the provider's new network. Since those smartphones are unlocked, they work on other cell service plans if a customer decides to switch away from Republic Wireless.
Finally, there was the option for new customers to bring their own phones to Republic Wireless, provided they purchase a $5 Republic Wireless SIM card. The phone would need to be compatible with the carrier. Compatible phones are listed further below.
Phones to Use with Republic Wireless
When a customer signs up with Republic Wireless, they can either buy a new smartphone from Republic Wireless or bring a phone and install the Republic Wireless SIM card into it.
Republic Wireless has several smartphones currently available for purchase. There's the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge for $599, the Moto Z for $499, the Moto Z Play for $399, the Moto G5 for $229, the Moto E4 Plus for $199, the Moto E4 for $129 and the Huawei Ascend 5W for $149. The customer doesn't need to get a contract for any of these phones, and since all the phones are unlocked, the customer can take their phone with them to a new provider should they ever leave Republic Wireless.
Choosing the Right Republic Wireless Phone
Although all the phones available with Republic Wireless are high-quality Android smartphones, they have their differences, and it's important for customers to choose the phones that are right for their specific needs.
If the customer is on a strict budget, their best options are the Moto E4 and the Huawei Ascend 5W. Since both phones are available for under $150, they offer substantial value at their price points, without sacrificing any of the modern features people want. Both phones are similar in terms of size, weight, battery life, RAM and overall performance. They both get all the latest Android updates and come with 16 GB of storage, along with the potential to add more through MicroSD memory card slots.
Where the Moto E4 holds the advantage is in two areas – memory cards and its internal cellular antenna. The Moto E4 can handle 128 GB MicroSD memory cards, much more than the Huawei Ascend 5W, which can only handle MicroSD memory cards up to 32 GB. The Moto E4 also has an internal cellular antenna compatible with all the major cell phone carriers, which means it can work with any of them should the customer leave Republic Wireless.
However, the Huawei Ascend 5W has advantages of its own, including its 5.5-inch 1080p high definition (HD) screen, a 13-megapixel rear camera, a 5-megapixel front camera, a sleek design with full metal and a fingerprint scanner.
It's impossible to go wrong with either phone, as they both have a wealth of features and deliver an excellent user experience.
That being said, the best value when it comes to the phone lineup of Republic Wireless is the Moto G5 Plus for $229. It has a 12-megapixel rear camera that includes dual autofocus and 4K video recording, making it far superior to the Moto E4 in that regard. Its Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 8-core processors are much more powerful than what the Moto E4 has. The screen is 5.2 inches and full HD, and the Moto G5 Plus is also compatible with all the major carriers.
When it comes to premium devices, it's hard to beat the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. The price tag is certainly high, but the phone is packed with amazing features.
Bringing a Phone to Republic Wireless
Of course, there's also the option of picking up a Republic Wireless SIM card and installing it in an existing phone. After that, the customer can simply activate their new service.
There are quite a few devices compatible with Republic Wireless. There's the Alcatel A30, the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, and the Huawei Ascend 5W. Quite a few Moto devices are compatible, including the E4, the G4, the G4 PLAY, the G4 PLUS, the G5 Plus, the X Pure Edition, the Z and the Z Play. There's three Nexus devices – the 5X from LG, the 6 from Motorola and the 6P from Huawei. From Samsung, there's the Galaxy S6, the Galaxy J3, the Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge.
To make it easy to check if a device is compatible, anyone can simply download the Republic Wireless mobile app and find out. If they find that the device is compatible, they can then purchase the Republic Wireless SIM card. All they need to do when they get the SIM card is insert it into the device, load the Republic Wireless app and proceed through the quick activation process.
Plans and Coverage Through Republic Wireless
When Republic Wireless started out, it used Sprint's network and required that customers purchase phones straight from them. That all changed in 2016, which is why all the phones from Republic Wireless are now unlocked and run on the T-Mobile network. That can be good news in quite a few areas around the country, because there are places where T-Mobile's coverage is superior to Sprint's. It's still a good idea to look at the Republic Wireless coverage map before making the switch, though.
Republic Wireless currently offers six plans. There's the base plan, which costs $15 per month and includes unlimited minutes and text messages without any mobile data, meaning the customer must use Wi-Fi.
The only difference with the other five plans are the prices and the allotted amount of mobile data. The plans cost $20 per month, $30 per month, $45 per month, $60 per month and $90 per month. They offer 1 GB, 2 GB, 4 GB, 6 GB and 10 GB of mobile data, respectively. For the typical user who goes through about 0.5 GB of mobile data per month, the $20 per month plan is the best choice. Customers can upgrade their plan at any time.
Republic Wireless has two guarantees available. For its devices, there's a 14-day money back guarantee. The 14 days starts at the date of delivery, and if the customer is unhappy with anything, they can return the phone and get a full refund. The phone needs to have its original packaging and be undamaged.
There's also a service guarantee, which lasts 14 days from the date of phone activation. If the customer isn't satisfied with the service, they can get a full refund for their service charge.
The Republic Wireless Experience
When Republic Wireless first came out, the experience wasn't the best because of those issues with the original firmware. This could lead to dropped calls. The updates have made a huge difference there, making dropped calls a rarity. Call quality over Wi-Fi is great, and there really isn't a noticeable difference between Wi-Fi calling and calling using cell towers. Overall, Republic Wireless provides an experience that stacks up to the major carriers, but at much lower prices.
The Republic Wireless Review Summary
At its price point, Republic Wireless is a fantastic option for consumers. All its plans are very affordable, with the $20 per month plan being a particularly good value for most people.
Republic Wireless is helping to change the world of cell phone service, which is beneficial for consumers. Even though the carrier was a bit limited when it first started, it now offers a solid lineup of phones and plans, along with the option to bring phones over.
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