Republic Wireless: first month review.

Republic Wireless is an exciting new cell phone service which aims to deliver customers a smart phone with unlimited talk, text and data for the low price of $19 a month.

I first heard about Republic late last summer while the company was still in closed beta testing. The idea is to offset the cost of the customer’s cell phone usage by the customer linking their phone to Wi-Fi. When the customer is away from an area with Wi-Fi the phone utilizes the Sprint network for data and calling.

Intrigued by their business model, I signed up for their beta program. I don’t talk on the phone too often, so I figured call quality would have to be terrible before I would pass up such a good saving opportunity.

I gave the only phone they offered, the Mortorola Defy XT, a test, and decided it didn’t match my needs. Despite otherwise acceptable service, texts, my primary use for a cell phone, were not getting to me in certain buildings.

I returned the phone and, though the process was frustratingly slow, I eventually received my refund.

By the time I had received my refund I saw Republic had began open beta testing and unveiled a new dual band version of their phone which it claimed would markedly expand coverage for Republic users. Also, on the horizon was Republic’s plan to release an update for the phone which allowed texts to be delivered through Wi-Fi.

I figured if the expanded dual band coverage wasn’t enough to resolve my texting woes, then the update would. I re-enrolled in the program.

This time around everything went well enough and I’ve decided to keep the service and ditch my $65 a month Verizon service.

Motorola Defy XT

Customized with Go Launcher app

The cost:

Republic customers must first buy the phone for $259 plus taxes. For me, this came out to $281.01.
The monthly charge is $19 plus taxes. This cost me $22.05

According to the Republic’s savings calculator, the switch will save me $1,028 in two years.

However, my calculations show the first two years plus the phone equals  $811.21

Two years under my Verizon contract would have been $1560. Though nearly $750 in savings still isn’t bad, the calculator doesn’t represent the true cost of Republic’s service. Be sure to account for the cost of the phone and deduct it from whatever Republic’s calculator says you will save.

The benefit:

The Motorola Defy XT is not the latest greatest smart phone on the market. In fact, it’s hardware is slightly less impressive than my last phone, the nearly three year old HTC Droid Incredible.

This is not to say it is a bad phone. It runs smoothly, and allows me to listen to streamed and stored music on Spotify and browse the internet. I don’t game on my phone much, but I have played Ruzzle on it without issue.

It is also worth noting the Defy XT it is a rugged little monster capable of working after being submerged in water. Though I’ve not been willing to personally test that feature.

Calls are satisfactory when utilizing the cellular towers or a good Wi-Fi connection. The only drawbacks have been the inability to send images over text, and dropped calls when I have attempted to leave a location with Wi-Fi while talking on the phone.

My experience has been mostly positive. I like the service well enough to abandon Verizon after five years. If you are a low need customer like me, then I say give it a shot. With a 30 day refund policy you really have nothing to lose.

Update 1. 

I reader requested I perform a speed test on the device. I downloaded the app and ran four checks from both my home Wi-Fi and the network access from within my room.

It should probably be noted that I live in south-eastern Alabama, and had two bars during the entirety of the test.

wifi versus 3g