I’ve had my Republic Wireless phone for a little over a year and I thought it might be helpful if I gave you an update. I’ve used their $10 smartphone plan for almost all of the past year.
| The price
The phone – features and battery
Unlimited talk and text
|You must buy their phone
The occasional dropped call
Republic Wireless Review Summary
Republic Wireless service has the best smartphone plan you can get for your money. They have plans ranging from the $5 WIFI only plan all the way up to 3 GB of data for $53 a month and beyond.
To give you a better idea of how the Republic Wireless service works, I put together this review for you.
How does Republic Wireless work?
Republic uses a unique technology built into their phones that allows them to offload phone calls and data to WIFI whenever you’re connected to a WIFI network. This saves them bandwidth and they pass on that savings to their customers in the form of lower monthly phone bills.
- The cost. You really can’t do better than $10 a month ($12.93 with tax for me). It’s hands down the absolute cheapest smart phone plan you’ll find.
- The phones. I love my Republic phone. I love having tons of apps, I have a love/hate relationship with email and it’s so handy to be able to access calendar, email, and all my lists right from the device in my pocket. I have absolutely no complaints about the phone.
- Friendly customer service. I’ve only had to contact Republic twice, but each time they were friendly and helpful (more on service below).
- WIFI calling. This is so awesome, people! I was able to use my phone when I visited my sister in the UK just by connecting to her WIFI network. Try to do that with a typical cell phone! My phone works perfectly at home over WIFI even though the cell reception isn’t great in our neighborhood. Having this functionality built in to the phone is so convenient.
- Call handover. If you’re on a call over WIFI and you’re too far from your router to get a good signal, you can tap a button to handover the call in progress to the cell network. You don’t even have to call back! Since our house is so large, I use it frequently.
- Data refunds. My plan doesn’t have data, but if you do get the data and you don’t use your entire quota, Republic will credit you for the unused data! It’s like the old rollover minutes on steroids.
- No contracts or hidden fees. I hate being locked into a service. Not a problem here.
- No overage fees. If you reach your data limit, they’ll email you. If you then go over your monthly limit, they give you a grace period. If you go over the next month, they’ll throttle your data speeds once you reach your limit. You don’t have to worry that you’ll be charged overage fees.
- You can’t use an iPhone. I realize this is a deal breaker for a lot of people. I’m not going to lecture on how it’s a bad idea to spend a thousand plus dollars a year just so you can have an iPhone, but at least realize that this is happening if you can’t live without it. To use a Republic plan, you’ll have to buy one of Republic’s phones for between $129 and $399.
- Occasional dropped calls. About once a week, I have a problem with a call made over WIFI. I may have to hang up and try again. I’m not sure if it’s my WIFI network or the phone. To be fair, this isn’t unique to Republic and could happen with any phone.
- Switching plans has to be done from the phone itself. This is a picky thing since I’ve only ever switched plans twice, but I don’t like having to do this from the phone. I’d much rather logon to the Republic site via my PC (where my password is conveniently auto-filled for me). Oh well – I just have to look up the password if I ever want to make this kind of a change.
- Activation can be tricky. The Republic phones have a built-in activation process which is usually seamless but Murphy’s law can and does strike. Friends of mine had a hard time activating their new phones. Once they got in touch with customer service, they were able to get set up and now everything works fine.
Before you get a Republic phone…
Consider getting a phone with at 16 or 32 GB storage. My 8GB phone quickly maxed out on storage and I have a hard time downloading large podcasts for offline listening.
Definitely check the coverage map. Republic doesn’t have 4G service in my area so I couldn’t use their 4G plan if I wanted (well, I could, but I would only get 3G service at home).
Realize that customer service support is via email and live chat. If you absolutely must talk to a person, you may be frustrated at having to use email or chat. Given that, I’ve only ever had to contact Republic twice (once during activation of a phone I bought for my mother). This policy isn’t unusual, but it’s nice to be aware of before you buy your phone.
An overview of their smartphone plans
$5 WIFI only plan – great for – home use, extra phone
$10 base plan – great for teens or anyone wanting an ultra-cheap phone and willing to access all data via WIFI
Add a data package – If you want data with your phone, you pay only for what you end up using. Data costs $15 per GB per month and any unused data is prorated to the MB and refunded at the end of the month. So, for example, if you use 2GB of data, you’d pay $10 + $30 = $40 + taxes.
Republic says their average customer pays $13.79 a month.