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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JimPysht
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JimPysht

Question: What are the mechanics of migrating my (Verizon) cell number? ie. cancel my VZ acct. 1st/after subscribing to Republic, and/or, etc.?

Tomigaoka
Guest
Tomigaoka

Is there any call logs offered? Or any billing statement i can receive by mail or just look at online? These 2 are important to me

dc
Guest
dc

Glad to hear this is working well! Thank you

Liv
Guest
Liv

Can anyone clearly lay out how republic wireless’s 911 service is different from other cell phone carriers? I have been looking forward to signing up for RW for a month now, and when I finally went to sign up tonight, I ran into their 911 Service Agreement and I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with it. However, I’m not sure I fully understand it. Does anyone have a clear explanation to how it compares and what realistic limitations it places on receiving 911 services? To me it’s not worth saving $20 a month if it means me or someone I… Read more »

Drm186
Guest
Drm186

when there a tower that the phone can communicate with if will work as any other cell phone (even if the tower is not usable by Republic carrier partners
only if there no tower that the phone can use and a WiFi internet will the phone work differently, then it will call 911 base on the location in your account portal 911 address (the WiFi part of the network does not relay your location to republic to know where your at (there on tower the tower knows where it’s at)
by default Republic phones use cell towers for 911 whenever possible

Jess
Guest
Jess

Will the phone work in Montana? How about Haiti?

Melanie
Guest
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
Guest
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 »

Dave Short
Guest
Dave Short

Like any device that uses WiFi you have to have access to that network. If the network requires a password you will have to provide the password. Even if no password is required you still have to tell the phone that you want to connect. The phone does not randomly connect to networks as you drive along.

Jackson
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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…