Republic Wireless Review 2018

Republic Wireless Review Save Money

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I first reviewed Republic Wireless three 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).
  • 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 in the compatibility list below) and purchase a Republic SIM card (available online for $5).

Republic Wireless Phones

There are two different options available when switching to Republic Wireless.

  1. Purchase a new, unlocked smartphone directly from Republic
  2. Bring your own device and purchase a Republic wireless SIM card

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

  • Samsung Galaxy S9 – $719
  • Moto Z³ Play – $499
  • Moto X⁴ – $349
  • Moto G⁵S Plus – $279
  • Moto G⁶ – $249
  • Moto G⁶ Play – $199
  • Moto E⁴ – $129
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 – $199
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 – $149
  • Alcatel A30 – $99

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 or Alcatel A30

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, weight, and screen
  • 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 Alcatel A30 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 U.S. carrier.

The Alcatel A30 gets the edge on pricing, being $30 cheaper.

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

Best Overall Value: Moto G⁶republic wireless Moto G5 review

The new Moto G⁶ is a good value. It has received praise for the following features:

  • 12 MP + 5 MP dual rear cameras with 4K video recording
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 450 (8-core) processors
  • 100% compatibility with all U.S. carriers
  • 5.7” Full HD (1080 x 1920) IPS screen
  • Android™ 8.0 Oreo

If you are looking for a better camera and more powerful processor than the Moto E⁴ mentioned above, the Moto G⁶ will be a great fit.

If you are looking for a premium device, The Samsung Galaxy series has excellent user reviews. The only concern 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 or A576RW)
  • Google Pixel (G-2PW4100)
  • Google Pixel XL (G-2PW2100)
  • Google Pixel 2 (G011A)
  • Google Pixel 2 XL (G011C)
  • Huawei Ascend 5W (H1623)
  • Moto E4 (XT1768)
  • Moto E4 Plus (XT1775)
  • Moto G4 (XT1625)
  • Moto G4 PLAY (XT1607)
  • Moto G4 PLUS (XT1644)
  • Moto G5 Plus (XT1687)
  • Moto G5S Plus (XT1806)
  • Moto X Pure Edition (XT1575)
  • Moto Z (XT1650-03)
  • Moto Z Play (XT1635-02)
  • Moto Z2 Play (XT1710-01)
  • Nexus 5X by LG (LGH790)
  • Nexus 6 by Motorola (XT1103)
  • Nexus 6P by Huawei (H1511)
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (SM-J320A or SM-J327U)
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (SM-J727U)
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 (SM-G920T)
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 (SM-G930U)
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge (SM-G935U)
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 (SM-G950U1)
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ (SM-G955U1)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (SM-N950U1)

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 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, Republic offers their My Choice Plan:

  • $15/month: Unlimited talk and text on T-Mobile. Data on WiFi only
  • $5/month: Each GB of cellular data on T-Mobile.

The $15/month covers all talk and text on T-Mobile’s network. If you need cellular data (WiFi is always free), each Gigabyte of T-Mobile cellular data is a flat $5/month. Republic will allow you to add additional data at any time during the month.

When Republic tested these plans with a large sample of customers, they found that the average user used slightly less than 1GB of cellular data each month (because WiFi is so widely available to use for free). 

Republic Wireless International Coverage

Republic Wireless doesn’t offer international cellular coverage. However, when you are connected to WiFi, you will generally be able to make calls and send text messages to U.S. and Canadian numbers and otherwise use your phone as if you were home.

When using your Republic phone for WiFi calling/messaging abroad, I suggest placing your phone in airplane mode and manually enabling WiFi. Using airplane mode will help preserve battery life that would be otherwise wasted when your phone attempts to locate a cellular signal it cannot utilize.

If you need to make calls to local numbers where you’re traveling, you can switch between Republic and local cellular service by swapping out your Republic SIM and putting in a SIM that works in the country you’re visiting. Many of the unlocked phones supported by Republic are capable of connecting to foreign cellular service, but you need to verify that your specific phone’s  cellular bands are compatible with the service that is available at your travel destination. If your phone is compatible, simply purchase a SIM card at your vacation destination and swap out your Republic SIM whenever needed.

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 – Republic offers a 14-day guarantee for all smartphones purchased directly from the website. Following the date of delivery, you have 2 weeks to use your device on the Republic network. If you are unhappy for any reason, you can return the device for a full refund (device must be undamaged, with original packaging).

Service Guarantee – After activating your new phone, Republic also provides a 14-day guarantee on cellular 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

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone.

User Generated Content Disclosure: Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Rob
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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
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Jeanette

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

Christine Lee
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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.

Don Bob
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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!

Heather
Guest
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.

Scott Keen
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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.

Tammy Mills
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Tammy Mills

OMG. Thank you so much for this information. I have a home phone set up through VOIP using Google talk. You can have your own phone number and can put the ‘Talk’ app on your android phone and make free calls through wifi. I even have it on all my pc’s and laptops so I can sit at my laptop, talk to my family while surfing. All you need is a good headset. The calls are reliable and chrystal clear. My wife has been using straight talk for her cell phone, but the plan you spoke of is amazing. I… Read more »

Barbara
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Barbara

Does anyone know if with the new unlocked phones with a Republic Sim Card whether you can remove that SIM and put in one from another country? That would be great if possible.

Monty
Guest
Monty

Is there an activation fee for Republic Wireless? Can I transfer my cell phone number?

Elke
Guest
Elke

Hi there,
I have the T-Mobile plan with an IPhone6 – would it be possible to switch to RW?

Robert
Guest
Robert

You can not bring an iPhone onto the RW network.

Annette
Guest
Annette

If I switch to Republic will I lose all my contacts, pics etc from my Samsung Galaxy S5 to a new unlocked phone? Also, can I use the micro SD card I have in my Samsung right now and put a new phone from republic? I am afraid I will not be able to set up the new phone without a cell phone dealer. I am afraid I will lose everything.

DJ
Guest
DJ

The short answer is no you will not lose anything. You can put everything onto the micro SD and then insert it into the new phone but there is a migrate icon in your apps that will automate all of this for you from one phone to the other. You will still have your old phone so no worries on losing your info since it can still be accessed on the old phone even if you don’t have service or a phone number associated with the phone (actually you can still use the old phone on wi-fi too. Good Luck!

James Larry Plyler
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James Larry Plyler

Can I get my wife a phone and she would be on my plan?

ADAM J WILLIS
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ADAM J WILLIS

Has anyone purchased just the SIM card and used it in a unlocked phone? The models they say are comparable online are only the factory unlocked versions I have a s7 edge that is the same model and unlock just a different last letter because it was through a different carrier. I want to switch but also want to be able to use my current phone.

Morris Pelzel
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Morris Pelzel

So, if I am currently on a Republic Wireless plan with the Sprint network, can I choose to switch to a plan with the T-Mobile network? Will these new plans run on both T-Mobile and Sprint, or just on T-Mobile?

Aidan Breese
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Aidan Breese

The question i have is say i have the 1 GB/month plan. When/if I use up that GB before the month is up will i be charged extra? Will they take my data away? Will they slow down the data?

Sherrie St. Cyr
Guest
Sherrie St. Cyr

I’ve been using RW for a couple of years and I love it. I’ve got the Moto X 1st gen. phone and it is still going strong. One son has the same phone and the other one just got the new Moto G4 Plus (he lost his old phone). When I tell people about our plan they never believe me. The big carriers really have a lot of people fooled into thinking they won’t have service unless they pay the big bills.

Sara
Guest
Sara

I’m just wondering if I understand this correctly. Where I live I would be roaming on the Sprint network. We have wifi at my house so would I still be able to make calls because I have the wifi at my house and I wouldn’t need to worry about the Sprint network?