2 years ago, I was hesitant to upgrade to a smart phone because I thought it was too expensive. I liked my cheap old flip phone. I just used it to call and text, what else did I need? I also didn’t want to pay $60+ per month just for the privilege of checking email on the go. Fortunately, I heard about Republic Wireless and their $19 unlimited data plan (discontinued) so I gave them a shot. Now I’m attached to my phone and there is no way I could go back to a regular old cell phone.
I started out with the Defy XT from Republic Wireless and then upgraded to the Moto X. The Moto X was a huge step up and I still love it. It looks great, performs very well, and I haven’t had any problems with it. Mrs. RB40 is using the old Defy XT, but it’s getting really long in the tooth. I knew Republic Wireless was planning to release the 2nd generation Moto E soon so we held off upgrading. The new Moto E (pictured) is now available for purchase and they also rolled out an updated plan. If you have the Defy XT, don’t worry. Your old plan is grandfathered in.
First, let me tell you about how Republic Wireless works. To join Republic Wireless, you need to purchase the customized android phone directly from them. Republic Wireless’ phones are customized to use WiFi first for calling (VOIP), texting, and data usage. If you are not on a WiFi network, then the phone will fall back to Sprint’s cellular network. The phones can switch quickly between WiFi to cellular depending on availability. So if you’re talking and then step out of WiFi range, the call will switch to the cellular network with minimal glitches. Unfortunately, you can’t use the phone with any other network because it’s customized.
Republic Wireless can keep the price low because they default to WiFi. This way, they minimize cellular network usage and pass the savings on to you. I live in an urban area and there are many WiFi hotspots in our area so it’s the perfect situation. I spend the majority of my time at home, the library, around PSU, Target, the community center, and various coffee shops. All of these locations have free WiFi, so I’m the ideal Republic Wireless user. The only time I really need to use the cellular net work is when I’m driving and need some direction. Of course, you will have some heavy users when you offer an unlimited data plan. That’s probably the reason why they are rolling out the new plans.
Republic Wireless New Plans
Republic Wireless’ new plans look a bit confusing at first. With the old plan, you just paid a flat monthly fee. This new plan is a more like pay as you go. You pay based on the amount of cellular data you actually use. They will refund any excess data purchased as a credit on your account at the end of each month. Here are the new plans.
- $5 WiFi only – Unlimited call and text through WiFi. No access to cellular network.
- $10 base plan – Unlimited call and text through WiFi and cellular network. Data on WiFi only.
- $17.50 – Unlimited call and text through WiFi and cellular network. Unlimited data on WiFi. 0.5GB data on Sprint’s 4G network.
- $25 – Unlimited call and text through WiFi and cellular network. Unlimited data on WiFi. 1GB data on Sprint’s 4G network.
- $40 – Unlimited call and text through WiFi and cellular network. Unlimited data on WiFi. 2GB data on Sprint’s 4G network.
- $55 – Unlimited call and text through WiFi and cellular network. Unlimited data on WiFi. 3GB data on Sprint’s 4G network.
Basically, you pay $10 per month for the base plan and then $15/month for each GB of cellular data usage. You can just get the $10 base plan and buy data as needed. At the end of the month, they will refund you any data that you didn’t use. During the trial period, participants average about $15 per month. If you have readily available access to WiFi networks, then Republic Wireless will probably work well for you. It works great for me because we have numerous WiFi hotspots where we live. We went to visit Mrs. RB40’s dad in June and Republic Wireless didn’t work well in that location. He doesn’t have WiFi and the Sprint coverage is spotty. If I lived there, then I probably wouldn’t choose Republic Wireless.
Moto E review
Now, on to the new phone, the 2nd generation Moto E. I have been using the Moto X for over a year now and I’m very happy with it. Motolora sent me a Moto E to review so I had a chance to compare the affordable phone to the high end phone.
Here are the available phones from Republic Wireless.
- The 1st gen Moto G – $99 ( I haven’t used this one so I can’t comment on it.)
- The 2nd gen Moto E – $129
- The 2nd gen Moto X – $299
Form factor – The Moto E looks and feels similar to the Moto X. The power button and the volume buttons are at the same place. There is a headphone plug at the top and a USB plug at the bottom of the phone. Motorola is sticking with the same curved body design which I like. The Moto E feels great to hold and the case is made out of nice grippy plastic. The smooth edges from previous models have been replaced by ridges which help you hold on to the phone. That’s probably the only complaint I have about the Moto X. It’s a bit slippery. I dropped it a couple of times, but it’s still working well. The Moto E looks and feels solid. It doesn’t look cheap at all, so that’s an added bonus.
Screen – The 4.5 inches screen is acceptable. It’s much nicer than the Defy XT, but the Moto X’s screen blew it away. Of course, the Moto X cost more than twice as much as the Moto E. The resolution is 540 x 960 pixels (qHD.) I guess qHD means not quite HD… It’s a tad less sharp than the 1080p display on the Moto X, but it will do. I don’t read much on the phone anyway. If you do a lot of reading on your smart phone, you probably should get a 1080p screen or get a small tablet.
Cameras – The main camera has 5 megapixels and there is a 0.3 megapixel front facing camera. The pictures from the main camera look fine for sharing online. The front camera takes really pixilated pictures so your selfies are going to be a bit pixilated. At least you can video chat. The Moto E also has the double twist gesture to quickly bring up the camera. This shortcut is useful so I’m glad the Moto E has this feature.
Performance – The Moto X is definitely snappier than the Moto E. Games take a few seconds longer to load and everything is just a tad slower on the Moto E. I can listen to the podcast and play a game on my Moto X, but the Moto E can’t do that. It seems like the Moto E can’t multitask. Again, the Moto X costs a lot more than the Moto E.
Battery life – Battery life is one thing the Moto E does better than the Moto X. I can go the whole day with the Moto E without plugging it in. That’s pretty nice. Anecdotally, the Moto E lasts quite a bit longer than the Moto X and various test sites confirmed that for me.
You can see a bit more detail on the phones here; click to see a bigger picture.
Republic Wireless is great for some users
All in all, I’m a big fan of Republic Wireless. They offer an affordable alternative to the mainstream carriers for frugal minded users like me. Republic Wireless has come a long way since they started in 2013. They worked out a lot of the glitches and the service is very stable now. The phones are much nicer and you have more choices. The data plan is still a great deal if you can get on WiFi for most of your data usage. Mrs. RB40 tried out the Moto E and she likes it a lot, too. It is much much nicer than the older Defy XT she is currently using. I’ll let her be the judge of when to upgrade.
You can check out the plans and details at Republic Wireless.
PS. My father in law is paying $60 per month just for talk and text! He doesn’t even text… We’ll have to find a cheaper plan for him soon.
Image credit: Motorola