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Republic Wireless: Old Phone, New Phone, and a Tempting Competitor

A sample from the new phone's camera (click for larger)

A sample from the new phone’s camera (click for larger)

Just a few hours ago, I unwrapped my new Moto X phone from Republic wireless. It’s the dazzlingly fancy new device that many current and potential Republic customers have been waiting for, so I figured this event warrants an early review.

If you read my original post about this wireless company from May 2013, you know that I’m already a fan. Back then, they were offering a basic smartphone with a $19/month unlimited-everything service plan.

The response was mixed: quite a few of us signed up, and I received mostly positive reviews from those who reported back. Republic’s sole phone at the time – the Motorola Defy XT – was definitely a step back in time, but somehow I managed to lead a happy and productive life with it for over 5 months. Call quality was usually fine, and email and text messages were pretty good too. I didn’t love that gadget, but I also didn’t hate it like Jim Collins did.

I took it to Canada for the summer and was pleased to note that calling and texts remained free for me even during that time. Took it to Ecuador and was able to keep in touch over Wi-fi as well as using it as a hiking navigator by caching a satellite map of the Otovalo area in Google Maps. Used it as a speedometer, altimeter, and E-book listener, and tuned it to Pandora’s Medeski Martin and Wood station one summer night and plugged it into an amplifier, where it rocked a party (pulling music out of thin air with the unlimited 3G data connection) without complaint. The user interface was definitely choppy and slow to the touch, and it didn’t take good pictures. The upside is that I spent far less time looking at my phone. “It’s the phone that gives you your life back!”, is the humorous marketing slogan a friend came up with.

But temptation called, and I was given the chance to evaluate the opposite end of the spectrum: A Samsung Galaxy S4 superphone (retail price about $600) running on a Ting Wireless plan – a direct competitor of Republic wireless. I accepted this challenge to make sure I wasn’t just becoming a complacent Republic spokesman, while not knowing what else was out there.

galaxy s4Going from the little Defy to the gigantic Galaxy was like stepping centuries into the future. Holy Shit, is that ever a nice phone. Every feature is incomparably better than the equivalent on any other device I’ve ever seen. The screen is astonishingly big, bright and clear. The camera takes images that look like you cut them out of Real Life and pasted them to your retinae. The sound and video recording, call quality, and smooth, fluid motion were other-worldly. I became addicted to telephone use again, and my wife and son were not pleased.

The neat thing about Ting is that they have a unique pricing model: you can bring your own Sprint-network phone (some people pick them up on eBay), or buy one directly from them. Then you use talk, text, and data as you see fit and they automatically adjust your plan based on a bucket system with six sizes: Small through XXL. You can add additional phones at $6 per month each and share the same pools.

ting-plans

I ran mine at full-bore for a month and came up halfway through the “Medium” bucket with a bill of $33. So theoretically Mrs. MM could add a line and share the bucket, and our joint family bill would be $39 per month. A big bonus for travelers is that this plan includes Wi-fi tethering, which is hard to come by without ridiculous fees.

All this Ting stuff is important, because Republic has now released a phone that beats the iPhone 5 and rivals the Galaxy S4 in most important usefulness measurements, while running on an ultra-competitive rate plan system.

The New Republic Plans:rw_plans

  • For five bucks a month ($5!?), you can use this phone in WiFi-only mode. Everything still works whenever you get wifi reception, you just can’t make calls from the middle of nowhere.
  • 10 Bucks gets you the same WiFi access, plus unlimited talk and text nationwide. This is probably the most useful ultra-frugal plan I’ve ever seen.
  • The $25 plan duplicates what the $19 plan offered before: unlimited everything, including 3G data. They had to raise the price slightly because they know that when your phone is awesome instead of crappy, you will naturally tend to use it more.
  • The $40 plan adds up to 5GB of 4G data. This would be the road warrior fancypants plan. Since any internet access at all on a telephone is still thrilling to me, and my town doesn’t even have 4G towers, I would personally find this to be overkill. But for those using phones for work, it is still a mighty low price for what they are offering.
  • All of this is based primarily on the Sprint network, but Republic phones will automatically roam (free of charge) to Verizon towers for both voice and data if you ever find yourself outside of Sprint’s coverage

And as if that wasn’t enough flexibility, you can also jump between any of these plans freely, up to twice each month. And by “jump”, I mean swipe down on your screen and select a new option, not make an arduous call to a telephone service representative. So you might stay on the frugal plan most of the time, and boost it to 4G mode for business or road trips.

It’s almost too cheap – I hope that the company can continue turn a profit while making service this affordable and subsidizing the phone. But from conversations with the management, it seems they are approaching things from the position of  strength – put out a really good offering which depends in part on customers not abusing it, and hope that the resulting strong demand and customer loyalty counteracts the risk.

Both of these companies represent an amazing step forward for the typical US mobile phone customer. This week a reader and I had an amusing conversation with Verizon on Twitter. Verizon was trying valiantly to keep his business, but when I looked at their rate plans, I could see it was hopeless. To review the competitive landscape in three points for a hypothetical household of two:

  • They could share an already-plentiful 500 minutes, 1000 texts, and 500MB of data on Ting for $39/month
  • Or they could each have unlimited everything on Republic for a combined total of $50/month
  • Or they could share unlimited talk and text and 1GB of data on Verizon for … $130/month!?

The battle between these new carriers and the old ones is so far from competitive that it is ridiculous.

 The Phone

meet_motox

This is the part we were all waiting to find out: Does the Motorola X live up to its promise of being one of the most advanced smartphones in production? And can it finally make calls over Wi-Fi that are reliable and clear every time? So far, I believe the answer might be yes.

We’ll start with the price: Republic is selling the phone at $299, which means they are subsidizing a good chunk of the purchase price, despite the fact that they have a no-contract service model. It’s still a lot of money, so if you’re using a Defy and it works well for you, keep up the good work. A better phone will not give you a happier life, but in my line of work, I do benefit from certain features – especially a better camera.

I rounded up the four phones that are currently residing in my house*: iPhone 4, Motorola Defy, Samsung Galaxy S4, and Motorola X. To keep the comparison brief, I took the same picture with all four phones: a low-light interior shot (with no flash) of my messy breakfast bar. This allows you to get a rough idea of phone size, camera quality and lens angle, screen size, and screen quality all in one shot.

Clockwise from top left: Defy XT, iPhone4, Galaxy S4, Motorola X

Clockwise from top left: Defy XT, iPhone4, Galaxy S4, Motorola X

Although it’s just one picture, this general theme sums up the capabilities of the four phones in all areas. The iPhone pretty much nailed the user experience back at version 4, and since then things have just been getting bigger and shinier. You can generally gauge a phone’s raw power and fanicness in all areas, simply by noting how huge it is.

For example, my experience over the past month with the Galaxy S4 has been pleasant, and it is a great device for taking pictures, sound recordings, and reading emails and even whole books. But it’s so big, I have to take it out of my pocket when squatting down to work on something for an extended period. It is also delicate: the phone developed a frequent-rebooting problem within two weeks of ownership. Later, I accidentally dropped it from chair height onto my driveway, and the entire glass sheet cracked to shards. So much for “Gorilla Glass” (note to self: better put a beefy rubber case on this new Motorola X before the next accident happens).

The Moto X has most of the advantages of the Galaxy, but with a less slippery exterior, and slightly more compact dimensions that fit better in a pocket. It feels more like a good phone, and less like a tablet. It still has a very large, incredibly bright and clear screen with pixels too fine for the eye to discern. The menus and motions and swiping and 3-D gaming graphics are fluid, like something from an amazing science fiction movie rather than something you and I actually get to own.

It runs a clean and up-to-date version of Android, which means it is easy to use and easily customizable: I’ve already updated its stock keyboard, camera, image viewer, sounds and ringtones, voice recorder app, calculator, wallpaper, notification tray, and added a one-touch flashlight widget, for example. I also prefer its wider-angle lens: in the picture above, you can see how much more of the room it captures when compared to the Galaxy. Note that in my photo, the Moto X screen appears a bit blurry and overexposed but this is just a byproduct my attempt to capture all four phones in the SLR I used to take that picture – in real life, color realism and clarity was very close to the Galaxy.

If you’re curious about where it lies in the phone landscape, our mutual friend Johnny Moneyseed put together this table of stats:

moneyseed_comparo

Various phones, compared by J. Moneyseed

When it comes right down to it, the choice of smartphone depends heavily on personal taste. Because mine gets used almost entirely for blog-related stuff, my own preferences are good camera first, fast interface for reading emails second, big clear screen third, sound recording fourth, and then internet access, some other stuff, and phone calls somewhere near the bottom. But a plumber or salesman or software engineer might put things in a completely different order.

The bottom line for the purpose of this article, however, is that the Moto X is near the top of the pack in all of those areas, and when combined with Republic’s $5/10/25/40 rate plan, makes them almost unbeatable.

If you’re interested in checking out Republic Wireless, you can do so using this link or the picture below.

republic_picture

On the other hand, if the Ting plans line up better with your needs, you might want this link**.

An Update, 3 months later: I continue to use the Republic Moto X as my primary phone, and could not be happier with the phone and the company in general. Everything just works and blends in to the background of life as it should, just as it did when I got my first iPhone. Taking pictures, doing business, and making calls. The only difference is that the unlimited nature of the plan makes life simpler, and the ridiculously low price makes life less expensive.

Final Note: Republic and Ting represent only my own two favorites out of a growing range of options. Collectively, your fellow readers know far more than I do in this field and they have already started sharing their own tips in the comments section below. Let us know your own ultimate frugal mobile phone solution, or if there is anything I need to add to this post about Republic to make it more accurate and complete. 

* Four phones!? You can blame this on the blog. People send me free ones these days, and I dutifully engage my old gadget addiction so you can benefit from my cluttered house.

** Both of these companies offer affiliate links, so I have provided those in this article. So if you use ‘em, they benefit this blog – and thanks!
But if you are already a member, you might want to generate your own referral codes and share them with your friends privately – this will give you additional months of free phone service. Enjoy!

  • Elliott Garber November 16, 2013, 11:51 pm

    Thanks for the helpful reviews, Mr. MM. I’ll be moving back to the States next summer after four years in Egypt and Italy, so I’m especially interested in these developments as I think about what kind of plans to consider.

    My wife and I are still pretty committed Apple users, though. I wonder if an unlocked iPhone would work with the Ting plans? Or do other Mustachians have recommendations for the best budget plans that can be used with an iPhone?

    Reply
    • Philip November 17, 2013, 12:21 am

      Yes iPhone 4 has been announced that can be use on sprint. But there might be easier to buy sprint on ebay as nobody wants those phones. They dont have the (enough) antennas bands for the new sprint network. So they wont receive LTE. I am iPhone user myself. The ones that do sell new iphones that are MVNOs (mobile virtual network operator ie. ting,republic,boostmobile,virginmobile) such as boost and virgin. They sell iphone 5s that can use sprints LTE. Once the iphone 6 comes out they will be able to use (most likely marketed advanced lte) tri band towers combing 3 bands for greater speed output for new iphone 6 (hopefully).

      Reply
    • Andrew Crocker November 17, 2013, 3:53 am

      My suggestion is the T-mobile, $30/month pre-paid plan. Yes, it’s $60 more per year than Republic’s $25 plan (and a different balance of minutes/text/data) but you won’t have to buy a new, $300 android phone.

      http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-plans it’s the $30 – Unlimited Web & Text with 100 minutes Talk plan. It’s pretty amazing for heavy web/minimal talk users like myself.

      I’m currently using this with Google Voice, which gets me essentially unlimited _everything_ for $30/month on my old (and recently out of contract) iPhone 4S. I figure when my 4S dies, I’ll buy the $180 little brother to the Moto X, the recently announced Moto G. But I’ll be sticking with the $30/month plan as long as I can.

      Reply
      • Jane November 17, 2013, 7:40 am

        I’m interested in the $30/month T-Mobile plan, but it says this:

        “This plan is only available for devices purchased from
        Wal-Mart or devices activated on T-Mobile.com”

        So they let you BYOD? Did that count as a “device activated on T-Mobile.com” or was there some other way you were able to use your old phone?

        Reply
        • Andrew Crocker November 17, 2013, 10:59 am

          Yup, it’s BYOD. My 4S is from AT&T, and I had no problems signing up. I hear there are some problems with Verizon phones though. Here’s how I got it:

          - make sure your device is unlocked. that usually involves going through some arcane process with your carrier.

          - buy a sim card. it’ll take about a week to arrive. http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/sim-card

          - when you get it, follow the instructions in the packet they give you. You have to sign up for this plan online, but that’s as simple as going to the activation site, porting your existing number, and picking the plan.

          I had some problem with the site, so I was able to convince T-mobile customer service to help me out over the phone. But my wife had an easier time of it, and got through the whole process in just a couple minutes with t-mobile’s website signup itself.

          Reply
          • Radsgirl November 17, 2013, 11:57 am

            Love the T-mobile $30 100 minute plan. We ditched AT&T’s because their prices were ridiculous (even after a 20% employer discount on our bill) and bought SIM cards at Target for our iPhone 4′s. You have to sign up for the plan on their website, and it can be tricky to find. We then called T mobile to activate the new SIM cards. Our bill has been cut by half, but admittedly the service areas in remote places and download speeds over 3G are not as good as AT&T. It’s great for people that don’t use mostly talk time and do mostly texting and internet. There are various forum posts online that describe how to switch.

            Reply
          • Jackson November 19, 2013, 5:59 pm

            I brought over my Verizon iPhone 5 to t-mobile fine. It doesn’t support T-Mo’s LTE frequencies, but otherwise works fine. At least the 5 (not sure about 4s or 5s) for Verizon come unlocked out of the box. I payed something like ~250 for the ETF, but since my monthly rate went from $100 to $30, it’ll pay for itself in 4 months.

            Reply
      • Rachel November 17, 2013, 1:04 pm

        If you need family lines t-mobile’s bring your own device plan is good option. It’s not a pre-paid, but no phone discount options. We currently have 3 lines with unlimited talk/text/web. Web is 4g up to 500mb for each phone then 2g speed. We also have unlimited text to many countries and one line with unlimited calls to landlines in Mexico ($10 optional). After employer discount our bill for everything is $95/mo. Additional lines are $10/mo so if we wanted to add more people the average cost per line would be lower.

        We purchased all 3 phones used for between $100-200 each from used cell phone stores and eBay.

        Reply
      • Anonymous November 17, 2013, 3:30 pm

        I use T-Mobile as well. I prefer unlimited with no asterisk attached to “unlimited, but we’ll guilt you into using as little as possible”.

        Reply
      • Michael Gillin December 14, 2013, 10:58 pm

        You also have a new player using T-Mobile. 35orless- LIVE plan. Super aggressive rate. Discount for all customers every month. BYOD.

        Reply
      • dave January 6, 2014, 10:05 am

        Google Voice to get unlimited everything? Did you port your number to google voice or use talk a tone to make phone call?

        Reply
    • Mrs. PoP November 17, 2013, 5:05 am

      Ting just announced a couple of weeks ago that they are beta testing for iPhone – I believe up to 4S. (Based on the omission in MMM’s review it might be invite only – we signed up for notification months ago on iPhone availability.) We’re planning on pulling the switch in the next few weeks. We’ll sell our Verizon iPhones, buy equivalent Sprint ones, and likely shave anywhere from $100-$120 off our monthly bill.

      I love the idea of Ting, since the primary times I use my phone I wouldn’t be in a wifi location, so Republic never made a lot of sense for my usage patterns.

      Reply
      • Mr. 1500 November 17, 2013, 4:28 pm

        Correct. I received the invite last week and it’s iPhone 4 or 4S.

        I bought a Sprint compatible 4S off eBay and moved to Ting in about 5 minutes. Worked great.

        Just make sure you verify the phone isn’t stolen by using a service like this: http://checkesnfree.com/

        Reply
        • pottshep November 18, 2013, 10:06 am

          If you’re buying a phone off of eBay for use with Ting, go to their website support and check out the BYOD section. You enter the phone’s ESN/MEID. Out of probably 8-9 phones I was looking at, 4 turned out to be not stolen, still activated, or some other problem that would not work. Seems lots of “insurance” resale of damaged phones. Beware and let Ting help. Ting customer support has been OUTSTANDING for me. :)

          Reply
      • Emily Capito December 2, 2013, 4:44 pm

        I have been aching to cut the Verizon umbilical cord (as in them sucking the life out of me) since I left the corporate world and lost the paid phone perks. This article and the many awesome comments have made that possible.

        Just broke it out based on staying until our contracts up (total cost of lost savings opportunity + used Sprint iphones = $980) vs cutting the cord now (total ETF + used Sprint iphones = $438 + immeasurable joy).

        2014 is going to be $1,000 more beautiful than 2013. Plus my SO gets an iphone for Christmas :)

        Reply
    • Miss Growing Green November 17, 2013, 9:11 am

      AirVoice Wireless is a good option to look into if you want to keep your iPhone. You can pay as you go, or they have unlimited plans starting at $30.

      Reply
      • Paularado November 18, 2013, 12:04 pm

        We use Airvoice.

        AT&T is the only service that works in my area, so we use Airvoice, which operates on AT&T Towers. We just bought a very cool android phone direct from China for $143 with shipping. It’s called a Goophone P5 and it’s a lot like an iphone 5, but with android. It took 3 weeks to arrive, but so far so good.

        Airvoice isn’t as cheap as Republic if you use data, but there isn’t any Sprint reception where we live, so that isn’t an option. I’d like to know that if my car breaks down on the road, I’ll be able to call for help.

        Reply
    • Not too late November 18, 2013, 4:53 am

      We just joined Ting from AT&T about 2 weeks ago. Since we already used iPhones, I just bought 2 cheap Sprint iPhones on ebay and set them up to make the transition smooth so we didn’t have to “learn” another smart phone. Although Ting is in beta testing on the iPhone 4 and 4s right now, we have not had any issues. Activation was as easy as providing the MEID number from the phones, waiting a few hours for the activation email to be received from Ting, and then restarting our phones at that point. We have not noticed a change in service at all.

      Reply
    • Free Money Minute November 18, 2013, 8:23 am

      We are pretty locked in with out iPhone right now as well, and under contract until the end of next year. I think I will be looking at a way of reducing our $57 phone bill next year after the contact comes up. There seems to be many alternatives now available to do most, if not all, of what we currently use our smartphone for, at a fraction of the cost. Thanks for sending reviews our way MMM!

      Reply
    • 205guy November 22, 2013, 3:11 am

      My wife and I have old iPhones (3G, and hey still work), off-contract and unlocked, and we switched to puretalkusa.com. They use the ATT network, so everything works the same as before (except no visual voicemail). Their billing is a bit hard to fathom: they bill a minimum $10 per month for 100-something minutes +$5 per additional line, then $10 more per tranche of 100-something minutes (but added to your next monthly bill). We actually downgraded from unlimited data plans at AT&T to no-data plans (just wifi at home and work) just to use the devices less. But the phones works fine, customer service was helpful and competent, and the cost is low ($15-25 per month). When we want to Europe, we just got prepaid SIM cards that worked fine–so I’m sure this service is compatible with GSM phones.

      Reply
      • The Roamer June 18, 2014, 3:08 pm

        I read all the comments but did not see this addressed anywhere. So I’ll ask hopefully it isn’t repetitive.

        1. Republic does seamless hand off from your home Internet to the cell service correct?..does Ting do that or are you limited to only those minutes and/or adding google voice?

        2. Has anyone used virgin mobile. They have more phone options and I’d like to know what the mustachians think. I currently own like the oldest iPhone made but am considering going back to a regular flip phone( I use Internet a lot to read all these MMM articles but when I’m caught up I don’t think I’ll have much use for it) plus it really frustrated me how much my spouses face is buried in the phone so I want to lead by example.

        If you you do use virgin mobile same question does it seamlessly transfer from you home Internet to plan minutes oh! And how does this effect international minute charges
        Thanks MMM community

        Reply
        • Val June 18, 2014, 3:22 pm

          I believe only republic wireless does VOIP over wifi. Ting and Virgin use the mobile network, and there are no free minutes (correct me if my information is old). You can manage it yourself, with something like grooveIP on android, but it isn’t built in with the other MVNOs.

          Virgin is great if you don’t use your phone much. My dad had it for years and kept adding $20 every 3 months to keep his account current. $7/month ain’t bad, but Ting is about the same if you hardly use it, so he’s on our Ting plan now.

          Reply
  • Philip November 17, 2013, 12:14 am

    Why dont you do an article on freedompop phone? I pay 0$ a month. All calls through google voice. 500mb per month free. Phone cost 99$ one time. Was previously with red pocket $29.99 unlim call text int. and 100mb. But since texting and calling has become more at home than during the day out. Using wifi helps for me to use freedompop phone htc evo 4g design. Not bad of a phone. A late 2011 phone pretty good. Cant wait to i have a chance with iphone on freedompop when they can release byod or byosd program. They use sprint too! !

    Reply
    • Keith November 17, 2013, 10:35 am

      I use GV via the Talkatone app on my iPhone whenever Im on wifi and it didn’t even cost me $99. I am going to get a FreedomPop for my car to further expand my wifi data and free calling.

      Reply
      • Stephen December 2, 2013, 3:36 pm

        No need to use Talkatone any more: Google added direct dialing to their Hangouts app for iOS in October

        Reply
  • Krum November 17, 2013, 12:18 am

    I might have to check out Ting wireless. I have been buying used phones for years. I currently have an unlimited everything plan with cricket wireless for $47 a month. I do not use it that much and I certainly do not need everything. The price of the phone with Republic Wireless frightens me a bit. The HTC Evo 4G by Sprint is fast, efficient, and reliable. Since they came out a few years ago, they can be picked up on eBay for less than $50. I like to have a few spare batteries, and a battery charger, so I never have to plug in my phone, and I never worry about a battery dying. I have broken a few phones in the past, which is I why I like the availability of the HTC Evo. I can have another shipped within a few days. If I tried Republic Wireless and something happened to my $299 phone, would I have to just get another $299 phone? It sounds like Ting can save me some money since I do not take full advantage of the unlimited plan with Cricket.

    Reply
    • Normab November 17, 2013, 10:21 am

      I’ve been watching the Moto X pretty closely as we want to upgrade aging iPhones – but no longer want to sign a contract. An unlocked Moto X with no contract costs $450 plus with the national carriers – used to be $599 until a couple of weeks … At $299 Republic is clearly subsidizing the cost of the smartphone – which given they don’t require you to sign a contract is pretty remarkable.

      You pay a premium to get the latest and greatest and costs decrease usually (unless you are Apple) after a couple of months. You get what you pay for when it comes to smartphones for sure …the Moto X is widely considered a higher end smartphone – eg one of their more expensive models. I think buying a used phone on eBay sounds like a dicey proposition … You never know what you are really going to get when you do that. So if $300 is more than you want to spend on a smartphone, you might want to wait for the new Moto G which got announced last week – my guess is republic Wireless will offer it as well – they’ve always said they would be trying to offer a range of phones at various price points – sounds like they are having to wait for Motorola to catch up and have the phones ready/certified on a carriers network.

      Reply
    • Brie November 18, 2013, 8:49 am

      Krum, I actually just did this last week. I purchased a sprint htc evo 4g on ebay from a reseller, set it up on Ting and ported my number from AT&T. Using a referral link gave me a $25 credit towards my bill on Ting and so far it looks like I will usually be in the small buckets making my bill $15 + taxes/fees, sure beats my $75 AT&T bill with some of the worst cell service I have ever experienced. So far I have been very happy with Ting, their customer service was super helpful in porting my number.
      As for buying used from Ebay, I have had two very successful purchases from refurb companies. My only complaint on the Evo 4g is the camera, its not the best, not a necessity for me but might be for you.

      Reply
    • Ellen November 26, 2013, 6:45 am

      I am a Ting user and I have the EVO 4g LTE. I bought it new from Ting last year with the intention of keeping it for 2 years. This spring I dropped it and now have black splotches all over the screen – I have seen others with this problem with this phone. In my experience, the EVO doesn’t seem to be a very tough phone. I have looked into getting it fixed and that would cost $100, so I am buying a used phone in good shape from Glyde and giving up on my EVO. On the upside, I wouldn’t be nearly as annoyed about the splotches if I had paid only $50 for my EVO.

      Ting is awesome, by the way. Great customer service, good prices, easy to understand plan. I am constantly trying to get people to switch to them.

      Reply
  • cdub November 17, 2013, 12:25 am

    Just ordered the Moto X for me and my wife earlier this week. I had the original RW phone (the one before the Defy) and while the service was great the phone just BLEW. And the service was buggy enough that I wouldn’t get it for my wife.

    Now it’s all changed. I left RW because I wanted a Nexus 4. This phone is BETTER than the Nexus 4.

    I started us off with both on the $25 plan but I might switch to the $10 to see how it goes. (you can switch twice per month on the phone itself supposedly)

    Reply
    • Holly November 21, 2013, 8:59 am

      I agree about the first RW phone. I am ordering the new phone as well. Love Republic Wireless, just hated the phone. Lots of glitches. What I’ve read about the Moto X is promising so far and I’m hopeful that it will solve the few problems I’ve had with the DEFY.

      Reply
  • Cash Rebel November 17, 2013, 2:02 am

    Great in depth review! The one advantage Verizon does have is the family plan. I have a 2 GB 4g data plan iphone that just costs $30/month. If I looked at the whole family plan, we should definitely all switch to RW, but as an individual, the incremental change from the family plan to RW wouldn’t be worth it. Have you run into many issues like this?

    Reply
    • Johnny Moneyseed November 17, 2013, 5:01 pm

      That must have been an old offer. Currently if you sign up for Verizon you have to pay a $40/month access charge per smartphone. THEN you have to pick an amount of data to share which starts at $40 for 500MB. That means even if you have 5 phones sharing a 500MB plan you’re paying $48/month per phone. Plus taxes, fees, and soul.

      Here is the calculator on Verizon’s site.

      http://www.verizonwireless.com/wcms/consumer/shop/share-everything.html

      Reply
    • Tiffany November 19, 2013, 2:16 pm

      Cash- I just switched to Ting from a Verizon Family plan. So far it’s love.
      With 3 people all on smarty phones we’re on track to spend approx. $70/month vs. $220/month.

      The key for us is to have wifi available where you use data most often.

      Reply
  • Victor November 17, 2013, 3:42 am

    One thing I don’t get, is why do you have to pay to use WiFi? If person A buys this $5 WiFi plan from company X, and then uses the phones WiFi to access person(/company) B:s internet connection that has been bought from company Y, then why is person A paying company X?

    Reply
    • Lucas November 17, 2013, 5:16 am

      For originating and as an end point for voice and text calls. you can do the same thing with any of these phones using skype over wifi but you will also pay a couple $ a month for the privilege and it isn’t as seemless. Google voice is another option that can be used free, but it also isn’t seemless and you would have to use a new number (same as with skype).

      Reply
      • doris November 17, 2013, 12:18 pm

        The beauty of Republic I found is the Wi-Fi calling just works – no special app to download. Also I like not having to worry about ‘this many minutes’ or “that much data’ which always turns out to be just a little less than I need. Can’t wait for my Moto X – supposedly they’ve solved seamless call handover from WiFi to cellular. That will be great!

        Reply
    • Executioner November 17, 2013, 8:19 am

      I agree. If you are going to commit to using a Wifi only mode, you should be able to find services like Google Voice which will allow you to accomplish what you need to do without paying a monthly fee.

      Reply
      • Jasmine November 17, 2013, 2:35 pm

        I ported my cell number over to Google Voice for $20, so I got to keep the same number I’ve had for years. I did this as soon as my AT&T contract was up with my iphone, so they would unlock it for me. I’ve been doing nothing but wireless for 3 months and it’s been mostly fine. I would like to look into getting a SIM card for pay as you go service for emergencies and such.
        Great article–until recently it never occurred to me to look outside the few big companies. Remembering how my husband and I paid $130 a month just for the ability to check email anywhere we wanted makes me a little ill now. We mostly only used maps while out of the house anyways. We check email at home (now that we’re forced to) and we hardly notice the “inconvenience”.
        Also, I’ve been in Europe for a while now, where I can pick up wireless nearly anywhere. Public buses in Ireland have free wireless. Every cafe and pub in any city. Hope the US catches up with that soon!

        Reply
        • gr8bkset November 19, 2013, 5:00 am

          Lycamobile pay as you go $10 plan is 2c/min 4c/text 6c/MB. Your minutes don’t expire, so that $10 may last you a whole year. Lyca has similar coverage as T-mobile.

          Like you, I use the data for emails, google maps and occasional web browsing and the $10 typically lasts me 2 months.

          Reply
      • Hardest Working Slacker November 17, 2013, 3:28 pm

        No MMS on google voice. Can’t port your number (I don’t think).

        Reply
        • Tom Thumb November 17, 2013, 7:30 pm

          MMS is on Google Voice, on the laptop/desktop naturally, and on mobile devices using Talkatone or (forgot the name of alternative app). Both are free and have comparable features. I preferred Talkatone when I compared both several years ago and haven’t had reason to switch since.

          Reply
          • Emily C November 18, 2013, 3:44 am

            Yes, but texts coming from Verizon numbers tend to get lost. And Google voice has no ability to receive group Verizon texts, so you’ll miss out on those messages (my husband has been having this problem).

            Reply
          • Debt Hater November 18, 2013, 3:28 pm

            I believe MMS is only able to be received and not sent through Google Voice, and that is only from Sprint and T-Mobile currently (and it sends it to your g-mail so it’s still a little clunky). A majority of people have AT&T and Verizon so the lack of MMS also means you will miss out on any iPhone group messages without ever knowing they were sent.

            Reply
  • Jacob Yeh November 17, 2013, 5:08 am

    Fellow Mustachians, might I offer another tempting alternative from the pre-paid MVNO world? RingPlus. For $9.99 (no-contract) you get 400 minutes, 400 texts and 300 mb of data. Here are the “catches”:

    1) You must use a non-iPhone Sprint device. Devices I can personally vouch for include a Samsung Galaxy S3, an LG Rumor Reflex and a brand-new Virgin Mobile Kyocera Kona ($5!!!!). I’m guessing you can bring over any phone from an MVNO that uses the Sprint network (like Virgin Mobile, Boost, etc.) but your mileage may vary.

    2) You must activate your phone and port over your number yourself. RingPlus’s website has these tools (including a handy “Check your device” so you can make sure your device is compatible BEFORE you switch over to RingPlus. Note that if you are currently in-contract, your device may show up as “unavailable” but if you port over the number associated with that device first (thereby making that device “inactive”) your device may then BECOME compatible.

    3) You will hear advertisements when you call out. RingPlus is an advertisement-supported service, so instead of hearing the normal ring-back tones (ringing) you hear a pop-song or a brief bit of news (you can choose between different “channels”). Yes, it is slightly annoying but hey, that’s how you end up paying $9.99 (or less). Also note, this does not affect in-coming calls; people calling you will NOT hear ads (unless of course they are RingPlus customers themselves).

    4) You may not be able to use local 9-1-1 services. My understanding is that in order to use 9-1-1 you must pay these federal and state surcharges and taxes; I’ve seen these surcharges and taxes on bills from Sprint, Republic Wireless, even Ooma. (Interestingly, if you use your surcharge-&-tax-free Google Voice via your computer or even through a VOIP-to-traditional-landline-phone device like Obihai, they make a point of letting you know that you shouldn’t use 911, since you didn’t pay for it.) So far (2 months), I have only seen charges for $9.99 and nothing more (again, since they are a bare-bones company, no paper or email bills, just a notification on my “dashboard” that they charged another $9.99 for the next month). This is actually not so much a “catch” since it means, when they say $9.99 they really mean $9.99 (and not like Republic Wireless where they said $19 and it ended up being closer to $27).

    Major benefits:

    1) Did I mention that it’s a $9.99, no surcharges-or-taxes, no-contract service with 400 minutes, 400 text and 300 mb of data per month? While I appreciate Ting and Republic for their innovative ideas, even in the MMM article above, $9 < $19 < $33.

    2) It uses Sprint's network, which while probably not quite as solid as Verizon or AT&T, is a nationwide network.

    3) Unlike Republic Wireless, they don't throttle you to just 3G speeds. If you have 4G available in your area, the phone (provided, of course, that the phone is 4G-capable) uses the fast network, no surcharges for speed.

    4) Combined with the free 500MB of 4G-only data I get from my FreedomPop Photon (thanks, MMMM!), I haven't had a problem staying within my limits. In fact, the only real concern for me was the data. Also, since I use my Obihai device with my Google Voice VOIP number while at home, it's not like I have to curtail my phone use. In effect, I'm acting as my own Repulic Wireless by off-loading my typical cell-phone usage to WIFI with the added security net that if I'm not on WIFI I can still do everything, only instead of paying $27 a month to Republic Wireless, I save myself $18 a month.

    Now let's get serious, any time you can go from $60+/month down to even $19/month, that's pretty darn good and like everything else, there are diminishing returns to every amount you save beyond that. For example, if another comparable plan came out that was $4.50/month, would I switch? Maybe but at that point the amount saved per year is just $54. I'm better off trying to optimize another area of my financial life where the returns are greater. So picking between $19 (or really, $27) a month and $9.99/month is a bit of splitting hairs; the main point is, thanks to these pre-paid plans, I'm paying $30 a month for 3 phones instead of $160, so thanks MMM!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 17, 2013, 6:44 am

      Thanks Jacob.. always good to hear about even more options. I personally do not dig audio ads at all (which is why I also use the paid version of Pandora and took the a antennas off both of my cars as soon as I got them), but all competition is welcome. And you are right – as price drops to these last few dollars, going further matters less.

      Efficiency of setup and use is also important – after all, a phone is really a lifestyle and business tool.

      Reply
      • Keith November 17, 2013, 10:41 am

        My wife’s is the best plan: she is still on her parent’s Verizon family plan. And while we have told her dad to take her $30 share of the unlimited plan from her account since he has access, he has yet to do it so it ends up being free for us!

        Reply
      • deepseafalcon November 18, 2013, 7:40 am

        You earlier mentioned your dislike of advertising in TV and radio.
        But isn’t it a bit extreme to remove the antennas from cars? :)
        .
        For whatever it’s worth, let me share my experience:
        When in 2000 I came to this country from Europe, I was both surprised and shocked by the “quality” of US broadcasted radio and TV. Partially because in Europe, we have a somewhat (positively) skewed view of US media: we only get to see the top US shows in our TV, often without advertising interruptions. And partially because some topics of general interest to the US audience are less so for someone who just came here (e.g. very local news, celebrities etc).
        .
        So I started looking for alternatives, and more or less stumbled over Public Radio. I was amazed to find a station (KQED at the time) that had actually no advertising, international news, and a rather wide variety of (mostly) intelligent and interesting shows. So for years US Public Radio has been my default setting in car and at home, and I even listened to it over the internet while abroad.
        In your part of the country, it’s CPR (http://www.cpr.org/)
        .
        While Public Radio also has a TV branch, I have never really tried that one. Our family has rather come to the conclusion that we don’t want a TV at all. SO much valuable time saved!
        All we have had for the last 13 years is a large screen (technically, a TV :) which we use for DVDs, Netflix (been an early adopter), and Internet.

        Reply
      • Maria Teresa Donovan April 10, 2014, 8:38 pm

        Hi Mr. MM !!!
        I am thrilled I found your blog recently and I’m loving it. It gives me hope … Maybe I can do it too! At 56 and my husband 65, we are more than tired of paying more than $320 a month to Sprint! We are a family of four (we still pay for our two younger boys’ phones) and have iPhone 4s three of us, and my husband and old blackberry. My contract ends in May!!!!
        It would be too expensive to purchase four new phones from Republic… please help! what can I do? Is Ting the best option for us? Do you have any posts on U-Verse or Cable? any alternatives for internet and TV better than over $250 a month? I have started to read your blog from the beginning and I can’t hardly wait for the next post. Thanks, you are awesome!

        Reply
        • Valentin June 5, 2014, 2:31 pm

          ting is good. You can bring over the devices you already have in about 5 minutes, and then there is about 1-2 hours of waiting before you can change a few settings (5 min more) and then you’re good to go!

          My referral code/ link is:

          https://zs80bi21cm5.ting.com/

          If you use that, I get $50 off my bill (one time), and you get $25 off your first.

          I really like the service so far. We brought over 4 phones (mix of iphone and android) and it went off without a hitch. Dropped our bills from $235 to $65. And it could probably go lower if we used wifi more!

          Good luck

          Reply
  • Lucas November 17, 2013, 5:21 am

    One big disadvantage to RW that you should have mentioned is that the phone is locked to the RW portion of sprints spectrum, so you can not take it to another wireless carrier. So while you don’t have a contract, you don’t really have an option to move to another carrier as long as you want cell service. There is a possibility of unlocking it, but it is running a custom ROM and i haven’t heard any reports yet of anyone successfully unlocking it.

    Republic wireless is likely going to come out with some other cheaper phones soon as well. I would guess that the newly announced Moto G is probably on their list. The moto G actually looks like a decent phone option as well for those who don’t need the latest device but want something much faster than then Defy XT. Moto G ($179 off contract) with airvoice wireless $10/a month plan is probably what i will go with when it is available. Although if RW gets the Moto G the price lock barrier will be lower and it might be a better option as well.

    Reply
  • Alicia November 17, 2013, 6:57 am

    Wow, I wish Canada had more little guy competition with decent plans (like still had data). Apparently the average smartphone plan (at least to qualify for a two year contract with Telus now) is $70+tax. Insane!

    I love my Samsung S3 – have had it for a year and I can’t get over the quality of the camera.

    Reply
    • joannie November 17, 2013, 10:06 am

      Canadians – is there a way we can tap into the US pricing? I am wondering if there is a US plan, that includes roaming in Canada. As long as we register in US, we can use it up here?

      Reply
      • aj kLINE February 25, 2014, 7:46 pm

        Joannie, I switched from Sprint to Republic and used it happily in Victoria and Vancouver this summer– voice and data only worked over… but the texts were free and worked on your local network Rogers or Telus I don’t recall. I could call Canadian numbers over wi-fi with no extra charge unlike Sprint… a Defy XT for $99 might make a nice back up phone for you.

        Reply
  • greg November 17, 2013, 7:13 am

    as for the hardware …

    “It runs a clean and up-to-date version of Android”

    I’m personally a fan of Google Nexus devices – good prices on good hardware, plus even an unlocked bootloader so you really can load any software you want onto the device (or put on the next version without waiting for a carrier update that may never come).

    Reply
    • david November 17, 2013, 9:30 am

      I couldn’t agree more. I was surprised that the nexus devices were not listed anywhere in the review, especially considering the fact that they give you true freedom with an unlocked boot loader AND unlocked network (I can switch carriers whenever I want).

      Reply
      • Tim November 18, 2013, 10:17 am

        Which phone plan do you all use? Nexus 4 owner here considering switching from the Airvoice plan to a different unlimited minutes/text plan. I like the Airvoice/GoogleVoice combo, but I’m not a fan of only receiving texts when I have an internet connection. I also have problems making quality calls over wifi connections using free apps like Talkatone and Groove IP Lite. Perfectly content without data, though. Thoughts on alternatives?

        Reply
  • Igor November 17, 2013, 7:27 am

    There is also an option of buying a Nexus 5 from Google Play store and bringing it to Ting. They are now beta testing that process. That’s a $350 unlocked phone that can then be moved to other carriers (but VZW) if better deals appear. I am myself am bouncing between that or going to RW, from my current $140 a month VZW “sponsorship”

    Reply
  • J.R. November 17, 2013, 7:50 am

    I hope Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and the rest of them take note of what Republic Wireless and Ting are doing…..these plans are just too good. For a while I didn’t consider them rivals due to the phones that were available on the networks. However, with the introduction of the Moto X and Ting’s ability to allow you to use your own phone, the future is changing. If the big name wireless companies don’t change their ways, expect a considerable amount of customers lost to these new kids on the block – if they haven’t already.

    Reply
  • ClevrChico November 17, 2013, 7:50 am

    Ting will voice roam to Verizon (no cost). RW does not.

    (RW mentions I can use wifi instead, LOL. G’luck finding an access point in the sticks!)

    That seems to be the catch with the a lot of these MVNO’s.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 17, 2013, 9:15 am

      I just heard back from Republic on this one:

      Republic Wireless DOES indeed roam automatically to the Verizon network, for both voice and data.
      (And note that Ting apparently roams for voice but not data).

      I remember when I first got the Defy, I had to dig into the settings and check all the boxes to allow all roaming for voice and data. (Settings->Mobile Networks->Data Roaming, and System Select->CDMA Auto). After I did this, I had coverage for virtually all of a drive across the sparsely populated areas of Eastern Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, etc.

      On the new Moto X, I see Settings->More->Mobile networks->Network mode, but there are no options – it says “Home Only”. Still waiting for my first roadtrip with this phone (next week) to see if I have the same coverage. To be sure, I’ll bring all four of these phones and have a passenger peek at them as we pass through the various rural and mountain areas.

      Reply
      • A~ November 17, 2013, 1:35 pm

        I believe someone posted this link in the Forums section of this blog:

        List of US Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) — “wireless communication retailers who lease wireless telephone and data spectrum from major US wireless carriers”.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_mobile_virtual_network_operators

        Also another suggestion in case anyone needs to buy (or sell) a used cell phone try Ebay, Swappa, Glyde or Craigslist. YMMV

        Reply
      • ClevrChico November 20, 2013, 9:34 pm

        Thanks for the research! That’s good to know.

        Reply
      • Superbien January 13, 2014, 4:17 pm

        Have you read the fine print of their inappropriate use policy? You should! If you break it there is a $500 fine plus they charge you per minute for the use of the period that they considered inappropriate. Plus the kick you off the service.

        Inappropriate usage includes sending surveys – they do not specify whether that’s one or two hundred, requesting charity – again no scope so technically legally they could hit you for just asking for 5 bucks for help with your girl scout troop project. Any content that is connected to pornographic or adult content even if it is legal… so naughty pictures you sent your for spouse, or if you read the website that they consider to be pornographic.

        In contrast I looked up Verizon Wireless’policy and they basically say you are adults just don’t anything illegal. And guess what I am an adult and I do consider that to be appropriate policy… if I wanted to have a mom looking over what I’m doing on my cell phone, I would expect it to be free and maybe to have my laundry be done for me too.
        :)

        No maybe they are not planning on being jerks, likely true, but I don’t like to trust vague legal wording that could get me into very expensive trouble, without even any legal recourse.

        http://www.republicwireless.com/legal/aup

        Reply
    • David November 17, 2013, 10:29 am

      Republic roams on Verizon – Sprint isn’t terrific where I live so I am usually roaming on Verizon with my DEFY.

      Reply
      • ClevrChico November 17, 2013, 10:43 am

        If I input a verizon only zip code in the coverage check, RW says it has no coverage. Does RW offer any official clarification on this?

        Reply
  • Tom November 17, 2013, 7:57 am

    Great info. In my area of small town USA, Verizon has the most reliable network. I can’t seem to find these upstart carriers on the Verizon network…Straight Talk apparently no longer uses it. Our contract is up this coming spring and I’m anxious to exchange our $156/mo plan for something sane. Can someone please point me in the right direction?

    Reply
    • Dan November 17, 2013, 9:14 am

      Kitty Wireless uses the Verizon Network. I have been using them for about 6 months with no complaints. Very cheap plans, too.

      Reply
    • Sarah November 17, 2013, 9:54 am

      I also use Kitty Wireless because we already had Verizon phones that work (4 year old G’zone Boulder for me, I’m still rocking the flip phone) and I didn’t want the expense of buying new phones. They have automatic renewal and I get update reminders telling me how much talk and text I have left. I have a really basic plan though as we don’t need any data usage in our every day lives. (I’ve yet to come across a situation that can’t wait until we get to a wifi location).

      Reply
  • Herr Handlebar November 17, 2013, 9:05 am

    While the Moto X is a sweet phone I would never lock myself into Republic Wireless. Why? They display a complete disregard for end user privacy and security. Republic was unable to get Motorola to fix serious security vulnerabilities on the Republic Wireless version of the Defy. They continue to sell the Defy without mention of the serious security vulnerabilities exposed in the device.

    For my money I recommend new Google Nexus devices, such as the Nexus 5, and a GSM MVNO. Once Google stops supporting you (after 18 months) the phone can be updated with Cyanogen or another 3rd party distribution of Android. You could also do your research and pickup used versions of devices that can have their bootloaders unlocked. The Google Nexus is the easier route but the research route is cheaper (maybe $50 instead of $350). There are also some really interesting, and cheap, devices available on AliExpress, like those from Xiaomi, but I have no experience with these devices.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 17, 2013, 9:28 am

      Do you have a link to more information on these serious security vulnerabilities so we could check them out and decide if they are serious to us?

      Reply
      • Herr Handlebar November 17, 2013, 12:27 pm

        As an analogy, would you use a Microsoft Windows computer and Internet Explorer browser last updated on 21 September, 2011 to access your most sensitive online details? If yes, the Motorola Defy XT device from Republic Wireless is fine. A more comprehensive answer follows.

        I started trying to compile a comprehensive list of vulnerabilities but I discovered I would spend my entire Sunday (or longer) doing this. What I can say is that the Defy XT is running Android Gingerbread (2.3.7). This version of Android was released on 21 September, 2011. Motorola is not back porting fixes for new issues, such as the so called “Master Key” vulnerability described below. Also important to note that the Android web browser bundled with this version of Android is hopelessly out of date and riddled with vulnerabilities. While one can use Google Chrome from the Play Store to mitigate some of this risk, any application that makes use of the WebView class to render web content, which is common, will be vulnerable. The version of WebKit shipped in Android 2.3.7 was 533.1. The version of WebKit shipped in Android 4.4 was version 537.36. In two years a whole heap of buffer overflows, use after free and other bugs have been discovered (pun intended). Search http://web.nvd.nist.gov/view/vuln/search-results?query=WebKit&search_type=all&cves=on for more information.

        The Defy XT last received an update in January 2013, although it remained limited to Android 2.3.7. The device is vulnerable to the so called “Master Key” vulnerability which allows malicious parties to bypass application verification. The device is vulnerable to a more recently discovered application verification bypass as well. The device is vulnerable to the “Dirty USSD” attack which allowed malicious parties to remote wipe Samsung phones and opens an unknown, but troubling, attack surface on the Defy XT. The Defy XT has so many local escalation of privilege issues (Search http://www.cvedetails.com for more information) that the “Dirty USSD” issue may lead to remote compromise. This is not a complete or comprehensive list of the vulnerabilities included in the software running on the Motorola Defy XT from Republic Wireless.

        Master Key:
        http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2013/08/09/android-master-key-vulnerability-more-malware-found-exploiting-code-verification-bypass/

        Another Verification Bypass:
        http://www.cvedetails.com/cve/CVE-2013-4787/

        Workaround for “Dirty USSD” Attack:
        http://also.dylanreeve.com/2012/09/remote-ussd-attack/

        It is unconscionable to ship a computing device in this state. I cannot support a carrier that so blatantly disregards the privacy and security of its end users. Republic Wireless should strongly consider if they should be shipping the Defy XT anymore given the US Federal Trade Commission settlement with HTC for what I consider to be similar behavior, http://ftc.gov/opa/2013/02/htc.shtm.

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache November 17, 2013, 7:33 pm

          Great information, Herr. I think you care about cyber security quite a bit more than I do :-)

          Yes, there are vulnerabilities – but what is your best guess at the probability of attack, multiplied by the expected loss? Is it possible that it is less than the risk of regularly driving a car or binging on extra pieces of birthday cake?

          Just because you have to be really smart to even know when your computing devices have security flaws, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is really smart to spend much time worrying about it in real life. I might be wrong on this, as you are the currently-employed cyber security expert, while I’m only a retired one. But when you’re an ER doctor, you tend to think motorcycles are horrendously dangerous. And when you’re a security specialist, you might think even the tiniest security flaw is unconscionable…

          …When really millions of people have lived for decades with open-access Wi-fi routers broadcasting out their “Linksys” SSID out onto the other skyscrapers, while an old copy of Windows XP runs in their apartment with all sharing enabled.. with no ill effects.

          But then again I don’t usually lock my car doors, either :-)

          Reply
          • Herr Handlebar November 18, 2013, 12:13 am

            In this case I would encourage us to look beyond our own ‘staches. The flaws embodied in shipping a two year old version of Android are not “tiny.” Shipping insecure devices creates an environment of vulnerability. This is an externality to the company creating this environment. Someone will pay the price for these vulnerable computing devices. It won’t be Republic Wireless. It would be easy to find examples for Windows XP, old versions of Adobe Reader or other software products with checkered security histories. Finding these examples in mobility will take time as the market matures.

            Companies that cut corners and do not protect the privacy and security of their end users are similar to companies that pollute the environment or exploit labor in developing nations. It is not a business practice that should be rewarded when so many better alternatives are available. Maybe Republic Wireless will quit selling the Defy XT and do a great job with the Moto X! If this is the case I will amend my previous statements with an admission of their new found awesomeness. Until then I make the claim that Republic Wireless is a bad actor and people should reward companies like Ting or AirVoice that give end users the opportunity to protect their privacy and security with reasonable measures. I’m not asking people to wear tinfoil hats and learn C++. I’m asking people to hold companies responsible for shipping secure devices (even if they themselves are unable to explain the details).

            Reply
          • Nick November 18, 2013, 8:12 am

            I work in “cyber security” (hate that term) as well, doing ethical hacking for banks and credit card companies.

            I think MMM has the right attitude towards this. Unfortunately, the nature of the industry produces a lot of ‘sky is falling’ rhetoric that isn’t very productive.

            I don’t want to downplay these vulnerabilities too much because they are quite serious. But when you look into the details, it appears that both require the user’s interaction in order to exploit the vulnerabilities. For master key, the user probably needs to install a malicious app. For the Dirty USSD, the user probably needs to click on a link.

            So for any semi-intelligent use who only installs “trusted” apps published by Google or some other reputable source and doesn’t click on links without knowing what they are, especially unexpected links received in SMS from friends or strangers – the risk is pretty low. (Of course, by saying that stupid users deserve to get owned, this attitude almost puts me in the victim-blaming category- which is another problem in the industry.)

            Reply
            • Herr Handlebar November 18, 2013, 11:54 am

              Nick,

              You ignoring the fact that Republic Wireless is shipping a two-year-old version of WebKit in conjunction with multiple elevation of privilege bugs. But let’s not dwell on whether or not one “semi-intelligent” cyber-Mustachian could safely use a phone riddled with vulnerabilities. My argument is that “Republic Wireless is a bad actor and people should reward companies like Ting or AirVoice that give end users the opportunity to protect their privacy and security with reasonable measures.”

              MMM can correct me here if I am wrong but Mustachianism is about more than hoarding our pennies Scrooge McDuck style until we can give wage-slave status the finger. Influencing computing industry company leaders to produce safe products through the allocation of our spending is well within a reasonable circle of control. I don’t expect every MMM reader to be able to relate epidemiology to software application security and form spending decisions on this analysis. In the face of evidence that a company is actively making the world a less good place than their competitors mustachians should want to support better, frugal, alternatives.

              Reply
            • Wry Guy December 23, 2013, 8:29 am

              96% of phone malware is now on Android and almost all of it is due to carriers refusing to update the latest version of Android.

              It’s such a big problem that Google has gone to court with multiple OEMs and tried to force them to update or lose their Android license.

              http://www.zdnet.com/android-accounts-for-most-mobile-malware-says-f-secure-7000012261/

              As for desktops, while the infection rate for patched 64 bit Windows 8.1 is less than 2% it’s almost 10% even for fully patched XP systems. In countries like China and India XP machines average more than 1 infection per machine.

              http://blogs.technet.com/b/mmpc/archive/2013/10/29/infection-rates-and-end-of-support-for-windows-xp.aspx

              Reply
  • Chris November 17, 2013, 9:42 am

    I’ve had the Motorola Defy from RW for a few months now and am pretty happy with it overall. If you’re not overly picky and hard to please, in terms of phones, this phone is great. The Android system covers all my major wants/needs to include camera, video, pandora, etc. Negatives are: slightly slow processor, takes a while to get used to, camera doesn’t do well in low light and can’t send MMS text messages.

    Having said all of this, if you like a simple Smart Phone, small in size (fits easily in the pocket), don’t want to worry about breaking it and a kick ass price (unlimited everything-20.78$/month), then this phone is for you. I might eventually upgrade to the MotoX, but probably not for a while.

    Reply
    • Brad November 18, 2013, 10:21 pm

      How is the call quality? I’m really tempted to order the phone, but I will be relying on it for business. Is the quality good? Are there any dropped calls?

      Reply
  • MMMFan November 17, 2013, 9:53 am

    MMM – can you provide a little more detail please on what you did to customize your Moto X … What keyboard, inbox management system, and esp. Camera? Or point us to a site where we might go read about the options…in lay mans terms ;-).

    I’ve been on republic for about 10 months now … Love talking on WiFi especially when cellular signal doesn’t come through strong enough …

    Reply
  • Spoonman November 17, 2013, 10:27 am

    Thanks for the reviews. It looks like we’re in the middle of a MVNO renaissance, truly a boon for the frugal nation.

    I’ve had Platinum Tel since September and I’ve been very happy. These days I get angry at myself when I use a “whopping” $5 in a given month, which is funny because I used to pay $75 per month under T-mobile.

    I’ve held on to my antiquaited MyTouch 4g and will continue to do so as long as I can. I crack up when I see those huge new phones that look as big as tablet. I will probably make the transition to a bigger phone someday, but not while my current phone is alive and kicking.

    Reply
    • Sam November 21, 2013, 5:39 pm

      I second PTEL. Use any T mobile or unlocked GSM phone. I pay between 5-7 a month with my usage.

      Reply
  • JonathanH November 17, 2013, 10:30 am

    I think you may have a special deal with Republic Wireless that lets you make calls and text while in Canada. When I travelled to Canada, I had no service unless it was over wifi.
    That being said, I really appreciate your review of these micro cellular companies. They will really help people save money.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 17, 2013, 10:40 am

      I don’t have a special deal, but it might depend on the area: I was in the populated Toronto-to-Ottawa region of Ontario (although it also worked at the lakeside near Wakefield, Quebec).

      You’ll also want to make sure you have the tri-band phone – earlier versions of the Defy didn’t roam quite as much.

      Reply
      • JonathanH November 17, 2013, 11:02 am

        “I don’t have a special deal, but it might depend on the area: I was in the populated Toronto-to-Ottawa region of Ontario (although it also worked at the lakeside near Wakefield, Quebec).”

        We were in Vancouver so that could be the difference. I’m also not sure if I have a tri-band or dual band phone.

        I reached out to Republic while there (back in September):

        “Jonathan: Is it possible for me to use the cell service (without wifi) while in Vancouver?

        Marcus E. (Republic Help)
        Sep 05 11:05 pm (EDT)

        Jonathan,

        Unfortunately, Sprint does not have any roaming partners located in Canada so you will be unable to utilize the cellular aspect of the phone while there.

        Let me know if you see any issues or have any questions.

        Thank you,
        Marcus E.”

        ——————–
        I wonder if you were roaming on another network while in Canada?

        In any event, I’m glad some are able to have great roaming ability and its possible that geographic region makes the difference.

        Reply
  • bash November 17, 2013, 11:15 am

    I wish these contract carriers were more upfront about what network they run on. Does it matter how much money you can save if the phone doesn’t work when you need it?

    Yes, Verizon’s pricing does seem ridiculously expensive in comparison to these low-cost startups, but Verizon legitimately has the best network in the US which comes with the highest capital expenditures on equipment and offers benefits which may or may not be important to you.

    How much value do you place on the latest network speeds like 4G LTE? Is it important to you that you can make a call when a weather event has knocked out the power to your local cell sites? How important to you is the coverage area when you’re roaming around?

    If you’re willing to sacrifice speed, reliability, and coverage then these low cost carriers that run on sub-par networks are a great deal. Otherwise I would suggest that you look for low-cost options on Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile (in that order). As such, I want to know the carrier first before we start talking about phones or pricing.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 17, 2013, 7:36 pm

      Indeed – although if you look at the earlier comments on this issue, you’ll see that Republic automatically roams onto the Verizon network (for free) if a Sprint tower is not available. This might give them one of the widest coverage ranges out of any carrier.

      Reply
  • ChristineP November 17, 2013, 11:31 am

    I’m a little overwhelmed browsing through the comments. I have an iphone 4s on Verizon, contract expiring in March. Tight budget for anything new, but I would love to either unlock this phone and go with another service, or start over with one of the above plans. The kicker is that I live in the northern Rockies and travel a lot around the outback of the rural west, and Verizon has traditionally had better coverage. Advice anyone? So many thanks!

    Reply
    • SteveMerk November 18, 2013, 12:16 am

      Check out PagePlus for a solid Verizon MNVO. I’ve been running an IPhone 4 on it since May. I have the very limited $12 plan (250 min, 250 txt, 10 mb data), but they also have a $30 plan that is a lot beefier or you can pay as you go as well. I like the convenience of the smartphone for surfing the web at home, at in-laws, and other places with wifi, but don’t feel the need to have it all the time while camping, traveling, or out at dinner with my wife. But I do have the access to data if I am in an emergency.

      Reply
    • boozedog November 18, 2013, 7:15 am

      I mentioned Net10 last night but it looks like nobody’s considering it. I think the plans are reasonably-priced, and it looks like you can bring your own phone from any(?!) carrier (as they support all four major carrier networks?)

      http://www.net10wireless.com/#/advantages

      Reply
  • boozedog November 17, 2013, 2:43 pm

    Anybody looking at Net10 Wireless? Seems like maybe there’s a little more flexibility on what device you bring.

    http://www.net10wireless.com/#/plans/pay-as-you-go

    Reply
  • Michael November 17, 2013, 2:53 pm

    I just snagged a Nexus 5 and using it on Straight Talk: AT&T LTE for $45 a month! The data gets throttled at 2.5GB, but so far that’s more than enough for me. I really wanted to try RP with the Moto X, but an unlocked phone and prepaid LTE is what I really wanted.

    Reply
  • Insourcelife November 17, 2013, 5:18 pm

    Sprint network that these run on is a deal breaker for me – coverage is horrible around here and in the areas I travel. When I was on their network I had a lot of dropped calls and poor call quality in general. I would have 5 bars showing and as soon as the number was dialed, only 1 bar would be showing which was annoying to say the least. Now I am on AT&T network with AirVoice and it’s night and day!

    Reply
  • Tom Thumb November 17, 2013, 5:25 pm

    Catheters & Bedpans, mates.

    I havent paid for cable nor phone ‘service’ for several years.

    I work fulltime, my parents live in India, my girlfriend lived in France for a semester, and I travel internationally at least twice per year.

    How do I manage to text, call, and stay in communication with family and friends?

    $120 galaxy tab 2, 7″, the largest screen that fits in a pocket, Google Voice, Talkatone, Skype, and Hangouts – all FREE.

    Think about it, your home, busses, trains, work, school, friends’ homes, every airport ive visited in the past several years, all have wifi these days, and wifI coverage continues to expand and improve.

    Is it worth $100s per year (many days of work for the not yet retired) to be able to send and receive texts while youre on your bicycle between home and work or the grocery store? Because thats the only time i cant receive calls or texts, and i dont really need that, because im busy bicycling.

    Lets destroy wireless telcos completely, not replace them with further garbage like republic and ting that only gouge us half as much for a public utility and basic human right in any developed country.

    It has taken the free market 2 decades since my 9 year old self wondered to my mother from the backseat, “Why does it cost money to make calls, when the internet is free and can communicate not only voice, but pictures, video, text, and any data?”, but finally we can use the larget, freest, public telecom network for calling and texting. Paying nothing feels good, but knowing that I am strangling and withering the telcos that strive to deliver the shittiest customer service ive ever experienced feels better. Justice will be done.

    Stay frugal, my friends.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 17, 2013, 7:15 pm

      A badass perspective, Mr. Thumb! You are right that Mr. Money Mustache deserved to be mocked for his fluffy smartphone habit. (Although I WISH the buses around here had Wi-fi!).

      Tiny justification: I DO use my data service almost every day during the construction project – to look up building code details, and get prices of things when making on-the-fly design decisions. So even without the more obvious use of keeping this blog in operation, the phone would more than pay for its low monthly cost.

      Reply
    • George_PA November 17, 2013, 8:03 pm

      Good Point Tom, I agree with you.

      My favorite part of the article was this quote:
      **
      The upside is that I spent far less time looking at my phone. “It’s the phone that gives you your life back!”
      **

      The truth is that this is an article about comparing high end luxury products. You don’t “need” a phone and I am still surprised how so many Mustachians will live a badass frugal lifestyle but suddenly melt away into cream puff softies when it comes to these modern phones.

      I would add onto Tom’s point and take it a step further. If you simply took your cell phone (whichever model) and threw it in the trashcan, hedonic adapation would kick in and within a couple weeks you will think of other things to replace it with for just about every feature on the phone, or you will decide you can just go without that particular feature.

      For example, for hiking, you may decide to print out maps from your laptop onto paper at home before setting out. If you are at a state park you may also get a map from the main office or talk with other hikers you see along the way. Also you maybe simply decide rather than to use the ebook reader you will pay more attention to what is around you at the time (i.e. people or scenes). Also, the library has paper books that work well for reading too.

      Even if you are stuck on a plane or train for a long period of time, Often I may choose to engage in a free-thinking session and just let my mind wander without distraction from an electronic device. You may find it relaxing or it may lead to new insights about your life at the time or let you reflect on where you are going and what your future will be.

      I find that without a fancy phone, you definitely use a laptop more often at home and these laptops can be obtained quite cheaply (i.e. by getting an older model or used one for example on craigslist). Some younger people may not realize this but I have found that almost every electronic program or website that can be accessed on a fancy phone also works on a laptop using a standard internet browser.

      Another alternate is to get a low end phone that simply makes phone calls. I do have a simple phone like this as a backup every time I head out on my bike in case a rare accident should occur (i.e. getting hit by a car in the middle of nowhere) and you would need to call for help.

      Reply
      • ella November 18, 2013, 7:13 am

        I’m without a cell phone at the moment and I will say it requires quite a bit of planning and legwork without a cell phone to make plans, find information, print maps and directions. Many of the paper/ luddite resources I take for granted are disappearing.

        Reply
        • Chris November 19, 2013, 10:49 am

          I ditched my iphone 6 months ago for a cheap dumb phone on Ptel, and since then i’ve been paying less than $10.00 a month. I must admit that when I read these types of reviews, and learn that I can get a Moto X for 300 bucks, i start to get weak in the knees again.

          I’ll admit that I have a little bit of phone envy, especially at work whenever someone busts out the new smartphone of the week. But to be honest, I don’t want to go back. I feel kind of free not constantly having my face shoved into a smart phone. Its amazing when I take my kids to the park how many parents are just immersed into their smart phones, not even looking at their kids. I also love sitting around with friends, and at any point everyone is ignoring each other on their smart phones. Granted, life at times can be less convenient, but I think MMM said it best:

          “Voluntary Discomfort is the secret cornerstone of strength. We build our whole lives around increasing comfort and avoiding discomfort, and yet by doing so we are drinking a can of Weakness Tonic with every morning’s breakfast”

          Couldn’t have said it better myself :)

          Reply
  • Kristin November 17, 2013, 7:02 pm

    This blog inspired me, so I called my current company, T-Mobile, to inquire about how much the cancellation fee would be and determine if it was worth the switch. As my work company already pays for about 3/4 of my bill and I have already paid off my Galaxy S3 I purchased a little less than a year ago, it turned out to not be worth the switch.

    On the plus side, since I have been an excellent T-Mobile customer and paid all my bills on time for 3+ years, the representative offered to decrease my bill by $10 for the next 6 months!! Additionally, she suggested I call back in another 6 months to continue receiving the $10 discount. If you don’t actually want to switch plans, it’s worth calling your phone company and inquiring about cancelling just so they will offer you a better rate to keep you as a customer. Other companies where you pay for a monthly service will do the same (i.e. a gym).

    Reply
    • Insourcelife November 18, 2013, 12:02 pm

      Same trick works wonders with your cable provider. We have cable internet only and I have a recurring appointment on my calendar to call the cable company so they can give me their latest best deal at the time of my call. Over the years we saved hundreds of dollars this way, probably in the thousands now.

      Reply
  • Grant November 17, 2013, 7:38 pm

    Thanks for the reviews here MMM, I’ve been really eyeing the Moto X lately, but didn’t know it was available for a provider with a reasonable rate. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  • deepseafalcon November 17, 2013, 7:43 pm

    interesting options indeed.
    although for us, RW isn’t it quite yet:
    – as others have stated, while there is technically no contract, one buys a (not so cheap) phone that cannot be used anywhere else … and needs to be replaced with a similar one if it breaks out of warranty
    – is bound to a carrier’s network with less than stellar coverage in our area
    – phone is hardly usable when traveling internationally, as most other countries use SIM-card based GSM (or successor) networks

    the ting service provides a lot more flexibility regarding the phone, although still bound to Sprint with its limitations

    so I would like to point out a – possibly easily glanced over – very Mustachian option to get mobile phone service with maximum flexibility, no commitment, and (depending on usage pattern) very low cost:

    the AT&T gophone with “pay per use 10cents/min” for calls and the “4.99 for 200 SMS/month” package

    My wife prefers a very small phone that slips in her pocket without bulging or breaking. So one of the ever-growing smart phones is out of the question. She got a simple Nokia C2 instead, that at least doubles nicely as an MP3 player and provides multi-day battery runtime.

    She writes/receives multiple SMS per day, but doesn’t really talk that much (long calls with family, we do for free from home with Google phone).
    For the last 19 months (since we started on this plan), she had an average monthly cost of USD 13.68!

    What we also like about this plan is the fact that it is totally commitment-free with zero recurring charges if not used. Also, it is impossible to rack up surprises (as one will always know if the balance approaches zero). With auto-recharge etc, we can nevertheless run the service pretty much on auto-pilot, once we figured out how much her monthly average usage is.
    Last not least, we can use the phone when traveling internationally, by swapping the SIM card.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 17, 2013, 8:04 pm

      That is a very mature approach to phone service – I can dig the simplicity.

      Note that you COULD replicate that with Republic: the $10 plan would give you the unlimited talk/text PLUS unlimited web and smartphone stuff at home. Then you could still keep your old phone in the suitcase for those international trips. But if you aren’t interested in having the entire world in your pocket at all times, the smartphone factor could be a drawback rather than an advantage.

      Reply
      • deepseafalcon November 17, 2013, 9:31 pm

        well, the main reason why we so far like the ATT option is not the ultimately low cost (3.60/month less are easily beyond diminishing return), but that it allows total freedom to use any GSM phone (coverage, and she WANTS a tiny “dumb phone” :) , and the lack of any commitment (if the phone is not used for any length of time, zero charges apply. one just has to watch out that the SIM card doesn’t expire after a few months)

        I pointed this option out, as many may think “gosh, 10cents/min is really expensive”. Well, in our real-world usage pattern with the mobile phone being used for quick “anywhere/anytime connectivity”, its actually a lot cheaper than one might think. Especially with a for-free Google phone at home … which is even nearly for free for international calls (i think 2cents/min to EU and China … we call there A LOT and I recharge 10 dollars maybe every 2-3 months, hardly notice
        I am digressing, though :)

        Reply
        • Paularado November 18, 2013, 12:17 pm

          I set up a cell phone for my mom to keep in her purse. It’s an old AT&T flip phone on Airvoice using their pay as you go. It costs $3/month. While the minutes cost 10 cents each, she rarely uses it so even the $10/month plan is too much.

          Reply
  • cwebb November 17, 2013, 9:17 pm

    Great Post!

    One thing you didn’t stress is that Ting allows you to tether, while RW does not. This is a big deal if you travel a lot.

    Combining a phone with a smaller unsubsidized cost than the GS4 with Ting, might be the best option. The new Nexus 5, or the upcoming Moto G would be great for that.

    Reply
  • MVNO-shopper November 17, 2013, 11:07 pm

    I just recently did some shopping for non-contract SIM-only plans, as my two personal iPhone 4 GSM/AT&T phones were unlocked off-contract.

    Unfortunately, as soon as I started to find plans that met my needs, I found I was very close to the AT&T contract prices. That was surprising and unfortunate. I had intended to switch to a low-cost MVNO and enjoy my unlocked iPhone 4. Now, I have to brand-new on-contract iPhone 5S devices.

    One sticking point I found is that I wanted to be on AT&T towers, since that’s the only service I (barely) get at my house. Another hidden cost of living location. Next, I started to look at “reasonable” data usage, and found that anything more than “trivial” got expensive. The MVNO plans I found were $50, $60, or more per month, and we’re paying AT&T $120/mo for two phones. Yes, it’s expensive.

    I can’t wait to be off-contract on this 5S phones, and hope that a model like TING has expanded.

    Oh, side-note: don’t upgrade the iPhone 4 to iOS7. Happily leave it on iOS6. Much snappier performance!

    Reply
  • MLieBennett November 17, 2013, 11:45 pm

    Interesting review, especially in comparison to Ting being a potential competitor.

    I’ve recently ordered (and still waiting to receive) my Moto X from RW. That said, I’ve been following RW for quite some time and been tempted to switch to them since I heard about them. The only reason I hadn’t, was the entry price and the phone/s in question. Limited Battery life, specs, and the fact you couldn’t root sadly kept me away at first so I’ve just been watching from afar. The announcement for the Moto X had me immediately saving what I could in preparation to buy it, as its Battery Life was potentially much better along with the specs. The fact you couldn’t root is simply ignorable, especially as the Moto X comes with a vanilla Android OS (ignoring RW’s extras to make VoIP work and WiFi to Celluar Hand-off). Thus, I had to join the moment they released.

    Still, I’ve been browsing alternate options not for myself, but rather my mother for a cheaper method for her to have a phone. The initial price of the Moto X is actually a bit harsh when thinking of the fact she won’t be using most of its features. So while waiting for the other two phone options I’ve been taking a look at other plans.

    Ting was one I’ve been looking at, but waffling in indecision with RW (despite its entry fee). For her, I would require a medium bucket minutes + text and no data. That still hits a $20 a month cost. Cheap yes, but in comparison to RW for unlimited minutes/texts at $10 … it leaves me wondering if the $300 is worth it or not vs. BOYD Sprint phone for Ting. Waffling on that decision daily, as per Month cost RW wins. On a device replacement, Ting is more tempting for a lower entry cost … but the Moto X has some nice specs for just $300 anyways.

    FreedomPop Wifi was a tempting one for myself, especially as I tend to USE GVoice constituently at home when at my PC. All it would mean was finding an app for a Android Phone to use GVoice (or wait for an update to Hangouts later on), and I could use FreedomPop to receive/send calls when away from WiFi. Potentially $0 that way … though in fact it would be at minimum $4 for 3G, and probably bumped to $8 for Data Rollover a month.
    Then the potential headaches became clear from that setup.
    1) DATA service is much less reliable then Voice. That would mean I would be potentially without a … phone that could actually send/receive calls.
    2) To have reliable voice, I would need to subscribe to a different service for minutes. Again raising the potential price.
    3) Multiple devices to keep charged, needing both the Phone and WiFi hotspot … and I’m already bad of plugging in my devices.
    4) Data consumption – VoIP has a decent heft on MB per minute of use, not to mention any overhead for the program to listen for calls. This would force me to watch the MB from FreedomPop rather closely at times.
    In the end, its potentially MUCH cheaper but also creating more stress on watching minutes, Data Usage, and Power to the point that I was finding RW to be worth any potentially extra cost.
    -Note, I may STILL get the FreedomPop $0 Wifi Hotspot without rollover just for my Tablet/PC/Nook to have a connection when out and about. 500MB is plenty for those as I would only be using it in specific situations and relying on the phone instead for more general uses.

    I even thought of T-Mobile’s $30 per month plan. Unlimited Text, Data*(2.5G 4g, then 2g), and 100 minutes of Voice. THAT one was extremely tempting, especially when considering GVoice to off-load most if not all the minutes onto when combined with T-Mobile’s 4G speeds. In fact, its STILL tempting for this plan on a Nexus 5 when combined with Google Voice as I would still have the 100 Minutes for emergency use.
    In the end, the reason why I didn’t go with the plan over RW was the thought of Voice and GPS usage was likely going to eat a nice chunk of that 2.5GB per month in estimate, as I have no clue on their data usage rates currently. Still, its a tempting option for me to think on while trying out RW’s Moto X. And potentially for my brother as well, as he too is planning on a switch and waiting the results of my experience with RW to make a choice.

    A minor handful of choices, but it was RW’s simplicity to use (VoIP) combined with less stress of watching minutes/data, and Price that has won out so far. The Moto X was icing on the cake of choices. It might not have 4g (in my area) but I don’t plan on trying to stream something like Movies to my phone without WiFi anyways. Lack of Tethering already has a potential solution for other devices (FreedomPop $0 Hotspot).

    T-Mobile’s $30 plan is still something I’m looking at, but I’m hoping Republic Wireless is what I need in the end.

    Reply
  • Mira D November 18, 2013, 2:47 am

    For sturdiness, nothing to beat a Nokia.
    I still use my 2008 Nokia classic which is good enough for sms and voice.
    For the rest I prefer using specific devices- camera, laptop.

    Reply
  • Mark November 18, 2013, 7:06 am

    “A better phone will not give you a happier life, but in ***my line of work***, I do benefit from certain features – especially a better camera.”

    See – you’re not really retired at all. (joke!) ;-)

    http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/02/13/mr-money-mustache-vs-the-internet-retirement-police/

    Reply
  • Money Saving November 18, 2013, 7:27 am

    Wow – great review! The $10 plan for unlimited talk/text and Wi-Fi internet sounds ridiculously awesome. I will definitely be doing this once my current contract expires with AT&T!!!

    Reply
  • Nikki November 18, 2013, 7:48 am

    My contract with verizon is up this month and I want to take my device (iphone 4) to the lowest possible carrier while maintaining talk and text. Can I take it to Republic? If not then where’s the next best thing? Thank you!

    Reply
  • MonicaOnMoney November 18, 2013, 8:02 am

    I’ve been considering Republic Wireless for MONTHS now (since I first read your article about it costing only $19 per month). I’m one of those people with a $110 per month bill for only 1 person and I think that’s just craziness.

    SO, I’ve been waiting for the Moto X on Repbulic Wireless because it’s a much, much, much, better phone than the Defy. My only concern is the reception in my area.

    And I’ve never heard of Ting but I’m Googling it now!

    Thanks for another useful article and will save me money!!

    Reply
  • Jennifer November 18, 2013, 8:29 am

    I currently use Ting and love it- my husband is on Republic. He should receive his new phone tomorrow. Depending on how I like the MotoX I will probably switch even though I love Ting. I spend about $17/month with Ting- I don’t use data (I have wifi at home, work, and most other public places and don’t need constant access to the internet). The comparable plan on Republic is $10. That and the fact that they are paying half the phone cost so I save about $300 on a new phone so I can upgrade from a HTC Evo Shift 4G that I bought used.

    I try to explain to people how Ting works, or even Republic and I don’t understand why they don’t jump and switch. At one point Ting even offered to pay for contract-buyouts for people who wanted to switch but didn’t want to pay to cancel their contract. Their customer service is also top notch.

    Reply
  • Giggles November 18, 2013, 8:42 am

    Not gonna lie, I love TING. But republic is tempting me….

    I don’t us a smartphone. I have a blackberry style dumb phone from TING. I love their customer service.

    My current usage is:
    TALK: Max 684 Average 305
    TEXT: Max 675 Average 457
    For roughly a $20 bill.

    I am worried about switching for Republic for a couple reasons. First, I mostly use my phone at work, and there are no wireless networks I can offload to here. I read this about the limits on Republic:

    “your cellular network usage would be limited to 550 minutes, 150 texts, and 300 megabytes of data a month. Offload say 60% of your monthly device usage to Wi-Fi, and you find your cellular limit raised to 1,500 voice minutes, 500 text messages and 1,000 megabytes of data.”

    http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Republic-Wireless-Clarifies-Network-Limits-For-20-Wireless-117498

    Do you guys think I could get away with Republic? Or am I too close to the limits and risk getting kicked off?

    UPDATE: Just got this in the MMM forum:https://community.republicwireless.com/blogs/republic/2011/12/22/unlimited

    Looks like I would be safe!

    Reply
    • Chris H. November 20, 2013, 9:01 am

      These are old constraints from Republic Wireless. They no longer have a limit on cellular usage as far as I know for talk & text. The $10 plan would be enough for you since it is unlimited on WIFI & cellular. I have specifically asked them about ratio requirements of cellular versus WIFI and they do not have any right now.

      Reply
  • @FinanceandFit November 18, 2013, 9:06 am

    I have been reading different blogs about Republic Wireless over the past few months and have become progressively more and more hooked(like any good person who is looking to cut costs in one way or another), enough so that I purchased the Moto X on Friday, $330 with taxes.

    My numbers work out to something like this. I am on a Verizon family plan with an Iphone 4 which I have had for almost 2 years. The next step for me was to most likely upgrade to the new Iphone at in between $100 and $200, not to mention my $80 monthly bill for myself, that includes my “company discount”.

    I chose the 3G with RW, which is $25 a month, but let’s round up with taxes and assume it’s $30, so even assuming I did not buy a new phone with Verizon, my break even point is in the 6th month, after that I am cutting a cost of $50 month just on my phone. That’s assuming I would keep the same Iphone 4 and plan, if you assume I get a new Iphone and spend about $200 on that phone, my break even point is the 2nd month.

    So any concerns I have personally about “getting stuck” with RW does not fall on me, if I detested everything about RW, I could break even after a few months and sell the phone on eBay or something similar i’m sure.

    MM did RW mention any buy back or discount program for the previous phone or potential plans with the Moto X?

    Also I was able to use the code(thank you) that MM provided and received my first month for free, so glad we both could contribute to saving/earning a few dollars.

    Reply
    • Christine T. December 29, 2013, 10:43 pm

      I was planning on asking Verizon to unlock my iPhone 4S and then sell it on eBay to offset the cost of the new device at republic wireless and making my break even approx 2 months..

      Reply
  • Jessie : Improved November 18, 2013, 9:06 am

    Me: PagePlus w/HTC Incredible 2, 250min/250txt/10mb for $12, MB overage is .10
    Hubs: PagePlus w/HTC Rezound (flashed), 1200min/3000txt/500mb for $29, MB overage is .05

    Phone costs are less that $50/mo, as low as $42. 3G speeds only but it sure does beat the $150+ bill we were getting from Verizon

    Reply
  • Heath November 18, 2013, 9:59 am

    As Andrew Crocker above me does, I use the T-mobile $30/month pre-paid plan in conjunction with Google Voice. Unlimited text, unlimited internet, and 100 minute of talk per month. It’s BYOD, so I picked up an inexpensive Samsung Galaxy Blaze (not unlocked, but it’s from T-mobile, so no big deal) on Craigslist. The setup wasn’t too arcane, either.

    I have been ridiculously happy with my system, as it allows me to use massive amounts of FAST internet, text infinitely, and talk a little bit on my phone. The call quality has been comparable to every other phone/company combination I’ve experienced, but at WAAAY less than half the price of what my family members are paying.

    And because I’m using Google Voice, I can also make unlimited calls from my PC, which don’t subtract from the 100 minute pool at all. My wife is doing exactly the same thing, minus the Google Voice because she doen’t need those extra talk minutes.

    Anyway, that’s my setup, and I think I’ll be sticking with it as long as the option is available through T-mobile!

    Reply
    • Ross van der Harst November 20, 2013, 8:58 pm

      You may know about this already, but you can get an obitalk telephone adaptor for forty bucks and set it up with your Google voice number/account. Then you can hook up a handheld phone and receive calls on it even when your computer is turned off. All for free!

      ObiTalk: http://www.amazon.com/OBi100-Telephone-Adapter-Service-Bridge/dp/B004LO098O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385005614&sr=8-1&keywords=obitalk

      Unfortunately though, you would still have to go onto you Google Voice account to see your texts. I am kind of working around this by using it in conjunction with a cheap cell using prepaid minutes, but that adds a whole nother number into the mix (not to mention that now I’m paying for every text that comes through!).

      Reply
  • PawPrint November 18, 2013, 10:18 am

    Okay, I read these articles about phones, and I want to get our phone bill down (it was $109 this month), but I really don’t understand how to do that. We have a Verizon family plan with three dumb phones. Two of the three have a texting plan, but it’s fairly limited. No data plan obviously. We never use all the voice minutes, sometimes go over the number of texts, and we get charged per text when someone texts the phone that doesn’t have texting.

    My husband is concerned about buying phones on ebay or wherever plus we don’t understand how we’d be able to keep the same phone numbers. How does that work? Our oldest child is 42, so that gives you some idea of our age. Yes, I am using age as my excuse for my lack of understanding and hope that someone will take pity on me.

    Reply
    • Laurissa November 18, 2013, 12:23 pm

      I think it might be easiest for you to call directly one of the companies like ting. If you’re worried about buying a used phone from ebay you could buy a used phone from ting (they offer a warranty on their used phones). Also, it sounds like their company has pretty good customer service and they would help you with any questions.

      Reply
      • PawPrint November 19, 2013, 10:32 am

        Thank you for your response. I’ll give it a shot.

        Reply
  • Joe November 18, 2013, 10:21 am

    I have the old Republic wireless phone. It works pretty well for me, but there are a few problems.
    I keep getting random call to wrong numbers. I think they have some kind of routing issue there. It’s also a bit slow at times. It works well for me though and $20 is the right price.
    Ting sounds good too. I’d like to try them at some point.

    Reply
  • rjack November 18, 2013, 10:30 am

    I’ve been using Ting for about a year. Ting offers great pricing for a low-usage customer. And the service and customer management is the best I’ve seen anywhere.

    However, I’m thinking about switching to Republic Wireless because the Sprint signal (or any other cell signal) is weak in my home. Republic’s use of Wifi for all voice and text is a plus for me.

    I’m going to wait on Rupublic until I see how the MotoX early adopters fare.

    Reply
  • Anne November 18, 2013, 10:38 am

    When did you order your Moto X? I’m dying to get mine :) I ordered the day it came out! Been dumb-phoning it for the past two months until I could order this one. Even with the $220 I’ll have to pay to cancel my Verizon service AND the $300 phone, this will save me money.

    Reply
  • Jamesqf November 18, 2013, 10:54 am

    Interesting article, but I would challenge one point. You say

    “Everything still works whenever you get wifi reception, you just can’t make calls from the middle of nowhere…”

    I suggest that you really don’t know where the middle of nowhere is. Hint: the edge of nowhere is now defined as the point where you lose all cell signals.

    Reply
  • Alex November 18, 2013, 12:14 pm

    Anyone tried Lycamobile? Pay for service: 2c/min, 4c/text, 6c/MB 4G data. Bring your own phone, and they will send you a free SIM.

    Reply
  • Nate November 18, 2013, 12:32 pm

    This was an odd post. I honestly thought your review of the new phone was going to be “Does the new phone live up to the hype? F*** no! You don’t need some fancy BS phone!”

    Anyway, keep up the great work MMM!

    Reply
  • Tara November 18, 2013, 1:23 pm

    I wish they offered limited 4g service for in between the $25 and $40 plan. I don’t need a ton of data if on wi-fi, but when trying to upload a map because I’m lost, CDMA 3g can be really really slow.

    You’re right about the $10 plan… that is perfect for most people who don’t need internet access on the fly.

    Reply
  • Spaccount November 18, 2013, 1:35 pm

    I got the following response from the live chat rep:

    TK: Hi my name is TK
    Spaccount: hi TK
    TK: how may I assist you?
    Spaccount: i’m trying to place an order on the website..
    Spaccount: i’m trying to enter the promocode MONEYMUSTACHE19.. but i get the following error:
    Spaccount: MONEYMUSTACHE19 could not be applied to this order. Single-use coupon has already been used
    TK: there are no current promos running at this time
    Spaccount: did this promo get cancelled recently? because i was able to add this yesterday night..
    TK: where did you get the promo code from?
    Spaccount: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/11/16/republic-wireless-old-phone-new-phone-and-a-tempting-competitor/
    Spaccount: i was able to add this and get the first month free last night.. but i didn’t complete the order process..
    Spaccount: and today I see this error..
    TK: one moment
    TK: that may be because we are not running any promos at this time

    Reply
    • Southern Stashian November 19, 2013, 1:14 pm

      Same here. We ordered two Moto X phones and the $10 service plans yesterday and received the same explanation from the online chat rep. I’m hoping this isn’t a reflection of our future with RW.

      We were perfectly happy with Airvoice and only switched due to the price of the phones as our three year old iPhones are starting to act up. A little disappointed as $19 is basically the cost of our first month of service. :(

      Reply
    • Mrs. Money Mustache November 19, 2013, 1:46 pm

      It seems that the coupon code was disabled while they were troubleshooting a problem with the web site. It has now been re-activated, so it should work again. If it didn’t work for you, you can submit a ticket and they will honor the coupon code.

      The person on the phone probably didn’t know anything about it…

      Sorry for the trouble!!

      Reply
      • Southern Stashian November 19, 2013, 7:52 pm

        Thank you Mrs. MMM, I was hoping that was the case. The $19 wasn’t going to be a deal breaker, but it wasn’t the way I envisioned starting out our new found partnership with RW. :)

        We’re looking forward to the new service with RW and will post some feedback on it over the next couple of months. We followed your advise on the $10 AirVoice plan over a year ago and it has served us well.

        We have spent $245 total in 2013 on our two iPhones, a dramatic savings from the $2100 we were spending a few years back and haven’t noticed a difference in the service.

        We even had a $13 roll over credit from AV on both iPhones for the time that we haven’t used and will end up losing it once we switch. Regardless, we are looking forward to the RW plan and some updated phones, not to mention adding our son to the plan and still being under $40 per month for three smartphones.

        Once again thank you and MMM for the heads up on RW!

        Reply
  • Travis November 18, 2013, 1:41 pm

    I’ve been watching Ting for about a year now and my plan is to switch to Ting once our contract is up w/T-mobile. Kind of sad since we’ve been with T-Mobile for 12 years but where our new location in OR our coverage is spotty. We don’t use data and rarely text but all major wireless companies are pushing data plans and making voice only too expensive to justify it. We currently pay $45/mo for two phones and 1,000 shared minutes

    My current plan is to add a home phone using OBi and google voice costing $12/year which will allow us to reduce out cell phone usage since we make most of our calls from home anyways. Then I can switch to ting save ~$20/mo.

    This will cost us about $185 in equipment to setup (assuming we can get a cheap used/refurbished phone) and then 9.25 months to recoup that cost. However, we will then have better home phone service and cell service for much less.

    Republic’s plans are just too for me because of the phone they require. The $10/mo plan requires a $600 investment for us and would take 17 months to recoup the phone cost. If I use the cheaper phone that’s still $200 and then $38/mo for the service which would be $7 less than I currently pay at t-mobile and $13 more than what it would cost at Ting. Compared to my current plan that would take 28.5 months to recoup my cost and in both of these scenarios I have no home phone.

    Reply
    • Eric November 18, 2013, 4:10 pm

      @Travis – heads up. I was going to go the Obi / GV route too but just found out that GV will stop working with Obi next year.

      Reply
    • Ed November 18, 2013, 5:46 pm

      Travis, I too was going to go the Obi and google voice route, but read that they are discontinuing allowing Google voice in 2014? I may use the Moto X and $5 plan at RW to use as my new home base phone. I pay $30 a month for Century now, so after 12 months I’m even. Then I could activate the $10 plan if need it for trips. -Ed

      Reply
      • Travis November 19, 2013, 12:50 pm

        I’ll look into some of the other vendors like Anveo.

        Reply
    • Ed November 18, 2013, 5:49 pm

      Travis, sorry I forgot the link where Obi annouces no more Google voice after May 2014. Here it is: http://blog.obihai.com/2013/10/important-message-about-google-voice.html

      Reply
      • Travis November 19, 2013, 12:14 pm

        Well that stinks…thanks for the heads up.

        Reply
  • chris in MT November 18, 2013, 2:20 pm

    Verizon customers:

    Looks like there are a lot people asking about how to get out of Verizon and keep our phones. I’m looking into this now (with an Apple 4S) and it looks like PagePlus is the main MVNO where you can bring your own device. I looked at Net10, and it seemed like PagePLus was generally a better deal.

    Otherwise, it looks like a process of selling the phone and buying one that works on Ting or Republic, etc

    Is that about right?

    Reply
  • Donovan November 18, 2013, 2:31 pm

    Well the quick version of what I previously wrote must have got deleted or went to spam.

    I have Verizon pay $80/month, I just bought the new Moto X with Republic Wireless plan, the breakeven with the $25 plan is around month 5 or 6 and month 2 or 3 if I would decide to buy the new Iphone. So even if the service is not great or I don’t like the new phone, not only do I have a 30 day return policy, but I’m saving money within the first 2-6 months, I’m sure you can sell the phone to another RW if it did not all work out.

    On a side note, I did save the first month using the MM code, so we all earned/saved a little money.

    Reply
  • Micro November 18, 2013, 4:39 pm

    Ting looks like you can get hammered for data use if you’re not too careful. Republic Wireless is looking a bit more attractive. I liked the idea when they first came out and even signed up for the beta trials. I opted to not follow through though because I wanted to give them time to iron out the bugs. I didn’t want to give them a shot and reject them based on growing pains all new technology goes through. It seems they have the system working pretty good now. The other nice part is I use Virgin Mobile as my current provider so I’m used to Sprint’s network and have a good idea of what my coverage would look like.

    Reply
  • JTP November 18, 2013, 6:40 pm

    Hi MMM, have you heard of another MVNO called Solavei? It runs on the T-Mobile network and it is a $50 flat fee, Unlimited everything (4G high speed data). It does have a Network marketing side to it, but you do not have to get involved (as I do not) and just go for the phone service. If you do however, you can get your phone bill discounted, and have them even pay you for it! Just a thought, as you seem to appreciate the MVNOs.

    Reply
  • Liquid November 18, 2013, 7:10 pm

    The Moto X battery is not easy to replace when you compare to something like the Nexus 5. This will likely matter if you plan to keep the phone for more than 2 years.

    http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Motorola+Moto+X+Battery+Replacement/16974

    Reply
  • Igor November 18, 2013, 8:27 pm

    I am testing Ting at the moment using an old Sprint flip phone. Compared to Verizon coverage, I see much weaker signals in our area. On a single drive home for example, I dropped call twice where Verizon has no issues. That’s a big concern for me. I like Ting’s pricing structure as well as RW, but Sprint network may not be up to snuff just yet. Though they are supposedly working on it. Something like these guys but on Verizon towers would be the ultimate solution :(

    Reply
  • Jonathan the Barbarian November 19, 2013, 3:09 am

    Is the Money Mustasche Man starting to shave his ‘stache off, as the wasteful spending on consumer toys takes off?

    “Aah, but it’s so _convenient_ to have such a lovely smart-phone/device”.

    Listen, there’s this great deal on a cable-television subscription which I need to talk to you about….

    Reply
  • Josh November 19, 2013, 10:30 am

    Thanks for the insight. Signed up my in-law’s old Sprint iPhone on Ting to test it out… so far so good!

    A theoretical question about the whole concept of MVNO’s: If these things really start catching on and they start gobbling up contracted subscriber’s from the major carriers (as I’m sure they hope to do), what’s to prevent the major’s from jacking up the MVNO’s contracted rates to the point that this business model is no longer feasible?

    Perhaps this is a non-issue (for some reason I can’t think of)… obviously the carrier’s know what the MVNO’s are doing with the allocation and are allowing it at this point, but I’m just wondering what the long-term viability of this business model is if the major’s start loosing a significant number of subscribers.

    Reply
    • Misstachio November 26, 2013, 9:33 am

      I’ve thought about this too. My experience is only with PagePlus but it seems to me that one needs a bit of extra effort to transfer and use a phone on PP, whereas the process is extremely streamlined for the big companies. I’d say I’m somewhat gadget-savvy but when I transferred my number from Verizon to PP, I had to do quite a bit of research to figure out the process. When my parents tried to transferred from Verizon to pageplus, they couldn’t figure out the process and failed the transfer process 3 times. There isn’t much support for those who are not so tech savvy. I had to sit down, troubleshoot with them and do their transfers remotely. Took me about 4 hours. I also had to figure out the process for another friend whose phone was not set up for the pageplus activation process. So at least for this MNVO, the complexity and the poor support structure seems to be the biggest barrier to the masses transferring over. But maybe that will change as all the MNVOs get more customers and start being more competitive…

      Reply
  • Clint November 19, 2013, 11:07 am

    I’ve loved Ting since connecting in May, so much so that my family makes fun of me for being a Ting shill. We have two smartphones and decent Sprint coverage. The monthly bill has been $43.34 with taxes and fees, or $38 before fees, with the usage coming out like this: large bucket for minutes, medium bucket for texts and small bucket for data.

    I’ve been trying to knock $9 off of that, but my wife tends to talk much more than I do on the phone. Data could be more expensive if we transmitted a lot of photos (my daughter does this on Virgin Mobile), but we don’t do that, plus I’ve set a limit on data so that we don’t go over the small bucket. So far, we haven’t come close to using all the data allotted under the small bucket.

    Reply
  • Jenny N. November 19, 2013, 11:29 am

    This article is very timely since my existing Sprint contract expired today! Thank you for the information on Ting – I was hoping I could keep my current phone (I bought a used one a few months ago so I could avoid adding onto my contract) and it sounds like Ting is exactly what I need to do that. I’ll fit in nicely with the medium buckets. The real savings, however, will come in a few months, when my husband’s part of the contract expires and we can get rid of our Sprint account for good and move completely to MVNO networks. Thanks, again!

    Reply
  • Antonio November 19, 2013, 12:19 pm

    I have been a Republic Wireless customer with the Defy XT since 2012 and have had great service. They gave me $100 off the $249 Defy XT back then for being a beta customer, no complaints there! I am paying $19.99/mo and the sprint MVNO works great for me in my area. I suggest those interested check sprint coverage in their area first. I ordered the MOTO X upgrade and will soon pay $24/mo, not bad for a MOTO X phone for unlimited everything with no contract. I read that there is a 5GB data limit before your get throttled down but I do not even use 2GB currently per month, so this is a good option for me.

    A quick story: I was in Cancun, Mexico for vacation at a nice Condo with wifi. I was able to contact my extended family for some issues at home free of charge. I was able to receive and make calls. Also, at the Cancun airport I was able to text my co-workers back and forth with only the roaming signal. Also free of charge. My co-worker and I were amazed that we could text where there was no sprint network and I had no wifi, just roaming. Awesome!

    I also did not like to pay $299 for a phone that is locked onto RW, but unlocked it would of cost me about $499! What won me over was taking advantage of the motorola trade-up program to trade an eligible motorola phone for a $100 visa card. That’s what I will be doing. Now the Moto X cost me $199. This is worth it to me!

    You want additional saving?
    If ordering please remember to use referral link to get a service credit of $19 toward your monthly fees. Also use discount code “moneymustache19″ at checkout when ordering the phone for your first month of service free.
    (e-mail me if you want my referral code or look for it online)

    I saved about $43 at checkout, and will get $100 visa card in the mail soon. In addition to this, $24 month for unlimited everything is unheard of. Two of my co-workers used my refferal and they got the $19 credit and so did I. So that is an additional $38 credit toward my monthly service. Talk about great savings!!

    I suggest if your on the fence try it out and if not happy contact them before 30 days are up to return the phone and start getting your full refund. Remember to use the “moneymustache19″ at checkout for your first month free so this trial month is truly free.

    Republic Wireless might not be for everyone but it sure is great for me!

    Reply
  • Little House November 19, 2013, 6:42 pm

    I recently switched from Sprint to Ting and love the savings! The quality of the calls are the same and I got to keep my phone. Another benefit from Ting, if you had to pay to break an early contract, Ting will reimburse up to $75 depending on the cost of the early termination fee. We ended up with a credit of $25 on our first bill, so even with paying $115 to break our contract, we saved money our first month with Ting. It’s awesome!

    Reply
  • Michelle November 19, 2013, 7:28 pm

    Thanks for the review! I’m looking forward to changing my cell plan soon.

    Reply
  • Dan November 19, 2013, 10:32 pm

    Thanks for the favorable review of the moto X. I am a software engineer that worked on that phone.

    Reply
  • MrMoneyMustCash November 20, 2013, 5:27 am

    One cool thing about Ting, is that by signing up, you get a $25 credit and credits for everyone you refer to Ting from Sprint or new service. It is totally worth it just for that. I wanted to try the Republic plan, but because I was already with Sprint and my phone works just fine from that carrier, I stroked my mustache and transferred to Ting. Thanks for inspiring us all, MMM!

    Reply
  • Jess Mink November 20, 2013, 12:44 pm

    Paying $5 a month for wi-fi calling is puzzling to me. My partner has that set up for free using Google Voice and an unlocked phone.

    For prepay phone plans I’ve had good luck with Tmobile. My current plan is $2 a day that you use it ($0 when you don’t) and unlimited voice, text and data.

    http://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/pay-by-the-day-cell-phone-plans

    The daily plan works very well for me right now, because I alternate between being in the back country for long periods of time and short jaunts in civilization. Combine it with wi-fi calling and it might work for more usecases.

    Reply
  • m- November 20, 2013, 7:15 pm

    Hey Triple M.

    Can you right a post about happy! Thing in your life, things you hope might come true in the near future, and when your loooonnnnnnggggg ggggggooooonneeeee!!!!

    Thanks,

    m-

    Reply
  • John November 20, 2013, 8:28 pm

    Republic Wireless all plans,

    *Our Terms of Service permit us to reduce your speed for a billing period if you exceed 5GB of data while using cell during the billing period. We also give you a break and will forgive you for exceeding 5GB of data once every 6 months! See our Terms of Service for more details.

    Reply
  • Mr. Money Fitness November 21, 2013, 2:00 am

    I am a reader of MMM since the first days and have to state that this is one of the most un-mustachian articles ever! Sorry, but I had to say this.

    What happened to the good old pay-as-you-go?

    I use a dumb phone from 2007 with PAYG which needs to be charged once a year with 15€ to keep my contract. And that is also what I pay to be always reachable and make all really necessary calls for one whole year at 0,09 € per minute.

    15€ for big comfort for a complete year.

    I still think “mobile phone frugality” is one of the best and easiest ways to start saving a lot of money and become more badass:
    - Use one of the still functioning dumb phones that nearly every household has lying around and do not call people only because there seems nothing better to do:

    - To say it short: Keep your perfect working phone and use it only when necessary. (This blog is repeating this for cars, bikes, tools – but somehow not for phones and their plans.)

    - Always have a book with you to make yourself better or keep yourself entertained the (unfortunately) “old-fashioned” way.

    - Look on the street before you, instead on a screen.

    - Stop wasting time always chasing the latest smart phone (or gadget) or the (at that time) best phone plan.

    The results:

    - You save a lot of money and time without additional effort.
    - The environment will thank you for it. There is now a big number of smartphones and accessories never produced. (Be honest: The “hot phone” today is already outdated next week when the new superdupermega phone XYZ is coming out.)

    Please MMM, do not have any more “how-to-waste-money-better” articles (other finance bloggers write more than enough of them) and go back to the good old kick-butt-times!
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 21, 2013, 11:01 am

      Good points MMF. If you read through the other comments, you will see they were already addressed, but it is worth repeating this one last time.

      I switched to a smartphone (in 2010) when it became clear that it would cost me less to own one than to keep holding off (because it replaces a camera, MP3 player, GPS, and every other gadget). And I have never paid more than $30/month for the whole package.

      For tech-oriented people, communication and ready access to information is important, and it makes you money in the long run. This is why I view a good phone differently than I view a shinier car or purse.

      But you should know your own habits: if you’re just going to be scrolling through Facebook and Twitter while you’re on the bus every day, I agree: stick to a dumbphone and bring a book instead.

      Reply
  • Steve November 21, 2013, 5:15 am

    I use my phone a lot while travelling, so Sprint based service doesn’t quite do it for me. Its just not available in many areas, although you will do just fine in many urban zones. For example I live in a large suburb 30 minutes from Tampa with no Sprint coverage.

    I went with the new start-up AIO Wireless instead. It uses AT&T towers, so it works on any unlocked gsm phone and gives you corporate quality USA coverage.

    I chose the semi unlimited $55 a month plan, which gives you all you can eat LTE service. If you exceed 2GB they throttle you back.

    Best of all I brought my brand new Google Nexus 5, so I can geek out while still saving a bundle compared to Verizon.

    The only downside is that AT&T is planning to acquire the parent of Cricket Wireless, and fold AIO into that. Who knows what will happen to AIO in the future but for now as a premium LTE prepaid they are a great choice.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 21, 2013, 10:55 am

      Sounds like you’ve thought it out well – but note that Republic isn’t just a Sprint-based network: it is a combination of Sprint AND Verizon due to the seamless roaming arrangements. I will add this to the article as we figured all this out earlier in the comments but it is not evident if you’re reading the post only.

      Reply
      • Steve November 22, 2013, 8:45 am

        Thanks very interesting based on that info I decided to take a second look. However when I put in my zipcode – it came back with.

        Uh-oh. We might have a problem with cell coverage for you in zip code 33543. However, WiFi coverage is available wherever you have a connection.

        I’m about 30 minutes from Tampa but in a densely populated neighborhood that was once one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in the US.

        I have a Verizon LTE tower within a few hundred yards from my house, but no Sprint coverage, so I am a bit confused now I’ll google around.

        Update: According to some blogs I am reading you are correct but a Sprint tower is needed to activate. The Verizon roaming makes all the difference in the world and makes them very attractive indeed.

        Reply
  • MaxRules November 21, 2013, 8:51 am

    Air Voice has a new set of plans also. The $30 per month plan I was on (unlimited talk and text) now includes 100MB of web and unlimited MMS. The web data was previously $5 more. You’ll need an unlocked IPhone to use the MMS and a special app to use their data network. There is also a $40 and $60 plan for more data and features. I rarely use data but it’s great to have while on the road for checking email or looking up something. I’ve had Air Voice for several months now and it’s really a great service on the AT&T network. Special thanks goes to MMM for the post about Air Voice and freeing me from my expensive AT&T contract phone!

    Reply
  • Tom November 21, 2013, 9:17 am

    While this solution may not work well for everyone, we recently decided to switch from a post-paid plan to prepaid for our cell phones. After getting the run-around with our old service (LIME) we finally cancelled our service and went for the prepaid plan where texts are 10 cents each. We honestly think this will work best for us as we almost never make a phone call using our cell phones, it will probably come out to $20 – $30 per month, which is very good considering the high prices here.

    Living in the Cayman Islands, we have Magic Jack plus ($30 a year) as an option to call home and facetime using our ipad on our home wifi. If anything we may be overspending a bit with the Magic Jack line since we could easily use google voice through tapatalk to call people at home who do not use iphones. Like I said, this option may not work well for everyone. On a small island there is little need for things like google maps, yelp, etc. but I have to say, I don’t even take my phone with me much and I love it. It’s almost a liberating feeling NOT having it on me at all times.

    Reply
  • cdub November 21, 2013, 10:58 am

    I just got my RW moto X and I’m trying it out on the $10/month plan.

    The wifi kind of sucks at my work so we’ll see how it goes. The wifi is awesome at my house though.

    Reply
  • Alvaro Gil November 21, 2013, 7:09 pm

    Rolled my own $14/month hybrid Verizon network calling plan like this:

    1 – Ported my phone number to Google Voice.
    2 – purchased GrooveIP
    3 – Manually flashed my 4G Galaxy Nexus to 3G only
    4 – Called up Page Plus and hooked up the phone to a $12/Month plan. (new number – no one will ever see it)
    5 – installed Google Voice and set it to always use it for outgoing calls. (original number in step 1)
    6 – Installed a firewall app on my phone and set it to only allow the following apps to use data on 3G: Google Services, Talk.
    This is key, in order for google voice outgoing calls to work, it must use minimal data to sign in.

    At the end of the month, I go over my 10 meg/month data limit with these settings by about 10 megs. It costs about $2 extra each month. The data rates are different when you are on a monthly plan!

    This method is awesome if you are willing to do some legwork, you can pick your own device and handle things yourself.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache November 21, 2013, 9:19 pm

      Badass.

      Reply
      • Mr Joe November 24, 2013, 9:47 pm

        I thought Google Voice calls to phones (and thus GroVe IP) was EOL’ed May 2014 IIRC. A perfectly reasonable solution for now, but also a need to watch and see how it develops. Can GroVe IP survive?

        Reply
        • Desh April 7, 2014, 11:29 am

          Yeah, Google Voice is going away (for purposes like this) soon.

          I believe there’s an answer using SIP replacement services for Google Voice, such as Vestalink. I’m still playing with it, so I’m not sure how well it works, but I think it can work similarly to Alvaro’s solution above. Vestalink isn’t free, but it’s extremely inexpensive by my standards, and perhaps even by MMM’s: It adds in the ballpark of $30/year to your costs (which are otherwise just a cheap cell plan.) I might splurge for the $30/month 5GB plan from T-Mobile instead of Page Plus, which would cost me a total of $32.50/month when you add in Vestalink, and give me way more data than my friends on $90 Verizon plans.

          Reply
          • Steve April 8, 2014, 8:25 am

            Does anyone know if there’s an unlimited data plan compatible with my Verizon iPhone 4? I’m now on the Page Plus $30 plan. I’d like to replace my CenturyLink internet service, too, which is now $80/month after the intro offer, but PP doesn’t offer tethering.

            Reply

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