275 comments

Republic Wireless: $19 for an Unlimited-Everything Smartphone Plan?!

defy-woodWell, it looks like I’ve switched telephone plans yet again. And more importantly, a good chunk of the country will probably be doing so in the near future as well… for the days of the $100 phone bill are numbered.

Throughout most of the 2000s, Mrs. MM and I relied on various AT&T plans for our mobile phone needs. In 2010 I joined the smartphone camp with an expensive iPhone 4 and a data plan. Then in October 2012 she untethered us from the corporate behemoth and we carried both of our smartphones into the $10.00 per month utopia of an Airvoice Wireless plan.

Since then, we’ve been happily enjoying this inexpensive mobile phone service, which has met our limited needs so far. But secretly, I have been itching to test out a competing full-featured mobile phone service called Republic Wireless, because it offers unlimited talk, text, data, and some other benefits detailed below for the curiously low price of $19 per month.

Although I have done fine with a combination of Airvoice and FreedomPop to this point, running a blog of this size does tend to increase your mobile voice and data use. People email and call me more than before, and comments need approving every day. With a summer and fall of busy cross-country travel coming up, and Mrs. MM limping along with an old broken flip phone due to the accidental destruction of her almost-as-old iPhone 3, I figured we could do a bit of optimization. A new phone with the unlimited $19 service for me, while my iPhone 4 would go to the lady and remain on AirVoice at $10 per month. Plus, it would be a great chance to evaluate the Republic service in detail, so I could write a review for you.

The only drawback was that I’d have to buy myself one of the required $259 Motorola Defy smartphones to do it.

Updates:

On November 14th, Republic released the new phone – the Motorola Moto X .
You can read about the new phone (and the new plans) in this more recent article

And back on September 26, the price of the older Motorola Defy XT dropped to $99 ($109 including shipping).

I was almost at the point of purchase anyway, when fate intervened nicely: Someone from Republic Wireless contacted me through this blog, and asked if they could send me one of those fancy phones for free, in exchange for checking out their service*. I approved the shipment, transferred over my existing phone number, and started doing a bit of testing in the Money Mustache laboratory.

Everything was working relatively well, although I did have a few technical questions I wanted to ask. I sent them to my contact within the company, and in a short while my new telephone rang. It was David Morken, none other than the CEO of Republic Wireless (and a larger related company called Bandwidth.com) on the line. He answered my questions for 30 minutes, and also put me in contact with some of their senior engineers, who answered the rest of my queries about their signal processing and future technology plans.

At this point, I realized we’re dealing with a different kind of mobile phone company here. It’s run by real, intelligent people who are excited by the chance to change this country’s entire communications landscape.

I’ve been using Republic Wireless exclusively for over a month now. It really works, and it really is a $19-per-month no-contract unlimited smartphone plan. Nobody is counting your minutes or your megabytes or sending you frightening monthly statements as thick as phone books – you just pay your nineteen bucks and use the thing as you see fit. It works all over the United States, because the company uses the Sprint network for all your calls and data when you are out and about with the phone. In areas that the Sprint network is not available, your Republic phone automatically roams to the Verizon network (for both voice and data) – free of charge.

The clever twist with this service is that when you are at home (or in many cases at work), with the phone connected to a wi-fi network, all calls are routed over the Internet instead. This makes those calls virtually free for Republic to provide, and it makes them better for you as well, because you are not subject to the common problem of poor phone reception inside a house or office building. This is ideal for me, since I have weak cellular reception but strong wi-fi in my basement office at home.

Even more appealing to me is the fact that my phone will now work seamlessly while visiting relatives or staying in hotels in other countries. As long as you can find a wi-fi network, you can make and receive calls for free. None of your US friends even know what country you’re in, and there will be no-nonsense regarding “long distance” or “roaming” charges. If you need to make true international calls while in wi-fi, you can do it by installing the Google Voice application, which handles them for only a few cents per minute.

Update: In June, I took this phone across the US on a road trip and found the expected voice and data access everywhere I went. But when I crossed the border into Canada, I was surprised to find that voice and texting (but not data) continued to work – for free due to an agreement Republic has made with Bell Canada. For me, this is a major bonus, as I have traditionally spent my summers in Canada with no mobile phone service because of AT&T’s ridiculous roaming rates.

True cellular calls are not possible in countries beyond US and Canada with the Republic phone, but given the cost of international roaming, you’re better just buying a SIM card locally and popping it into a compatible old phone that you buy separately.

So if the service works well, and the company seems honest and ethical, what are the drawbacks?

First of all, the word unlimited comes with an unspoken asterisk. You see, Republic is offering this ridiculously low price on the basis that many people will end up offloading a lot of their use onto Wi-fi. When you use the Sprint voice and data network, they have to pay for your usage. If you stream Pandora Radio for 8 hours every day over the Sprint network, or watch YouTube videos endlessly on the commuter train, the company will lose money on you. So there’s a sense of responsibility where you try to be a good community member and not waste the family’s resources. There’s even a little report card where you can check how much you’re using compared to the average user:

offload

Blue line: my WiFi percentage. Green: Republic user average.

The company indicates that if you go consistently overboard on data use, you could be booted from the family, although this is very rare. However, checking your email and web surfing at will is perfectly within reason. (Music and video can burn through data over 100 times faster than just using the web to read things).

It’s almost as if David Morken is your Dad, and you don’t want to let him down. This is quite a different feeling from, say, having an AT&T account where you’d welcome any opportunity to ding the company after years of them screwing you.

 But what about the Phone?

For many, the face of their phone plan is the phone itself. And with Republic, that face currently is a smartphone you’ve never heard of called the Motorola Defy XT.

The Defy is your run-of-the-mill touchscreen iPhone copycat. It’s black, it has all the usual amenities like WiFi, GPS, accelerometer, front and rear cameras, the ability to record, play, and edit music and videos, and of course access to the sum of humanity’s knowledge in your pocket at all times.

When compared directly to the recent iPhones, it has the disadvantages of a dowdier shape, slower response to touches, and lower quality microphone and cameras, and screen. It also can burn through battery power more quickly (I need to charge mine every day), and mine tends to crash every week or two, requiring a reboot (vs. once every few months with the iPhone).

At 480×854 pixels, the Defy falls short of the ultrafine 640×960 resolution on the iPhone 4, although it still handily whomps the iPhone 3 and other previous-generation phones. I took these three side-by-side pictures for comparison:

Defy XT vs iPhone 4 - front

Defy XT vs iPhone 4 – front
(don’t be scared by the 24 degrees on the weather report – I’ve got mine set to Celcius)

Defy XT vs iPhone 4 - back

Defy XT vs iPhone 4 – back

Defy XT vs iPhone 4 - top. It is slightly thicker, but also much tougher.

Defy XT vs iPhone 4 – top. It is slightly thicker, but also much tougher.

And the remaining disadvantages are partially offset by the fact that it has an easy-to-access microSD card slot (no more of Apple’s “$100 for 8GB more memory” nonsense), a user-swappable battery, and a water, dust, and shock-resistant design. I have verified that last claim by carrying the Defy in the sawdusty pocket of my construction pants for the past month, getting it rained upon thoroughly, and dropping it accidentally without a case on the bamboo, slate, and concrete floors throughout my residence. It still looks and works like new.

Another big positive in my book is that it runs Google’s Android operating system, which is far more flexible than Apple’s IOS to most techies, which makes it more fun to use.

For example, when you want to add a few hundred MP3s to your phone for mobile partygoing, you plug it into your computer and it appears as an external hard drive, just as it should. Drag in the files and folders, and you’re done. None of these ridiculous concepts like “itunes”, “libraries”, or “syncing”, although the Google Play system can make things as automatic as you like, with all your files stored in the cloud if you choose to put them there.

Another benefit of Android is the thorough integration with Google stuff in general. Google Maps Navigation is a pleasure to use: you tap one button and speak “Arches National Park”, and it generates fully interactive directions that update as you drive. Similarly, you can speak all your search queries, text messages, and even dictate entire emails, and it will very accurately transcribe them onto the phone, potentially saving a lot of finger-pecking. My iPhone 4 didn’t have any of that.

We could go on and on about the subtle differences between the various smartphones, but the bottom line is that they are all plenty amazing. Sufficient to make any human pass out due to Awesomeness Overload if you took one back in a time machine to just the year 2006. To fret over the remaining differences is to fall prey to the tragedy of Tiny Details Exaggeration Syndrome, which is a fate I wish upon no Mustachians.

And if you’re not satisfied with the 80% perfect Defy XT, Republic Wireless even has a solution for that: within just a few months, they are rolling out three new phones of varying fanciness – the top of which is apparently one of the iPhone-shaming superphones that have been coming out these days.

They have agreed to send me one of those beauties when they become available, and at that point I’ll give it a thorough evaluation, since it will be targeted to people who actually care about the finer points of cutting edge hardware. As much as I try to keep fancy gadgets from dominating my own life, I still find it awfully fun to dig into them in detail when I have a good excuse to do so.

So in summary, I can enthusiastically recommend Republic Wireless to anyone who needs more voice and data coverage than a pay-as-you-go plan offers. Just as Pandora set a $3.00 per month ceiling on my music expenditure, Republic has now boldly capped the US cellular market at $19 per month. If you’re paying more than this, you should switch. Like, now.

Even if you have a remaining contract, call your company, find out what the termination fee would be, and do the math. You’ll probably find it is hugely profitable to just pay it and immediately switch to $19 per month, rather than going on at your current rate. The savings for many people will be over $1000 over the life of a contract.

Edit: although there is now a new phone and four new rate plans available, I’m leaving this original banner in place since the Defy and the $19.00 plan is still available as of this update (Dec. 31st). This link will lead you to the whole selection of what they offer.

Once you are signed up, you can generate referrals for your own friends, triggering additional free months of service on both sides. With a persuasive demeanor and a sufficient supply of friends, you could amass up to two years of free phone service like this (they cap the reward at 25 months).

Bonus from a Reader: One of my biggest peeves with the stock configuration of the Republic phone was the text messaging. When texts come in, you get an alert sound, but the text message doesn’t pop up – it just briefly scrolls through the notification bar and it is gone. You need to manually load the texting app and go dig up the message to reply. And if your phone is idle with the screen off, you get no visual notification at all!

This flaw caused me to miss several messages, including an invitation to a beer-fueled Friday Night game of Bocce ball, at a nearby park that overlooks the mountains while the summer sun sets behind them. I was not pleased.

The solution? Install the free HandCent SMS app. It makes the text messaging system work in a useful and intuitive manner. Initial setup brings up a box about signing up for a handcent services account, but I cancelled out of all of that and found the app still works without any account.

 

 

 

* While this blog does not do paid reviews or endorsements, I am occasionally lucky enough to accept free things that I would have bought anyway (books, bikes, computers, energy-saving things, fitness stuff, financial services, etc.) They may or may not get reviewed on the blog, depending on how useful they could be for readers. Getting things free doesn’t influence my review, because this blog now earns enough to buy anything it wants for review, so everything is effectively free.

But if in doubt, do your own research and let me know if you ever find a better service than any of those I recommend here. Finding better services will always win out over making money for the blog, so I’m all ears!

 

 

 

  • CL May 30, 2013, 9:51 pm

    I think Republic Wireless is great! Thanks for putting up this review for all of the Mustachians. I’m thinking of picking up an Android phone myself, since I recently got a Pebble smart watch and somehow the cool apps for it are all Android. I also accidentally got hired (to be trained) as an Android developer, so there is that too.

    Reply
    • Bob Sayer June 1, 2013, 2:53 pm

      Thanks for the opposite view.

      I think I’ll stick with my $0/month plan through VirginMobile (plus 18c per use). I’m in front of a computer all day so don’t need internet on my phone. The internet on the PC is good enough. (And if that ever changes, they offer iPhone service for just $30.)

      BTW amazon used to offer free internet service on my kindle, but had to discontinue it because the customers did NOT “try to be a good community member and not waste the family’s resources.” The amazon customers abused the service, just as customers abuse unlimited downloads on their home ISPs, and I suspect the same will happen with Republic (shrug). Then again I might be wrong… I’ll just watch and see
      .

      Reply
    • Katty December 31, 2013, 6:10 pm

      What is the contact number for Republic Wireless service?

      Reply
    • papa t January 2, 2014, 7:16 pm

      wow. thanks for this! I think i am going to give these guys a shot. amazing!

      Reply
  • Kelly May 30, 2013, 9:58 pm

    Thanks so much for this review, MMM. Our cell phone bills have been the most recent targets of my rage, since both hubs and myself are very light users (even of data), and are paying a combined ONE HUNDRED SIXTY FIVE DOLLARS A MONTH for contract service from traditional carriers. I’ve been reading up on the MNVO’s (thanks I.P. Daley!) but hadn’t found one yet that offered a plan that closely tracked our actual usage.

    Republic sounds absolutely perfect for what we need since most usage happens at home where we have WiFi. $165 to $40 for two phones? Sign me up.

    One question– how much were your taxes and fees on top of the $19 service charge?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 30, 2013, 10:13 pm

      Good question – some quick web searching suggests it varies by state around the $3 mark. Mine is free because I’m Mr. Money Mustache so I don’t get to see the bill :-)

      Are there any existing customers who can share the state they are in and the total bill with taxes?

      Reply
      • Maxx May 30, 2013, 11:29 pm

        In California $20.80 total per month. $1.80 tax. RW is awesome, been on since Christmas

        Reply
      • Wade @ Retirement Researcher May 31, 2013, 5:52 am

        I’m on the $29 per month plan and my first bill was $35.14

        Reply
      • Jeff May 31, 2013, 7:35 am

        I’ve been with RW since January. In North Carolina my total bill is $22.50/month. The phone isn’t the best, but it’s much better than the flip phone I had, and they’re definitely working on getting the Google Nexus 4 available. The CEO is already using that as his personal phone and has done demos with it.

        Reply
      • Jennifer May 31, 2013, 7:25 pm

        23.57 in Florida.

        Reply
      • Carroll Cannon June 5, 2013, 3:35 pm

        It is about $33.00 a month in Alabama,but that includes $10.00 that applied to the cost of the phone. The tax is about $3.00.

        Reply
      • squashroll June 12, 2013, 9:39 am

        Dunno if this will get reviewed in time to be beneficial, but the Mustache phone is on sale today: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13845_3-57588882-58/get-a-republic-wireless-no-contract-android-phone-for-$199/?tag=nl.e796&s_cid=e796&ttag=e796&ftag=

        Reply
    • Kyle Wilke May 31, 2013, 1:04 am

      I had the service for a few months, I did a full comment below about my experience. I live in CA and with fees and taxes I think my bill came to 23 bucks a month.

      Reply
    • DP May 31, 2013, 6:24 am

      $23.38 in Pennsylvania

      Reply
  • Tanner May 30, 2013, 10:01 pm

    I’d be interested in the Republic bonus. Good to hear!

    Has anyone tried using Strava on it? how does the GPS work with Strava?

    Reply
    • Tanner August 26, 2013, 1:28 am

      Contact me on my old blog or comment here if you want $19 off your first month of service with republic wireless. ; )

      Reply
  • Grant May 30, 2013, 10:02 pm

    damn, I wish I was in USA sometimes (not so much other times!)

    Telecommunications are still fairly expensive here, and the National Broadband Network that has been started (Fibre to the door!) is under threat if the government changes at the next election.

    But, going with a reseller instead of one of the big 3 carriers is much cheaper, and at times better service. Sure, there is another layer between you and getting your problem fixed, but some of the resellers are a bit more enthusiastic and engaged.

    Reply
  • poko May 30, 2013, 10:02 pm

    This is exciting! Though, I wish I could use it with my existing iPhone. Going to wait and see what other phone models they add before diving in just yet.

    The WiFi calls at home is perfect since I have suddenly stopped receiving cell service inside my house. Very frustrating to go outside to talk to anyone.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 30, 2013, 10:42 pm

      The cool thing about being stuck with an iPhone, is that you can usually sell it on Craigslist/eBay for much more than the $100-$200 subsidized price you bought it for, which more than pays for the new Motorola phone.

      Reply
      • Mr. Bonner May 30, 2013, 11:51 pm

        That is exactly what Mrs. Bonner and I do. We were on alternating upgrade cycles, so I had a 3, she the 3GS, then I had the 4 and she the 4S. I finally opted for a work iPhone, so I sold my last one online again and after the fees and shipping still brought in ~$50 more than my subsidized price. So, while my phone is now paid for by my employer we still spend $65 per month on Mrs. Bonner’s. I’d like to see what new phones they offer in the coming months, but I’m not sure if Mrs. Bonner would be open to a non-iPhone option. She’s quite happy with the fancy 4S she currently owns and doesn’t enjoy learning/tinkering with new electronics.

        Reply
    • Holly@ClubThrifty May 31, 2013, 6:10 am

      They are coming out with at least one new phone at the end of the summer. It’s supposed to be a step up from the current Motorola that they offer.

      Reply
      • Cinnamon August 12, 2013, 6:58 am

        Any idea when the new phone will be coming out? I couldn’t find any info about it on their website.

        Reply
        • Andrea S. August 12, 2013, 11:14 am

          No specific dates have yet been announced. Look for the first phone to be announced/released late summer/early fall…

          Reply
        • Tanner September 25, 2013, 10:14 pm

          New phone Moto X was announced Sept 19th

          Reply
  • Chris Beiser May 30, 2013, 10:14 pm

    For those of you wedded to an iPhone like myself (a state for which I will claim reliance on several pieces of software for which no android equivalents exist as a partial excuse), who use few minutes, but plenty of data, you would do well to look at Tmobile’s $30/month, 5GB/100 minutes plan. It’s more expensive than this plan, but it’s generous enough that if you can configure tethering, and you work on the go a lot, it can pay for itself.

    Reply
    • Maxx May 30, 2013, 11:33 pm

      TMo’s plan is limited to 5GB though. RW is unlimited if you really are a heavy data user

      Reply
    • Heath May 30, 2013, 11:52 pm

      I too will vouch for this incredible T-Mobile plan. I’ve been using it for 5 months, with wonderful results. I stream Pandora constantly, and I’ve never even approached half of the 5GB mark. However, it must be stated that after 5GB, the internet service simply drops out of 4G and back into 3G/Edge. It really is ‘unlimited’ data. And the 100 minutes of talk end up being almost exactly what I use on a monthly basis, so it’s perfect for me. Oh, and unlimited texting as well. Pretty sweet deal for $30/month!

      Reply
      • DG May 31, 2013, 5:55 am

        Do you guys have a link to the Tmobile 30 plan? I can only find 40/per phone on the website (quick, before work check). Thanks

        Reply
        • madage May 31, 2013, 7:22 am

          http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-plans

          Scroll down, you’ll see it on the left side of the page. Looks like sims are currently $10. You can probably get one for less from ebay or maybe amazon.

          Reply
          • Artie May 31, 2013, 4:34 pm

            I received a sim card for free when I walked into the T-Mo store to set up my account. Nice people, those T-Mo agents. I put a $20 cushion in the account to cover any overages from the alloted 100 and have only used $3 since I got the phone in November.
            The phone was even stolen by a mugger in March, returned to me when I called them and told them I had taken their photo and tracked the phone (lie), was completely restored because all my apps were in the Google cloud or something, and I barely missed a beat. Muggers in jail. pwned.

            Reply
        • Naners May 31, 2013, 11:55 am

          Watch out though: if you have an iphone, it looks like the data is only at edge speeds in most markets. See the disclaimer at the bottom.

          Reply
          • April June 5, 2013, 1:10 am

            Yes, be careful with the data plan and taxes! I’m in GA and I am on the $30 plan, but after all the extra crap my bill is $74 a month!

            Reply
      • JZ June 12, 2013, 11:31 am

        We get basically the same plan through WalMart at $25/line, also via T-Mobile. Might want to comparison check them.

        Reply
        • Thomas P. November 15, 2013, 9:16 am

          I noticed you said “basically the same”. What specifically are the difference between the two?

          I can’t seem to find it on their site anywhere; Can you link it please?

          Reply
    • Meg May 31, 2013, 10:55 am

      My husband uses this plan and he’s been very happy with it. He bought one of the google phones to use with it, and I was planning on joining this plan in a month, but now I’m considering the Republic Wireless plan.

      Reply
    • Tom June 1, 2013, 9:08 am

      I just switched myself and my girlfirend to a family plan 500 MB each for $80/mo. ($102 with all taxes and fees). I bought two unlocked phones and plan to keep them for quite awhile. It doesn’t beat the RW plan in price, but I’ve been very happy with their customer service and so far coverage in the Boston area has been good. T-Mobile is leading the way in eliminating the phone contract business model. ATT has already launched a service called AIO wireless in a few cities, which is a competitive contract free plan, motivated by the competition T-Mobile is giving them. The monthly contract charges have reached an absurd level, it’s nice to finally see a good alternative.

      Reply
      • Bob Sayer June 1, 2013, 3:16 pm

        I wouldn’t call T-mobile the “leader” when VirginMobile has had no-contract plans for over ten years, and for less money ($30/month unlimited). I wwould put T-mobile in the second spot. I’m only telling you this because you might not have been aware.

        Reply
  • Jen May 30, 2013, 10:59 pm

    Ohhh – I want one! I’m holding off until the new models come out. I’ve been using the same iPhone 3GS for a good 4 years now… The last two on a $50/month T-Mobile plan (my company reimburses up to $50/month – so there is no out-of-pocket for me…).

    My big idea for Republic is that when they release new models – they offer to blend in the cost of the phone into the monthly payment until it is paid off (ex: if I purchased a $300 phone and only want to pay $50 month (the amount my employer reimburses) then I could pay $50/month with $31 of that going to pay for the phone until the phone is paid off – at that point my rate would drop to $19/month. This would allow my company to pay off my phone for me then I could drop to $19 a month forever after :)

    Reply
    • Jason McCain May 30, 2013, 11:24 pm

      Hey Jen, they have a plan to do this on their site…

      You can get the phone for $99 and pay $29 a month, not sure what the term of the $29 payments are.

      Reply
  • GalinAZ May 30, 2013, 11:01 pm

    It’s been a while, but when I was on Sprint it was lousy coverage, dropping calls, dead zones, etc. the wi-fi access would solve most of that I’m thinking. Is texting included? We still are grandfathered on the Verizon unlimited data plan for our wireless modem at $60/month, not willing to give that up

    Reply
  • Giddings Plaza FI May 30, 2013, 11:09 pm

    Thanks for the reccie–I’m going to take a look at this. Last year I scaled down my mobile bill by moving to Virgin Mobile, which is $49 for me. Might just be time to scale down yet again.

    Reply
  • Evan Lynch May 30, 2013, 11:13 pm

    How good is the cellular service when you’re not on WiFi? I’m not a big data user (I currently have a dumb phone so it’s obviously not a priority to me), but we have Verizon currently where the reception is excellent but the bills are in the $100+ per month range. Even if that’s $19 per person per month, which I imagine it is, and we’d have to buy new phones, the savings in monthly costs would quickly pay for the new phones in a matter of months.

    My only reluctance is that Republic uses Sprint’s network and I don’t know how good their cellular network is compared to Verizon’s.

    Reply
    • Maxx May 30, 2013, 11:44 pm

      I have Verizon paid by my employer and use a GNex for work during the day. Verizon has a bit more coverage than Sprint, but in the areas where Sprint has service the sound quality is superior on Sprint. I find I prefer to make calls on my RW phone on the drive back from Stockton everyday because the conversation is so much clearer. Both services drop calls occasionally on this drive but the calls are more effortless with Sprint. This is just my particular area mind you which is referred to as the heart of the delta in Northern California, centered at Bethel Island. It might be just this area but I think that Verizon’s network is tuned to hold the call no matter what, the result is a bunch of garbled requests to repeat ones self.

      RW gives you a 30 day try before you buy period if you will. You can return them in the first 30 days for a full refund if it isn’t what you thought it was. I can tell you that the phone is not a powerhouse if you are using an S3 or something and that would probably be a hurdle for the people used to very powerful devices. Probably want to wait a few months until there are more device choices. But if you are using flip phones now, you’ll love the whole thing as long as you have coverage in your area.

      Reply
      • Petunia66 May 31, 2013, 11:51 am

        Might be best to check your facts. Mass exodus – that’s hard to believe – watch a few of these …http://bit.ly/143qFON. Republic Wireless did not eliminate the 30-day money back guarantee – they simply take out $10 for return shipping which almost any company in business would do.

        These guys are a breath of fresh air and in stark contrast with the ‘business as usual’ practices of big carriers. For example, when they upgraded phones from the LG Optimus series to the current Motorola devices they gave all current customers great deals to get them to upgrade their devices to ensure everyone has the best experience possible – we got $100 off for upgrading the single band Motorola device to the dual band device – dual band can matter a lot depending on where you live and Sprint’s network. We got a free upgrade for one of our devices.

        Sure Republic Wireless is taking a new approach, and what new technology doesn’t have ‘early day’ issues?? In stark contrast to the national carriers, these guys are great about communicating status updates to their customers. For example, they communicated to their customers quite clearly the status of their OTA update, and for us it resolved the minimal issues we had occasionally with echos.

        Republic Wireless ought to add this tagline “the really nice wireless service people.”

        Reply
        • Matt D May 31, 2013, 7:06 pm

          Thanks for chiming in Petunia66. Facts have been checked and double checked. Ohh, they still offer a refund, it just isn’t the 100% RISK-FREE refund that they so loudly touted when they opened their doors back in Nov. 2011.

          Using wi-fi in phones isn’t a new idea and having it as the primary connection source to place calls was actually tried back in 2004, but the company that looked into it just could never get it to work properly.

          As other RW users have already commented here, they are not known for their great customer service and their communication to customers is minimal, at best. Just enough to keep people ‘on the wire’.

          While I would agree that ‘early day’ issues are normal during the first couple of months of a fledgling venture, RW has had 18 months to resolve all of the issues, but they simply have failed in doing so. Here it is, a year and a half later, and their billing system is still double billing some people, for no apparent reason.

          It’s good to know that the OTA worked for some, but there were an equal number of people that it didn’t work for.

          Here are a few videos that might prove helpful to those considering this service: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPtKLzMD-U8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIhR1NTjHN4

          Reply
          • Republic Wireless June 3, 2013, 3:42 pm

            So – we appreciate the feedback. We always do. We’re also sorry to hear it sounds like you’ve had a bad experience with us. As a company in beta testing, just a year old, we do have a lot of lessons to learn and know our customers count on us to continue that learning with conviction so we can continue getting better – continue doing what should be.

            We believe it is time for a more affordable way to stay in touch with people and have made great strides in our infancy to do so from our first OTA update, to our Wi-Fi+ app for boosting signal, to expanding our support staff, reducing the price of our phones, and more. What’s better is we’ve got a lot more in store for the rest of the year as well.

            Believe it or not, we’ve got an 83% customer satisfaction score – an industry best. We know we can’t survive without happy customers backing us, and believing in a better way to talk as much as we do.

            We do offer a 30-day money back guarantee on the price of the phone and our service. The only price involved with trying out our service is the $10 for shipping if you decide to send it back.

            And – as for videos, we’ve got a few of those too: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLONygPfy1P5iOJG6fREIHGLZoo0KdRfo1

            Thank you again for the conversation.

            Reply
          • Jeff June 4, 2013, 1:57 pm

            “It’s good to know that the OTA worked for some, but there were an equal number of people that it didn’t work for.”

            I’m pretty sure it’s a lot less than half of customers who had trouble. I never had a problem.

            Reply
      • Matt D June 1, 2013, 2:06 pm

        I posted some information to help people who were potentially considering RW to be fully aware of a recent change in their return and “full refund” policy, but it seems to have “disappeared”. (MMM, would you mind checking into that?)

        Long story short, it is not a FULL REFUND like it was just a few months ago. They now charge you and withhold $10 from your refund to make you pay for the return label that they send you.

        For some, that may not be a big deal, but they tried to clip my wife with this $10 withholding when we returned her phone. After a few phone calls to RW headquarters, they decided to reimburse us the $10 as well.

        Reply
    • Holly@ClubThrifty May 31, 2013, 6:12 am

      It probably depends on where you live but the Sprint network works fine where I live (Indianapolis.) I have had Republic Wireless for 3 months and haven’t had any issues.

      Reply
    • Debt Hater May 31, 2013, 4:33 pm

      If you are worried about Sprint coverage compared to Verizon, you might want to check out Page Plus, which is a MVNO of Verizon.

      Depending on your location, the Sprint coverage will probably be spottier and your in-building coverage is definitely better with Verizon and AT&T. Sprint is also redoing their whole network though, so in a few years I can see their network rivaling those two at least in quality – maybe not so much coverage area in rural areas, but the quality in the areas they do serve.

      If you are mainly in a major city, you will have no problem with Sprint coverage. Check their maps for details and also check out the Sensorly maps – these are user driven. Try to talk to people in your area that have Sprint too, the maps don’t always tell the story for in-building coverage.

      If you are still iffy after that, I’d probably see if you can make the step to Page Plus from Verizon and save some money that way but still have the same Verizon coverage. Then maybe once you are feeling daring in a few years you can “downgrade” your costs once again :)

      Reply
  • Net Worth Snowball May 30, 2013, 11:28 pm

    Oh perfect timing on this post! My weekend homework assignment was to switch from my Cadillac Verizon service over to PagePlus. But now I will definitely have to consider Republic Wireless as well. Thanks MMM.

    Reply
  • Ross May 30, 2013, 11:29 pm

    Im really excited to see how this will change the marketplace. Once they get some newer phones, there’ll be no reason to stay at Verizon or AT&T. A true game changer!

    Reply
    • Patrick May 31, 2013, 5:37 am

      Si. No me gusta Verizon o AT&T.

      Reply
  • Kyle Wilke May 31, 2013, 1:00 am

    I actually did everything you said just about a year ago. Was on a verizon family plan with unlimited data. Calculated costs of sticking with verizon vs early termination and jumping on with republic and decided to take the jump. Sold the iphone on ebay which covered most of early termination costs. Received moto defy XT. Started off great, this was while it was still in beta, made calls on wifi and set up phone to my liking. Problems started when trying to make cell calls, problems connecting to the sprint network. I live in southern california which Sprint shows as totally covered, so the problem lied within the phone. Had to do some network resets but often had to turn phone off and on to get it to fully switch over from wifi to cell. Mind you this was while the service was in beta. I sadly had issues with wifi calling too, unbearable echo while using the wifi calling. I checked the forums, which is how they do customer cervice, brilliant I might add, such quick and easy help. Only advice was to turn volume down. This problem was never resolved sadly. Only other issue was the moto defy xt doesn’t have much space on the actually phone, under 500mbs of space, and it won’t let you move over all of your stuff to the sd card, so if you have a ton of apps and music and what not, it works but its a close fit. I ended up cashing in on the money back garuntee they had going at the time. They refunded me everything I had spent at republic, been with them for 2 months. At least in my area, with my home wifi router, I was not ready for republic wireless. I hope that in the future I can jump back in and try it out again with all of the issues resolved. I jumped onto Sprint because I get a steep discount from work and with an iphone 5 unlimted data including LTE, I’m paying 67 bucks tax fees included. Roughly 3 times the amount Republic charges. I get a $20 cell credit for work, so its not killing me, but that credit could be eventually paying for all of my phone costs. Now thats a sick deal. Hope you all have better luck then I did.

    Reply
    • rjack (Mr. Asset Allocation) May 31, 2013, 6:04 am

      The problems that you describe kept me from switching to Republic awhile ago.

      MMM – Did you test the transitioning of cell phone calls between Wifi and the Sprint Network? If so, how well did that work?

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache May 31, 2013, 6:55 am

        That feature is still only semi-automatic: if you start a call in Wi-fi, then walk out of your house and down the street, the call will be dropped and the phone will try to call back on the regular network.

        Although I rarely find myself in that situation, one solution would be to just disable wi-fi before making the call (there’s a one-touch widget for it right on the home screen), so the entire call gets made in Sprint mode.

        The engineers assure me that they are bringing out a seamless handover soon, since apparently many people have asked for this to work.

        Reply
        • Alexandra June 8, 2013, 4:28 am

          Hey Mr. MMM, I have been reading your blog for quite some time now and love learning what you have to offer! Keep up the good work.
          I have been sharing your posts with family and friends. This one in particular went around to all my peeps. Below is a response from a family member that I was tempted to dismiss. I’d love your or any of the other thoughtful blog readers opinion.
          This is NOT my opinion!!!

          “This is good news for the tooth fairy. The TELCON organizations are structured on debt instruments. So when the revenue falls off substantially from the high cost services the whole thing crashes. This is another attempt to get very low income people off of land lines so that the industry can be entirely deregulated. As it is, very low income people have access from time to time on good behavior to cell phones.”

          Reply
          • Mr. Money Mustache June 8, 2013, 9:09 am

            Haha.. nice conspiracy theory. You should ask that person if they believe the 9/11 attacks were an inside job or the moon landing was staged as well ;-)

            Reply
    • Maxx June 18, 2013, 11:12 pm

      In January RW had a major software update that addressed theses issues. It is not likely that the device that MMM is using has experienced these things the way you remember it. I have been with RW since before the update and it smoothed out many of the kinks, specifically the ones you mentioned

      Reply
  • FRP May 31, 2013, 2:56 am

    My GF had Sprint for quite a while here in Tucson, AZ. Service from Sprint in this area is so poor it’s nearly unusable for anything requiring data. In SoCal the service was fine. Riding on Sprint’s network would make me weary unless I could try before I buy.

    Reply
    • Tony O. May 31, 2013, 12:06 pm

      I got RW for my father who lives in Tucson, AZ back in Dec. 2011, and ever since he hasn’t complained about the RW service. He does WFH most of the time so he’s probably mostly using WIFI to connect, but I’ve been able to call him while he’s on cellular also.

      Reply
  • My Financial Independence Journey May 31, 2013, 3:20 am

    If my cell phone wasn’t covered by my employer I might consider Republic Wireless. Although being on the Sprint network doesn’t inspire confidence. I’ve used Boost Mobile before (also on the Sprint network) and the reception was spotty in far more places than it should have been.

    Reply
  • Les Gart May 31, 2013, 3:51 am

    Thanks MMM! I’ve been using Republic Wireless about 6 months now – can I say brilliant? Originally from the UK so we say brilliant all the time. In addition to the savings of about $75 a month on service, Republic Wireless totally resolves the problem of crappy cellular coverage in my house.

    It helped to download the software update which resolved some of the echo issues mentioned above. instructions here: https://community.republicwireless.com/docs/DOC-1481

    Also the Republic Wireless Wi-Fi+ app in Google play makes it very easy to use public Wi-Fi spots without having to register for each one.

    All I have to say is hurry up with the new phones please. The Motorola DEFY XT does everything I need it too, but I’ll be switching over my wife when I can get the new phones.

    Reply
  • Free Money Minute May 31, 2013, 4:22 am

    Is there a way to use a cheap smartphone with this plan? We would like a second smartphone at a low cost, but I don’t really want to pay $250 for the phone itself.

    Reply
    • Jennifer May 31, 2013, 4:59 am

      They used to offer another plan where they gave you the phone for free and then you pay $29 per month for the service instead of $19. Not sure if that is still an option or if there is a contract for that option.

      Reply
      • Andrea June 19, 2013, 12:14 am

        Republic has never offered a free phone. The $29/month service was initially offered along with paying a reduced price of $99 for the phone (now $79 with the current promotion, or $29 if you are adding another line to an existing account). All phones are “no contract,” and you own the phone outright upon purchase.

        Reply
    • Kevin May 31, 2013, 5:01 am

      Nice timing on this post; my Republic Wireless phone arrived yesterday. While they only have one option for the phone, I opted for the $99 up-front, $29/month plan. It will take 15 months before the $19/month plan would have been more cost effective and I’d rather use the extra $150 now to pay off some debt.

      Reply
  • vern May 31, 2013, 4:24 am

    I’m on the AT&T prepaid plan for 25 bucks a month. It’s unlimited texts, 200 and something minutes of voice (which I’ll never come close to using!) and no data.

    But since every, bar, restaurant, hotel, coffee shop, and airport has free wifi I don’t really see a need to pay for it.

    Reply
  • Jennifer May 31, 2013, 4:48 am

    I am so excited that you reviewed this company. I had heard about their plan and was intrigued but wanted a real opinion. This gives me the courage to take the leap. Thank you!

    Reply
  • Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies May 31, 2013, 4:54 am

    For me, the deal breaker is going to be the sprint network. In 2007 when I needed my very first blackberry for work, I tried sprint and found that I not only had no service at home, but the virtually no service at my office, either. This was despite being in a major metro area and the service map saying it blanketed both locations. Can anyone say whether it’s improved in recent years?
    Also – what if you’re not offloading most of your data use? I tend to only use mobile data on my phone in places where there is no wifi (like work). At home and otherwise I use devices that are wifi only since they have bigger screens and are more pleasant to use.

    Reply
    • Mr. 1500 May 31, 2013, 5:56 am

      Agreed that Sprint is the drawback to this plan. They definitely lag behind the other big 3. However, if I’m paying a fraction of what the big guys cost, I’ll put up with a dropped call here and there.

      Reply
    • Maverick May 31, 2013, 11:15 am

      Yep, I feel the same way about the Sprint network. With Verizon I can make a call from my basement (10″ thick poured concrete walls) and this is in a rural area with the cell tower miles away. I haven’t had a dropped call since their service first launched. Two phones 500 min, free nights, wknds, and to other Verizon members for $59/mo w/ tax. I do appreciate the competition that RW is placing on the major carriers, but I doubt the major carriers feel any pressure due to the poor QOS (quality of Service).

      Reply
    • Andrea June 9, 2013, 8:46 am

      Note that the service roams on Verizon; you have to activate the phone initially on a Sprint tower, but after that you can roam (roaming is included in the monthly fee).

      Reply
  • Lance May 31, 2013, 4:55 am

    We’ve been using Republic since December – and it’s been great. Our family has four phones and that savings (vs. iphone or something similar) adds up quickly!

    I’ve found customer service to be very responsive and helpful (well..I’ve only had to contact them once).

    The biggest issue – and it’s one mostly for my kids: being unable to send/receive picture text messages and being unable to receive group text messages. Beyond that – it works very well.

    Reply
  • Matt D May 31, 2013, 5:07 am

    THIS IS ONE HORRIBLE COMPANY!!

    Go with anybody else…BUT THEM!!

    I’m one of the original A-wavers. I was excited and giddy for RW when they first made the scene. Paying only $19 month was the great allure, BUT…the cracks in this company didn’t start to show up until months later. With MMM having just joined, I’m sure he is giddy too, about saving money, but as time goes on he’ll start to see the glaring problems that is the trademark of RW.

    I don’t know where to start. First, they offer NO customer service. Telling people to read a public forum where other frustrated customers congregate is not my idea of customer service. And quite frankly, posting to a public forum and then babysitting my computer to see if someone can help solve my technical problems is NOT giving good customer service. Besides, RW employees never show up there anyway to help. You get half-assed and whacked-out suggestions that help no one. It is sad when the only tech advice you get at their forums is to pull your battery 3 or 4 times a day and keep turning the phone on and off hoping that it will somehow magically fix everything. Pfffttt….

    Be prepared for complete BS and the biggest runaround you will ever experience if you decide to cancel your phone service or they double bill you, for no reason at all, out of the blue, many months after you have their service. A COMPLETE NIGHTMARE! You want to get things solved? Be ready to contact the BBB, your state attorney general’s office and your bank/CC company so they can do a chargeback and block RW from dipping into your account for a second helping without your authorization.

    This company offers ONE phone! No BYOD, no used phones allowed. You want service with them? You MUST buy THEIR one phone offering, and that is it.

    Anyone even thinking about this service would be wise to do plenty of research. Consumer Reports gave them a thumbs-down. The WSJ showed that the service had more problems than it was worth, and there are quite a few reviews and blogs that show that RW’s service isn’t all that it is promised to be. PC Magazine only gave the phone a 5/10 – saying it was “old, clunky and mediocre” …and it is!

    The best help I found was over at Yelp.com – http://www.yelp.com/biz/republic-wireless-cary-3

    I don’t know where that reviewer got all those phone numbers to reach LIVE PEOPLE at RW to get tech help and customer support, but I use them all the time now. I don’t even bother posting on their silly forums that are loaded down with fanboys and shills. You need help? Just call someone at RW and don’t waste your life checking their forums to see if someone knows how to help with problems you may be having.

    In the end. I DO NOT recommend this company. With them raising the price now to $29 (to get the $99 phone), there are WAY BETTER options out there that know how to treat customers and offer great customer service. Telling people to email them again and again, or to open up a support ticket again and again (and not hearing from them for days), is NOT good customer service. Caveat emptor – buyer beware with RW.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 31, 2013, 7:10 am

      Wow, that’s a pretty emotional counterpoint.

      Note to others: “Forum-based customer service” is part of the business model, as stated in advance when you sign up. Similarly, the “only one phone” rule is because they run customized software on this Motorola to make the wi-fi calling possible.

      I was fine with that, as I have rarely had satisfactory customer service calls/text chats with any company (“DID YOU TRY RESTARTING YOUR COMPUTER!?”… “Yes, I already told you I traced it to the power supply. Send me a new power supply”, repeat.)

      In this case, I had the special privilege of asking some questions of the top engineers, but that was because they wanted to help me with the review (and they knew I was a software engineer who has worked on digital voice products in the past).

      Still, always good to have a word of warning. It’s a new high-tech service, and there are bound to be technical problems. I guess I’m used to everything in technology being a little bit fussy. But all my old phones and plans had their glitches as well. Every time it happens, I take it as a reminder to put the phone back in my pocket and look out at the real world and talk to somebody.

      Reply
      • Matt D May 31, 2013, 7:52 am

        “I take it as a reminder to…look out at the real world and talk to somebody.” Yes…I totally agree. Our society really is losing its social skills and social graces, at least in my opinion.

        As for the “customized software”, that was the punchline I was given too by the RW tech wizards when I phoned them. When I brought it to their attention that just about all of my past smartphones had a wi-fi antenna and the ability to place calls over wi-fi way before RW came along, they did a lot of back-pedaling; and finally admitted that it wasn’t anything new, per se, in phones, but just that their software *forces* the call to prefer wi-fi first.

        New high-tech service?? Ummm, not really. I have to be honest, when I first joined, I was heavily involved in their online forums and community. Hell, I was even quick to defend RW when more vocal naysayers would post that they didn’t like the service or felt that they were getting shafted in some way, shape or form. It was only after ‘my cracks in the service’ started showing up that I felt compelled to do my own research into this company and what I found was not reassuring. RW is very slick on the marketing, almost to the point of pulling the wool over people’s eyes. They are NOT a new high tech company. RW is simply a division at Bandwidth.com that taps into their already mature technology and business practices of 14 years. And even if I were to allow them to claim they are “new”, that newness wore off some time ago. The division was created back in 2010 – not really new any more.

        What am I trying to say with all this? I had high hopes for RW, but their lackluster performance in moving the company along just has not materialized. The CEO is a great visionary (I spoke to him too, by the way, but he was not as chatty with me as he was with you because I was the one calling him and not the other way around) but he over-reaches. He was so convinced that the service would take off like gangbusters that he projected 350,000 new customers by Q1 2013. What he got was only 50k customers TOTAL, and that is including the original beta testers from 2011. A far cry from projections; and I attribute that directly to the way in which they want to keep customers at arms-length when it comes to offering customer service and support. They truly do not want to interact with the average customer on a one-to-one basis, and at the customer’s convenience. And on the topic of convenience, I will share what I tell friends, family members and readers of my blog – If you are looking for a cell phone service that “just works”, without all of the caveats, RW is not the answer. They have a long list of caveats that was posted on their forums. I will try to find it and share it with your readers so they can have full disclosure on what the RW experience is like.

        Reply
        • Matt D May 31, 2013, 9:37 am

          Okay, here is the long list of caveats (i.e. problems) with the RW service that I mentioned in my above post. This was not easy to find as they have buried it deep in the forums now, probably as a way to keep newcomers from finding it because some of these problems do not bode well for RW.

          So, read through this carefully BEFORE you sign with them.

          1.MMS is not supported – this means no sending pictures/videos/audio clips by text.
          2.Short codes are not supported – those are the interactive texts to 5- and 6-digit numbers, like for paypal/facebook/netflix confirmation, “Voting” for your favorite reality tv show contestant, promos from your local coffee shop.
          3.No Text-to-Email gateway – these are often used by alert systems to send a text to your_phone_number@your_provider.com.
          4.No account suspension – other services offer a vacation hold. Nothing like that exists here.
          5.Your number cannot be changed – if you move to a new area, RW does not change your phone number.
          6.No tethering – the phone cannot be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
          7.If you “root” your phone it will void your warranty and RW will not support it any longer. You cannot return a rooted phone under the 30 Day Guarantee.
          8.Dialer cannot be programmed to accept a “pause” or “wait.”
          9.Cannot change the amount of ring-time before the call goes to voicemail:
          10.No international dialing. Calls may only be made to the US and Canada
          11.No porting of a Google Voice number to Republic.
          12.Republic is a VOIP provider, not cellular. When attempting to port out from RW, it is considered a landline, which may limit options.
          13.No transferring of phones to new users or splitting/combining of accounts. No sales of service, though selling phone hardware is OK
          14.No BYOD.
          15.No services in Hawaii, Alaska, or New Hampshire. (Phones will work there, but no local numbers, and you can’t register order a phone to be shipped to those states)
          16.Voicemail has no “envelope” information and very few features.
          17.Voicemail notification is not delivered if phone does not have cellular service.
          18.911′s caller id will be the underlying Sprint number unless the call is over wifi
          19.No X11 number can be dialed, other than 911

          Reply
          • Mr. Money Mustache May 31, 2013, 9:55 am

            Thanks Matt, great summary!

            Out of those, none are important to me other than the text and voicemail-related ones.. and Google Voice avoids the problem perfectly: I only give out my GV number, so all voicemail gets transcribed and sent to me as email and is visible in the GV application, on any device I run it on including the phone itself.

            One thing I do find a bit inconvenient: the text-messaging app is not as good as it is on iPhone. I want incoming texts to pop up on the screen, including the lock screen, and I want to be able to reply immediately without opening a separate app. Right now, the text message just appears briefly in the top-of-screen notification bar, then it is gone until I open the clunky stock texting app.

            I’m sure there is an Android workaround for this, but I have searched around and installed couple of alleged fixes, with no luck yet. Ended up uninstalling them.

            Anyone solved this one yet?

            Reply
            • Corey May 31, 2013, 10:53 am

              I don’t have RW but I have downloaded the Handcent texting app which solves your problems with this. It is similar to the Iphone text and does all the things you have listed here.

              Reply
              • Mr. Money Mustache June 1, 2013, 3:14 pm

                WOW! Thanks Corey – I followed your suggestion and installed Handcent, and it completely fixed the poor texting interface of the Republic Wireless phone.

                The old one was so bad, I started missing invitations to fun events. The new one is so good, I find myself sending texts to myself just so I can enjoy the pretty interface :-).. I will edit the article to add your suggestion to it.

            • lecodecivil May 31, 2013, 1:57 pm

              There is an app called SMS Popup that will have incoming texts pop up on screen, it’s relatively customizable as well. They don’t pop up on the lock screen, but if I recall correctly you can have it override the lock screen when a text comes in.
              https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.everythingandroid.smspopup
              Just make sure after you enable the app, you disable notifications from the regular messaging app. Otherwise you’ll get two notifications for every text message.
              Also not sure how compatible this is with texts that come through Google Voice.

              Reply
          • MBK May 31, 2013, 10:57 am

            Thanks for posting. Point 8 is deal breaker for me.

            Reply
            • Tony O. May 31, 2013, 12:25 pm

              I was also one of the early adopters too; purchased RW in Dec. 2011 for my Dad.

              I also had early issues with them… primarily fulfillment – got pretty frustrated (they had charged my credit card for the order, but 1.5 months later the phone still had not been shipped).

              Same experience as you with respect to getting timely and logical responses from the RW staff. At the time the website also sucked.

              I eventually got their attention by using social media and voicing my dissatisfaction in a TechCrunch article about them (http://techcrunch.com/2011/12/13/republic-wireless-is-launching-free-international-calling-powered-by-their-own-country-code/) and blasting on Twitter and Facebook.

              I IMMEDIATELY got a response from their SVP/General Manager and he personally made sure I was taken care of from then on out. So my learning from this experience is… if traditional customer service doesn’t work, go social – companies are extremely sensitive about their social reputation nowadays and will reach out to you if you vent your anger in public forums.

              I also believe that RW is a stand-up company really trying to disrupt the mobile industry… they’re just a little bootstrapped and need(ed) to get their operations in order.

              Since then we’ve (or more appropriately, my Dad) has had no complaints about the RW service. Granted, he works from home exclusively so he leverages his WIFI network mostly, and he’s new to smartphones, so he loves everything about the service.

              Reply
          • b1-66er June 20, 2013, 3:20 pm

            matt,

            such an EXCELLENT list. i’ve be using boost mobile … $35 all-you-can-eat everything and i’ve been happy with it, but you bet i’d look at trimming another $16/month off my bills …

            your list here almost certainly means i won’t go over … i TXT like a 16 year old girl and i don’t want to give up my habit.

            mr. moustache,

            super great thread. thanks.

            Reply
      • Nate June 5, 2013, 8:22 pm

        I see an “administrative fee” for $0.61 listed in #7 on my bill. Is that what you’re referring to?

        Reply
  • Wade @ Retirement Researcher May 31, 2013, 5:11 am

    I’m glad to hear that 3 new phones are in the pipeline. I went with the $99 for the phone and $29 per month plan on the assumption that better phones would become available within 15 months.

    That $29 works out to be about $35 once all taxes and fees are included.

    This is my first smartphone and I’m mostly satisfied. I’m just glad to have instant access to gmail, and that is primarily what I use it for. I haven’t had any problems with the cell service. The only issue I have is that the battery drains so quickly. I find myself recharging twice a day, even though I don’t use it very much.

    My wife started with Republic Wireless as well, but she returned her phone within 30 days for a full refund (that went very smoothly) because she really wants a phone that can use other languages and the Motorola phone is English only.

    Reply
  • Patrick May 31, 2013, 5:29 am

    Great review. I’m spreading it around now, but I think I’ll stick with my $9 Dumb Phone + Tracphone plan at about $3/month.

    I’m starting to really hate all the people with their mugs down in their phones all day, and I used to be that guy. It is a bit “crack-ish” however, and I admit I’m sort of trying to come up with a reason to get another smart phone…. hmmmmmm.

    But, this is going to drive a nail in the industry, and it’s great of you to smack down such an in-depth review. Free phone never hurt anything either.

    Reply
    • Patrick June 1, 2013, 1:05 am

      Good point, Matt. To the layperson (me), it looks like a pretty slick deal, but you’re right that the big 3 could probably simply leverage their scale to absorb something like this. There’s a lot of barriers in the minds of users because people are really tethered to their phones – which was sort of my point with the switch to dumb phones.

      Simply opting out of the whole thing saves all that angst and wondering what to do and how to do it. The less “customer service” you require altogether, the better off you will be. These days, I rarely notice customer service because I’m rarely a customer anywhere.

      I actually dumped my stupid expensive Verizon plan because of this blog (that was sooo 2012 :) ), ported my number to Google Voice then got the $9 phone at Target as a “bridge” while I figured out the rest. Turns out, that’s all I needed, and I just never completed the process to turning on another Smarty Plan. I don’t even know where that phone is right now – I’d have to go looking for it if I discovered a use for it (which does occasionally happen). Part of what MMM achieves is always asking, “do I really need to do this?”

      So, with this, I’d say there’s actually very few people who really need any cell phone plan at all. My employer has been trying to get me to carry a Smart Phone for years, and I always decline – or, I leave it in the box. I have never noticed any loss of productivity as a result, which makes me think that if your employer wants you to have a phone, that’s when you should probably start thinking about a different method to feed yourself. I’ve been the Commanding Officer at a Coast Guard station where we worked big cases that affected a lot of lives, and not even then did I believe I needed to carry a stupid cell phone. I always believed that if you needed me that abruptly then I did not properly train or equip my crew. That’s a problem, and very few people in the world are that important that they need to be that accessible. I also knew that notifying me was simply a way of slowing down the process of doing a life/death job. In my world of work, cell phones are a huge problem worthy of rethinking the whole job.

      So, asking yourself “do I really need to spend $85/month on my cell phone?” is a great question. A better question is, “do I really need my cell phone at all?”

      All you have to do is remember back to when you were 10, and just do that. Well, without the firecrackers at the irrigation ditch on the edge of town. Hmmm… or the skateboards on top of the school. You get the point.

      Reply
      • SZQ June 2, 2013, 6:04 pm

        ” …very few people in the world are that important that they need to be that accessible.”

        EXACTLY!!!! But for crying out load……….they ALL THINK they are so damn important!! It’s like they’ve grown another limb – it’s ALWAYS there in their hands!

        Seriously, it wasn’t all THAT long ago that we didn’t have these smart phones………………and people survived!!!

        Reply
        • Rob aka Captian and Mrs Slow June 3, 2013, 1:04 am

          for me having a iphone over a dumb phone serves two purposes. One I can text (now whatsapp) much easier, and I do that a lot and secondly for data I have a terrible sense of direction, sometimes even on my bike so in a new city google maps is invaluable. A phone is a bit like email you can do without but it’s difficult.

          Recently moved countries so in the process of optimization our phone plans was originally going to with the 20€ month flat everything for wife and I but in looking closer at our usage I realized that there are cheaper plans, use data more than phone calls so looking at a 8€ a month (each) plan but allows free calls to the same network. So a bit of work I reduced my costs from 40€ to perhaps 15 a month.

          Reply
        • Patrick June 3, 2013, 9:08 am

          My best friend is about to be granted a whole car from his job. I advised him to turn around and run away as fast as possible. These types of resources, though flattering, do a couple of things:

          1. Serve the purpose of the “master” — not you.

          2. Inflate your sense of self-worth.

          http://ow.ly/lEFic

          I would argue that ideas may be important to the fabric of social well-being, but there are extraordinarily few people who are really important at all. Cell phones help us give in to the illusion that we are somehow essential to a process – which I’ve never found to be true.

          Reply
  • Elle May 31, 2013, 5:49 am

    Thanks for sharing your take on RW! I’ve been using it since November last year and it has fulfilled my needs quite well. It’s my work phone and I have used it in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Florida with no problems. The only area I had receptions was in the NC mountains, but everyone in group had the same problem.

    For those afraid using too much data, I just wanted to mention that I use it quite a bit and haven’t had any problems. The phone isn’t fanciest, but I think it is perfect for most people. if you want a great camera, you can use the money save to pick up one :)

    Reply
  • TOM May 31, 2013, 5:58 am

    Is the Defy still running the Honeycomb OS of Android? It is a minor drawback that you’ll be a generation behind. Big deal? Probably not. It might cause a little frustration that some popular apps won’t be designed for your phone.

    Reply
    • Andrea June 10, 2013, 1:51 pm

      It runs on Android 2.3.7.

      Reply
  • MJK May 31, 2013, 6:01 am

    While my smartphone bill is sitting pretty at $78 dollars a month for unlimited data, more text messages than i have ever used in one month and rollover minutes out the ying yang + an 18% discount through my company, $19 dollars is still substantially better. Maybe I’ll check these guys out after they roll out some of the new phones. As much as I’ve become accustomed to the iphons and the iOS, I think I could learn the ins and outs of the android OS for $19!

    Thanks for posting the review!

    Reply
  • mucgoo May 31, 2013, 6:13 am

    Come to the UK.
    I’m on £3.50($5) a month for 200minutes, 5000texts and 500mb. Just pop the sim into any phone you want.

    Reply
  • LovingBeingAlmostDebtFree May 31, 2013, 6:14 am

    In australia we have a similar plan from kogan mobile. $25 per month (paid annually), and we get unlimited calls plus 6 gb of internet per month. we changed over recently and were able to cancel our home phone and internet – saving $100 per month.

    Reply
    • tatata May 31, 2013, 8:13 am

      In Australia the other ones that im aware of that have something similar are liveconnected and also vaya.

      Reply
  • Simple Economist May 31, 2013, 6:24 am

    Nice review of republic. I assume a lot of long time readers are pretty familiar with Republic. I wanted to check them out a few years ago when they had the Optimus S but the phone was pretty behind the times a that point. It looks like the Defy is a little better. I think the airvoice plans are still about $280 a year cheaper (2 lines) but if we needed unlimited we would switch to republic in a heartbeat. Sprint coverage is serviceable in our area but many sprint mnov limit the data speeds. Still, best deal in wireless for anyone other than light users!

    Reply
  • Joe May 31, 2013, 6:24 am

    For those of you on the TMobile $30 unlimited data/100 min talk plan (I’m thinking of you Chris and Heath), is the data only 2G speed for the iPhone 4? I’ve heard that its a limitation of using an IPhone 4 (not a 4S or 5) on TMobile. What models of iPhones are you using?

    Reply
    • madage May 31, 2013, 7:00 am

      It depends entirely on whether the T-Mobile towers in your area have been re-farmed to the 3G frequency supported by the iPhone. There’s not an official map, but http://www.airportal.de/ is crowd sourced and about the best you can do for now.

      Reply
    • Heath May 31, 2013, 8:55 am

      I currently have the Samsung Galaxy Blaze, and live in Phoenix, AZ. It’s a specific deal that Samsung had with TMobile to create a mid-cost smartphone that would support their 4G network. With the low cost of the plan itself, picking up one of these on craigslist (as my wife and I did) is a super great deal after just a few months (compared to plans from The Big 3).

      Reply
  • Keylime FI May 31, 2013, 7:20 am

    Much thanks to MMM Labs for letting us know! I was just thinking of my cellular bill (a clownish $100+ with Sprint) in the last few days and ways of cutting it.

    I’m headed over to RW site now. Thanks

    Reply
  • David B May 31, 2013, 7:23 am

    I’ve been with Republic for about six months and I’m currently evaluating alternatives for switching off of the service. The price is certainly right, but the quality of the service and hardware is just not good enough for a device I use several times a day and depend upon to stay connected with the rest of the world. My major issues with the Republic are as follows:

    Texting is just plain weird. Texts are my primary method of communication and the magic Republic has had to do to route them through wifi has made them unreliable. The wife and I have gotten in to more than a couple spats because texts just didn’t get delivered.

    Additionally the service just doesn’t deal with MMS. No big deal to me if I can’t get picture messages, I don’t have a problem emailing a picture and telling anyone trying to send me a picture to do the same. Unfortunately, this also causes quite a few problems communicating with iPhone users. iOS encodes texts to more than one recipient as MMS as well as any message containing an emoticon. The ubiquity of the iPhone among my contacts makes this a huge problem. We missed the invitation to a friend’s Memorial Day picnic because it just doesn’t deliver.

    Call quality on wifi is great and works as expected. The one surprise I got here was that you’ll drop a call if you switch access points. I can’t take a call at my desk and walk away to a quiet place to talk without dropping the call. I can’t say this is a shortcoming of the service, just an inconvenience I didn’t expect.

    Finally, call quality on Sprint’s network is bad. Like really bad. I don’t know if it’s a function of the phones or some throttling Republic has going on with your access to the network, but it’s bad enough that I really don’t even try to make calls off of wifi. We switched to Republic from Sprint and we always had great call quality, so I know it’s not coverage in my area.

    Reply
    • Ben May 31, 2013, 8:40 am

      Ting Wireless (www.ting.com) is another great option. They are a Sprint MVNO as well though. I really suggest checking them out if you want a very affordable option without the new and slightly experimental aspect of the wifi/cellular integration.

      My bill is usually $17 and I haven’t had to change my habits from when I was on a normal sprint unlimited plan. I do use wifi when I’m at home for the most part, and I don’t stream music or videos on my phone.

      Reply
      • Shanna June 5, 2013, 5:45 pm

        Is Ting really reliable? I’m trying to bring my boyfriend on board, but we absolutely MUST have reliable cell service for business, and he’d rather stay with the devil we know (which is Sprint).

        My position is that if they’re using the Sprint network, and Sprint phones, it should be precisely the same as Sprint, but cheaper. Has this been your experience?

        Reply
        • Matt MSP June 21, 2013, 12:56 pm

          Yes Ting is great. The free voice roaming from Sprint to Verizon is great too. We’re not unlimited, but we’re rocking better phones and under $18/mo/line.

          Reply
        • John October 10, 2013, 3:44 pm

          Have been using Ting for about nine months and the service and price is great. You are right, they use Sprint ;and everything is the same as Sprint except for price. With Ting, you buy your own phones. We purchased four refurb smart phones for just over $50 each and they work great.

          For the four phones we pay $6/month per phone ($24) and for the past 9 months have averaged between 1000 and 1999 minutes per month ($35) between 100 and 1000 messages per month ($5) and between 100 and 500 megabytes of data per month ($13) so our monthly bill for four people is $77/month plus taxes and regulatory fees of $9.80 for a total of $86.80. If you use more of anything they simply bump you up to the next category. If your usage dramatically goes down you bill goes down accordingly so you’re not paying for a plan you’re not using. And, you’re billed at the end of the month. It’s a great alternative to the big cellular companies.

          Reply
    • Rene July 17, 2013, 1:06 pm

      I have been a customer of RW for about four months. Yes the price is right, but, you get what you pay for. The phone is o.k. It’s the service that I am not too happy about. I can’t have a descent conversation because it breaks up so bad and then it disconnects automatically after 15 minutes. Yes it automatically calls the number back, but try and make a Dr. appointment. It is very difficult. In fact I am waiting for my roommate to show up so I can use her cell because I need to do just that. I’ve tried three times to no avail. I think the receptionists are quite frustrated with me.
      I am 50 years old and I use my phone for just that. To make and receive phone calls. I don’t listen to music or play games. Just make phone calls.
      When I charge it up, sometimes I lose my wallpaper. It goes back to a wallpaper that I had on a previous phone. So I have to pull the battery. When I got online and asked RW “community support,” Their response was
      “I’m using an inferior charger.” Maybe I am, it’s the one that came with the phone.
      Maybe it’s just where I live. I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Right on the border of Minneapolis, the Twin Cities. So it’s not like I am out in the suburbs or sticks. I am in town.
      The first month was great!! I would like to know what happened? I will probably be going back to TMobile. Just as soon as I get my student loan this fall. It’s sad that a person has to wait for a loan to get decent cell service and phone. No I don’t owe TMobile money. That’s just what it costs for decent service.
      You get what you pay for.
      If anybody has any solutions, I would appreciate it if you would take the time and let me know what I can do to make this work.
      Sincerely,
      Rene

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache July 20, 2013, 12:39 pm

        Always good to have a dissenting opinion. That sounds like it could be a hardware problem rather than a Republic one per se.

        I am still seeing good reliability myself, but I can see why people make fun of this Motorola Defy XT phone – it doesn’t represent the state-of-the-art and Motorola should be a bit embarrassed to have made this thing so recently when iPhones and Nexus 4s Galaxy Ss were out there already.

        Looking forward to the new Republic phone selection in the very near future. If you’re on the fence, I’d probably wait to see if the new phones are significantly better.

        Also, for longer phone calls – regardless of mobile phone carrier – I have ALWAYS used the Google Talk plugin and make the calls from a laptop. Just so much more reliable to have a big fancy computer, good quality mic, and speakers/headphones if you are having a conversation that matters. And of course, use Skype as an even higher preference to avoid the 400hz-to-4khz nonsense of telephone calls in general.

        Reply
      • Andrea July 20, 2013, 1:55 pm

        Rene – It sounds like some of your phone settings may be incorrect (or, you may have a router problem, or an app causing problems). Please see the troubleshooting tips here (be sure to read the tips in the response by jbenbennett, too): https://community.republicwireless.com/docs/DOC-1373

        As a first step, go to Wireless & networks -> Mobile networks and make sure that you have the following settings:

        Data enabled – checked (green)
        Data roaming – checked (green)
        Network Mode – set to EvDo auto
        System select – set to Automatic

        Also, make sure that your battery manager is set to “Performance Mode” (this is absolutely crucial for preventing your wifi calls from disconnecting after @15 minutes).

        If you are still having problems with your phone/service, please post again in the community carefully explaining all of the issues and what you have done to address them. OR, contact the help staff at Republic so they can help you with troubleshooting (just click on the “Help” link at the top of each page on the website).

        Reply
  • Lisa May 31, 2013, 7:50 am

    Oh, can they come to Canada? Please, please.

    Reply
  • Ray May 31, 2013, 8:06 am

    Does anyone know if it’s possible to install custom ROMs on this phone under this plan? After using Android 4.1/4.2 and seeing how vast of an improvement it is over Android 2.3, using newer versions of Android is worth me paying through somewhat pricier plans such as Straight Talk if I have to. I would look into this, though, if the phone could use a custom OS.

    Reply
    • Matt D May 31, 2013, 8:30 am

      @Ray – short answer…No.

      RW has the phone locked down. Some super-crazy-techies that hang out at the RW forums have said that they were going to flash the phone with a newer version of Android, and almost immediately RW reps hopped in there and started the finger-wagging and the tongue-clicking and basically told them that if they did it, the phone would not work with RW’s VOIP network and that it would void the warranty and that they (the ones wanting to flash a new version of Android) would be denied support from RW and/or have their accounts canceled.

      RW is very heavy-handed like that.

      Now, if someone actually did it and is sucking down only Sprint airtime, well…they are not saying (and I don’t blame them)

      Reply
  • Michelle May 31, 2013, 8:17 am

    I just got a phone through them as well. It has been great!

    Reply
  • Joe May 31, 2013, 8:46 am

    Thanks for the review. I have an old Tracfone that works pretty well for voice calling. It’s crap for anything else though. It would be awesome to be able to get online for $19/month.
    The expensive monthly plan was the main thing stopping me from changing. I also don’t need to use the smart phone all that much.
    I wouldn’t mind reviewing one of these phone on my site though.
    Replubic Wireless, if you’re listening, you can send me a phone too. ;)

    Reply
  • Derek @ MoneyAhoy.com May 31, 2013, 8:51 am

    MMM, great article! I will see if I can get my wife to switch. We are 6 months into a 24 month contract with AT&T.

    The below may be helpful to all who use AT&T. They recently added a $0.61 / month charge to post-paid bills which is a breach of contract terms. You can call them up and get out of your contract if you have 1-2 hours of time to hassle with them about it.

    There is a huge post at reddit that came up a couple weeks ago which will walk you through the whole process here: http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/1ewszk/att_just_added_a_061_monthly_fee_to_postpaid/

    I’ll post another comment below with the details…

    Reply
  • Derek @ MoneyAhoy.com May 31, 2013, 8:52 am

    ===Excerpt from Reddit post mentioned above===

    I used this to get out of my AT&T contract (with both phones) without incurring an early termination fee.

    118 minutes on the phone, 4 separate supervisors, complete nightmare. They do not like it when customers figure out they’re being fucked.
    edit: I’m mobile, but will do my best to describe my process. 1st, if you are going to cancel and want to keep your number, you need to start that process before you cancel your contract. I didn’t give a shit about that, sorry I’m not any more useful.

    To start, immediately tell whoever you are speaking with that you are cancelling your contract with AT&T due to an unauthorized rate change. Please pardon the screaming text, but this is extremely important…..

    REPEAT, AND KEEP REPEATING THAT YOU ARE CANCELLING YOUR CONTRACT AND WILL NOT PAY A TERMINATION FEE BECAUSE THE RATE HAS BEEN INCREASED FOR IDENTICAL SERVICES

    The fee should show up under your “surcharges and fees” section, mine was #7. Again, you are paying more money than you originally agreed for the same service….. this is a breach of contract, plain and simple.
    You will be sent to customer retention, they will argue with you. Ask for a supervisor, they too will argue with you. Continue repeating the bolded statement (seriously, I argued with the same asshole for 45 minutes). They will eventually get pissed and send you to “billing” most likely….. AKA the original call-in number.

    Explain the situation, ask for a supervisor, and make it very clear that you feel as though your time is being wasted. Remember to be nice though (until someone is not nice to you), these people get treated like shit all day long.
    At the end of my 118 minute call, my account was credited $280 and my final bill was waived. The person who resolved my situation was an “Area Manager Handling Supervisor” (name was Christian) and was extremely understanding.

    The person that I filed a formal complaint for was named Rusty Anderson (refused to give me an employee ID#) and was a “Customer Resolutions Manager”. I hope he gets dysentery and/or his wagon sinks trying to ford a river.

    edit2: I hope someone from AT&T reads this and understands how bad you are fucking up. I bought my first phone at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta with SunCom wireless. They turned into Cingular and they turned into AT&T. You lost a near 2 decade customer that had your most expensive plan over a petty money grab attempt. Fucking pathetic, and inexcusable. I hope TMobile invests every cent in upgrading their native network coverage, because they will wipe the floor with you once people wise up.

    Reply
  • Jacqueline May 31, 2013, 9:02 am

    Thank you for this! I’ve been trying desperately to convince my husband that we should switch from our $160 a month (I know, it makes me want vomit, too) cell phone plan to another option.

    This is one of the several options I’ve presented to him, and I think it is a good option for us since we currently use Sprint. His main resistance comes from 1) he doesn’t want to change from blackberry because we use blackberry messenger with each other all the time, and 2) a more legitimate reason that we don’t maintain a lot of other “toys” or incur many entertainment expenses.

    We are pretty Mustachian in all other areas, but the cell phone bill just irritates me when I know we could save over a thousand dollars a year even when factoring in the purchase of new phones for both of us. Maybe this article will help persuade him.

    Reply
  • I.P. Daley May 31, 2013, 9:16 am

    I’ll keep my own thoughts on Republic Wireless short-n-sweet, as most regulars in the forums already know my thoughts on the service. Anyway, a couple thoughts to consider:

    1) If you go for their $249 phone + $19+tax/month setup, keep in mind that you can pretty well replicate all the major points and many flaws of the Republic Wireless experience (including Sprint network access) with an Android phone, Google Voice with both the official GV and Talkatone apps running on Ting’s service. It’s not “unlimited” with a fixed price, but you’re just as dependent upon using WiFi to keep your bills low and the service active.

    2) If you’re seriously considering their $99 phone + $29+tax/month setup, save yourself some hassle. An extra $5/month with GoSmart Mobile and allowing yourself to do 2G data access speeds lets you bring your own GSM phone, and deal with the T-Mobile network, who has an equally reasonable footprint to the Sprint CDMA network. BYOD, just a hair more for “unlimited” service, none of the caveats of Republic’s service, and you can still rope Google Voice into the setup if you really want.

    As I always say in the forums: research what you actually need. Republic may fit some users needs, but there will be well documented technical caveats to consider before pulling the handle with this carrier specifically. I’m all for saving as much money as humanly possible, but I’m also a firm believer in the axiom that you get what you pay for. MMM here is getting Republic service for gratis, as he’s mentioned. You folks will have to pay for the phones and service.

    Read the comments here by other Republic users. If you truly need a reliable “unlimited” service with your wireless carrier, but you want to save money… do the math, remember that Republic’s equipment is proprietary unless you know how to re-flash the Sprint handsets with stock firmware, and be willing to spend the extra to get what you actually need before taking the plunge.

    Reply
    • Patrick June 1, 2013, 10:00 pm

      Sorry MMM – Have to defer to resident expert, I.P. Daley.

      No RW for me.

      Reply
  • Pretired Nick May 31, 2013, 9:29 am

    Thanks for reviewing these guys. I, too, am deciding between AirVoice and RW. I was leaning toward AirVoice, but now I’m rethinking my approach. I already have a FreedomPop, which is super sweet, but I think it would be a bit of a pain to always make sure it’s with me when my phone is needed.

    Reply
    • Tanner September 25, 2013, 10:19 pm

      I went back to AIrvoice using the 30 day moneyback guarantee from Republic (which you get dinged for the slightest small scratch on the phone so be careful). Airvoice is great for lite users and you have many more options for phones on the secondary market. If you cancel your republic plan the phone is worthless because it can’t be transferred or sold, at least that is what is says online though I have read about people trying it? Not sure if they were successful.

      I might go back when they release the moto x, but the defy xt wasn’t worth $199 to me. At $99 it is a much better deal. But there are so many At&t phones to chose form on cl or ebay for cheap that are better if you use mainly wifi that allows you to save your airvoice plan minutes. At one point I had $27 worth of credit when I forgot to renew one month. Then saved back up to $17 before I switched to Republic, but lost that too. So I consider myself a lite user.

      Also I recommend an Android phone with Airvoice combined with Google Voice because Android does a much better job of integrating Google services than the iphone.

      Reply
  • Jenny May 31, 2013, 9:34 am

    I can’t wait until my contract with Sprint ends this fall – I’m really looking forward to trying one of these new cheaper wireless services. (I know, I know – contracts! I’m a Mustachian in progress.) Republic Wireless sounds awesome, and if I get my husband and I both on it – we’re looking at $110 savings per month. And I can get a smart phone, which I’ve never had, so I can’t imagine I’d have any complaints with the one RW provies.

    Reply
  • Steve's wife, Beth May 31, 2013, 9:39 am

    My son has had Republic for a few months. It was his first smart phone, and the first smart phone in our household. He is thrilled with it especially how easy it is to load music on the phone. We live in Cincinnati and each month I am billed $21.66.

    Reply
  • Johnny Moneyseed May 31, 2013, 9:48 am

    Thanks MMM for the referral. I’ll be ordering my new phone in a couple days.

    Reply
  • Clint May 31, 2013, 11:02 am

    I knew this review would come out a week or so after switching to Ting and a pre-owned Galaxy s2!

    So far, though, I’m liking Ting and will look into GVoice paired with GrooveIP to cut my call minutes. I don’t think I’ll need a ton of data, because I’m usually in WiFi range when I need to be online.

    Reply
    • Matt MSP June 21, 2013, 12:58 pm

      For Ting, to reduce our minutes, we just use a home phone + Google Voice + Obi box to tie them together. Much better call quality than using the cell phone, and it’s still free after the initial $30 Obi investment.

      Reply
  • Doug May 31, 2013, 11:15 am

    I loved the idea (Republic Wireless), bought the Motorola phone and tried it out several months ago. Unfortunately, in our area the call quality was so bad we gave up on it. We’ve got a Virgin Mobile plan at $25/month with unlimited data/text and 300 minutes talk. Call quality is significantly better (really no comparison). And the phone was only $99 (for a better phone). Unfortunately, I think this plan is $35/month if you sign up now.

    Reply
  • Mr. Everyday Dollar May 31, 2013, 11:17 am

    I looked hard at Republic Wireless recently, but ultimately chose Ting. And it’s awesome! Ting is definitely worth a look if you’re interested in a low cost service like RW. What Ting has over RW is great customer service and multiple phone options, including bring your own device.

    When I switched to Ting, my monthly bills always cost me less than $20/mo and because I utilize Google Voice and WiFi as much as possible, there are months where I am billed closer to $10 a month, which is cheaper than RW!

    This was a timely article because I just reviewed my experience with Ting, check it out at http://mreverydaydollar.com/a-review-of-ting-disrupting-the-mobile-phone-market/.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  • Greg May 31, 2013, 11:32 am

    Can you go into more detail about “potentially getting booted” from Republic? I tried looking on their website but couldn’t find any details.

    Reply
    • Andrea June 9, 2013, 9:05 am

      They say that they have yet to boot anyone, but they leave themselves the option for someone who egregiously abuses the system (e.g., streaming movies over cell 24/7). You can read their acceptable use policy on their website: http://www.republicwireless.com/legal

      Reply
  • Laura May 31, 2013, 11:48 am

    This is great!

    We just switched to Ting and love it. We’re more about stripping down and being more simple, so we don’t need all of the unlimited stuff, but this is perfect for someone who needs it for work!

    Reply
  • Jerry May 31, 2013, 12:16 pm

    Fascinating, when I choose to do a comparison on my savings on the RW site, no matter what the cost of my plan, $20 or $200, I always save the same amount. I wonder if it’s cookie issue or just a standard picture or whatever.

    Reply
  • Andrew Skotzko May 31, 2013, 12:24 pm

    MMM, perfectly timed post. I’ve been using Airvoice for about 2 months, and while sufficient, there have been quite a few times when traveling or out and about where I thought “damn, I miss not having to worry about data.”

    For the new phones, are we talking this summer, fall, or next year?

    Reply
  • Amanda May 31, 2013, 12:24 pm

    David Morken sounds like a really decent guy … it can’t be easy taking on the wireless industry Goliaths. Game changing is tough business.

    http://www.bizjournals.com/triangle/blog/2013/04/bandwidth-ceo-to-entrepreneurs.html

    Reply
  • Rahul May 31, 2013, 12:34 pm

    I appreciate all of the perspectives on this plan and company. I’ve loved Airvoice and have had no problems. I’ve had so much money roll over each month that I’ve started using data more. I still have money leftover when I have to reload $10 back on; and I just pay $9.70. And I do enjoy the iPhone a lot. Can’t switch, but great to see options.

    Reply
  • Shawn May 31, 2013, 12:54 pm

    Seriously? I literally JUST bought my wife an unlocked Samsung phone for use with AirVoice (been using work phone for 2 years for free). It arrived yesterday. And now you’re telling me there is something far better? Sigh. . .

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 31, 2013, 4:20 pm

      No worries Shawn! Airvoice is still a great choice. As I mentioned in this article, with reasonably low use you’re still better off with the pay-as-you-go plan. I was rarely exceeding even the $10/month minimum at Airvoice. Republic is better for higher users. Track your use for 6 months with Airvoice and see how it goes.

      The great thing about both of the services is that there is no contract – they have to keep winning your business every month.

      Reply
  • Grayson @ Debt Roundup May 31, 2013, 12:55 pm

    I have been itching to test out this service since they are in my backyard pretty much. Thanks for the thorough review.

    Reply
  • Ingrid May 31, 2013, 1:05 pm

    This might have been mentioned in one of the comments, but didn’t see it Sounds like a very good pan, I was interested, though, if you can keep your old telephone number or if that will be changed.

    Reply
    • Matt D May 31, 2013, 1:37 pm

      99% of the time, you can keep your old phone number.

      But do read as many external reviews as you can about RW before taking the plunge. Their customer service is nearly non-existent.

      Reply
      • Andrea June 9, 2013, 9:21 am

        Not non-existent at all: https://help.republicwireless.com/home

        Although they do not have a call-in number for support, there are several other options available for reaching Republic staff. Tech support is an area where they have definitely improved over the past several months… (They also recently started posting ratings of customer satisfaction with the help team: http://republicwireless.com/customer-help-report)

        Reply
    • Amanda May 31, 2013, 2:49 pm

      Yes it is easy to port your existing number with Republic Wireless – they ship your phone first so you don’t have any downtime without a phone. You simply sign up for their community at the instructions are on the home page – you need to have your account number and PIN code with your existing carrier. But other than this it took less than 60 seconds to sign up to port my number. My old phone worked right up until the number was ported.

      Reply
  • George May 31, 2013, 1:34 pm

    Republic would be fine except we only have Verizon coverage available at my retirement house. No AT&T, no Sprint, no 4G, no cable TV, no DSL.

    Reply
  • Maigahane May 31, 2013, 1:41 pm

    Anyone in eastern Nebraska tried Republic? I’m thinking about taking the plunge but not quite sure. When we moved here we had AT&T and didn’t get reception in our own house (and they would NOT let us off our contract for that) and even though we have Wi-fi at home and would be okay there I want to know that I’ll be okay if say my car breaks down on the way home

    Reply
  • Jonathan May 31, 2013, 1:52 pm

    I agree with the service, but it’s the phone that really holds it back. Can’t wait for them to offer better options in the future. *still loving not having a $120 phone bill.

    Reply
  • Jon @MrMilitaryMoney May 31, 2013, 1:56 pm

    I wish they had as many options like this in Germany. I had terrible AT&T cell phone plans that cost over $120 per month. I finally finished the contract and stopped the plans all together. Then I had to move to Germany where I am dealing with the same issue. I had to get a large month-to-month plan in order to shop for a house and get access online (it takes months to get internet in your house). Now I am trying to tame it down and get a cheap plan and still use my iPhone 5.

    Reply
  • james May 31, 2013, 1:56 pm

    MMM – Glad to see you switch over. More glad to see that they’re aware of MMM.

    I’ve had RW for about 3-4 months. Switching over from the 4s took about a day to get used to. From a cell service standpoint, I had Sprint before, so the slow data didnt bother me.

    Here is what I like:
    The idea is outside the ordinary. Its a novel concept that actually works. Being in the room when the idea sprang up would have been interesting. Obviously the cost is nice, I pay $20.80/mo. I am not a heavy user of phone/text/data. I think at my peak I’d hit 200 min/500 texts/2.3GB data (rare spike), so it works well for me. Its not the best heavy users or someone that uses their phone for EVERYTHING. Call quality on wifi is good. I dont use speaker because it seems to cause the echo for the other person. The wifi is slow to turn on sometimes, but overall its a good system.

    I purchased Chromebook because hooking it up to my MBP was useless. It also made me realize that I have a MBP and I use Google Docs a lot and not much else. May sell it to my cousin.

    I think the best thing I’ve gotten out of the RW phone is I use my phone less. I think the functionality is lacking compared to the 4s. Maybe because that was my first step up from a flip phone. What I really need, I can do with the RW phone. Surf, check email, mint, text, make calls, tune in… mostly covers it.

    What I don’t like:
    I keep running out of space on the phone. I’ve seen how to be able to put whatever app you want on the SD card, but I think it may void warranty or something. Any feedback on this would be helpful.
    Support – I’ve found what I’ve needed in the community.
    Camera is balls,

    It really does take getting used to and its not for everyone. It sure beats paying $70/$80+.

    To give you another perspective, I really screwed up too, right before the switch. In my newly found mustachio’d excitement to optimize the shit out life, I realized I was missing out on a corp discount with Sprint. Took my $80something bill to $70 or so, Low and behold I found out that my contract started over again when I was porting my account to RW. Well, Not only was I having to purchase the $260 phone, I was getting it in the shorts with the $350 termination fee. Originally I was set to be out less than a hundo. Did that suck, yeah. I tried to plea out of it, but after a few tries, I decided that it was my mistake and all I could do was laugh at myself for not being a smart consumer. Despite this, I am still super stoked about the phone and the $$ I’m saving in the long run. I’ve told numerous people about it. They say $19!, cool! But I like the speed of the 4g blah blah blah. THen theres the GF, “I think I’m getting a great deal at $80/mo for unlimited data since Im grandfathered in. Plus….loyal… good to me…” I couldnt hear through the noise from SMH so hard.

    I still plan on selling my 4s and should get $250 – $300+ easily.

    I am a huge fan of Airvoice as well. When I made this swap, I helped my folks kill their $110 AT&T bill and got them on the monthly plan. Now I call or text them, they tell how much the call/text just cost them. Ha. Love it.

    Reply
  • Ryan May 31, 2013, 2:37 pm

    Intriguing…..I just wish they had more phone selection. Since I’m stuck in the middle of a contract right now, I’ll wait for the new phones. If they offered something such as the Galaxy, I’d be tempted to pay the ETF and switch early.

    Reply
  • Jeff May 31, 2013, 6:12 pm

    Any indication on the financial stability of RW? We’ve had smaller companies try to “disrupt” the industry in Canada as well, but usually they end up going belly up or getting swallowed by one of the big boys because their business model is not financially viable. For example, Telus (one of the big 3 here) now has plans to buy Mobilicity.

    Reply
    • Andrea June 9, 2013, 9:13 am

      Their parent company is Bandwidth, a multi-million dollar company that has been around for a decade or more (Bandwidth also powers Google Voice, Skype, Vonage, and Pinger). That doesn’t mean Republic can’t fail, but it has a lot more backing than a typical start-up.

      Reply
  • Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle May 31, 2013, 6:27 pm

    You Americans get much better cell phone deals and credit card bonuses than we Canadians.

    Our government has been very hesitant to open up the cell phone market to competition. Some changes have been made but still nothing like the bargain you got.

    Reply
  • Jay May 31, 2013, 7:15 pm

    I was interested and started reading the forums. I’m no longer interested in republic (unless it’s free like it is for MMM), but I am interested in a cheaper, albeit reliable alternative.

    Reply
  • Mike @ UB May 31, 2013, 7:17 pm

    First, congratulations to MMM for allowing all reviews to his post.

    I have a high Verizon bill too, and have been with them since 1989. (So told yesterday by the CSR.) Currently I’m using the Galaxy Note 2. And to say I’m happy with the phone and the service, I could not be happier (except for the monthly bill). My Note 2 has brought me the most satisfaction since Microsoft went GUI.

    I wish that this company could be a game changer, but I don’t believe so. Even MMM I would think would have pause after reading many of the comments.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 31, 2013, 7:36 pm

      1989!! That is an amazing telephone tenure.

      As for the game-changing: I’m actually positively surprised by the overall good reviews in these comments. Most Republic users are happy with the service, although there are certainly vocal complainers as well.

      I would say the success of the company from this point onward depends on what they do NEXT. We already know they need better phones – already almost here. Will this improve Wi-fi voice quality further? Very likely. Newer version of Android? Check.

      Contrary to Matt’s opinion, I feel that 18 months is the blink of an eye. They have accomplished a lot in such a short time – as long as the progress continues, the only thing that could stop them is financial mismanagement, technical stagnation, or some very powerful competitor coming out of the woodwork.

      As is usually the case with capitalism, the winner is We the Consumers. Mobile communications are rapidly dropping in price, which is overall a very good thing for society (especially in developing countries).

      Reply
  • Nichole May 31, 2013, 9:20 pm

    Hmmm. I am down to switch…like tonight lol but I call Canada a TON…A TONNNNNNN. How can I make that work with this? I get unlimited Canada calling with my boost mobile phone so help me out. I thought I was the bomb at $45/month. I will do a happy dance in the street if I can knock another 26 bucks off my monthly bill.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 1, 2013, 10:11 am

      If you install the Google Voice app on this or any other Android phone, you can use it to make unlimited free calls to Canada. I’ve tested it out already. And before that I used the laptop with the Google Talk plugin in a web browser to accomplish the same thing (better sound quality than even the best mobile phones). And of course Skype, if you’re calling someone who uses Skype themselves. Or Facetime for Apple-to-apple calls. There is just no need to pay long-distance fees these days.

      Reply
    • Andrea June 9, 2013, 9:16 am

      Calling to Canada is actually included in the plan: https://community.republicwireless.com/docs/DOC-1122

      Reply
  • Emily @ evolvingPF May 31, 2013, 10:08 pm

    I’ve been with RW for about 6 months now (my review is in my link). My husband and I went into the service with our eyes wide open, and with low-ish expectations we have been absolutely satisfied. We decided that the dropped calls and lack of customer service were fine trade-offs for the low monthly price, and I really haven’t noticed anything adverse beyond what I was experiencing with AT&T anyway. I don’t need the latest and greatest in phones so I’m perfectly satisfied. I’m glad we made the decision to only put on of us on RW and keep my husband’s iPhone on Verizon – we are more confident that one of us will generally have service. If RW were ever to fail on us (which it hasn’t so far) we have the other phone to back up. We also just generally are excited about the business model and the diversification of cell providers.

    Reply
    • CK JAGUAR July 23, 2013, 3:26 pm

      Hi, I had a few dropped calls in my early Republic Wireless days but discovered that my router needed updated firmware. After that update, all calls went through perfectly every time with no drops ever. There is one other thing that may help you and that is setting your router to give QOS priority to your Defy. You should have no problems with that phone and service at all. I have no issues at all. I hope that helps.

      Reply
  • Jon @MrMilitaryMoney June 1, 2013, 1:19 am

    In 2006 we moved to Japan and asked for a cell plan with unlimited minutes and got laughed at. They offered a plan with 30 shared minutes and $0.20 per text all for the low price of $80. I am glad prices have finally dropped and the competition is getting better.

    Reply
  • Victor June 1, 2013, 6:51 am

    Do any of the potential new phones RW will offer have QWERTY keyboards? The touchscreen-only option is the deal-breaker for me.

    Reply
    • Sam June 11, 2013, 11:11 am

      I was afraid that would be the case for me as well. I’ve been a corporate Blackberry user since 2000 (before there was a phone, just a 4 or 6 line display of text, for corporate email). We still use the latest BBs at work, but I just retired and got the Republic Wireless Motorola device.

      By turning the device sideways (so the on-screen keys are larger) and by using Swype, which comes with the device, I can type almost as well as I could on the BB. It took a few days to get used to it, but now I’m fine. I’m actually surprised that it’s so good. You can also use voice which is not bad at all if you still have trouble.

      I did really like the customizable word substitution on the BB, so I could type the word “are” by just typing space-r-space for example. I don’t see that on Swype, but maybe it’s there and I don’t know it, or maybe it’s coming. Hope so.

      Reply
  • Kenneth MacClune June 1, 2013, 7:31 am

    “At this point, I realized we’re dealing with a different kind of mobile phone company here. It’s run by real, intelligent people who are excited by the chance to change this country’s entire communications landscape.”

    I love this blog and the spirit of frugality (that is as American as apple pie) behind it. This is a wonderful modernization and continual refreshing of one of my favorite 1980s books “Your Money or Your Life”.

    That said I am saddened to see this particular post implying that “Republic Wireless” is somehow a different company because their CEO spent 30 minutes on the phone as part of their primary marketing campaign (i.e. with you). What I would find more useful would have been for you to pose as a regular person (not the real you who writes a major blog on frugality and has a decently sized audience of the most popular target audience) to see how they would treat the rest of us.
    Again – a great blog and thanks for refreshing in me (and in so many of us) the quest for frugality.
    Ken

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 1, 2013, 9:59 am

      No no, silly Kenneth! I’m not star-struck just because I got to talk to the boss, and I AM aware that they got in touch with me specifically as part of their marketing campaign. I get a bunch of requests like that every day in my email, and usually hit delete before I even pass the first paragraph. You don’t see many endorsements on this blog, right?

      The thing that impressed me was learning the way this particular business is run. Employees and customers seem to be trusted and respected. I dug up many stories besides the ones David himself told me. I love the “just use whatever you think is fair” model of voice and data consumption.. just like I’d say to you if I lent you my own mobile phone or my car. There are no tricks, like the ones AT&T tries to slip in: “only $20 extra/month for unlimited texting!”.

      I seem to deal with a lot of little entrepreneurial companies these days, and it is always amazing to see the difference between ones that have a basis of honesty, and those with an edge of tricksterism built in. There are still both types of companies being started every day.

      Time will tell. If I turn out to be totally wrong about this company, I get to publish a big embarrassing public apology and you can laugh at me then.

      Reply
      • Kenneth MacClune June 4, 2013, 9:07 am

        Thanks for the clarifying further detail, impressive indeed.

        But don’t fool yourself that these gifts (no matter how small) have _no_ influence!

        http://www.businessinsider.com/influence-of-gifts-2012-12
        http://nofreelunch.org/requiredinfluence.htm
        http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/19/health/research/19beha.html

        Cheers

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache June 4, 2013, 10:01 am

          I agree with your ideas about the powerful effects of gifts – I felt it myself at the Financial Bloggers Conference, where vendors gave us bloggers loads of free catered gourmet food and and open bars in the VIP section at the downtown Denver bars.

          And I am still a wimp at the art of resisting luxury, as the MMM family’s overly luxurious lifestyle right now indicates.

          But on the positive side, I do turn down most potential “gifts”, because I think of the environmental impact of accepting a product I wasn’t going to buy anyway. Here, I really was going to buy the Republic phone and try the service. The freebie only affected the bottom line.

          However, talking to the CEO and employees did help me get a better feel for the company. In this case, it made me like them more. In other cases (like one time when I got a peek into the corporate culture of Netflix), I liked them less.

          Reply
  • Quentin Hartman June 1, 2013, 11:16 am

    I made a similar switch about 6 months ago. switched my wife and I and her parents from various Verizon and pre-paid plans to single account with Ting. They are another virtual provider that uses Sprints network. I chose then over Republic because they have a much better equipment selection and better customer service reports. a little more expensive, but we still dropped $250 worth of wireless expenses per month to about $80, which is a win in my book. even with contact fees and equipment costs, we’ll be money ahead in just a few months. my one gripe is that Sprint had no LTE in Denver, so the phones feel slow when not on Wi-Fi. supposedly that is changing sometime this summer but I haven’t been able to find any official announcements or anything.

    Reply
  • Diana Mazu June 1, 2013, 1:09 pm

    Hello hello- I have used Republic for about 4 months now and have since had no huge complaints. I am the type who does not enjoy phone conversations much, and slightly less techie than the trendy crowd, so I don’t feel the need to have the fastest service, or a million apps to keep my day going. I like my maps- I think its important to have a number where people can reach me if need be- and I from time to time, I read some blogs and check my mail/social networks. For this I absolutely admire the fact that there is a service that allows me to pay such a little bit for only the needs I need.
    One complaint I do have is the sound quality when using headphones to talk, and also the touch pad for texting takes forever to write a simple message.
    For this I would gladly transition back to the iPhone if I had the option to.
    Getting to my question, do you know if Republic will be allowing users to use their own iPhones? or will we be expected to by a new one all together for the service?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 1, 2013, 3:11 pm

      I’m not expecting iPhones to show up on Republic, since the software base is completely different from the Android phones they use now. But there ARE newer Android phones coming that are better than the iPhone in most ways. So you’d have the option of selling your i and using the money to get an A.

      Or, bring your iphone to Airvoice or a similar alternative carrier: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/10/11/our-new-10-00-per-month-iphone-plans/

      Reply
      • Rachael Raue August 12, 2013, 4:30 pm

        Has there been a newer review of Republilc. Right now we have an all inclusive plan with 5 smart phones that costs close to $400 a month. I doubt our phones would transfer and we are under contract with most of them anyway. I would like to try to go towards something like this though. What are your current thoughts>

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache August 12, 2013, 9:48 pm

          Wow! $400 a month must be torture!

          You can’t transfer existing phones to Republic, but you can sell them and buy the Republic one for everyone ($199 first phone, $149 each additional one). If you do the math on breaking the contracts, it would probably pay off very quickly.

          Or you can switch existing phones to pay-as-you-go plans, there is a list at the very bottom of this post: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/10/11/our-new-10-00-per-month-iphone-plans/ – search for “Ting”

          Reply
        • AndreaS August 12, 2013, 10:05 pm

          Yikes! FYI, your phones can’t be used on Republic (because they are specially provisioned, you must purchase your phones from Republic), but you can check here to see if your numbers will transfer: https://join.republicwireless.com/number_setup?

          To add to what MMM said about prices of the phones, there is currently an ADDALINE50 promotion (until 8/31), so you can either pay $199 for the first one, and $149 for each additional phone on the $19/month plan, or pay $79 for the first phone and $29 for each additional phone on the $29/month plan (the phones and service are identical in each case). Even going with the $29/month plan, you will save a substantial amount of money each month…(if you do decide to give Republic a try, I recommend that you just get one phone initially to make sure that it works well for you before adding the additional lines…).

          Reply
  • Kevin June 1, 2013, 4:33 pm

    Great post! T-Mobile is also doing some great stuff in the cell landscape these days. I am currently on a $30/month “unlimited data” plan that I’m using with my Nexus 4, which I bought unlocked brand new for $349 from Google Play, and that’s only because I splurged on the fancypants 16GB model- I could also have gone for the $299 8GB one. Only catch is that the $30/month plan comes with “only” 100 minutes/month of voice. Since I use on average 5 minutes/month of voice calling, this isn’t an issue for me.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 1, 2013, 9:19 pm

      That IS a neat strategy. You can run VOIP apps like GrooveIP to route your phone calls over the data network anyway, so it’s really an unlimited-everything plan for a high-tech person. And the Nexus 4 is a very fine and fancy phone.

      Reply
      • Kevin June 2, 2013, 6:50 am

        Yup, bingo. GrooveIP for when I absolutely need to make long phone calls from the road, and Google Voice via Gmail from my laptop for everything else. Who talks on the phone anymore, anyway?

        Reply

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