Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Republic Wireless: Pretty good for $25/mo

NOTE: I do not work for Republic Wireless. I am not getting paid to write this review. No one connected to Republic Wireless (or anything else) asked me to write this post, and I am not benefiting in any way from doing so. Why am I blogging about Republic? Because I am seriously impressed.

I hadn't had a smartphone since leaving Korea (and my Samsung Galaxy SII) behind in March 2012. I just had a cheap little pay-as-you-go 'burn phone' that could call and text and that was it. I liked having a smartphone in Korea, but I viewed it as a luxury that, as a grad student here in the states, I could no longer afford. And after having gotten into a long running war with T-Mobile over early termination of my contract before I moved to Korea in 2010, I did NOT want to get stuck in another cell phone contract... especially when I was still planning to move overseas again following graduation.

Last fall, a friend of mine posted a link to Republic Wireless on Facebook, which was the first time I'd heard of it. It's a phone company that integrates wifi and cell signals in a rather interesting way. If there's wifi around, the phone automatically uses it for data and calling purposes, and it switches over (seamlessly, as far as I can tell) to 3G or 4G (depending on your "plan") cell coverage when you move out of wifi range. You have to buy your phone outright, and the phone selection is limited (currently) to the Moto X and the Moto G. You then choose a "plan" (not a contract; you can cancel any time with no ETFs). One option includes unlimited talk, text, and data on the wifi + 3G plan for $25/mo. (If you want 4G it's $40/mo.) After spending something like $75 on my pay-as-you-go burner in December, I decided to make the switch. I started using Republic Wireless in January, but I didn't want to review it until I'd used it for a while - including up in rural GA, where I was worried about signal strength.

When I signed up for Republic, they were only offering the Moto X (which I got for $275, but which they are now selling for $299). They are now offering the cheaper Moto G as well, for $149. I chose the $25/mo plan... and it's been excellent. I keep wondering why everyone isn't using this service. Calls are clear, signal strength is great, all of my apps work wonderfully, and I even had a full strength 3G signal most of the time that I was in rural GA. When I'm in GA, I don't have internet at my house, so being able to have internet access there for the first time (even if just on my phone) was fantastic - especially since I wanted to follow Ukraine closely every waking moment.

The service is occasionally glitchy. Occasionally. The night that the Russians were entering Crimea, the 3G signal vanished completely. It was back by morning, but that was annoying. Also, at one point they had some sort of computer glitch which made my phone decide it wasn't able to make calls or record voicemail messages (although it could receive calls and use the internet). However, the Republic Wireless help center folks were very helpful, and got everything fixed within a couple of hours of my query. Those are the only two issues I've had with the phone, and they were short-lived. For $25/mo, I'd say that's a pretty good deal.

Also, the Moto X is a great phone. I had to install Greenify to improve battery life (I highly recommend Greenify!), but other than that the phone runs great. Also, its camera is better than my old point-n-shoot. It's not as good as my DSLR of course, but for those days when I don't want to lug a big camera around, this thing is a great substitute. That picture at the very top of this page of Charlie licking herself? That was taken with my Moto X. The videos in my Renfaire post? All shot with the Moto X.

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This is what it looks like - now starring Mochi! :-)

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I bought it a green and hot pink owl cover that includes four little black cats. I am also amazed that such wonderful things exist. Yay, interwebz!


John from Daejeon said...

You can change your plan twice a month for free with Republic Wireless, so if you have have wireless internet at home, you can spend $10 a month for all the data you can use and all the calls you can make and then switch to the $25 plan when you don't have access to wireless internet.

Unbelievable that people would use anything other than Republic Wireless in this day and age. The phone is far from perfect, but the price is most definitely right.

Annie Nimity said...

I really do not understand why everyone isn't using this... although to be fair, before I signed up I was half convinced that it was too good to be true. That's one of the reasons I decided to blog about it - it's really a great product.

John from Daejeon said...

I may not have heard of them either had my brother not gotten their earlier phone incarnation, the Defy XT, for his daughter back in 2012 when the plan was $19 a month for unlimited phone and data access, but the phone was very sub-par.