A few months ago, I read the post Mr. Money Mustache wrote about the $19 unlimited Republic Wireless smartphone plan he signed up for. I was intrigued, but put that thought on the back burner. Then, a month ago, I knew I needed to find a new cell phone plan as the one I was on was tied to my employer. So, I started looking around at my options.
I remembered back to MMM’s post and jumped on his site to look for it. I found the post about Republic Wireless, which has the $19 per month unlimited plan. As I kept reading, I learned that this company uses one phone only, the Motorola Defy XT. The reasons for the low price seemed to be these:
- Low Overhead – Republic Wireless seems to have set up a self service type of customer service. They have an online portal and community where you find answers to your questions, instead of calling up an operator and using up their time. You can also manage your account from that website, all on your own.
- Hybrid Technology – It seems that this Motorola Defy XT smart phone uses WiFi to make and receive calls and send text messages when connected to it, which is different from most smart phones that use only cellular signal to do those things. Having the ability to offload calls and text messages, and obviously data (which other phones call do as well) can lower the amount of data a customer uses by a large factor, therefore the low price.
What about the Republic Wireless Network?
It seems Republic Wireless uses the Sprint Network to send and receive calls, send and receive text messages and surf the internet. That has a good ring to it, right? I mean, if it used it’s own rinky dink network, we’d all probably think twice about going with them. But, since they use Sprint, a company we have heard of, I think we all think things are good.
What about the Motorola Defy XT phone?
The good news is that it’s a smart phone. With this Motorola Defy XT, you’re able to do many of the same things you can do with other smart phones such as:
- Surf the web
- Install mobile apps
- Use WiFi
- Make and receive calls
- Send and receive text messages
- Play games
- Take pictures and record videos
And the size of it is good, if you like compact phones. When placed next to my iPhone, it was almost exactly the same size. This phone uses the Android operating system, but according to reviews I read online, it’s an older version of it. Online reviewers of this phone also said that it was an outdated phone with outdated hardware.
Republic Wireless and the Motorola Defy XT
For the past two years, I’ve used the iPhone 4S. I was on a company plan so it was a perk of my job that I had a phone like this. I always knew smart phone plans were expensive and probably wouldn’t have had a smart phone that early if it weren’t for it being on a company plan. Let’s just say that I liked the iPhone. It was fast, cool looking, had access to the Apple app store and just all around an awesome phone. So, I was coming from that perspective when I decided to take a chance on Republic Wireless at the recommendation of Mr. Money Mustache.
In getting started, I used MMM’s referral link and signed up for Republic Wireless. Here’s how the process worked:
- I went to this post on MMM’s site and used his referral link (which both gave him a free month and gave me a free month).
- I signed up for a Republic Wireless account, which meant purchasing the $200 Motorola Defy XT (They also give you an option of paying less for it in return for a higher monthly bill).
- I waited a couple days for the phone to get here (it didn’t take long at all).
- I unboxed the phone, charged it and activated it, which all was done self service, using the Republic Wireless portal website.
- I ported my old cell phone number over to it, again using Republic Wireless’s website. This process took a couple days to go into effect.
The whole setup process took about a week from the moment I signed up for this to the moment my phone number transferred over to it and I was completely up and running. I now was a Republic Wireless customer with the Motorola Defy XT smart phone on a $19 per month unlimited plan with unlimited calling, texts and data. What a deal, right? “If this works,” I thought, “I’m going to recommend it on my blog, promote my own affiliate link and get a bunch of free months of cell phone service. Life is good!”
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
But, then I started missing a couple phone calls. My friend called one day and asked, “Did you get a new phone?” “Why”, I asked, as I hadn’t said anything to him about it. “Well, I tried calling you earlier and couldn’t get through. It just seemed weird.” “Hmm,” I thought. Over the next few days, there were a few other calls that I never received as well.
My first weekend with Republic Wireless and the new Motorola Defy XT smartphone, I traveled out of town for a getaway. The trip was down to Iowa, to a lake resort town. All seemed to work fine at first, but then I noticed a few things:
- My phone battery seemed to drain really fast and by mid-late afternoon every day, my battery was dead.
- I didn’t have enough space on this phone, including taking full use of the included SD card, to install the 20 or so apps that I was accustomed to using on my iPhone.
- Things were running quite slow as it would take several seconds to switch between apps and even pull up text messages.
All in all, I didn’t have any problem with the Republic Wireless service or their online portal site. I personally think their strategy is solid. Offering unlimited talk, text and data is just awesome in this day and age, when all the others are nickel and diming us to death, and it is a cause I can get behind. I even had service in most areas, so their use of the Sprint network seemed to work fine for me, although I missed those few calls. My major problem with my switch to Republic Wireless was the Motorola Defy XT, which….. is just a crappy phone, to be honest. But remember, I’m comparing it to an iPhone 4S, which, isn’t even in the same league, in my opinion.
Did I Stay with Republic Wireless?
I didn’t. On my last day of work, when I walked in to my boss’s office and set my iPhone on the table, he told me, “You can keep the phone if you want”. I couldn’t resist that offer, so I kept it. There I was with this iPhone, which I loved, that was now out of service. My main phone was this Motorola Defy XT, which frustrated the heck out of me. It’s not that it’s a terrible phone, because it isn’t. For those of you who are used to a “dumbphone” or one that’s old and slow, this phone may be an upgrade.
But for those who are used to something like an iPhone 4, 4S or 5, this is a move that will cause you physical pain. Again, I really love what Republic Wireless is doing here with their strategy of unlimited everything, a really low price of $19/month and even the no contract thing. Gosh, those are all AWESOME! But this phone that they’re using, I just couldn’t do it. So, I took advantage of their 30 day guarantee, sent the phone back and transferred my number back to my iPhone.
I’m now on a prepaid plan with AT&T, which is more expensive, but I do still have the option to switch to something else in the future without being locked in to a contract. We’ll see what I decide to do in the future. For now, all I can say is, I love my iPhone. I know, I know, you wouldn’t expect that to come from my mouth. But, I’m hooked on this thing. Wow, I’m starting to sound like a spoiled brat, aren’t I?
Try It If Your Phone Expectations Are Low
If you’re looking for a cheap cell phone plan, I do encourage you to check out Republic Wireless. But, beware that their current phone is kind of a pile, compared to the awesome gadgets out there. According to MMM though, they will be replacing it soon with something better. At that point, maybe I’ll try it again. Republic Wireless, if you are reading this, send me an email when you come out with a better phone and I’ll give you a try again. I really do believe in what you’re trying to do and think it’s awesome!
If you choose to sign up with Republic Wireless, please consider doing it through this link
Category: Living Cheap