Republic Wireless Review

Republic WirelessLast August I told you that I signed up to get a smartphone through Republic Wireless, a new company with a different business model for providing cell services.  I received my new phone in December and I thought it was high time to write a review!

 

Go back to our previous post for more detail, but briefly: Republic Wireless utilizes available wireless internet to cut cell expenses for its customers.  Customers are required to register at least one wireless network (I registered the networks at my university and in our home).  Calls and data go over wireless whenever possible and through the Sprint cell network otherwise.  The base cost is $19/month for unlimited talk/text/data – with taxes, we are paying $22.18/month.

 

Thus far I have experienced all the perks and only some of the expected downsides of using this service.  The chief perk, of course, is the low cost – and that I upgraded from a dumbphone to a smartphone.  Also there is no contract for this phone; Kyle hates getting into utility contracts so this was a big plus for him.

 

The trade-offs for that low price have been:

 

1)  No choice over the hardware.  Republic Wireless only works with one phone model (an android), and it’s not the flashiest thing on the planet.  Kyle estimates that the phone I got at the end of 2012 had about the same specs as the one he purchased that was top-of-the-line in spring 2010.  But I don’t really care about whatever I might be missing out on – the phone makes calls and accesses the internet fine and that’s basically all I use it for.  I paid about $250 up front for the phone.

 

2)  Sprint.  In our area, Sprint coverage is actually better than AT&T (my previous carrier), which I’ve enjoyed.  It’s not as good as Verizon, though, and I’ve noticed a few times while driving that Kyle’s Verizon phone is able to pull up directions faster than my Sprint phone.  Overall this hasn’t been an issue any more than what I’ve experienced with other carriers in the past.  I’ve used the phone with no discernable coverage issues in Durham, the DC area, and the LA area.

 

The potential downsides we thought might exist but that haven’t materialized are the dropped calls when transitioning from wireless to cell coverage, poor customer service, and texting over data.  We have had no problems with the phone and haven’t had any reason to contact customer service – which IMO is the best way to do it!

 

The verdict is that this was definitely a frugal choice, not a cheap choice, and one I would make again.  It’s a great option for people who:

  • spend a good chunk of their days with wireless internet coverage
  • don’t need the latest and greatest phone
  • have decent Sprint coverage in their areas

 

And did I mention we are paying $22.18/month for unlimited everything?!  It’s a GREAT value!

 

Have you taken a gamble on a new company and did it work out?  Are you using an “alternative” cell service?  Would you consider using Republic Wireless when your current contract is up?

 

Update 1: If you sign up for Republic wireless through my referral link, we both get a $20 account credit!  How awesome is that? (I wrote this review before this program was introduced, so the review remains unbiased.)  Update 2: Republic Wireless is now offering the Moto X!


 

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57 Responses to "Republic Wireless Review"

  1. Glad that it’s working out for you. I’m very intrigued by these kinds of plans, but we don’t have a wireless network at work, which is where I use my phone’s data plan the most. I’d also worry about combining it with the relatively slow DSL we pay for at the house. Would it support someone talking on the phone and another person streaming something online at the same time?
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..Rebranding – Now Spending Our Pennies

    1. CashRebel says:

      I’ve got the same issue. We don’t have a public wireless at work, but do you need to have it to sign up for this plan? Either way, it sounds like you are really cleaning up with this plan. Have you ever heard of FreedomPop? I don’t know how it would apply to me yet, but I feel like it could be a wireless game changer at some point.
      CashRebel recently posted..Financial Update – Q1 2013 (Net Worth +22%)

      1. Emily says:

        If you have wireless at home I think that is enough. When Republic Wireless first announced the service there were soft limits on the data you could use over the cell network but they got rid of them so I think not having wireless at work isn’t an issue.

    2. Emily says:

      As long as you register one wireless network I don’t think it matters where you use more of the data. At our house I can definitely talk on the phone while we’re using lots of internet bandwidth, but our DSL is okay to begin with.

  2. Mark says:

    Thanks for the review. My goal is to drop our family’s phone expense by $100 per month, and a service like Republic would do the trick. My only hesitation is the addiction to the iPhone. Now that I know it’s working out for you, I might have to think harder about taking the leap.
    Mark recently posted..Budgeting Lessons Learned from My Six-year-old Paper Blinds

    1. Emily says:

      I know people love their iPhones and I do like Apple products in general, but I think Android systems have their advantages as well (and maybe Windows too). Kyle was very reluctant to give up Swype when he switched to the iPhone!

  3. thanks for this review. I’ve had the same andrioid phone for 3.33 years, and it’s about time for a new one. I heard about republic wireless and have been really wondering how it worked, and thought about giving it a try – believe it or not, that phone would be an upgrade from what I currently have (hacked, b/c verizon stopped offering me updates).

    From what I’ve read, republic is going to get some newer phones sometime this summer or fall, and my wife and I are going to try and hang on until then, and then give republic a shot.
    sustainable living blog recently posted..Tax Season Challenge Update

    1. Emily says:

      I guess it would be an upgrade for you! I think it’s smart to wait for the latest release and then buy no matter what type of phone you’re going for because it seems like they turn over so fast! But perhaps you should sign up for your beta wave if you haven’t yet (if they are still doing that) because it took several months for my number to come up. You can always delay buying the phone for a bit after you get to the front of the line, I think.

  4. Under $25/month for unlimited service? I’m almost sold! Did you buy your smartphone yourself?
    Well Heeled Blog recently posted..Fitness in your financial budget

    1. Emily says:

      Yes, I had to pay for it up front – about $250.

  5. Thanks for the review Emily. I have heard about this service but wasn’t sure if it had been rolled out yet. I am also surprised that Sprint works so well for you. I am in south Raleigh and Sprint is not great. I might have to try this one out though. I assume that you could easily transfer your number?
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..Have a Small Business? Here Are a Few Tips to Save Money

    1. Emily says:

      Yeah, Sprint seems to work fine for me – I’m not accustomed to perfect coverage, though. I was able to transfer my previous number.

  6. Leigh says:

    I looked at Republic, but I ended up going with Ting because I didn’t want to have to pay for a new phone. This was definitely a frugal, but not cheap choice as well since I’m still paying ~$35/month. It’s much better than the ~$85/month I was paying before! So far, it’s working out and I’m glad I made the switch. I’m too cheap to pay the $3/month for 100 MB of data and I hardly notice that I don’t have data. Some months though I’ll probably use it and I really like that I have that option!
    Leigh recently posted..Opening a Chase checking account for the bonus

    1. Emily says:

      Ting sounds like a good option, too! I wanted to buy a phone anyway so Republic was fine for me. It’s so great that we have all these alternate services popping up because the big carriers really try to gouge everyone!

  7. Thanks for the review. It’s nice to hear a “feet on the ground” review about something that very well could be the next wave…
    William @ Bite the Bullet recently posted..The Hi-Lo Paradox, Part 2: Selling Low

    1. Emily says:

      I agree. There are always lots of hardware reviews when new phones/services come out but rarely normal individuals reporting on their experiences. I do think it’s a superior model in terms of delivering good service at a fraction of the cost.

  8. Zlot says:

    I’m with the one commenter who said they would wait ’til RW came out with some additional phone choices. That, and the commenter who is addicted to his iPhone. I love my iPhone, too, but the slow service I’m getting from the T-Mobile Sim with my Net10 non-plan is pushing me to make the change. I’m compelled to be using WIFI ANYway, so I may as well go RW. Just hope they come up with some fancy phone choices!

    1. Emily says:

      I don’t know what their plans are for the future since I do intend to stick with my phone for 2+ years, but having a choice is usually nice (unless it’s paralyzing like it is for my husband!). It still seems strange to me that there are hardware differences among all the carriers.

      1. Zlot says:

        Yeah, hardware differences among the carriers is a result of the political relationship between the suppliers and the carriers. Almost makes me want to be a socialist!
        ;-)

  9. I pay way more than I’d like for my cell phone plan, but I have to have e-mail on my phone and I have to use Verizon to get a discount through my work. Otherwise a plan like this would be perfect for me.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..Pre-owned Engagement Rings-Frugal or Tacky?

    1. Emily says:

      Is your discounted Verizon plan less than $22/mo??? Ours is still nearly $70/mo even with the discount we get through work. You would still have constant email access with Republic Wireless.

  10. Pat says:

    The phone is not great, Motorola Defy XT. Short battery life (have to charge it once during the day, and at night), very limited memory, small screen. 3G. Hard to watch video on. Every time I get frustrated with the phone I remind myself, unlimited everything for $25.10 a month. That is what my bill winds up @ in Washington state. Cant beat it. And my customer service experiences have been good. Two so far. Fast response on email. I would (and have)recommend this service. Pull up a Sprint coverage map of your area before you drop for the phone! It is very good where I live.

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Pat! I don’t use the phone a whole lot but I have noticed it die on me in the late evening sometimes. I don’t mind watching videos on it but I don’t do it a lot. Were you accustomed to a nicer phone before you got this one? I’m glad to hear you like the service overall though! How long have you had it?

  11. [...] now repaying monthly).  We are fed up with both ATT and Verizon lying to/misleading us.  So far Republic Wireless is working out fine, but we haven’t had any interactions with their customer service.  I’m not sure what we’ll [...]

  12. Matt says:

    I had written a longer comment but it didn’t post correctly, so, I’ll try to make this one short and sweet. I joined RW when they first opened in Nov. 2011. I was impressed at first but after 6 months of hearing tons of excuses why they couldn’t get things working properly, I started to lose my enthusiasm for them. If you are new to RW, the excuses they dole out as to why they can’t get the service working beyond beta will probably be tolerable for you at first. Unfortunately, after 18 months, they haven’t made much headway in getting things any better than what they were back in Nov. 2011. My suggestion…pass on RW! I know $19 is a super deal, but the frustration of dealing with them is not worth it. Take a look at Ting, Straight Talk, Platinumtel or T-Mobile $30 should you be looking for ways to cut your phone bill. If you need to contact someone who actually works at RW to get help, check out the review of them over at Yelp.com. There are phone numbers there for you to actually reach somebody at RW and not have to deal with their same old rhetoric to email them or post on their crowd-sourced, fan forums for help from non-RW employees. Best of luck to anyone trying RW’s service. It definitely isn’t ready for prime-time to serve as someone’s primary phone service.

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for adding your comment! I’m glad to hear from someone who’s been with RW longer than I have. What problems have you experienced that have persisted? Thanks for the tip on the phone numbers to use when we need customer service.

  13. kathy says:

    I started with RW in November 2012. I have had many headaches with them including dropped calls Problems hooking up with the Internet Problems hooking up with friends Delayed hookups or calls Poor reception, the phone itself flipping screens, losing data, it just plain didn’t work. to my friends I’m known as the person with the cheap phone. it has improved in the last 6 months. but I still have problems. disclaimer: my first smartphone, I had a lot of trouble adjusting, I have adjusted to the smartphone but still have problems. I plan to hang in there with it because it is improving and its very reasonable.

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience – I guess it’s too bad that you have had problems but it seems you have hope. Did you sign up in 2011 or 2012 and what improvements have you seen?

  14. [...] presents Republic Wireless Review posted at Evolving Personal [...]

  15. [...] Republic Wireless Review was featured in the Financial Simplicity Carnival. [...]

  16. [...] @ Evolving Personal Finance writes Republic Wireless Review – I have been with Republic Wireless, an alternative cell service, for several months now, [...]

  17. [...] am way more ridiculously excited about this than I should be – two people have signed up with Republic Wireless using my referral link!  If they stay customers for 30 days I get a $19 credit to my account.  I [...]

  18. [...] people have used my referral link for Republic Wireless, which means if all goes well I’ll get a $38 credit to my account!  You can tell what an [...]

  19. AngryKitty says:

    We recently tried Republic Wireless (Owned by Bandwidth) for a month. It had very slow data speed, horrible call reception and dropped calls. Everyone kept complaining they couldn’t understand me. Plus the Defy XT (the only phone they have available) felt very underpowered, like I had taken a step down from my last 2 year old phone. We were still within the cancellation period, so we canceled to get a full refund for the over $500 cost of 2 phones. Or so we thought. Their customer service is non-existent. It is email only, and they don’t actually help with anything. They drug their feet the whole way, reimbursing $20, $20 there. Their customer service kept saying they couldn’t help until we had waited 10 business days for the payment to clear (it didn’t), and then said they would just mail me a check (they sent $20 instead of the remaining $450 they owed). By then it had been 116 days since my original purchase and I was still nowhere close to getting the rest of the refund back. I had to have my credit card dispute the transaction to get my money back. I think they were purposefully dragging their feet, hoping I would forget. If I had waited 2 more days, not even the credit card company could have helped me.

    In short, sure it is unlimited, but it is unlimited crap: horrible call and data service, underpowered phone choice, nonexistent customer service, and they will try to steal your money!

    If you are looking for cheap smartphone service, try Ting instead. We are on them now, and our plan is about the same price as Republic Wireless with much better everything (except data speed. After all, they are both Sprint rebundlers). Sure, they are not unlimited, but we found out that we don’t actually use that much phone data and minutes since we use wifi so much anyways. Plus with Ting, you don’t have to buy a new $300+ phone; you can bring in an existing one or get a used one on ebay for much cheaper.

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for leaving your review! That really sucks that they have been slow/incomplete about reimbursing you. That’s one thing that I like about using credit cards, that they will go to bat for you. We’ve had the similar issues with ATT and Verizon. Thankfully I haven’t had the problems you cited with the service. I’m a bit surprised, actually, since Ting is working for you so Sprint is likely not the problem – maybe the wireless networks you were on were slow?

  20. [...] received my new phone and reviewed the service. If you want to sign up for a $19 account credit you can do so through my referral [...]

  21. [...] My New Frugal/Cheap Cell Phone Plan and Republic Wireless Review [...]

  22. gil says:

    Hi Emily, can you pls send me your email address & full name for you & me to get the $19 credit from republic wireless. I already signed up but they are asking me the above info & your link via email to be able to receive the credits. They will do the adjustments manually. Thanks.
    gil recently posted..Rethinking Our Student Loan Repayment

    1. Emily says:

      Hi gil,
      I hope you understand that this sounds like a phishing attempt. Several people have signed up for RW with my link and received the credits and no one has needed my name or email address.
      If on the off chance you are a real person, you can reach me at the email address on our contact page.
      Emily

  23. [...] Miller from 20 Something Finance explains how mobile virtual network operators like Republic Wireless work and lists the best ones with what types of plans they [...]

  24. […] family of 6 good, wholesome food for $300 per month, how to clothe your kids for less, how to get a cell phone plan for $20 per month, and how to start investing for your future with simple, effective steps. The wealth of knowledge […]

  25. […] to design our header/logo but I think we’ll wait until we finally take a payout.  New Republic Wireless signups have finally slowed down – maybe they will pick up again when RW finally releases a new […]

  26. […] Becker from Mom and Dad Money used Republic Wireless Review as an example of “doing more for […]

  27. […] Virgin Mobile recently decided to take a page out of the playbook of other carriers like Ting and Republic Wireless. Put simply, they are bribing me to find customers for them by offering me $25 off my bill for each […]

  28. […] I signed up for their beta wave right away.  I think we were the first personal finance blog to review Republic Wireless (at least, I don’t know of any earlier) – we actually put up the review the day before they […]

  29. […] has had a positive experience with her phone without many complaints (see her review). Now, her foray into the unknown is about to be rewarded with Republic Wireless’s announcement […]

  30. […] with a couple of my FPU students a couple weeks ago.  I was telling them about how much I like Republic Wireless and they asked if I am planning to upgrade my phone when they release the new one.  I said that […]

  31. Frank says:

    I just started up with the Republic Wireless Moto X, and have to say it’s the best move I’ve made in a long time. I went from AT&T(WAY too expensive) to T-Mobile(cheaper, but absolutely minimal coverage) to RW. I was at the point where I would accept substandard service for the low cost, but was amazed. Sprint was MUCH MUCH better than T-Mobile, totally comparable – even exceeding AT&T in town(still don’t know about the boonies).
    Aside from the extremely low cost but very much related to it, is the fact that RW is the only provider I know of to offer cell service with data being available only on WIFI – after all, how much do you really need data out in the field? This costs me a whole $10 + tax. Nobody else can touch that. I don’t know how GPS will work under those conditions, but they allow you to change plans midstream twice a month, so, in a pinch, you can go back to cell-data, but I suspect(me own opinion)that GPS will still work, but if you’re using something that downloads maps as you go, you’ll be out of luck getting data from WIFI only.
    I was also ambivalent about switching from IO/S to Android, but, once again, I was more than pleasantly surprised. The transition was seamless, but I did have some Android experience on a rooted Color Nook. The only shortcoming is that Android apps are somewhat behind IO/S in quality – but that’s something easily lived with.
    So, all in all, while I was expecting something just tolerable, as far as I’m concerned I’m as pleased as if I had unlimited service with AT&T for a SMALL fraction of the cost. Thanks, Republic Wireless!

    1. Emily says:

      I’m so glad to hear that you’re happy with RW and the Moto X! I think I’ll be upgrading my hardware in the next month or two. It sounds like you were really in a perfect position to take advantage of RW with the good Sprint coverage and everything. I do like using data when I’m ‘out’ (it’s actually when I’m ‘in’ that I’m unlikely use it as I have my laptop nearby) for maps, email, and blog stuff. Let me know how switching plans goes if you ever find reason to. Kyle wants to experiment with the $5 plan.

      1. Frank says:

        Just a quick note. As suspected, Google Maps downloads maps as you go, so is useless out in the field under a WIFI data only plan. The GPS actually works without a data connection – it either uses the cell network, or is a fer-real GPS. If you have something like TomTom or Sygic, the maps are onboard, so you can use them without having the usual internet access.

        1. Emily says:

          Thanks for the clarification!

  32. Frank says:

    I have more computers than any normal human being should have, but I find myself all snuggled up on the sofa much more often that I should! The phone is just an arm’s length away and I can do most of what I like to do on it as easily as the computer. the typing issue being bypassed by decent voice recognition. My expectations for Sprint were quite humble when signing up, but the resulting coverage blows T-Mobile totally out of the water. I still need to pull together GPS, then I’ll let you know….

  33. […] finally signed up for Republic Wireless and is having a great experience!  ”I just started up with the Republic Wireless Moto X, and […]

  34. […] and “republic wireless reviews 2013” – Woo hoo!  I love that people are interested in Republic Wireless, particularly now that they have a hot new smartphone […]

  35. […] Now I’m paying $26.30/month for a brand-new smartphone with unlimited talk/text/data with Republic Wireless. […]

  36. […] family of 6 good, wholesome food for $300 per month, how to clothe your kids for less, how to get a cell phone plan for $20 per month, and how to start investing for your future with simple, effective steps. The wealth of knowledge […]

  37. […] also read my past posts on Republic Wireless – when I first signed up for the beta wave, a review of the service several months into using it, and when Republic Wireless announced the release of the Moto […]

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