Monday, October 20, 2014

The Republic Wireless phone


    I am seriously considering Republic Wireless (RW) for phone service and being a future owner of a new Moto E phone.  As smartphones go, $99(+$10 shipping and $10 first month) for the Moto E is an excellent price, but nevertheless we are on a fixed income and I to have to save and consider the purchase carefully.

   If you're fortunate enough to be referred by someone before Oct. 31 you can get $20 off towards your first bill/s.  I will not be able to purchase by that time and do not have a friend to refer me, so I will have to prepare to pay the extra $20 for my first months to get started. Perhaps RW will have another referral offer soon that I will be more able to take advantage of. EDIT: I have been active on the forum and was pointed to a current referral link but alas it is only useful on for the monthly service it will not help me to get the initial cost down, so I must keep saving and I will miss out on the current referral program.  Who knows how the next program will work, perhaps it will let me use the referral credit towards the initial purchase.  I should be able to get a new referral from a forum member.

   Republic Wireless is a Wi-Fi phone with unlimited non-roaming minutes and up to 5GB free non-roaming data monthly (fine print) on the sprint network when no Wi-Fi is available. When I am home or any other open Wi-Fi location the phone will default to use that rather than the Sprint network thus keeping costs down for RW and then they are able to offer service at a much lower rate than most all other cell service providers.  As a benefit to Wi-Fi users, Wi-Fi can be audibly clearer than using cell towers.  There are a couple other new smaller Wi-Fi phone companies, but from my research Republic Wireless seems the best established with the best price plans.

   The Sprint network that RW uses looks to be adequate (map) for most cities and along I-5.  However Sprint service is lacking along Hwy 101 along our coastline.  There service along the west coast is essentially limited to actual city limit areas and open wifi locations.  This is a good reason to keep our clamshell phone for verizons widespread reliable service.

   Kathy and I currently use a clamshell on a verizon $15 monthly pay-as-go plan with rollover minutes for our mobile needs.  Kathy will keep this phone for its Verizon reliability and for important communications as its minutes are expensive and limited.  We only get 90 minutes a month on it, but any unused do rollover and they do add up.  We use the phone some but make sure we keep some in reserve for emergency use.

   We would also keep our home landline for reliable local calls and our message machine so not all calls are coming to us while we are busy out and about.  We do not have it connected to make long distance calls as they are expensive on a landline.  We have even talked between ourselves about giving up the landline but are not quite ready to give up the security of having it yet.

    We currently use Google Voice and Hangouts with our Nexus 7 and PC for Wi-Fi calls particularly for our long distance calls.  I will forward my Google calls to my Moto E so I do not have to change numbers,  1. In case RW does not work out for me,  2. To keep my existing number that my friends already know,  3. To keep Google Voice and Hangouts features that I currently enjoy,  4. And to keep access to my messages and calling abilities on my multiple devices.  We currently use our Google numbers for unlimited free long distance. It would be highly convenient for me to have access to my Google number on a real phone that we can more easily carry with us.
Moto E by Motorola
   RW uses the Moto X, G and E for their service.  The Moto E would be my phone.  It is an entry level phone by Motorola with good bang for the buck features.  It is not a phone for gamers or multi-tasking but it will make calls, give access to Google Play apps, let me check gmail, use Hangouts messaging, and be useful for meetings.  I like that it has a front facing speaker*, a slot for a 32Gig Micro SD card that I already have to add to its base 4 Gig space.  It is has a dual core CPU which I feel should be fine for a phone.  It does not have flash for its rear camera but I own a real camera to take pictures with.  It also does not have a front facing webcam for selfies and video chats that I personally would never use enough to warrant anyway.

  * (As a side note about speakers: It really does seem silly to me to have the speakers on the back of phones and tablets. Since necessity states that you have to have small speakers on portable devices why not face it forward to the listener rather than share what little sound their is with everyone else. Stereo speakers on such a small device seems a bit pointless. Good for Motorola on this one.)

   The Moto E comes with Android 4.4.4 (Kit Kat) and Motorola has stated that their phones will be upgraded to Android 5 (Lollipop).  At that point it is hoped that RW will update their custom Wi-Fi phone software quickly and pass on the upgrade to its customers.  Android 5.0 is a major upgrade that I would really like to have access to.  Motorola is excellent at being quick to keep their phones upgraded, however from what I read from the forums, RW takes quite some time to pass on their upgrades on to their customers.  This has worried me and caused me some reservations about how long I would have to wait for Lollipop if I got the phone.  Even while the phone is still using Android 4.4.4 (Kit Kat), it is still an excellent OS and I am still considering it, but I will really be watching the forums and the Republic wireless blog hoping to see the 5.0 (Lollipop) update announced.  I am sure RW is aware that having their phones upgraded to the current OS would better attract customers and will be working on passing it on as fast as they can.  It is being discussed by users in the RW forum here: Android 5.0 L on Moto X, G and E confirmed, although this is not an official statement that RW is getting it yet. 

  Republic Wireless has $5, $10, $25 and $40 plans available. I would choose the $10 Monthly plan for free wifi calling when I am around it and unlimited access to CDMA cell phone service for the times I am not.  Of course it also includes unlimited data over Wi-Fi.  I could also opt to temporarily upgrade to the $25 plan for months I need constant CDMA web data access (up to 5 GB) and drop back to the $10 plan when I do not, with no penalty from RW (up to twice a month).  I feel RW would be  a good fit for me because I am usually home or where there is Wi-Fi.

   So why am I considering RW?  Well lets take a look at some sample unlimited talk with data prices of the competition:

    Admittedly network coverage is another factor to consider, for that, Verizon would be the clear winner.  But alas with such little data so as to be useless, except for the smallest of data sippers.  The trade off to get a usable amount of data, and cost down to my needed levels, will be a loss of coverage.