Republic Wireless Review - Part 2
(Read Part 1)
Read My Customer Review of Republic Wireless Mobile Phone Service
More on the Motorola DEFY XT Phone
Click here to go back to page 1 of my Republic Wireless Customer Review
Here are some more specific observations - I received my DEFY XT (Motorola XT557) in early August 2012. I find it to be a pretty good handset with a few minor annoyances.
- The phone arrived and was easy to setup. You just have to remember to setup a wiFi connection which is no big deal provided you don't mind typing in your wiFi access code on a phone keyboard.
- The phone has a bright display and is compact and comfortable to handle. Its fast processor makes it a very responsive device.
- The phone has some great apps preinstalled including: FM radio (requires you to use a wired headset as an antenna), Navigator, Pedometer, Internet Music Player. And of course as an Android app, there are thousands of other apps you can add on. The flip side of this is that the phone does come with maybe a few too many apps that take up a little memory on the phone (but you can delete most of them).
- I have been able to use republic wireless to make skype calls. I am excited about this because with unlimited data, I can finally not hesitate about initiating skype calls from anywhere (like say you were in the store and wanted to ask someone if you're buying the right thing, etc). My wife often skypes her sister while we're driving around.
- Even better than Skype, if you download the latest version of Google+ from the Google Play store, you can make Google Hangout video calls. Up to 8 people can join in a conference and participate, and an unlimited number of people can "watch"--all for free. This is a great experience--I strongly recommend it.
- I installed WAZE navigation software. I was impressed at how quickly the satellites were picked up and navigation began. The navigator that comes with the phone is also very good.
- Tech support is generally responsive on the community support forums. You will usually get alot of help from regulars there too. The best tech support is via posting to their forums, but you can also email them/twitter them for support. I am not sure if they actually have telephone support. Here is their official help page.
The "bad" really isn't too bad, but here are some issues that I would mention to people considering Republic Wireless:
- The biggest issue: The Sprint network is not the strongest mobile network
in the USA. This means that when you're away from your wiFi hotspot, you may
not have the best call quality or many bars in places where you might have
if you were connected with AT&T / Verizon. I've experienced a few poor quality issues--and that happened in places
where you wouldn't expect--on the DC Beltway, in Silver Spring, around Baltimore.
These were relatively rare occurances, but nevertheless...It is not the end of the world, especially if you consider the price you're paying for service.
On the other hand, call quality is generally very good when you are near your wiFi hot spot though--and in many cases this provides a great solution to poor reception where with other networks you'd be out of luck. For instance if you live in a "bad cell area" or if you work in the basement of a building that has wiFi, but you can't get any signal from cell towers there. You would be able to make perfect calls with the wiFi connection. Also, Sprint isn't standing still--they are constantly improving their network. You can lookup the progress
in your area here: https://network.sprint.com
- As mentioned earlier, the camera on the Motorola DEFY XT phone is just "okay". If you
are counting on using this phone for quality pictures, you'll
need to rethink. The camera doesn't do that well indoors, but outdoor pictures are usually good enough. The same can be said for the video capture.
- If you were thinking of calling international numbers, well, you can't. Well, not with Republic Wireless. One way around it is to use Google Voice and an App called GrooveIP which lets you make VOIP calls with Google Voice. This has been tested on a limited basis and seems to work "okay". You could also use Vonage's mobile app. In both cases, you will have to pay for credit (Google and Vonage) to make calls. If you actually have vonage at home, then you probably have access to the Vonage "extensions" app. It basically lets you put vonage on your cell phone so that you can dial out on your cell phone (essentially using a domestic access number) and enjoy the same rates/privleges as your main vonage number. So if you have a world dialing plan from Vonage, then you can call certain countries for free. I have tried this and it works well.
Also, if you were planning to text internationally, that's not going to work out either. You could try using pinger.com's android app for that though or WhatsApp. I have been mostly using WhatsApp, the downside is that your friends also need to be using it in order for them to receive messages.
- The DEFY XT from Republic Wireless is not sent out "rooted".
If you were thinking of hacking your Republic Wireless phone
and still plan to use it on Republic Wireless, I would advise
against it. You might have alot of trouble getting it back
on their network and they won't be happy with you (And they will rightfully
charge you to fix it). I know that for some people this will
be show stopper because there are certain programs (ie-backup
programs and screenshot programs) that you cannot run without
having root access.
- If you start a call on wiFi and then get out of range of your wifi hotspot the call will be dropped. This is a feature that they are working on. It can be a bummer, especially if you start a call at home and then get in your car and drive away your call will be disconnected. Since you know this is an issue--don't do that, and all will be well :-)
Republic Wireless Rules and Issues:
One of the only rules is that you must connect your phone to
at least one wiFi connection. This shouldn't be a problem for
most people and I don't think they enforce it heavily unless you use lots of data. I imagine if you just need a phone provider and
don't use that many minutes or that much data, you could probably
get away with never actually using a wirelss connection. Republic Wireless has released an Android App to help you stay connected via free wireless hotspots automatically--it is available on the Google Play store.
having an Android Smart Phone with unlimited data for less than $20/month is really a bargain these days, so this will be attractive even with this easy
to follow rule.
How much do your really save on Republic Wireless? Probably alot.
Their own savings calculator is linked from this page. Just remember you have to calculate the price of the $99 phone divided out month to month--so for instance if you kept the service for two years, you'd really be paying more like $28/month once you include that initial cash outlay--see below.
There is no multi-line discount or family plan available, so if you have to purchase multiple lines the cost might seem high when compared to a traditional wireless contract with a family plan. Just remember though that AT&T and Verizon do not include unlimited data plans and that they will nickel and dime you as much as possible--paying extra for a few months for going over your data limits will likely outweigh any perceived savings by adding lines to your AT&T or Verizon family plan. When you have a limited data plan, well, you are limited in many ways--when you get an unlimited plan, you will find that can do many more things with your phone.
As stated above, another issue is that there is no international calling right now. I am sure this restriction won't last, and you'd be able to circumvent this by adding Google Voice's app to your phone along with an App called GrooveIP, which allows you to use a seperate dialer to call out over Google Voice. This is what I use with my AT&T Android phone, and I get most of my calls to Europe for 2 cents/mintute. (Unfortunately, calling mobile phones is more expensive - if you have an iPhone you may want to consider Vonage's mobile calling app)
I will be using the service as a regular customer and writing
updates here. Meanwhile check out republicWireless.com for
more information. Republic Wireless is owned by Bandwidth.com.
Bandwidth has been around for a long time, and actually it
does have another mobile phone company already up and running-Phone
I have found getting help with support issues has been pretty good. There is a very active community of helpers in the Republic Wireless forums, so hopefully most questions and problems could be handled there. Note that the online forum also a way to get help from tech support as they do monitor the forums. You can also directly email technical support--although I am not sure it will be faster than asking the community. Responses from community members are quick, but you will sometimes get a forum response from an employee, and you can always email them directly for an assured response.
Accessories for the Motorola Defy XT phone:
Note that for the Moto X and Moto G phones many accessories are offered directly through the Republic Wireless store. See my recommendations on my revised review.
Also here are some other accessories:
- Otter Box Case
- Body Glove Case - Republic Wireless themselves recommended this one.
- Reiko Wirelss Accessories Silicon - The one I actually have. It is meant for the DEFY 320XT but I can confirm that it does fit the Republic Wireless Motorola Defy just fine. And it was pretty cheap, about $10 with shipping.
Car Chargers - There are lots of chargers on sale on ebay and amazon. If you previously had a phone with the mini charging adaptor, you'd probably be able to just keep using the same charger your had before. That's working fine for me.
The Wireless No-Contract Phone Math
Just how good of a deal is Republic Wireless? Well, it is a pretty good deal. Realize that since you must buy that phone up front for $99, you should include that in the cost of the phone. Lets assume you will be keeping that phone for two years...so:
Up front fee for phone/activation: $99.
So divide up that $99 for 24 months = $4.13/month
Now add the monthly service cost with Taxes: about $24/month
So you'll be paying about $28.13/month
To find out more about the other phone offered by Republic Wireless, check out my Republic Wireless Droid X Review.
Back to Part 1 of My Republic Wireless Mobile Phone Service Customer Review >>
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