Republic Wireless Review 2017

September 9, 2017

I first reviewed Republic Wireless two years ago when my parents were looking for a new cellular plan. I reviewed the service again after they updated the firmware and released two new phones. To recap:

Republic Wireless is an innovative company that I stumbled upon while researching low-cost cellular providers. The founders developed a plan to prioritize WiFi broadband internet over cellular data, thereby lowering the cost to end users.

The Republic team took the stock Android operating system and developed a custom firmware that integrates WiFi calling technology with traditional 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, Republic phones automatically switch and utilize cellular towers like most smartphones.

With the custom firmware configured, Republic launched a beta program to test feasibility. The new service was configured for only one phone – the Motorola Defy XT (now extinct), and there were several problems with the beta service. The transition from WiFi to cellular towers was buggy and sometimes resulted in dropped calls. MMS (multimedia messaging) also had problems.

Firmware Updates

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 Wifi-cellular hybrid service began working seamlessly and has continued to improve with each new update.

Republic also announced a new lineup of 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 improved their service and announced several major changes:

  • Cellular Network – New Republic Wireless users will utilize the T-Mobile network (existing plans will remain on the Sprint network for now).
  • New Phone Policy – Republic now sells a variety of new, unlocked smartphones that are compatible with the T-Mobile network. These phones are fully unlocked, which means that each phone will work on other cellular plans if you ever happen to leave Republic.
  • Bring Your Own Phone – New customers can use their existing smartphone (must be on the compatibility list below) and purchase a Republic SIM card (available online for $5).

Republic Wireless Phones

You have two options when selecting a smartphone to use Republic Wireless service.

  1. Purchase a new, unlocked smartphone directly from Republic
  2. Or, bring your own device and purchase a Republic wireless SIM card ($5).

If you want to purchase a device from Republic, you can choose between the following smartphones:

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – $599
  • Moto Z – $499
  • Moto Z Play – $399
  • Moto G⁵ – $229
  • Moto E⁴ Plus – $199
  • Huawei Ascend 5W – $149
  • Moto E⁴ – $129

These phones require no contracts whatsoever. If you decide to leave Republic, you can take the phone and use it on another carrier.

Which Republic Wireless Phone Should You Choose?

All of the unlocked phones offered by Republic are reputable Android smartphones. You really can’t go wrong, but I’ll share a few of my thoughts on selecting a phone.

republic wireless Moto G4 review

Best Budget Phone: Moto E⁴ ($129) or Huawei Ascend 5W ($149)

Both of these phones are a great value, and both offer similar modern features that users love:

  • Latest Android updates
  • Similar battery life and capacity
  • Almost identical size and weight
  • Similar processors, RAM, and performance
  • Both have 16GB storage + MicroSD memory card slot

The Moto E⁴ has two major advantages:

  • The E⁴ supports up to 128GB microSD memory cards, while the Huawei Ascend only officially supports up to 32GB memory cards.
  • Internal cellular antennas for all major U.S. carriers. If you ever needed to leave Republic, your Moto E⁴ would work with any other U.S. carrier.

The Huawei Ascend 5W also has two advantages:

  • 5.5″ 1080p High Definition (HD) screen
  • 13-megapixel rear camera + 5MP front camera
  • Full metal design – The Ascend 5W looks and feels like a premium phone.
  • Fingerprint scanner allows you to lock and unlock the phone (providing additional security).

For the vast majority of smartphone users, both phones are more than capable and will provide a solid user experience.

Best Overall Value – Moto G⁵ Plus ($229)republic wireless Moto G5 review

The new Moto G⁵ Plus is a good value. It has received praise for the following features:

  • 12MP Dual Autofocus rear camera with 4K video recording
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 625 (8-core) processors
  • 100% compatibility with all U.S. carriers
  • 5.2” Full HD (1080 x 1920) IPS screen
  • Android™ 7.0 Nougat

If you are looking for a better camera and more powerful processor than the Moto E⁴ mentioned above, the Moto G⁵ will be a great fit.

If you are looking for a premium device, The Samsung Galaxy S7 is an excellent flagship product with excellent user reviews. The only concern for some is the steep price tag.

Bring Your Own Phone

If you already own a compatible smartphone, you can purchase a Republic Wireless SIM card and activate service on your existing device.

As of now, the following devices are compatible with the Republic SIM card (model number is shown in parenthesis):

  • Alcatel A30 (5046G)
  • Google Pixel (G-2PW4100)
  • Google Pixel XL (G-2PW2100)
  • Huawei Ascend 5W (H1623)
  • Moto E4 (XT1768)
  • Moto G4 (XT1625)
  • Moto G4 PLAY (XT1607)
  • Moto G4 PLUS (XT1644)
  • Moto G5 Plus (XT1687)
  • Moto X Pure Edition (XT1575)
  • Moto Z (XT1650-03)
  • Moto Z Play (XT1635-02)
  • Nexus 5X by LG (LGH790)
  • Nexus 6 by Motorola (XT1103)
  • Nexus 6P by Huawei (H1511)
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 (SM-G920T)
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (SM-J320A)
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 (SM-G930U)
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (SM-G935U)

If you own an eligible device, you must download the Republic Wireless app to verify compatibility.

After verifying compatibility, you can then order a universal Republic SIM card for $5. When the SIM card arrives, insert into your device and load the Republic app to activate your device.

Republic Wireless Plans and Coverage

In 2016, Republic completely overhauled their network and plans. Previously, Republic phones ran on the Sprint network and had to be purchased directly from Republic. Today, all available phones are unlocked and utilize the T-Mobile network. In many areas in the country, T-Mobile has better coverage than Sprint, resulting in fewer headaches and dropped calls.

In many parts of the country, T-Mobile has better coverage than Sprint, resulting in fewer headaches and dropped calls. I would recommend that you check the Republic Wireless Coverage Map before deciding on a monthly plan.

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. The original firmware had some problems, and we did experience the occasional dropped call when moving from WiFi to the cellular network. Other than that, the quality of calls over WiFi has been very good, with no noticeable decline in call quality when compared to cellular calls.

The recent updates have greatly improved the service. Dropped calls are increasingly rare, and the overall experience is comparable to the other major cellular providers. The only difference is that Republic is much more affordable and innovative. Other cellular companies are still trying to charge 2-3x the price of Republic’s unlimited talk and text plan.

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.

Republic Wireless is disrupting the landscape of cellular providers and doing consumers a huge favor in providing this service. The new phones and plans are another step forward, improving upon an already top-notch service.

You can check the phones, plans, and details on the Republic Wireless website.

Republic Wireless Review
Summary
Starting at $15/month, Republic Wireless is the best cellular provider for unlimited usage. With new phones, new plans, and continual updates, Republic is tough to beat.
Pricing9.5
Features9.3
Ease of Use9.3
Customer Support6.9
Strengths
Low-cost unlimited plans
Affordable unlocked smartphones
Bring your own device program
Reliable T-Mobile coverage
Weaknesses
Customer support is limited to email and chat. No phone support is available.
8.8
Overall
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162 Comments on "Republic Wireless Review 2017"

avatar
Jess
Jess

Will the phone work in Montana? How about Haiti?

Melanie
Melanie

I may be misunderstanding the phrase “abuse of cellular data” as I am not tech savvy at all. I am EMF sensitive. Everything in my home has to be wired,I cannot have wireless anything. If I had RW and never used wifi, would I be seen as abusing cellular data? Im so not tech savvy Im not even sure if Ive phrased my question correctly.

Gregor
Gregor
OK, I openly admit I am techno-challenged, but I don’t understand this. I can’t get my phone to totally connect to WiFi at Starbucks (actually that’s a Google problem, but still) … you’re saying this service does … what? Just randomly picks up WiFi signals and uses those for calls and texts? Like, if I’m in Waffle House it will use the WH WiFi, but if I’m driving past Kohl’s, it will use their WiFi? Does it use private citizens’ WiFi? That hardly seems fair … I don’t even have WiFi turned on on my phone currently (I haven’t seen… Read more »
Jackson
Jackson
My wife and I have been T-mobile pay-as-you-go users for about 5 years, and we are thinking about changing to RW. She uses an old unlocked LG Optimus and I use an unlocked iphone 4s. I know that these phones won’t work on RW, but we are both looking to update our phones, most likely to the Moto e4. My pay-as-you-go minutes (about $40 worth, 10 cents per minute or text) will run out in about 6 weeks, and I will probably make the switch over then. My wife doesn’t use her phone a lot, and has about 900 minutes… Read more »
Matthew
Matthew
I just discovered RW last week. Sounds pretty darn good to me. I am currently using Consumer Cellular which I started using back in Feb 2017. Pretty good service and certainly cheaper than the big dogs. I am living at a motel that provides free internet wi-fi. If you are familiar with most of these motels’ service, you get connected with their service using a password. You are connected but cannot use the internet without going through their “splashpage” which pops up after that initial connection is made . There is a button you have to click on and then… Read more »
Wayne in Indy
Wayne in Indy

Nice article. Thanks.
Just wanted to add that I ordered a smartphone and plan from Republic Wireless as a surprise Mothers day gift for my wife. Turns out she really does not need or want a cell phone. I went to their website and canceled the phone and service. It was completely hassle free. Not only did they refund my 1st months’ service fee and $200 for the phone, but emailed me a prepaid mailing label. Very easy and a pleasant surprise. When my T-moble contract expires, I will look into moving my service to them.

Ryan
Ryan

I am on a $10/month plan (wifi only, no data) but this is now a $15 plan. If I upgrade my phone will I be billed for the new cost of the same plan, or will I keep my original billing amount?

Jack
Jack

If I am in a store does the phone use their wifi or cellular connection? Does the phone automatically pickup wifi signals while traveling? Or if I am at someones house do i need to use their wifi code?

Quinn
Quinn

If WiFi is available then the phones will automatically utilize the WiFi connection, and not the cellular connection.. When leaving the WiFi area it should seamlessly transfer to a cellular connection with not disruption to your call or call quality.

Of course, it can only use WiFi connections that you are fully connected to. So if a password is required then it will not connect to that WiFi until the credentials are provided.

Jay Dewar
Jay Dewar

Hi Jacob,
I am impressed by your interactions on line.
I almost ordered an Ascend by Huwawei until I saw some troubling reviews. As such, researching Moto models for economy and value.
It’s my belief that if I BMOPh unlocked it will remain unlocked even if I switched to another carreier (?)
Is it the same if I bought one direct from RW, incase I am not satisfied and want switch to another?

Joe K
Joe K

I have the Moto G now which has worked fine for years. I want to upgrade to Moto G5 Plus. What are my uses with old Moto G? Can I still use with wifi? Can wife use join RW and get another phone number and use it? Any other uses? thanks

Denise Smith
Denise Smith

I know you can cancel any time with RW. But can the service be suspended and reactivated regularly? I am in the US only 6 months a year. Can I have a plan for the 6 months and suspend the service for the remaining 6 months? If so is there a fee?

Clive
Clive

They do not currently suspend service. It has been asked many times on their website and they may work with you. Otherwise it is just the cost of the sim card to reactivate…

Rob
Rob
I have had RW quite awhile now. I left it for a week last month to try PureTalkUSA. I quickly came back to RW. PuretalkUSA was awful. Most times calls would not even go through. They use the AT&T network. Apparently AT&T is not that good in my area. I only left them because I had a Galaxy S5 active lying around which I really liked. Which does not work on RW. Republic actually credited me back the difference what was not used for that month. Their website is easy to understand. It really is easy to switch. There is… Read more »
Jeanette
Jeanette

Curious how your serviced is working in Iowa, as I am in Iowa as well.

Christine Lee
Christine Lee
I am 90% ready to make the switch from our expensive Verizon plan to Republic. But I really love my iPhone and hate to give it up. I can synch it with my macbook pro and can have all the details of my life (grocery lists, calendar, etc) at the tip of my fingers. If I move to an android phone, would it be possible to use one of the available phones as I currently use the iPhone, and synch all the information on it with my laptop? Any thoughts or suggestions would be much appreciated.
Heather
Heather

Yes it’s possible. It’s not exactly the same and you would be using a few different apps to do it but there are many wonderful tools that Android users have that rival Apple. An app called Wunderlist can help you with your grocery lists. Google calendar works nicely between computer and phone. Evernote works for general notes and scanned documents and I’m sure there are many other apps out there if you do a little searching.

Don Bob
Don Bob

I don’t miss the huge bill, the iPhone (all hype) and for the majority of my apps/data/info, the switchover was fairly painless. We are 4 months in, and could not be happier. We are currently using a pair of Motorola Z play phones. Most Android phones are way ahead in regards to storage on your phone. Plop in an SD card and viola! Massive storage!

Good Luck, best wishes!

Scott Keen
Scott Keen

Will GPS navigation (Google Maps, Waze, etc) work with the cheapest $15 plan? Will GPS navigation only work when the phone is on a WiFi connection since the $15 plan does not include cellular data? (i.e. on the $15 plan, how would GPS navigation work when I’m driving in a remote rural area far from any WiFi connections?) Thanks for the review.

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