Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Republic Wireless Review

The Phone


Active Display

I really like this feature.  It can be argued it's a gimmick (I'm not sure it saves that much battery life), but it is nice to quickly see why my pocket is vibrating with just a touch.


The screen size is a great balance between easy viewing and comfortable holding during calls.  Could have been a touch larger in my opinion, but not a huge complaint.  It's larger than it feels in your hand since they have such a small bezel.  The curve on the also adds to the comfortable fit in your hand.

Touchless Control

I don't use this a ton, but it is nice in the car.  The only thing I don't like is that I can't control everything by voice.  For example, I can talk to send a text, but have to tap confirm.  And non-Google apps don't work (other than being launched).

Quick Camera Access

Twist your wrist, and your camera pops up.  Even if the phone is asleep.  Very convenient.

 Other Notes

The speaker has a reasonable volume and sounds decent.  I never expected to be blown away by the built-in speaker, and I wasn't.

What's Missing?

No expandable storage, but we've come to expect that from Google (remember that Google bought Freescale from Motorola).  It's not the absolute fastest phone out there, or the largest screen, or the best camera (so I've been told -- looks fine to me), but I haven't really had any problems with it.  Could be a tad cheaper given it's benchmark performance, but still not bending you over either.  This phone, like most others has the speaker on the back of the phone which doesn't project the sound the best since you will never be facing the phone away from you.  But if you cup your hand behind the phone, you can bounce the sound back to the front.  Oh, and the phones are not unlocked (though I don't know of any carrier which offers that).

Battery Life

It's not the longest out there, but 24 hours on standby is conservative in my experience.  After 24 hours, I still usually have about 38% left.  The phone does get a little warm with continuous use (e.g. an hour of web browsing).

The Service


My evaluation is based on the 3G service in Columbus mostly, and some in the Houston area.  Sprint is the poorest performing network out there.  Everyone knows that.  It's the slowest, and doesn't have the best coverage, but it is cheap, and they make their towers available to lots of little carriers like Republic. I've not had any issues with it for streaming, navigation, email, or texting.  There are some parts of Columbus (like the south side) that have dismal performance.  But even in the fairly good areas (like Dublin), it's not very speedy for things like Youtube and web browsing.  But its better than running from WiFi to WiFi, which is what me and my Nexus 7 were doing before the Moto X.  Surprisingly, I was able to do a video chat with the folks back in Texas for Thanksgiving in Swanton (although it did get dropped a couple times).  I recommend checking Sprint's results on before purchasing.


I mostly love this.  It offers full signal strength in my apartment, which is great for those that live in buildings a bit far from a tower.  How many times have you heard the complaint of a cell phone working everywhere but home?  Only downside is if your Internet isn't quite up to speed.  My parents' Internet struggles to keep up with the load of my siblings' devices and the TVs streaming (they use Aero to stream even regular air TV).  So I opted to disable my WiFi most of the time to avoid terrible call quality.  It does transfer off WiFi in these instances, but it's 10 unintelligible seconds later.  Downside here is there is no way to opt out of WiFi calling without turning off WiFi altogether at least as far as I could tell.  At my apartment though, quality is flawless.  As is WiFi to cell handover (I don't even notice it happen).  One interesting things about the handover is that when on a cell call and moving into WiFi, it doesn't hand the call back to WiFi.  This might be on purpose since they might assume if you're on cell that you're on the move and might move back out of WiFi signal.

The Customer Service

I've heard some people get really rapid responses (like within minutes), but I've been a bit disappointed by my experience.  I had issues with MMS messages displaying (either a picture preview or a group text message) in the default messaging app, and I couldn't reply to a group MMS message in Hangouts.  The way their support works is online only (to save money).  They replied 3 days later with a clearly generic copy/pasted response asking for more information.  I provided that the same day, and haven't heard back from them yet (it's been 3 weeks).  I might contact them again, but I've heard other people say they've had MMS issues with their carrier as well, so maybe there's nothing to be done.


If you are an avid smartphone user already, you might be too spoiled for the Republic option and better served by something like Straight Talk.  But if you are looking for a cheap way into the smartphone game or are looking for a a phone to do calls that doubles as a WiFi Internet device, $10 or $25 a month cannot be beat.  If that sounds like you, use my referral link and save us both $20 each:  If you have any questions, leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer.

Edit 1: After shaming them on their Facebook Wall, I got a response to my issue. They're currently investigating. They also claim this only affects 0.22% of customers.  I don't know of that's true, but that's what their known issues page says.

Edit 2: I think they started working on this after the holidays.  My issue was updated 1/11 saying they made some changes and to try again.  Everything is working now. :)

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