Republic Wireless becomes 50% More Frugal with the Moto G: A Review

line_of_gsIt is nice when the answers for frugal and efficient living become simple and obvious, so as to free your mind for more complex and worthwhile pursuits. For example, when investing in stocks, Vanguard index funds is all you need to know. For cars, a compact hatchback like a Honda Fit will almost always suffice. The ultimate cable TV package is quite obviously no TV service at all at $0 per month. And for US mobile phone service, Republic Wireless has become my default answer for anyone who asks because it just plain works and the $5/$10/$25 unlimited pricing plan reigns supreme in value. I simply love how boring the mobile phone world has become for me: my phone works great, I never pay attention to usage, they never pull any stunts on me, and the monthly bill is a constant, negligible amount. Republic is becoming the Vanguard of mobile phones in my mind.

The bland simplicity of their pricing scheme. No talk of "minutes" or "texts".. you just use the damn phone as you see fit.

The bland simplicity of their pricing scheme. No talk of “minutes” or “texting packages”.. you just use the damn phone as you see fit.

I am hesitant to write about something so boring when it has already been covered on this blog before, but a new release from the company warrants this one last update. Republic has released a new phone that costs half as much as the previous new one, and readers have been asking me to review it here. So here we go!

Until this month, you had to buy a $299 Motorola X running their customized software in order to use the company’s hybrid calling network. While the math still worked out in your favor and you’d save money, it still hurts some of us to fork over $300 for a depreciating smartphone, as beautiful as it is when you first open the box.

But very recently, they released a new phone called the Motorola G, which is priced at $149. I assumed that it would be about half as good, and being a gadgety former engineer that I would be disappointed by the step down. Still, I dutifully requested that the company send me a review version so I could do some in-person evaluation for the benefit of curious Mustachaians.

To make a long story short, The Motorola G is almost exactly the same as the Moto X, which is to say an amazing smartphone, which means you really aren’t missing out much by saving the 150 bucks. Let’s start with a quick comparison of the tech specs:

Moto G vs. Moto X

Moto G vs. Moto X

Although some of those numbers look bigger in the right column, the “Display” section is what matters most. The phones have virtually identical screens that run at exactly the same resolution. In practice, what that means is this:

Moto X vs. Moto G - screens were equally bright and clear.

Moto X (left) vs. Moto G – screens were equally bright and clear.

This Identical Twins experience continues as you pick up both phones to tap on some stuff, swipe back and forth between various screens, take some pictures and videos, play music, and make some calls. For typical use, there is no noticeable difference between these phones.

Both are incredibly useful due to the full Google integration that allows you to talk to the phone in natural language: “Ok Google, when is my flight to Portland?”, brings up a futuristic summary with full details and realtime flight status, based solely on an old Southwest Airlines email receipt from a ticket purchased weeks ago. “Navigate to the Shiner Brewery in Texas” brings up full directions to the Spoetzl brewery, a 16 hour drive from here. The GPS fires up, 3-D satellite imagery loads and shows a bird’s eye view of my current location with a line showing the way, and we could be on a roadtrip within minutes.

About that Network

If you’re new to the whole idea of this mobile operator, you might wonder if it will actually provide coverage for you. After almost a year with the company, I can say the answer is probably yes, for these reasons:

  • Republic service uses the Sprint network when available, which blankets the US pretty well (voice and 3G data almost everywhere and 4G data in the cities).
  • But if you don’t have Sprint coverage, the phone will automatically roam to the nearest Verizon tower for unlimited voice (plus up to 25Mb/month of roaming data) – seamlessly and at no cost to you. So it is really like having both Sprint and Verizon accounts.
  • If you’re connected to Wi-fi, the phone uses that (and thus the Internet) for all its calling and data needs. This means buildings and basements which were formerly outside of cell range are now great places to make a call. It also means the phone works internationally at no cost whenever you have good Wi-Fi. You can make and receive calls exactly as if you were still in the US – your friends will never know. I tested this feature successfully in Ecuador last year.

So what’s the difference?

The Camera: The Moto X has a better camera. While “megapixels” don’t really mean anything in modern marketing, the X takes sharper images and has a wider lens angle as well. Here’s a comparison of an identical indoor shot with each phone :


Moto X (top), vs Moto G (bottom). Click for full image if you want to compare in detail.

Moto X (top), vs Moto G (bottom). Click for full image if you want to compare in detail.

Futuristic Gee Whiz Features:

The Moto X has a few things that I have grown to like, which are absent on the G:

Active Display is a periodic update where the phone gently fades in stuff like the time, date, and your calendar/SMS/email/twitter status even when the phone is sleeping. It also does so immediately when you pick it up. Sort of convenient, since it saves you from unlocking the phone.

Touchless Control means the Moto X is always listening to you. You can give out commands even when the phone is in your pocket. It also detects when you’re driving or biking, and can do things like automatically answering (or telling the caller you cannot answer because you are driving). I had a neat experience where I was riding down the bike path, and my phone said “Incoming call from WIFEY, do you want to answer?”

“Yes”, I said, somewhat off guard. It answered, and I had a surreal speakerphone conversation with Mrs. Money Mustache while riding my bike with the phone in the pocket of my jeans.

The X also has a nifty feature where you simply twist your sleeping phone back and forth along its vertical axis a couple of times to immediately activate the camera. Better for catching short-lived moments and looking less dorky doing so since the twisting motion can be done subtly with the phone at your side and then Boom, you take the picture before anyone notices.

Even with these things missing, the Moto G is an amazing and intuitive piece of technology, and is a good choice for those of us who are not online media extremists for whom tiny details* make a big difference. So Republic wireless service just became drastically cheaper**, and I welcome the new option.

September 2014 Update:

Republic has now added a third, even less costly phone called the Moto E. Smaller specs in exchange for a $99 price tag. While it won’t be the choice of most 20-something software engineers, this simpler smartphone may be a great choice for people who have no need for gadgetry, or families who want to give phones to their kids and relatives.

If you’re still paying over $25 for your mobile phone service, you can remedy that situation with this link.

You can also find the previous Republic article from November 2013 (which also covers Ting) here.


* So which one would I buy? In my pre-blog life, it would have been the G, hands-down. Now that I use a phone so much for this gig, especially taking pictures that people actually look at sometimes, I’d have to suppress my natural cheapness and spend the extra for the X. It’s the usual tool-vs-toy calculation. Just remember that within a year or two, even better phones will cost even less than these ones, so weigh the steep depreciation on a per-photo (or per gee-whiz) basis.

** you can also now buy a used phone from another Republic member if you can find one and re-activate it on a new account, a further increase in frugality.

  • Dustin October 9, 2014, 6:40 pm

    Drop cell service all together and use Wi-Fi only with VoIP. Combine this with a mobile unlimited hotspot like Clear and you have your home internet and cellular unlimited on the go; plus any other laptop’s or phones. Wi-Fi is everywhere these days.

  • Landam Naresh October 14, 2014, 12:01 pm

    Do you know that that you have ART runtime option in your Moto G, which is featured in KitKat. And you can enable it from developer options. I found this info in here, http://www.spinfold.com/moto-g-tips-and-tricks/

  • Scott November 6, 2014, 4:45 pm

    My wife had switched to Republic back in February based on your blog reviews and then her own research of the company. I didn’t buy in at first and quite frankly I enjoyed my phone and plan w/Verizon. My biggest “worry” at the time & why it took me this long was I didn’t want to lose my capability of accessing the internet whenever I wanted. I’ve realized now, how much time and money I waste by playing on that crazy little device. After seeing how well my wife’s service has worked and after paying off my Guitar Center Card (don’t worry – I did 0% and paid it off in a few months for the splendid new Blues Jr. amp…which by the way helps me make money playing gigs) I ordered my phone & decided to give em’ a shot. I’m loving the phone and the savings (both monetarily & time wise). In addition, I helped my 16 year old daughter open her first checking account and required her to buy her own phone and switch to Republic as well. I have showed her the cost analysis on what it would cost her to keep her Verizon line versus the savings she can put back into her account. Now that she has her own account, it’s that lightbulb moment of what it really costs and now that dad isn’t flipping the bill (maybe I’m a jerk by not paying for her phone but she’s 16 now and our education system doesn’t teach them anything about how to keep track of money) she feels this sense of ownership. At the end of the day, I’m saying I’m really glad my wife came across MMM last January!

  • Ruth November 10, 2014, 11:17 am

    Do you have any referral codes for Republic Wireless? I am currently with Ting and am about to switch over to Republic.

  • Randy December 16, 2014, 1:55 pm

    I know I’m coming late the conversation, but here’s my experience with RW:

    I’ve been wanting to switch my family over to RW for months, but my wife was nervous about it. She didn’t like the up-front layout of $600 for four phones. I kept providing her with the amount we would save, but the front-loaded sticker shock was just too much for her.

    Then RW introduced the Moto E. For some reason, that $400 price changed her mind.

    I have myself and her on $25/mo plans and my two daughters on $10/mo. plans. We were paying $160/mo. with Verizon. Now, we’ll be playing half that. We’ve only had our phones for just over a week and the experience has been positive. My wife and daughter hadn’t had Smartphones, so they’re ecstatic.

    The call quality is not as good at home on our WiFi as Verizon was, but the costs savings make it worth the slight dip in quality. I’m making a trip to a more rural area to visit relatives and I’m eager to see how it performs then.

    All-in-all, I’m digging the savings

  • Candice Brasington December 22, 2014, 6:40 pm

    Loved your review of Republic Wireless! Switched to RW for myself. Trying to talk my husband into it but he is an over-the-road truck driver and needs the dependability of Verizon. Needless to say I am thoroughly enjoying the savings and spreading the word! I also bought my daughters the phones for Christmas. I do the $10 month plan for all three of us! Thank you for all you do! :)

  • Ann January 5, 2015, 8:47 pm

    MMM, any comment on “The Guide” on the Forums, which basically says avoid Republic? http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/communications-tech-son-of-the-superguide!/ I wrote a post asking about a low cost AT&T carrier for my DH, and my mustache got ripped off by people dissing my use of Republic Wireless

  • Jessie b January 21, 2015, 5:21 am

    Woops sorry mr mm… Meant to put this question here instead of your more recent budget post. .. What do I do with my lovely iPhone 5… Almost 2years old now.

    • Mr. Money Mustache January 21, 2015, 9:17 am

      You could bring that sucker over to Ting (Sprint Network) or Airvoice (ATT network). OR sell it on Ebay and earn enough money to buy a brand new and superior Moto X from Republic!

  • Becky February 9, 2015, 8:29 am

    Hey Mr Money Mustache- thanks for the article! I appreciate all the info. We are looking into a low cost plan for my mother, and this seems to fit the bill. I just wonder about “unlimited calls”. If she used little wifi, what is the minutes per month she could use before them kicking her off? (She doesn’t use data, and probably not many texts.) I can’t seem to find info on this. Just that they want you to use 50% or more wifi, etc. But if you make a small amount of calls- does that matter??

    • Mr. Money Mustache February 10, 2015, 7:02 pm

      Hi Becky – I think it is unlimited in any practical sense. You could probably use thousands of minutes on the cell network without complaint. Most of my calls are outside of wifi areas (because I don’t talk on the phone much while at home) and I’ve never even looked at my usage.. I just assume it is fine.

      Go for it!

  • Roger April 17, 2015, 10:12 am

    I ordered a RW phone and had it overnighted. Called FedEx and they said the plane was full leaving Memphis. Thus, I asked for a refund. Fedex said they would be glad to give a refund but the sender not the receiver had to request the refund. So I called RW and they said they couldn’t request a refund even though I explained that the agent from FedEx already said they would be more than willing to issue a refund. Man, how frustrating, even though the refund is minuscule I figure if RW has such poor customer no-service if something more serious came up in the future where I needed their assistance I have a feeling I wouldn’t be able to have anything resolved.

    Thus, I will refuse delivery when the box comes Monday and just request a refund or will probably just dispute the charges on my credit card which would be easier than dealing with RW “customer service”.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 18, 2015, 3:20 pm

      Another option to consider might be to accept the delivery, open the phone, and start using it to take calls and read emails.

      In a world full of imperfect humans, it’s not a big deal if overnight delivery doesn’t work sometimes. By accepting this world as it is, you’ll save a lot of wasted effort and instead can marvel at the fact that we can now hold the entire Internet in the palm of our hands.

  • Mark July 11, 2015, 8:14 pm

    For anyone who scrolls this far, the Moto E sucks. I bought it and within a week or so it had this headset issue where it assumed my phone had a headset plugged in. So, I reset the cache and it still happened, so I contacted them. After trying some other fixes, the issue persisted, so they sent me a new one. The new one has the same issue.

    • Karen July 29, 2015, 6:16 pm

      What is the deal with the new phone plan?? I’m am ready to change carriers now, but when I saw the new plan I am not sure if it is such a good deal and who to go with. Would love to hear some updates!!

      • Ohio Teacher July 30, 2015, 11:28 am

        It’s even better for us. As long as you use less than 1 GB/mo, it will be cheaper than the current unlimited plan. They are trying to purge the network of the data hogs and people who don’t manage their Wi-Fi well. My wife uses less than 0.5 GB/mo, so we will even be getting a refund on the cheapest data plan. I use Wi-Fi only data, but may consider doing the 0.5 GB and just getting it mostly refunded.

  • Bridget September 17, 2015, 1:08 pm

    I’m writing this in the hopes it saves someone else the headaches . . . . after reading this article, I switched to Republic wireless sometime in the summer of 2014. At first, I thought it was awesome and I ignored the fact that the service is quite terrible and the phone doesn’t even function normally. But now I’m almost ready to go back to paying full price at Verizon just to have a phone and service that actually work. While obviously I don’t know how good or bad the service is in Colorado or elsewhere, my experience with Republic has been terrible. The phone and service both have so many issues . . . . this would be a novel if I tried to list them all. The worst: it often doesn’t even receive incoming calls. As in, my boyfriend will call me, and the phone will do nothing. It’s on, it’s on high volume, it has full wi-fi AND full cellular signal, yet the phone call doesn’t always come through. Or it does, but it doesn’t ring (instead giving a half vibration and then showing a missed call). Tied for worst: sometimes, mid-call, with no change in location for either of us, the audio will completely cease on one side, forcing us to end the call. Second worst: text messages sometimes don’t get delivered and sometimes are not received. I could go on and on and on with problems . . . . suffice it to say, this is an instance where it cannot even consistently perform the most basic functions I’m paying for, then no discount is good enough.

  • Marisa November 7, 2015, 9:09 pm

    MMM This sounds fantastic but I do have one hesitation: I am self-employed and use my cell phone a considerablw amount for work(I sell home mortgages loans). I wondering you have had many dropped call or connectivity issues during peak day business hours?

  • Chad February 15, 2016, 10:54 am

    Sadly, the unlimited everything has changed to a new pricing structure where you kind of pre-pay for data and then get a refund on what you don’t use. My wife and I have had RW for years now, and are grand-fathered in, but can’t honestly recommend it to others because we can’t vouch for how the plans will affect their pocket-book.

  • Mr Zombie February 19, 2016, 3:02 am

    An old post… but…is that gymnastic rings hanging from the ceiling…in your kitchen? Possibly the most mega thing I have seen in a while, if so.

  • Ed May 10, 2016, 4:12 pm

    This is a really old thread but what the heck.

    I’ve owned the Moto G for nearly two years and it’s been great. Not only that but in MMM style, I’ve used it for tethering in that time, which has saved me the £25-30 I’d have had to pay the cable company.

  • Greg G April 25, 2017, 7:13 pm

    Does anyone else here use Tracfone? My wife and I have used them for years and get great reception everywhere we go. My present Tracfone was purchased off Ebay. It was an LG Ultimate 2 with a phone card for a year of service/1500 minutes, 1500 texts/ 1500 MB data for $129.00. I’m coming up on a year and have not had to purchase any additional minutes or data; I use mostly WIFI. My wife uses a bit more data than me and has purchased extra data minutes. I originally thought I’d just buy another deal like this at the end of the year, but I don’t find these packages now.
    Tracfone’s drawback used to be a limited selection of phones, but that has changed. Now you can even BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone). You can keep your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy 7 if you like them.
    My LG works great as a phone, but has an awful camera and now has a cracked screen. I’m looking for a refurbished Galaxy 5 or 6 that I can use with Tracfone. One year of service w/1200 minutes/1200 texts/1200 MB of data costs $99 on the Tracfone site and I’d be carrying over minutes from my present phone. Works out to about $8.25/month if your usage is low like mine.

  • Cinnamon Cents January 5, 2019, 12:35 pm

    I realize this is an old post, but having just recently started following MMM, I am catching up on all the content. I read your reviews and various posts on wireless service plans and after careful consideration, and much internal debate, finally ditched AT&T after nearly two decades. I made the switch to Republic Wireless, and my bill dropped by more than $75/month. I love it! I’m very grateful for the reviews and info. I couldn’t be happier with my decision.


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