Last August I told you that I signed up to get a smartphone through Republic Wireless, a new company with a different business model for providing cell services. I received my new phone in December and I thought it was high time to write a review!
Go back to our previous post for more detail, but briefly: Republic Wireless utilizes available wireless internet to cut cell expenses for its customers. Customers are required to register at least one wireless network (I registered the networks at my university and in our home). Calls and data go over wireless whenever possible and through the Sprint cell network otherwise. The base cost is $19/month for unlimited talk/text/data – with taxes, we are paying $22.18/month.
Thus far I have experienced all the perks and only some of the expected downsides of using this service. The chief perk, of course, is the low cost – and that I upgraded from a dumbphone to a smartphone. Also there is no contract for this phone; Kyle hates getting into utility contracts so this was a big plus for him.
The trade-offs for that low price have been:
1) No choice over the hardware. Republic Wireless only works with one phone model (an android), and it’s not the flashiest thing on the planet. Kyle estimates that the phone I got at the end of 2012 had about the same specs as the one he purchased that was top-of-the-line in spring 2010. But I don’t really care about whatever I might be missing out on – the phone makes calls and accesses the internet fine and that’s basically all I use it for. I paid about $250 up front for the phone.
2) Sprint. In our area, Sprint coverage is actually better than AT&T (my previous carrier), which I’ve enjoyed. It’s not as good as Verizon, though, and I’ve noticed a few times while driving that Kyle’s Verizon phone is able to pull up directions faster than my Sprint phone. Overall this hasn’t been an issue any more than what I’ve experienced with other carriers in the past. I’ve used the phone with no discernable coverage issues in Durham, the DC area, and the LA area.
The potential downsides we thought might exist but that haven’t materialized are the dropped calls when transitioning from wireless to cell coverage, poor customer service, and texting over data. We have had no problems with the phone and haven’t had any reason to contact customer service – which IMO is the best way to do it!
The verdict is that this was definitely a frugal choice, not a cheap choice, and one I would make again. It’s a great option for people who:
- spend a good chunk of their days with wireless internet coverage
- don’t need the latest and greatest phone
- have decent Sprint coverage in their areas
And did I mention we are paying $22.18/month for unlimited everything?! It’s a GREAT value!
Have you taken a gamble on a new company and did it work out? Are you using an “alternative” cell service? Would you consider using Republic Wireless when your current contract is up?