My evaluation of Republic Wireless is complete, and I have happily decided to keep the service. While not everything from Republic Wireless exceeded my HTC Incredible + Verizon, it is hard to argue with the combination of a good phone (not great ... but I'm not a power user when it comes to smartphones) and unlimited data, calls and text for only $19 per month + tax.
In my prior post, I mentionned I would be testing my new Republic Wireless service in northern Minnesota over the weekend. My cabin is "off the grid", and I was curious how Republic + Sprint compared to Verizon. Here is that report, but make certain you see my prior posts in this review series (Initial Post | Post #2 | Post #3). While Republic is challenged by my trips into the wilderness, when I was in more civilized area ... their service was a clear hands-down winner. My northern Minnesota analysis:
- Verizon: While my cabin near Marcell, Minnesota is off the grid ... a walk down to the lakeshore and out on to the dock meant a call was possible. Sprint (Republic) has zero coverage in the north country. Thus, Verizon definitely wins out on the coverage map. Consider this fact depending upon where you live. However, an early morning trip to the local bait shop which has free wireless allows me to make crystal clear phone calls. Those of you who have never purchased leeches, the morning paper, and your morning Diet Coke while using a wilderness "hot spot" have not lived! (Frontier Sports)
- My other test was "off the grid" cyling. I like to take long distance bicycle rides. With my Verizon phone I use Google Maps, and download maps for use when I do not have a cell connection. The GPS chip still works in conjunction with a pre-downloaded map. Although my Republic Wireless Motorola Defy XT has the same capability as my Verizon HTC Incredible, the Mototola phone had a much more difficult time getting a location lock. For most people this would not be a problem, but I live to play in the northwoods! See my post on cycling off the grid to learn more. I am working on improving the GPS lock, but a review of the Republic Wireless end user forum indicates I am not alone in terms of addressing this issue. For the moment, I am trying the free Android app, GPS Status and Toolbox. However, at the end of the day, it is hard to overcome hardware GPS limitations.
Thus my test is complete. Republic Wireless uses a combination of VOIP when I'm at home on wifi and Sprint when I am away from a known wifi network. My call quality has been good and my monthly bill for unlimited calls and data has dropped from $70 to $24 (tax included for each).
I would remiss in not reporting that on occasion the people I phone report hearing an echo. In my case, I have turned down the "in call audio". This seems to have helped.
- This is post #4 in the series
- Prior posts in this series: Initial Post | Post #2 | Post #3
- Series Update / Appendix: Battery Life
Here are three final screenshots of my Republic / Motorola Defy XT phone. Click to maximize.
My Defy XT Home Screen
Republic Wireless Wifi Setup Screen #1
Republic Wireless Wifi Setup Screen #2
Do you drop calls when you move into and out of networks? For example, when you leave a Wi-fi zone and it switches to a cell call, can it do this while you are in mid-conversation or does it drop call prior to switching over?
Rich responds (aka the NorthStar Nerd): Having a call drop when you leave your home wireless will be an issue. However, as 90% of the time when I am leaving home I am also driving a car. I do not drive and talk on my cell phone.
Posted by: MB | September 27, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Great review! May I ask how your battery life was over the course of this test, and now?
Rich (aka the Northstar Nerd) responds: Great question! I've added a post on battery life.
Posted by: Andrew | September 20, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Rich, the timing for Republic Wireless posts was great. We are looking for new phones with email and voice so this looks like the right choice for the money. So I think we will go for it soon - although I will miss my google number. Are things still good with the service?
A tech person I know had this to say:
Have not heard of it till now. I just read all the press on their site and it looks like a valid tech. There is no reason that it shouldn't work. Voice over ip is nothing new. There are many applications and services out there that do it. It looks like this is a first attempt to build it directly into a phone. Seems to be a good idea. But with anything new, there are always bugs and such. If you are up for spending 300 on their custom phone just to get in on beta testing, go for it. Most beta tests I have been involved with provide the hardware for you to beta test with. I have never seen or been involved with one that you have to buy the hardware as part of a beta test.
Rich (aka the NorthStarNerd) responds: Agree with all your comments. Just a few notes on my part:
1. Although the Republic Phone costs $265, if one makes this commitment up front, if the difference between one's Republic and Verizon/AT&T/etc monthly bill is $50, one recovers the cost of the phone very quickly ... with no contract.
2. I still use Google Voice. It's a great service for scanning and filtering calls.
Posted by: Kathie | September 16, 2012 at 01:03 PM