Republic Wireless review: Everything you need to know about a low cost cell phone & plan
A lot has changed since Republic Wireless rolled out its innovative concept of low-cost cell phone service using WiFi back in 2011.
Nobody else was really thinking about using WiFi as a primary way to make calls and text the way Republic did.
“Many in the industry laughed at the notion that a new carrier could succeed with a WiFi first strategy,” Republic Wireless co-founder David Morken said earlier this month.
Fast forward to today, the North Carolina-based company owns 45+ patents for key WiFi calling breakthroughs like Adaptive Coverage™. “We see a market where every major carrier plus a host of new entrants are now attempting to deliver WiFi calling to their customers as well,” Morken said.
Republic Wireless’s model of creating low-cost calling is a much emulated technique in the wireless industry.
Republic started their venture with $5 per month plans for unlimited WiFi calling and texting without any cell service.
The plans cost a little more these days.
Starting at $15 per month, it’s still one of the best deals around. Considering how larger carriers like Verizon and AT&T package many of their plans, you can save hundreds of dollars a year pretty quickly using a Republic Wireless phone. The best part about their plans is that there’s no contract. So if you have a compatible smartphone, you can just buy a $5 SIM card and start using Republic as your carrier.
WiFi technology and the processing speed of smartphones have dramatically improved since then.
5 FACTS ABOUT REPUBLIC WIRELESS
- Plans start at $15 per month
- Combines WiFi and cell networks for low-cost calls and texts
- Has 45 plus patents to combine WiFi and cellular networks
- Google Pixel compatible
- Can bring your own device
What network does Wireless Republic use?
The short answer is: mostly T-Mobile.
But let me explain to you how Republic Wireless works. Your phone will use a WiFi signal whenever possible, whether you’re home or hanging out at Starbucks.
That’s the Adaptive Coverage technology that Morken just mentioned. It automatically senses when an Internet signal isn’t available.
You can see from Republic’s coverage area map that these phones are ideal for people living in and around metropolitan areas or large cities.
Using a patented algorithm, your smartphone switches between WiFi and cell networks. To reinforce your signal strength, Republic Wireless phones can also “bond” or draw from both your cell and WiFi network simultaneously to improve overall voice quality.
The company recently said in a blog post about bringing CDMA cell coverage to compatible 3.0 phones.
What’s the best smartphone for a Republic Wireless plan?
That’s another neat thing about Republic Wireless that ensures the quality of calls. They operate only with smartphones. And not all of them are pricey.
It’s no secret that technology in smartphones have only gotten better since Republic Wireless began experimenting with combining WiFi and cellular service.
I’m a fan of the LG Nexus 5X. It’s a slick phone for a lower price point compared to an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S7. The Nexus 5X has a 5.2 inch touchscreen with 1080p resolution. The display is made with Corning Gorilla Glass 3, which you’ll be thankful for the first time it accidentally slips out of your hand. Inside, there’s a 1.8GHz processor, 2GB RAM and a 2700mAh battery.
The camera is 12.3 MP and a infrared laser-assisted focus. Sure, that’s not the highest megapixel on the market, but the photos are high quality. My Nikon DSLR that I bought in 2009 is also 12MP. And people always remark about the quality photos my camera takes.
Huawei Ascend 5W specs
Huawei began an aggressive push this year to stake their claim in the U.S. market of premium smartphones. The China-based telecommunications giant is squarely aiming at happy iPhone and Samsung smartphone owners. Their latest bid reaches toward the middle tier market with the Ascend 5W.
Ascend 5W has a 5.5” HD LCD screen just half an inch smaller than the Mate 7. There’s a fingerprint reader. Android 6.0 Marshmallow operates on both phones. They also share in common a 13 MP rear-facing camera, and a 5 MP front-facing camera. The camera in the Ascend 5W is made by Sony.
The processor is not the same. Ascend 5W has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 chipset and 1.5GHz Octa Core processor. Its WiFi is 802.11b/g/n 2.4Ghz. So there’s no 5Ghz capability. There’s a MicroSD slot and 16GB of internal memory and a premium metal design.
The price for a Ascend 5W is also much lower than the Mate 7, and worth checking out if you’re considering going with Republic as your phone carrier.
What phones work on Republic Wireless?
New customers have two choices: bring your own phone, or buy one from Republic. There are currently 16 smartphones that qualify under the “bring your own device” option. Republic is currently selling about a dozen of them. You will need a smartphone that
What are the plans at Republic Wireless?
Personally, I prefer the $20 per month plan. That gives you unlimited talk, text and WiFi data and 1GB of cell data in case you need it. It’s rare when I’m streaming without WiFi around my house or elsewhere, so this is more than enough for me. Here’s all six phone plans at Republic Wireless. All plans operate on T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network.
$15 per month, unlimited talk and text on T-Mobile and WiFi
$20 per month, unlimited talk and text on T-Mobile and WiFi with 1GB cell data
$30 per month, unlimited talk and text on T-Mobile and WiFi with 2GB cell data
$45 per month, unlimited talk and text on T-Mobile and WiFi with 4GB cell data
$60 per month, unlimited talk and text on T-Mobile and WiFi with 6GB cell data
$90 per month, unlimited talk and text on T-Mobile and WiFi with 10GB cell data
How much money can I save with Republic Wireless?
Bringing your own phone (if you can) is a no brainer in terms of saving money. But let’s assume you are starting from scratch. You’re coming from a large carrier like Verizon or AT&T and got sick of paying $90 per month or more for your phone plan. The best smartphone you can buy is an unlocked one. Or rather, one you can take with you if you decide not to stay with a carrier. A lot of people don’t understand that when they buy, say, an iPhone from Verizon, that phone will only work on a Verizon network. An unlocked iPhone can pretty much go anywhere in the cell phone universe.
If you want to see if you’re cell phone is currently locked, you can check out a FAQ by the Federal Communications Commission.
Republic Wireless vs Cricket, Verizon, AT&T
Cricket Wireless offers a great service for low cost phones. I have used Cricket and their service delivers crisp phone calls and texting all over the U.S. That’s because its cellular network operates on AT&T’s network. Cricket is owned by AT&T and it’s not a WiFi first service like Republic. But it’s comparable because it uses a LTE Network for calls. Plans at Cricket start at $30 per month for 1GB of data. After your data is used up, you won’t get hit with a data fee, but your speed with be throttled. Having your speed throttled is a much better scenario than getting hit with data overages. If you’ve ever used too much data as a Verizon or AT&T customer, you know what I’m talking about.
Are there any Republic Wireless promotions?
Yes, in fact, Republic Wireless is celebrating. Just a few days ago, the company announced it received a $30 million capital investment — enough funding to become an independent company. That’s pretty good news for consumers.
Because that investment will fund product development, and help make its WiFi first style of calling and texting even better.
But there’s something even better for customers that’s happening right now. Republic is discounting smartphones this month between $50 and $125. You can also get a free Gear Fit2 when you buy a Samsung Galaxy S7.
The discounted phones include the Moto X Pure Edition, Samsung Galaxy S7 and Nexus 5x by LG.