I started hearing about Republic Wireless about a year ago or so–the promise of a new, low-cost cell phone that you own and pay very little on thanks to rebate plans and wi-fi bonded calling. Too good to be true, I used to say.
About a month ago, with our impending move to a small island in Florida, I finally caved in and said “yes” to my 2 teenage girls’ dreams to own their own cellphone. When the cries came in over and over, the first thing I thought about was “How am I going to pay for 2 more AT&T cellphones?” With the data, taxes, fees and rental of new phones, I figured that wasn’t an option. I remembered services like Republic Wireless from articles I have stumbled on and I figured to at least do some research.
What is Republic WIreless you ask? Here’s the gist: Low-cost phones that you buy outright–no renting from Verizon or AT&T for exorbitant fees. Low-cost plans each month–no contracts with these people whatsoever. You simply pick out your favorite Android phone (sorry, no iPhones welcome thanks to Apple’s closed-minded policies and procedures) and you now own that phone as long as you want. From there, choose a data plan and move on with life. Get ready for the best part–I just recieved my first bill from Republic. Since my girls didn’t use all of the 1GB I prepaid for, I got a refund of $10. Since I came late to the party, my plan doesn’t offer the refunding that they enjoy. My total phone bill this last month with the 3 of us? I paid $70.03 for the 3 phones. Don’t forget, I got a refund which brought that number to where it is.
You’re probably not convinced yet. Here’s some more bullet points–these phones that you buy from RW are “hybrid” phones. That means they are PRIMARILY built to work on wi-fi FIRST and then use the cellular signal when wi-fi disappears. So, most teenagers these days have 90-95% wi-fi signal around them at all times–wny not use that free signal to make phone calls instead of paying AT&T or Verizon to make real cellular calls? I average close to 95-97% daily wi-fi coverage as well. This is why RW doesn’t charge the rates for cellular service that AT&T and Verizon do–since you use very little cellular data, they can afford to drop the rates on cell service.
How about tethering your signal to wi-fi devices around you for free? Check. How about buying more data if you run out right from your phone? Check. How about software that shows you how much of your precious data that you have used? Check. How about making a call when there is NO cell service but PERFECT wi-fi service? Check. You’re going to hear a lot about wi-fi calling in the next few months–it’s simply the no-brainer way to work when you are near wi-fi and don’t want to pay AT&T prices for data. If you can get over T-Mobile and Sprint coverage, then give these guys a spin.
As far as the overall experience with RW so far, I have to say I’m overall pleased–my teenage daughters’ phones came and since I wasn’t in the same state with them, they actually figured out how to unbox them and set them up themselves. Since they have had these 2 phones, I have not had ONE single issue with the phones or service–if they want to make a call at home, it just goes over wi-fi as advertised–if we are driving around, the phones use a combination of Spring and T-Mobile service. Not as strong as AT&T or Verizon, but, I can’t complain about their signal on the small island here. They are on wi-fi 90% of the time anyway!
What’s the downside? I had a small one during my switch to RW from AT&T this last week. My brand-new Moto G4 that I purchased from RW was perfect for about 3 days–no complaints whatsoever. I even made a 1.5 hour phone call to a mortgage banker and it was wi-fi the entire time to her cellphone–I couldn’t have made that call in the house with AT&T–you have to go to the end of the driveway (and pray) to get a signal for AT&T or Verizon here. That right there paid for itself.
Things got crazy on the 4th day–the day my number ported from AT&T–the screen started freaking out like a ghost was pressing the screen, the programs would crash, the phone would reboot constantly for no reason. I ended up factory wiping the phone a total of 8 times to try to solve it–even right now it’s still crashing every few minutes. I assumed I got a bad phone and opened a ticket with RW. I had a nice fellow assure me it’s fine and we can monitor the situation overnight. I did that and nobody really got back to me the next morning. Or afternoon. Or evening. So, I took to Twitter and begged for a new phone–this one is clearly not right. An hour later, I had the e-mail saying they are sending a new phone. That was a GOOD move, RW. This is why I’m writing this review right now.
I’ll tell you point-blank–dump the contracts from these blood-sucking phone companies and at least try RW. You have a trial period where you can send the phone back if you don’t like it–I’m sure you will like the experience–it’s a no-brainer from the money side. We are all around wi-fi most of our lives–use that to make phone calls–it just doesn’t get better than that. Yes, you pay for the phone up front–but–you own it. No contracts, no rental fees, no damage penalties.
i loved RW before I had a phone with them and now that they came through and fixed an obvious lemon-phone issue without any qualms, I love them even more now. They are refreshing and progressive and I give 2 full thumbs up!