Republic Wireless Moto X review: Top consumer smartphone and low cost service are a killer combo

Republic Wireless Moto X review: Top consumer smartphone and low cost service are a killer combo

Summary: The Moto X is my current favorite smartphone. At $299 with service plans starting at just $5 per month, Republic Wireless has a compelling offer for consumers.

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Republic Wireless Moto X review: $299 smartphone and low cost service are a killer combo

Back in January I took a look at Republic Wireless and the Motorola Defy XT as a viable low-cost wireless provider.

Republic Wireless listened to customer feedback and now offers one of the best smartphones available today, the Moto X, with service options ranging from $5 per month to $40 per month.

I've been using the Moto X on Republic Wireless for the last couple of weeks and am impressed with the device, performance over WiFi, and service plan options.

Wireless service

Republic Wireless is a Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) that works on the Sprint wireless network. However, Republic Wireless focuses on providing service via WiFi through their Hybrid Calling technology that lets you use WiFi for calls, texting, and data. When WiFi is not available, then they jump on the Sprint network, including Sprint's new LTE network.

Through more extensive testing and development since they launched the Defy XT in January, their WiFi call quality has improved and I was able to experience that on the Moto X. The service does a good job of handing off calls from WiFi to cellular and I didn't even notice it happening until I received a "reward badge" after hanging up the call and seeing it had transferred during my call.

With many people having poor cellular coverage at home and the office where they usually have strong WiFi networks and more public hotspots showing up all the time, it makes sense to have a service that focuses on WiFi for calls, texts, and data. They are working to make the public WiFi hotspot better for customers and stated it is a priority for their service.

RepublicMotoX2

Given customer feedback and data showing that WiFi is being used more, Republic Wireless offers a $5 per month plan for WiFi only service. Combining this $5 per month plan with a Moto X that is available for just $299 is an amazing offer. With the WiFi only plan you will not be able to use any cellular coverage at all, so there are definitely some limitations for service coverage. The great thing is that you can easily and simply switch your plan up to twice per billing cycle.

Remember that Republic Wireless is a prepaid, no-contract service so a billing cycle is 30 days. If you make a change, then you will either be credited or charged for the prorated difference. They really make it convenient for the customer to have complete control over their wireless service plan.

You can choose from one of four plans from Republic Wireless. The WiFi-only plan costs just $5 per month. WiFi and unlimited cellular talk and text (data only on WiFi) is available for $10 per month. Unlimited talk, text, and data on WiFi and Sprint's 3G cellular is $25 per month and bumping up to Sprint's new LTE service is $40 per month.

LTE is rolling out across the US and I was able to experience pretty solid coverage in the Seattle area. When you drop to 3G on Sprint speeds drop significantly and it is probably best to avoid using 3G, if possible.

Hardware

I have written several recent articles about the Moto X hardware since I bought a custom Moto Maker one to use on T-Mobile. Most current Moto X devices already have Android 4.4 KitKat as well. The Moto X on Republic Wireless launches with Android 4.2.2 because the OS has been adapted to support WiFi calling and texting. They will likely have an Android 4.4 update eventually, but that OS was just revealed earlier this month so it takes some time to modify and get it working for their service.

The Moto X for Republic Wireless is available for just $299 in either black or white with 16GB of internal storage. Moto Maker custom Moto X units are not available at this time. You cannot bring other unlocked Moto X devices to Republic Wireless because of the custom WiFi connection capability. You also qualify for 50GB of free Google Drive storage.

The Moto X hardware is the same as all the other Moto X devices, including the 4.7 inch AMOLED display, X8 Mobile Computing System based on a 1.7 GHz dual-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 10 megapixel camera, and more.

Nothing beats the feel of a Moto X in the hand and it truly is an incredible smartphone. This is not the kind of hardware you typically find with a no-contract prepaid service and can't be beat.

Software

Much of the attraction of the Moto X is the custom Moto software that includes Active Notifications, Touchless Control, Motorola Assist, and Motorola Connect. It is very convenient to just state "OK Google Now" and have the Google Now service start up even when your display is turned off. Active Notifications let you quickly see your notifications on the lock screen so you can triage notifications without even turning on your device. Motorola Assist manages your driving, meeting, and sleeping activities. Motorola Connect lets you text from your PC via the Google Chrome extension and have these messages synced to your Moto X.

The Android OS installed on the Moto X is nearly a pure Google form of Android with the few Motorola customizations listed above. The only carrier influence you will visibly see is the Republic Wireless Dashboard that shows you your phone number, current plan status, current connection status, and links to change service plan options.

The initial camera software had a few issues, but thankfully Motorola moved their camera app into the Google Play Store so you can update the software for an improved camera experience. The Android 4.4 KitKat update includes a bit more functionality that hopefully will come to the Republic Wireless Moto X in the future.

Many of the excellent Google services are installed out-of-the box. These include Google Drive, Chrome, Gmail, Hangouts, Google Maps, Google Play Movies & TV, Play Music, Quickoffice, and YouTube.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Google, Reviews, Smartphones

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69 comments
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  • If only

    they didn't use Sprint. Sprint's coverage is even worse than tmobile's most the places I am. I have wifi at home and work, but they have too many dead spots in between for me. I don't understand why Tmo doesn't offer this also. When I was on tmo I had the wifi calling option.
    2low_tech
    • Same concern, but Sprint is getting better with LTE rollout

      I had the same concern as you, but was also pleasantly surprised to find LTE is available now in more places than when I last tested out Sprint service. I wonder if they had a partnership with Verizon or AT&T if the cost would be significantly higher.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • Actually, I think there is a Verizon arrangement

        My Moto X is in shipment, so grain of salt applies. But my reading is that RW has arranged for free roaming on the Verizon network. Between the two, I expect about as good coverage as one could hope for.

        The wifi calling was the clincher for me...I regularly spend significant amounts of time in places with poor cellular signal but good wifi.
        mbramel
        • mbramel any update

          mbramel, i'd really appreciate an update if you've been using the moto x on republic wireless. where are you located?

          i am in chicago and have been using us cellular and just got booted off of their network. us cellular sold their entire chicago clientele to sprint and for the last three days i've been on a roaming 1x service and it's killing me.

          big thanks!
          dedle
          • dedle, Republic Wireless works very well (in St. Louis)

            It should work well in Chicago as well, but you say that Sprint is not working for you? Maybe it's your phone. I will say that Sprint's service on a Republic Moto X works much better than the same network through Virgin Mobile in my area. 4G LTE just came online here recently, and while not as fast as t-mobile or Verizon, it is plenty good enough for me. Remember, Republic Wireless wifi calling is very handy when indoors. Also, they do allow roaming (to Verizon mainly), but only 100 mb of data roaming is allowed before throttling. You can't beat their prices, and you get 30 days to try out the service and get your money back (for phone AND service) if you don't like it. I see some referral links posted (saves $19), so here's mine:

            http://referrals.republicwireless.com/a/clk/27Qk9g
            StLhippie
          • republic wireless coupon

            They switched their code system, so that link doesn't work anymore. Use this one instead for $20 off:

            http://rwshar.es/O19o
            sallyrufkin
          • why use these weird links?

            Just copy/paste this link, $20 off every time, my sister used it last week.
            http://republicswireless.com/promo
            sallyrufkin
      • Coupon

        $19 off Coupon / Promo Code for Republic Wireless. Click here: http://referrals.republicwireless.com/a/clk/1spXf4
        Daniel Rufty
        • This one didn't work for me

          Try this one instead... for some reason the credit didn't show up when I tried checking out using the above link.

          I found this online on one of those coupon deal sites.

          http://referrals.republicwireless.com/a/clk/1wlgRc
          FreedomForever1
    • T-Mobile coverage

      I've toured the US many times and Y Mobile's coverage has always been superb...In fact as a group we'd compare ATT/T-Mobile/Verizon and Cricket...only cricket was dodgy..
      philaxis
    • Other options instead of Sprint

      Republic hasn't cornered the market on value. You could always get a Nexus 5 at the Google Play store and get a SIM from 35orless LIVE Plan- great rate that gets better every month
      2-connected MG
    • Coupon

      $19 off Coupon / Promo Code for Republic Wireless. Click here: http://referrals.republicwireless.com/a/clk/1spXf4
      Daniel Rufty
    • Sprint Is Actually Pretty Good

      Sprint also uses Verizon to help cover when you are roaming, so service is much better than it appears on the Sprint map online!

      Make sure to sign up with the following link (my friend shared with me) to get $19 off your first month. It worked for me! If it doesn't go through, contact Republic Wireless support and they will quickly credit your account with the $19.

      Also, if you've already signed up, contact them and give them the referral link you originally used (like mine below) and it should credit your account.

      http://referrals.republicwireless.com/a/clk/1wlgRc

      I highly recommend Republic Wireless. When I'm out of the house, the 3G data plan has worked flawless for me. Just check you Sprint Coverage map to make sure you'll be okay. If you really can't go a day without watching streaming video in the middle of the forest, Republic Wireless on the Moto X will work great for you. Otherwise, feel free to pony up the cash to Verizon and AT&T so you can stream video and download torrents in the middle of nowhere.

      I've been pleasantly surprised with how well this phone (the Moto X) and Republic Wireless has worked. I haven't dropped any calls, missed any texts, and the handover from WiFi to Cell is seemless. I highly recommend Republic Wireless to my family, friends, and my coworkers.

      Make sure to sign up with the following link to get $19 off your first month. I know some people who signed up without going through this, and they missed out on the offer.

      http://referrals.republicwireless.com/a/clk/1wlgRc
      FreedomForever1
    • Coverage is just fine.

      I switched to Republic Wireless a few months back from Verizon. They were killing me with the monthly charges. Around $120 a month. Verizon does have the best 4G coverage. I won’t deny that. I got the Republic plan for $25 a month. Unlimited calls, text and data with 3G. I dont have the 4G on my plan. It takes a few seconds longer for the internet to load compared to Verizon. But for $100 a month savings its well worth it. If you get the 4G with Republic remember you might not have use of it except in large cities. Im completely happy with the plan I have. I have no dropped calls. The switch from wifi to Sprint 3G is seamless. Those commercials for Verizon that show the map show the 4G map coverage only and 3G is pretty much everywhere so their ads are really misleading. It works great. Get the Moto X phone and not the Defy (it sucks). The Moto X rocks. Yes, you will have to pay $299 for the phone upfront but it pays for itself in a few months. Do the math and figure out your yearly cost compared with your current plan. Even if you have to pay an early termination fee it will save you money over the next year or two. I have a link that you can use to save $19 for the first month. Yes, it helps me with my bill too when you do. I won’t lie. For Christmas bonus my boss decided to let most of us go and I am unemployed. If you don’t like Republic, there is no contract. Just switch back. It is a great company.

      Here is the link. Cut and paste if it needed. Thanks!!

      http://referrals.republicwireless.com/a/clk/1ymPvN
      SteveC11010
  • Republic wireless

    We have been using the defy phone for the month and we are not having issues with call area. We drove nearly to Jacksboro, TX, then down to Mineral Wells and only had one area where we didn't get 3G calling. Most every other phone company like t-mobile, Metro doesn't have this good of reception. We are looking into buying at least one of the MotoX phones on the 3rd and if it works out, I will be getting another one.
    compgenie@...
  • Does the custom ROM prevent VOIP apps?

    If you cancel service, can the phone still be used with GrooveIP or its ilk?

    For that matter, are you permitted (by EULA or other licensing) to flash it with a custom ROM? Presumably, if you cancel service you won't have access to the Republic Wireless ROM updates ...
    daboochmeister
    • No, you can't use the phone anywhere else

      It would be nice if you could take the phone to Sprint or another Sprint MVNO, but Republic says you can't (I assume the lock the ESN). Not sure about the ability to put a custom ROM on it, but if you did then you couldn't use it with Republic's service. The $300 price is a pretty steep discount considering there's no real recoup fee in the plan prices, so that's a justification for locking you to the network, IMO.

      My wife received this phone on Republic last week and is loving it. Great device. Sprint's voice service is just fine, really. It's their data that's terribly slow.
      mrjeffreed
      • Sure, Sprint May Not Be The Best For Data Everywhere, However...

        But do you really need to spend $50+ a month so you can have super fast data everywhere? There is free WiFi almost everywhere these days (malls, restaurants, sports centers, work, home, etc.) that is faster than 3G and 4G data most of the times. You only really need basically data functionality on the road to use your phone as a GPS or when you have to look something up online. Otherwise, I think people are needlessly paying for data plans they don't really use on the big 4 cell carriers.

        I highly recommend Republic Wireless. When I'm out of the house, the 3G data plan has worked flawless for me. Just check you Sprint Coverage map to make sure you'll be okay. If you really can't go a day without watching streaming video in the middle of the forest, Republic Wireless on the Moto X will work great for you. Otherwise, feel free to pony up the cash to Verizon and AT&T so you can stream video and download torrents in the middle of nowhere.

        I've been pleasantly surprised with how well this phone (the Moto X) and Republic Wireless has worked. I haven't dropped any calls, missed any texts, and the handover from WiFi to Cell is seemless. I highly recommend Republic Wireless to my family, friends, and my coworkers.

        Make sure to sign up with the following link to get $19 off your first month. I know some people who signed up without going through this, and they missed out on the offer.

        http://referrals.republicwireless.com/a/clk/1wlgRc
        FreedomForever1
    • GrooveIP and others that use Google Voice are soon to be dead

      Google is killing all 3rd party VOIP apps that use its service. They claim that others using their service is a security problem, and is preventing them from offering VOIP voice only calling in their own apps. They already offer voice only in the iOS app - but not Android! Apparently they are not going to be offering this on Android until Spring '14.

      Personally I have never gotten any GV voip app to work well enough. SparePhone, GrooveIP, others, always too much delay or choppy despite attempts to tweak and clear them up. Probably Google will get it right with their own app. I use Yuilop right now and it's wonky too.

      I had to choose about a year ago between Republic and Ting, went with Ting, and we have two phones on Ting. Ting was actually cheaper and had a much better choice of phones, and you could bring most Sprint phones over to Ting. HOWEVER I am stuck much of the time calling on Wifi with these sucky VOIP apps. I have a feeling Republic's wifi calling is far far better than how I can do it on Ting. Now that they have an awesome phone, if I were to do it today I would probably go with Republic. HOWEVER their plans are not as good as Ting's, which I find work very well in a much smoother 'pay as you use it' manner, and are very inexpensive.

      In short, if Google Voice VOIP gets sorted out as I hope it will, we will stick with Ting for a while yet, as we already have the phones and they still have a much better range of phones while Republic still has only 2 and 1 of those is awful.
      ArtInvent
      • Been using the Obi for Google Voice

        Frankly, I'm going to miss it. I like free, but I like the full integration of the Web, landline, and cell with one number. Wrote about the EOL for GV XMPP support at
        http://paulmisner.com/wp/?p=310
        paul@...