Republic Wireless - 2017 Review

my trusty Moto G smart phone from Republic Wireless
one of our three trusty Republic Wireless Moto G smart phones

Republic Wireless
Rating: 5/5 by

Review Summary: We've been using Republic Wireless for three years (since July 2014), and we love their service. We have three Moto G smart phones, which all still work great. Every month, we continue to save more money and rack up the savings. I highly recommend Republic Wireless... for most people. I'm not sure if their service is really right for everyone, but if you enjoy saving money and getting great value, I've listed the pros and cons of Republic Wireless below so you can decide if Republic Wireless is right for you.

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CURRENT REPUBLIC WIRELESS DEALS
* click here for current Republic Wireless redemption codes, coupon codes, & special deals *
(updated September 19, 2017)

 

my cell phone evolution from Pacific Bell to Republic Wireless

BACKGROUND (OUR CELL PHONE HISTORY / EVOLUTION):
I got my first cell phone, an analog Nokia 5190 cell phone, in 1999 (last century!). I still have it today, just in case the Smithsonian may want it some day. I got my Nokia 5190 cell phone from Pacific Bell. Pacific Bell later became Cingular Wireless. Then Cingular stopped supporting analog cell phones, and I had to replace my old but still functional and trusty Nokia 5190 analog phone with a new Ericsson A2218Z digital cell phone, and got a second Ericsson A2218Z for my wife. At this point you might correctly guess that we only change our cell phones when we have to, and we aren't the types who always have to upgrade to the latest and greatest (or fashionable) cell phone. Cingular Wireless was then acquired by AT&T, and thus we became customers of AT&T. One of the Ericsson phones died and my wife got a new hip pink Moto RAZR flip phone (for a fleeting moment, we felt cutting edge... but it didn't last). Then our once reliable cell service at our house abruptly stopped working. I spent hours and weeks on the phone with AT&T complaining that we didn't have service at our house. AT&T insisted that their computer screen showed we we had coverage at our house (but we didn't). They had us try new SIM cards and a few other things (lots of resets if I remember right), but through my own sleuthing, I eventually discovered that AT&T had deemed the cell phone tower near our house that they had acquired from Cingular and that was actually providing our signal as superfluous, and they had sold the "unnecessary" tower to T-Mobile. Knowing we'd never have useable home cell service with AT&T anymore, we left AT&T and switched to T-Mobile. After switching to T-Mobile, we once again had cell service at our home, but T-Mobile made us sign a new 2 year contract. Because of the new contract, we purchased a second silver Moto RAZR flip phone to go with the older Pink RAZR, and became a dual RAZR flip phone family (even though by then RAZRs weren't really hip any more - we tend to be several years behind the times). We were reasonably happy with T-Mobile (though I thought it was pretty expensive for what we were actually getting) until two years ago, when our RAZRs stopped working reliably at our house. Again, it took my own sleuthing to learn the actual problem... T-Mobile had upgraded several of the local towers to 3G/4G (by using "some" of the "unused" 2G/Edge spectrum that our 2G-only RAZRs needed to work - in reality T-Mobile ended 2G service at our house). I complained to T-Mobile that our RAZRs weren't working at our house anymore, but T-Mobile insisted they should work (but they didn't). It was AT&T redux deja vu... problem? What problem? We needed cell phones that worked and didn't want to spend a small fortune on new smart phones (and a new smart phone cell plan and new 2 year T-mobile contract) so I got myself a Samsung T159 3G flip phone for $79, and a ZTE Aspect "candy bar" 3G phone for $79 for my wife. We got our T-Mobile voice-only cell service working at home again with the new 3G phones, but after that experience, I was getting fed up with our $72 monthly T-Mobile bill for two basic cell phones, one being voice only, and the other being voice plus 300 texts/month, with a 700 minute cap on the voice minutes and the 300 text cap. I felt we were paying way too much for what we were getting, but I did what so many of us do... I just kept griping about it but doing nothing...

OUR 12-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER NEEDS HER OWN CELL PHONE:
In the meantime, ever since fifth grade, our daughter has been asking for a cell phone. We kept saying no, understanding that she really wanted one, but to our mind, didn't really need one. I don't know how many times I heard the phrase "but all my friends have a phone." I was surprised that the vast majority of the students in her sixth grade class had phones (almost all of them smart phones), but we still told our daughter that elementary school children don't need a cell phone, and we weren't going to get her one. Then last summer, when she was due to start 7th grade (junior high) in the fall, we decided it was time for her to have phone. I wasn't crazy about buying an expensive phone from T-Mobile and committing to a new two year contact, plus a higher monthly bill. So I started looking for low-cost cell phones and cell phone plans, and discovered Republic Wireless. I decided to give Republic Wireless a try (they have a 30 day money back guarantee) and so we got her the Moto G and signed her up for their $10/month unlimited talk and text plan. To make a long story a little shorter, she loved her new phone and plan, and I loved the cost, so we got two Moto G for my wife and myself (plus two more $10/month plans), and cancelled our T-Mobile service.

REPUBLIC WIRELESS - WHO THEY ARE & HOW THEY WORK:
Republic Wireless started in 2011. If you haven't heard of them, it's probably because they're a fairly small company that doesn't do national advertising like the Big Four - AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Instead, Republic provides amazing value and relies mainly on word-of-mouth advertising from happy customers like me, a policy that seems to be working well as they are growing by leaps and bounds. Although Republic Wireless is relatively new, it is a subsidiary of Bandwidth, a company that has been around since 1999. The main idea behind Republic Wireless is to make smart phones and smart phone cell service more affordable. To do this, Republic Wireless relies on two technologies: hybrid calling and MVNO.

HYBRID CALLING:
Hybrid calling means using both wifi (wireless internet) and cellular service for phone calls, texts, and internet access. Traditional cell phones only work on cellular service.  But many of us now have wifi at home, at work, and many places we are during the day. Republic Wireless phones work primarily on wifi, which is free, and is faster than cellular for data, and use cellular service as a backup when wifi isn't available. Yet as a customer, you don't have to worry. When you dial a number, if wifi is available, the phone call goes over wifi, otherwise it goes over cellular. More importantly, if you're talking on wifi and you leave the wifi area, the call hands over to cellular, so you don't lose the call, and similarly, if you go from cellular to wifi, the call switches back over without dropping. Republic Wireless recently developed and introduced a new technology they call "Bonded Calling" that combines and uses both the wifi and cellular signal when both are available for even better call quality.

MVNO:
MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator, and is a fancy way of saying a company that resells cellular access from a real cellular provider. In the United States, there are only four "real" cell phone service providers (companies that actually have and maintain their own cell phone towers): AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Virgin Mobile was the first MVNO here in the US, and is essentially a reseller of Sprint cell service. For a while, Sprint was only US carrier that had MVNOs, but now all four carriers have MVNOs. Some of the MVNOs that you may have heard of are Boost Mobile (uses and is a subsidiary of Sprint), Cricket Wireless (uses and is a subsidiary of AT&T), FreedomPop (uses Sprint), H2O Wireless (uses AT&T), MetroPCS (uses and is a subsidiary of T-Mobile), Straight Talk (uses T-Mobile), and Ting (uses Sprint).
Republic Wireless started as an MVNO for Sprint (with voice/text roaming on Verizon) but they now are also an MVNO for T-Mobile (with voice/text roaming on AT&T). Unlike some other MVNO providers that can only connect via cellular service, with Republic Wireless, your primary connection is via wifi, but when wifi isn't available your connection will be via cellular either on Sprint (with Verizon/text voice roaming) or TMobile (with AT&T voice/text roaming) network depending on which network their new Republic Wireless Coverage Checker determines is the best for your area.

PLANS - NEW REPUBLIC WIRELESS 3.0 "CLEAR CHOICE" PLANS

$15 Unlimited Talk, Text, and WiFi Data <<< my favorite!
$20 Unlimited Talk, Text, and WiFi Data + 1GB of Cell Data
$30 Unlimited Talk, Text, and WiFi Data + 2GB of Cell Data
$45 Unlimited Talk, Text, and WiFi Data + 4GB of Cell Data
$60 Unlimited Talk, Text, and WiFi Data + 6GB of Cell Data
$90 Unlimited Talk, Text, and WiFi Data + 10GB of Cell Data

All of the Republic Wireless plans include unlimited talk & text over wifi and cellular. When you aren't on wifi, cellular talk and text is provided via T-Mobile with voice & text roaming on AT&T. All of the plans also include unlimited free data over wifi. If you want or need cellular data, you can chose one of the plans with additional cellular data. The cellular data is via T-Mobile.
Our family has has three Republic Wireless Moto G smartphones with the unlimited talk, text, and wifi data, which is the plan I recommend. If you need some cellular data, the $20 unlimited talk, text, and wifi data + 1 GB of cell data is a great value. Remember that all the data you use over wifi is free and unlimited.

PHONES - a wide variety of new Android smart phone options

new phone options at Republic Wireless 2017

Republic Wireless offers a variety of Android smart phones (currently available phones are listed in the table below). All of the phones come with a Republic Wireless SIM card installed, but are "unlocked". Because their phones come automatically unlocked and because Republic Wireless doesn't require a contract, if you leave Republic Wireless at any time in the future for any reason, you can take your phone with you and use it with any other cell providers (*depending on if the phone is GSM or CDMA or both). My personal recommendation is the new Moto E4 (read my Moto E4 review), new Moto E4 Plus , or the new Moto G5 Plus. I'm a big Moto fan based on our own experience with Moto phones. We have three original Moto G (1st generation) phones that have served us well for three years, and that continue to work well. When the original Moto G (1st generation) was first introduced in 2014, it got great reviews and was described as an incredible ground-breaking, best-bang-for-your-buck mid-range smartphone. The latest generation of Moto phones, including the Moto G5 Plus and Moto E4 and E4 Plus, are continuing that tradition of offering the best bang-for-the buck for reliable affordable smart phones.

phone price size service comments
Moto E4 (new!) $99 5.0" GSM&CDMA 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM, add up to 128GB MicroSD card, 2800mA removable battery, 8MP camera, fingerprint sensor
Ascend 5W $149 5.5" GSM 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM, add up to 128GB MicroSD card, 3000mA battery, 13MP camera, fingerprint sensor
Moto E4 PLUS (new!) $179 5.5" GSM&CDMA 2GB RAM, 32GB ROM, add up to 128GB MicroSD card, 5000mA battery, 13MP camera, fingerprint sensor
Moto G4 $179 5.5" GSM&CDMA 2GB RAM, 16GB ROM, add up to 128GB MicroSD card, 3000mA battery, 13MP camera
Moto G5 PLUS $229 5.2" GSM&CDMA 2GB or 4GB RAM, 16 or 32GB ROM, add up to 128GB MicroSD card, 3000mA battery, 12MP camera, fingerprint sensor
Moto Z Play $399 5.5" GSM 3GB RAM, 32GB ROM, add up to 200GB MicroSD card, 3510mA battery, 16MP camera, fingerprint sensor
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge $499 5.5" GSM&CDMA 4GB RAM, 32GB ROM, add up to 200GB MicroSD card, 3000mA battery, 12MP camera, fingerprint sensor, wireless charging
Moto Z $499 5.5" GSM 3GB RAM, 32GB ROM, add up to 200GB MicroSD card, 3510mA battery, 16MP camera, fingerprint sensor

REPUBLIC WIRELESS COVERAGE (now two provider options starting February 2017):
Republic Wireless now offers nationwide coverage from two major providers, T-Mobile and Sprint. T-Mobile service requires a GSM-capable phone while Sprint service requires a CDMA-capable phone (most new Republic Wireless phones are both GSM and CDMA capable as you can see in the table above). Republic Wireless phones will activate and work on one network or the other, but not both. Phones with Sprint cellular service will also have voice roaming for talk & text on Verizon. Phones with T-Mobile cellular service will also have voice roaming for talk & text on AT&T. When you start your order, you will be asked to enter your zip code in the Republic Wireless Coverage Checker. The new coverage checker is actually pretty cool. Based on the zip code you enter, the Republic Wireless coverage checker uses a proprietary program to analyze other existing Republic Wireless phones in that area and checks for call quality data, call completion (or failure) rates, customer issues or complaints, and several other factors including the theoretical carrier coverage maps, and the program then determines which coverage (Sprint or TMobile) will work better for you. The phone you purchase will have that service. Because there are now two carriers available, Republic Wireless is using their existing customer database to determine which coverage will be better for you in your zip code, since they want to make sure you have the best coverage possible (they want happy customers, not disappointed customers). Of equal importance, if the coverage checker determines that neither service will provide acceptable coverage for your area, they will warn you about the coverage and will recommend that you not buy a Republic Wireless phone. How many other carriers would discourage you from joining their service? Republic Wireless wants happy customers, and if they don't think think you will be happy with your coverage, they'll let you know in advance! Republic Wireless also has a 14 day money back guarantee. After you receive and activate your phone, you have two weeks to make sure the phone and coverage work well for you, otherwise you can return the phone for a full refund. We've been using Sprint coverage here in Santa Barbara, California, for several years, and it's always been just fine. The T-Mobile coverage around here is good too from what I'm told. Although Sprint and T-Mobile (and Verizon and AT&T) all claim to have nationwide service, the truth is that there are some areas where a particular carrier just doesn't have very good coverage. When you order from Republic Wireless, they will use their new coverage checker program to determine the best provider for your area. Also keep in mind that Republic Wireless phones work on wifi, so when you are on wifi, you will have great service regardless.

Check your local Republic Wireless cellular service coverage:
click here for the new Republic Wireless coverage checker

 

THE REPUBLIC WIRELESS SWEET SPOT:
In my opinion, for many people, the way to go with Republic Wireless is the $129 $99 Moto E4 smartphone or the $229 Moto G5 Plus smartphone on their $15/month plan with unlimited talk/text plus unlimited data (internet) over wifi. It certainly is a great way to start if you want to try out Republic Wireless service. If you need cellular data (internet access over cellular), for only $5 more ($20/month) you can get 1GB of cellular data each month, but if you can live with wifi only internet, you won't find a better deal today than the Republic Wireless $15/month plan!

*** PROS ***

PRO #1) INCREDIBLE VALUE and SAVINGS:
Republic Wireless offers amazing value! Their unlimited talk & text plan with free data over wifi just cannot be beat! As I wrote above, I highly recommend their $15/month plan that includes unlimited talk & text over wifi and over the T-Mobile network (plus cellular roaming when needed for voice and text) AND unlimited internet access over wifi. They also have a $20/month plan which includes 1GB of cellular data for those people that really need some cellular data. That said, I still think the $15/month plan just can't be beat, especially if you can live with just having internet over wifi (do you really need youtube in your car?)
The monthly savings add up. We're saving about $75 a month (compared to if we had stuck with T-Mobile and added a third phone). We were paying T-mobile $71.92/month (including tax) for voice & text service on our two old "dumb" flip phones, and we were limited to 700 weekday minutes per month and only had 300 texts a month on only one phone. This means we were paying T-Mobile an average of $36/month per phone (for flip phones!) and we were only getting limited voice & text. Now, with Republic Wireless, we're paying $33.93/month (including taxes) for all three of our three Moto G smartphones with unlimited talk and text and free internet over wifi, or an average of $11.31/month per phone! That means we're getting more and paying less, about $75 less a month!

PRO #2) NO CONTRACT:
Republic Wireless doesn't lock you into a 2 year contract. There is NO contract. AT&T and Verizon may give you a seemingly sweet deal on a new phone, but then they lock you into an expensive 2 year contract and charge huge early termination fees if you leave. Again, with Republic Wireless there is no contract. You will need one of the Android smartphones which supports their service, which you can either buy from Republic or you can "bring your own" and just purchase the Republic SIM card. Republic has the very reasonable priced $199 Moto G4, and all of their phones and plans are covered by a 14-day money back guarantee. You can try the phone and service for 14 days, and cancel at any time for a full refund (minus shipping). You really should at least try Republic, even if you keep your current cell phone provide while you try out Republic. And once you're with Republic, you can cancel at an time with no contract termination fee. If you ever leave Republic, since the new Republic Wireless 3.0 uses "unlocked" phones, you can use your phone with a different service provider. Almost all of the Republic 3.0 phones are both GSM and CDMA, meaning they will work with all of the big four providers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint), as well as all of the MVNOs that use those service providers. There really is no risk that I can see to trying Republic. Why not sign up today and start saving money?!

PRO #3) EXCELLENT VOICE QUALITY OVER WIFI:
I am regularly amazed at how good the voice quality is when I'm talking at home on wifi. Of course, we have decent cable broadband internet and a good (but surprisingly cheap) wifi router. Talking on the Republic Wireless Moto G on wifi at our house is just like talking on a land line. The Moto G also usually has very good voice quality when on talking on Sprint cellular service, although sometimes talking cell-phone-to-cell-phone the voice quality sounds like... you're talking on a cell phone. :)

PRO #4) PC MAGAZINE'S READER CHOICE AWARD 2015
Republic Wireless shared PC Magazine's Reader Choice Award with Consumer Cellular, easily beating out all of the big four (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint). According to PC Magazine, Republic was the highest rated company for satisfaction with fees (9.5), and had excellent ratings for overall satisfaction (8.8) and likelihood to recommend (9.0). The lowest area in the ratings for Republic Wireless was not surprisingly in their phone selection, as they do not offer the wide selection of phones that other carriers do. PC Magazine's survey backs up the impressive statistic on Republic's website: "Over 95% of the people who try Republic stick with us." If you read the many Republic Wireless reviews available across the internet (i.e Clark Howard, CNET, Consumer Reports, etc), you will find a few negative comments (some I think are justified, some I think aren't). As I stated at the beginning of this review, Republic isn't for everyone (for some people's needs, I don't think any wireless company could really make them happy). But according to PC Magazine and Republic's own website, the vast majority of Republic Wireless's customers are satisfied with their service (and love the savings!). I know my family is, and I think that if you determine Republic Wireless would be a good fit for your smart phone needs as well and if you try them, then you too will be satisfied.

PRO #5) TRY REPUBLIC WIRELESS RISK-FREE FOR 14 DAYS
Republic Wireless offers a 14 Day Money Back Guarantee on their phones. You can try them out for up to 14 days, and if the phone or service doesn't work for you, you can return the phone for your money back (minus shipping). With the amount of money most people can save, I don't see any reason not to try Republic Wireless.

PRO #6) The $15/mo Unlimited Talk & Text plan with NO cellular data IS THE BEST PLAN FOR KIDS AND TEENAGERS
If you are a parent getting your kid or teenager a smartphone, I would tell you that the best thing you can do for your kid or teenager is get them the Republic Wireless $15 per month unlimited talk and text plan with NO cellular data (assuming you have wifi at home for data). I have all three of our Republic Wireless phone plans on unlimited talk and text but NO cellular data. I did this because I am cheap, and figured (correctly) that we could live without cellular data (we have wifi at home, work, and school). In retrospect, I would still do the same thing even if I wasn't cheap, because not having any cellular data is so much better for my daughter (though I'm not sure she would agree with this). I feel very strongly that giving your kids cellular data is a mistake. I am so happy my teenage daughter DOES NOT HAVE CELLULAR DATA! When she first got her smartphone, she would text a lot with her friends (which is why unlimited texting is so important), but apparently now texting is ancient technology that nobody who is hip uses anymore (which may explain why I still text). My daughter now uses Snapchat, and I shudder when I think about how distracting it is and how much time she spends on it. We tell her to Snapchat less, and she tries, but I think that Snapchat (along with other social media, Instagram, Youtube, and the internet in general) can be very addicting, and can take up far too much of a young person's time. So I'm happy that my daughter can only Snapchat on wifi when she is at home, and not in the car or at ballet lessons. In my opinion, providing cellular data to a kid is like giving them a huge bowl full of candy and then telling them to just eat a little and use restraint. It's asking too much. Kids don't need cellular data, and they do better when they only have wifi data. It's much better for them to be bored and look out the car window, instead of staring at Snapchat on their smartphone screen. Do your kid/teenager a favor and don't get them cellular data. They won't like you for it now (my daughter regularly asks why she doesn't have cellular data like her friends), but someday your kids will thank you.

*** CONS ***

(possible) CON #1) No Phone-Based Customer Service:
For some people, this might be a con, but it doesn't bother me at all. Republic Wireless doesn't have a phone number that you can call for customer service. Instead, you can submit a help ticket on their website, and they'll get back to you. They have online chatting during regular business hours. Finally, if you have a problem, you can post it on their customer forum and it's amazing the amount of help you'll get from other Republic Wireless customers. Personally, I don't mind at all not being able to call a customer service rep. With both AT&T and T-Mobile, I was able to all an 800 phone number, but that didn't solve my problem. As I wrote above under our "cell phone history", I spent hours on the phone with both AT&T and T-Mobile when we had service problems, but all we really got was very nice people that told us what they thought we wanted to hear and made lots of promises, but were never able to fix our problems. With Republic Wireless, we've had very few issues, and they've usually just resolved themselves. I'd much rather submit a help ticket and let them get back to me, instead of attempting to navigate through an endless "press 1" then "press 2" then "press 1" voice prompt menu only to eventually end up getting some representative who reads from a script but really can't do anything to help me.

 > October 9, 2016 update: my own customer service experience with Republic Wireless over the past two years. I decided to update this "possible con" section to cover how Republic Wireless customer service has been for us for the past two years. I recently decided to swap phone numbers between two of our Moto G smartphones. My wife has a 16gb version, and wasn't using very much of her phone's memory. My daughter has the 8gb version, and was constantly running out of phone memory for storage space. So I decided the easiest solution was for them to "trade" phones, which meant swapping phone numbers. I knew this meant opening a support ticket with Republic Wireless. When we were ready to make the switch, I opened the support ticket request. It was late on a Saturday afternoon, and I assumed I wouldn't get a response until Monday morning at the earliest. Instead, I was surprised to have Dawn (a Republic Wireless customer support person) reply to my support request on Sunday morning, the very next day! She asked me to confirm the serial numbers on the two phones to make it clear which phones I wanted to swap. I replied to her, and in less than an hour later, the phone numbers were swapped. That is great customer service! I never had to call a number and wait on hold or navigate through a bunch of voice prompts. Instead, I just opened a support ticket, and my request was taken care of during the weekend.

Looking back at my support requests over the past two years, I realize that I have never needed or wanted to call a customer support number. When we got our first phone, I opened a support ticket because a few times a phone call wouldn't go through or it was garbled. The support person recommended some fixes, but if my memory services me right, the problem just went away after a few days (or the fixes worked). Twice I have used the Republic Wireless community forum to help with issues. The first time it was because my mother-in-law wasn't getting our texts. The problem turned out to be on her end, and was because she had forgotten that when she ordered her service from Verizon, she put a block on incoming texts so she wouldn't have to pay for them. More recently, our Moto G smartphones started to experience higher than normal battery drains on cellular service. I again posted on the Republic Wireless community forums, and got lots of helpful advice. I ended up doing a factory reset on all of the phones (they had never been reset before and are over two years old). The factory reset solved the battery drain issue. So between the support ticket system and the community forum, I personally am quite happy with the level of Republic Wireless customer service we have had over the past two years.

(possible) CON #2) You Can't Use An Apple iPhone
This isn't a con for me, because I'm quite happy with Android-based smartphones. But it is true, Republic Wireless does not provide service for iPhones, at least at this time. I recognize some people prefer iPhones and/or just could not live without an iPhone. If you must have an iPhone (and pay the iPhone price and monthly service cost), then Republic Wireless isn't for you.

REPUBLIC WIRELESS REDEMPTION CODES, COUPON CODES, PROMO CODES, AND OTHER SPECIAL OFFERS:
Republic Wireless will occasionally offer a special redemption code for specials such as free shipping or a discount on accessories, or introductory pricing on new phones, or close-out deals on older model phones that are being discontinued. They generally email current customers when they have these special coupon code offers, so I will update this current deals page if any good deals come out, or if I hear of any other promo codes, coupon codes, or redemption codes. But in the meantime, if you're ready to join Republic Wireless and start saving money, don't wait too long in hopes of saving just a little bit more. If you're like most of us, every month you're with Republic Wireless, you'll save money (over $50 a month in my case), and every month the savings add up. Or put another way, every month that you continue to stick with your higher priced service provider instead of switching to Republic Wireless, that's another month you've thrown away more money! So don't wait. Stop forking over your hard-earned cash to overpriced cellular providers like AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint. You don't have to pay that much for your cell phone service. 

NEW PHONE FINANCING OPTION:
On April 6, 2016, Republic Wireless added the option to finance your new phone purchase. Instead of paying for your phone up front, you can opt to pay it off over 6 monthly payments, 12 monthly payments, or 18 monthly payments. If you use this option, you will pay between 10-30% interest (APR). The financing is handled by another company, Affirm, and is an option when you are ordering your phone. If you decide to finance the phone, when you are ordering, you get temporarily sent to the Affirm website where you enter some personal information and pick 6 months, 12 months, or 18 months, and they then determine your interest (based on your credit score and other factors) and tell you what you monthly payment would be. For example, you might buy the Moto G outright for $199, or you could make twelve monthly payments of $19.99 ($240 total because you pay 20% interest).
So what to I think of financing your new phone? I'm cheap, and don't like to pay someone else interest. That's why I pay off my credit card every month. I think it's better to pay off your phone upfront (which will save you money). Republic Wireless is the best option for people who what to save money on their cell phone service, so I'm not sure why one would then decide to pay interest on your phone. If you're considering monthly payments because you want the new most expensive high-end phone they just introduced but you can't afford to pay for it, then I would suggest buying the phone you can afford (the awesome Moto G for example), and wait to buy a more expensive phone until you can actually afford it. Live within your means!

REVIEW CONCLUSION:
The Bottom Line: Is Republic Wireless good? Yes, at least for our family. We've been using our three Moto G smartphones with Republic Wireless for three years (since July 2014). We haven't had any problems with our phones or our service. Our phones just work, which in the end, is what matters. We've recommended Republic Wireless to many of our friends after often finding out they're paying twice or three times as much (or more) per month compared to what we pay with Republic Wireless. Our friends who have decided to try Republic Wireless and have switched have all been happy, and like us, they all wonder why they didn't switch to Republic Wireless a long time ago!

 

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Republic Wireless Coverage Checker

check if you can keep your existing phone number with the
Republic Wireless Number Transfer Checker

more information on Republic Wireless

 

Comments / Questions / Feedback:

Comment by Buddy Tish on Monday, September 14, 2015
Why does Republic Wireless not offer any of the 3 generations of the Moto G? Especially The 3rd gen Moto G?

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Buddy, Good question. Republic Wireless sold the Moto G (Gen 1) for a long time, until Motorola stopped making it and Republic thus couldn't get it anymore. Republic doesn't sell the newest generation right away. First, there has to be a CDMA version of the phone that will work with Sprint (versus a GMA version). Second, Republic has to develop special software for the phone and make sure it works. It seems to take several months or more before they offer the latest version of a phone, if they decide to. In any event, I would expect a Moto G (Generation 3) phone to be offered soon, at least sometime this year, because I think there is a strong demand for it. I've also read that Motorola doesn't let Republic announce anything in advance, so they can't announce until they actually release the phone. I'll update this comment if I hear anything more.
update: Republic Wireless began selling and shipping the new Moto G (3rd gen) smart phone on October 27, 2015.

Comment by Benjamin Rodriguez on Monday, March 21, 2016
I have been with republic for a year now. I have two lines of service with the Moto g's. My average bill is $26 per month. That's $13 a line. I have the 1gb data plan on each phone, and I get a refund every month. I have gotten used to using data at home or when wifi is available. I still use data on occasion I live this service and recommend it. It takes discipline to learn how to use more wifi data, but in the end. $13 per line per month !!!! Love it .

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Benjamin, thanks for your comment and feedback on Republic Wireless. It's always good to hear from other Republic Wireless customers! It's also good to hear that the Republic Refund plan is working out for you, so you have cellular data when you need it, but it doesn't end up costing that much because you get refunded for what you don't use. We will have been with Republic for two years this coming summer, and I also highly recommend it. We've always stuck with their $10 plan since we're usually around wifi and can live with just wifi for our data. My wife and teenage daughter love their Moto G's, as do I, and having THREE smartphones for about $34 bucks a month TOTAL just can't be beat. My only regret is that I waited as long as I did until I finally decided to try Republic Wireless (and leave T-Mobile). Thanks again for taking the time to comment, and for providing feedback on how the Republic Wireless data refund plan is working for you.

Comment by Steel Appeal on Sunday, May 01, 2016
How were you assigned a number? I imagine the phone came with a card that said "this is your number".

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Good question. It was almost two years ago, but here is what I remember. When you order your phone and service, you also get an online account. You log onto your account using your email address and a password. You can see your new phone number on your account. When you get you phone, I don't remember if there was a printed card with the number, but after you turn on and activate your phone, your number will also be on your phone. The fastest way of learning what it is though is to check your online account.
The number will be assigned based on the nearest area code to your address that Republic Wireless can use. If you don't like the area code or number, you can select a different. In addition, after you get the phone and set it up, if you want, you can port your old number to Republic to replace the number they assigned to you with your old number, if you want to keep your old number. Porting an old number is pretty easy, as long as Republic has access to your area code. There's a way to check that I should post here. But I wouldn't terminate your old service or port your old number until you get your new Republic phone and try it out for a while.

Comment by Joyce on Friday, June 10, 2016
Hi - I live in a rural area with limited everything. I do have Internet at home. My job is more rural. Do you recommend Republic for rural customers?

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Joyce, I don't think it matters so much whether you are "rural" or "urban". It's more a question of whether you have wifi (internet) available at home and/or work, and how the cellular coverage is where you live and work. Republic Wireless currently uses Sprint for coverage, and will be adding T-Mobile. There's a link above that you can use to check the cellular coverage where you are. If you have good coverage and wifi too, Republic is a great way to save a lot of money! Good luck.
3/19/17 update: Republic Wireless now uses both Sprint and T-Mobile for cellular data coverage, and also has voice & text roaming on other carriers. They will determine whether you get a Sprint or a T-Mobile supported phone when you sign up based on your location and which service works the best at your location.

Comment by Mike on Thursday, August 04, 2016
Keep in mind fellow cheapskates that although RW now has the Clear Choice plans, they still offer the Refund Plans that preceded if you have the Moto G (1st and 3rd gen), Moto X (1st and 2nd Gen) or the Moto E. I think the Refund Plans are still the best deal for those who want the option of having a small amount of cell data available for when you are out and about and need to look something up, get directions, etc. and are not by WiFi. For $17.50 a month you get a plan with .5GB of data, and all data that is unused is refunded each month. I typically use 50-100MB a month and am refunded around $5-6 each month, so my monthly grand total cell bill is ~$13. That is considerably cheaper than their current lowest cost Clear Choice plan with data, which is $20/month for 1GB, and none of that is refundable. So, after taxes/fees it'd likely be around $23. So, if you don't use much cell data but would like to be able to have access to it when needed in the least expensive way then I'd suggest getting one of those phones listed above (they still have the Moto G 3rd gen available on their site; and you can of course get it or the others on eBay for good prices. Moto G 1st gens sell for $50-70 as of right now). I upgraded my Moto G 1st gen to 3rd gen to get a camera that is actually usable, expandable memory, better battery life, and it's snappier processor. The Clear Choice plans are pretty reasonable, but I'll stick with the Refund Plan as long as they offer it as it is the best deal for me.

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Mike, great comment! I agree that the Republic Refund plans were a great deal for people who just needed a little cell data, and I credit Republic for trying to shake up the way the wireless industry sells cellular data. It's a bummer that Republic doesn't have the refund feature in their new plans, at least not now. I understand why with moving to new unlocked GSM phones and negotiating with a new carrier (T-Mobile), the plan options have changed and there is new pricing. In addition, Republic has stopped customizing the ROM on their phones and now just uses their app and the SIM card to provide service, which means in addition to buying a phone from Republic Wireless, you can now also bring your own phone to Republic (it has to be an approved/validated model). Now if you ever leave Republic, because all of the new phones are unlocked (whether you buy a new phone from Republic or buy it on your own), all of the new phones can be taken with you and used on other carriers. There are a lot of advantages to Republic 3.0, though again, it's a bummer the refund feature is gone for now. But Republic may be able to add it back in the future. For now, if someone wants a refund plan, they would need to get one of the "old" Republic phones you listed. The only one still for sale on the Republic website is the white Moto G3, and I don't know how long that will last. The other option is to buy a used old Republic phone, but I wouldn't recommend that. One really doesn't know how the used phone was treated or how much life the battery has left. I don't think it's worth it to buy a used phone just to try to get a slightly cheaper monthly plan. Still, it's something to consider. Our three original Republic Moto G smartphones are on the now grandfathered "legacy Republic 1.0" $10 plans. The phones continue to work just fine, so we'll stick with them for now. I thinks it speaks well of Republic that they will continue to support the old plans as long as people have the old phones. Many companies wouldn't do that. I also think it's a testament to Motorola that after two years, all three of our Moto G phones just keep plugging away, which is why if I was getting a new Republic phone, I'd go with the new Moto G4. Thanks again for your comment!

Comment by Donna on Thursday, August 04, 2016
Does the Republic Wireless phone support navigation and if so, do you need to get one of the data plans? How are the phones for taking pictures or videos?

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Donna, As far as navigation goes, for any smartphone service provider (whether it's Republic or some other provider), if you want online, real-time navigation, you will need cellular data. However, we use an app called "Here" which provides off-line navigation, and works well. You download the app and in our case, a map of California, and then you enter your destination (and favorite locations like your home) while you are connected to the internet via wifi. Then when you are out-and-about and away from wifi, Here will use your GPS location and show you where you are on a map, and tell you how to get to any location you have already stored. The only downside is you can't search for new locations (when you aren't on wifi) and you can't get real-time traffic. I think Google Maps also has an offline version now.
As for the new smartphones for taking pictures and video, I think all smartphones have come a long way in the past few years, and probably all of the new Republic phones have "good" camera. I've read that the new Moto G4 camera is very nice, but I guess it depends on how "good" you want your pictures to be (if you can even tell the difference) and how much you want to pay. Personally, I'd be nervous if I was responsible for not losing or breaking an $800 phone, and if I want the best camera available, I'd get a real SLR camera (they look so cool too).
Thanks for your comment!

Comment by Patricia on Friday, August 26, 2016
I am a dinosaur who is using a phone that I purchased from Verizon over nine years ago. I should like to replace it with an additional line as well. Just replaced a 27 year old auto. The information you have provided is very encouraging. Are you using a family plan or does each phone have a separate plan?

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Patricia, I'm a bit of a dinosaur myself. My wife and I had flip phones up until two years ago when we switched to Republic Wireless and got our Moto G smartphones. All of our Republic Wireless phones are on the same account but are individual plans (all the same unlimited talk & text plan). Republic doesn't have a family plan, but you can get multiple individual plans and keep them all under the same account.
PS. We have two cars... a 13 year old 2003 Ford Escape and a 22 year old 1994 Honda Civic. We don't drive that much and both cars still run just fine. I don't mind being a "dinosaur" if it means saving money and having more of it for the things in life that really matter.

Comment by Yuan Lee on Thursday, September 29, 2016
How about the roaming service of Republic? About roaming in other countries?

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Yuan, Republic Wireless uses T-Mobile to provide their cellular service (when you aren't on wifi). Republic does have voice roaming (for voice, sms texts, and mms texts), so you should have T-Mobile cellular voice (plus texts) with roaming on AT&T. However, due to the high cost of roaming data, Republic does not have cellular data roaming, so cellular data is limited to T-Mobile. In any event, I strongly encourage people to confirm they have good Republic Wireless / T-Mobile cellular data coverage here if they are signing up for a plan with cellular data. Republic does not offer international cellular service, but their phones do work on wifi everywhere. We were in Sweden this summer, and brought our Republic phones. We put them on airplane mode and enabled wifi, and they worked great at our hotel and where ever we had wifi. We were able to call and text back and forth with people in the US, though you can't make local calls when overseas. Hope this answers your question, and thanks for your comment.
3/19/17 update: Republic Wireless now uses both Sprint and T-Mobile for cellular data coverage, and also has voice & text roaming on other carriers. They will determine whether you get a Sprint or a T-Mobile supported phone when you sign up based on your location and which service works the best at your location.

Comment by Thomas Raywood on Monday, November 07, 2016
Truth is, I want to still be able to use my Moto Razr. Can any of your plans accommodate that? Thanks.

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Thomas, I still have two "classic" Moto RAZR flip phones and love(d) them, but we don't use them anymore. The RAZR only works on 2G, and I think that service is being phased out by all the carriers to make more room for 4G LTE service and more. We had T-Mobile a few years ago (see my review above) but T-Mobile changed their service in our neighborhood and our 2G Razr flip phones weren't reliable anymore. As for Republic Wireless, all of their plans require a smartphone. I'm not sure what carriers still provide service for an old school RAZR, but just keep in mind the 2G limitation may be an additional problem. I know I really loved my flip phone and didn't see any need for a smart phone, but now that I've been using the Moto G smartphone for over two years, I've got to admit, smartphones are pretty nice. And the savings we get from Republic's cheap but good service plans just can't be beat.

Comment by thinking about RW on Monday, November 21, 2016
We have teens. We bought two Moto E 2nd gen phones, used, off of ebay. Does RW still offer the $10/month plans? Are these phones compatible with the new 3.0 service? Thanks, Ron

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Ron, Good question. They won't work on the new RW 3.0 plans, but they would work for the old 2.0 plans if they are Republic Wireless Moto E phones. Under the old Republic Wireless, RW phones had customized software and only worked on RW (using Sprint). So if they are RW phones, you can sign them up for the old $10 plan, but they would have to be the RW custom version. If the Moto E phones were for a different carrier, they won't work for the old 2.0 plans, and the Moto E is not a phone that would work for the new 3.0 plans either.

Comment by Laura on Thursday, December 01, 2016
Can you bring in your current telephone number?

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Laura, If you meant that you want to keep your old number and bring it to Republic, that process is called "porting" and yes, you can (in most cases) port/transfer in your old number. First you would get a Republic Wireless phone and new number, and then whenever you want, you can "port" (transfer) your old number in to replace the RW number. Most numbers can be ported into Republic Wireless. They do have a "Number Transfer Checker" near the bottom of this page where you can make sure you can transfer your old number to Republic Wireless. It's good to check before you order if you need to be able to keep your old number. When we first joined Republic two years ago, they weren't able to port in numbers from Santa Barbara, California, so we had to get new numbers, but now they do have numbers for our city and we would be able to port in our old numbers.

Comment by Peter Meal on Monday, January 09, 2017
Will you be adding iphones to your service? Specifically iphone 5s. Thanks.

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Peter, Thanks for your question. Republic Wireless does not sell or support service on any iPhones at this time. They used to rely on customizing the ROM on their phones to make their hybrid wifi/cellular service work, which limited them to just the Motorola Defy initially and then the Moto X, Moto G, and Moto E series of Motorola Android smartphones. Now they've changed how they work and don't have to customize the phone's ROM. Instead they use their sim and their app, which means now their service works on a variety of unlocked Android smartphones running Android Marshmallow or higher. Republic Wireless might be working on or have plans to also create an iPhone-version of their app that allows their service to work on iPhones (or it might just not be at all possible). I'm only speculating and really don't know. I haven't read anything about this, but it might be a possibility in the future. I just would not expect it any time soon.

Comment by SZ on Sunday, March 19, 2017
I see mention of a $10 plan in the comments. How's that different than the $15 plan?

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi SZ, Good question. The "$10 plan" and the "15 plan" both refer to the same unlimited talk & text plan, but one is the old original plan that is no longer available and one is the new "Clear Choice" plan. Basically, the price went up from $10 to $15 in 2016. When Republic Wireless first started (before my time), they had a single plan for $19.99 with unlimited talk, text, and 5GB of data I think. Then they restructured their pricing to have multiple plans, and introduced a $5 wifi only plan, and $10 unlimited talk & text plan, and a $25 or $40 plan that added 5GB of 3G or 4G data respectively. That's when my family joined with three lines on the $10 unlimited talk & text plans. Then Republic introduced their data refund plans, which many people loved, but were apparently too confusing for potential new customer and discouraged people from joining. Then, last year in July 2016, Republic Wireless went through a big change. They switched their phones from having a few customized-ROM Motorola phones that would only work on Republic Wireless to using a Republic Wireless sim card that can go in many more phones (meaning a lot more phone options for customers, and their phones are unlocked now so you can take them to other providers if you leave Republic). They also switched from using Sprint to using T-Mobile, though now they can use either Sprint or T-Mobile, depending on which carrier has better coverage in your zip code. Finally, they introduced their new Clear Choice pricing and plans. The $5 wifi only plan and the old $10 talk & text plan are now gone, though people with older customized-ROM Republic Wireless phones can still use those old plans. If you could find an older used custom ROM Republic Wireless phone, you can still activate it under the old plans. But for new customers, the options are now the new Clear Choice plans, with unlimited talk & text being $15 (which is a very popular plan), or for $20 you can also get 1Gb of cellular data. I'm not sure if you wanted this much background, but hopefully I've answered your question. I do think the $15 talk & text plan is still a great value. Thanks again for your comment and question!

Comment by Quinn on Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Just thought I would share that there are 2 coupon codes that are active with Republic Wireless currently. I have itemized them below.
CASL: Get a $20 credit when buying a phone or buying and activating a SIM card. The $20 credit can be applied to a follow-up purchase of a device/accessories or the second month of service, depending on which comes first. Expires 5/5/2017
USCLUB: Get $20 credit for new customers or new phone lines, to be applied within 7 days after activation of service. Expires 5/5/2017
Just today (4/25/2017) I set up a new phone line with Republic Wireless and the USCLUB code worked perfectly.

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Quinn, Thanks for sharing the two coupon codes (and verifying that one of them actually works!). For other readers, Republic Wireless has a blog post explaining this promotion. Republic Wireless is partnering with two youth soccer organizations (Capital Area Soccer League and US Club Soccer) and this two coupon codes are part of this. If you use either one, you will get a $20 credit on your account that will be applied against future service. The coupon codes are only valid until 5/5/17. I'll post them on my current Republic Wireless deals page until they expire. Thanks again for commenting and sharing!

Comment by MelissaV on Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Considering republic for my own 12 year old daughter but I had one quick question. Can you make phone calls on republic if you don't have a wifi signal and you don't have a plan with cellular data? My daughter doesn't have access to wifi at her school or when she is walking home but I want to be sure she can call or text us if we opted for the $15 plan with no cell data.

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Melissa, Yes, the $15 unlimited talk & text plan provides talk and text on cellular. If you are on wifi, the phone uses wifi, but otherwise, the talk and text works on cellular. As long as you have a cellular signal, you'll be able to talk and text. You don't have to be on wifi to talk and text. Both my son (13) and daughter (15)are on Republic Wireless talk & text only plans (no cellular data). The phones work fine everywhere for calling and texting, but they only have internet access when they are on wifi (at home and school). I think not having cellular data is actually better for my daughter because she can only use SnapChat when she's on wifi (which is still most of the time). If she had cellular data, I'm afraid she'd always be on SnapChat, like many of her friends who have data! Having cellular data is not always a good thing, especially with teenagers. :)

Comment by Chad on Thursday, June 22, 2017
We're currently with Verizon, primarily because they're the only reliable service where we live in AZ. Also used a T-Mobile device next to our V devices, and coverage all over the western US was far superior with V. Question: You noted a possible "con" was incompatibility with Apple devices; would what I understand as incompatibility with Verizon devices also be a con? Or did I miss something?
Thanks! Great review article!!

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Chad, If the only reliable service provider in your area is Verizon, and you know that T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint would not provide good coverage, then Republic Wireless may not be a good choice for you. Republic Wireless uses either T-Mobile (with AT&T voice/text roaming) or Sprint (with Verizon talk/text roaming), though their phones also work on wifi when it is available. When you sign up with Republic Wireless, they check your zip code to determine if their coverage would work for you, or if it won't, they'll let you know. You can see their coverage checker here. By default, they sell phones that use T-Mobile for talk/text and data, with AT&T for backup roaming talk/text. If your area doesn't have decent T-Mobile coverage, then they sell phones that use Sprint for talk/text and data, with Verizon for backup roaming talk/text. It is simplest if you buy a phone from Republic to start your service (and they have a 14 day money back guarantee), but they also have a "bring your own phone" program. If you have an unlocked GSM-capable smartphone that is on their approved list, you can buy and install their GSM sim to use their T-Mobile/AT&T service plans, but the phone must be unlocked and on their approved GSM phone list. You would not be able to use a Verizon phone on Republic, unless it was fully unlocked and was one of the approved phones that they support. Hope this answer helps!

Comment by Mark Lewalski on Thursday, July 20, 2017
Quoting a previous post: "Comment by Benjamin Rodriguez on Monday, March 21, 2016 - I have been with republic for a year now. I have two lines of service with the Moto g's. My average bill is $26 per month. That's $13 a line. I have the 1gb data plan on each phone, and I get a refund every month."
Do you know if this is true? I was thinking about getting the 1Gb plan but don't know if I will use all the cellular data. Do I get a refund for the unused amount? I haven't seen info about this on their website.

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Mark, Benjamin was referring to an older "grandfathered" plan that Republic no longer offers. In the past when Republic used customized-rom phones, they also had a plan that offered a refund on unused data. But last year (2016) when they expanded their coverage options by adding a second service provider and also started using unlocked phones, they also had to raise their prices a little on their new Clear Choice plans and remove the data-refund option, though people who have older Republic Wireless phones can remain on the grandfathered plans with their old RW phones indefinitely.

Reply by Mark Lewalski on Thursday, July 20, 2017
Thanks very much for the reply Steve. Very useful info on your page. I needed a phone for my small business and this fit the bill. Mark

Comment by Aaron on Wednesday, August 09, 2017
Excellent rundown here of RW's pros and cons. I used them for a year or so and then ultimately switched to another MVNO that was less expensive. I did have some hiccups with the service now and then but I often think it was related to the phone more than anything else. Their service is generally pretty good - but will often "out-source" your requests to their knowledgeable userbase before someone at RW gets involved.

Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Aaron, Thanks for your comment and feedback, and for sharing your own experience with Republic. I think the Republic Wireless $15 unlimited talk/text plan as well as the $20 plan which includes 1GB of data are pretty hard to beat, but it one wants more data per month there are other providers who may offer a better deal. As for support, they don't have a phone number to call, but I don't mind that. When I had a problem many years ago with my AT&T service I spent hours on the phone and never got anywhere. Same thing happened with T-Mobile. So I'd rather just submit a ticket or an email and have someone in support take care of it for me (though I think RW also has an online chat option during the day). More importantly, I've just never needed much support because our phones and service has almost always just worked, which is nice. I have used their community forum a few times and have found the people there very helpful. Thanks again for commenting!

 

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