Republic Wireless, a newcomer on the mobile phone landscape, declared their "Beta" period over late last year with the introduction of the Moto X phone. Despite that, a number of "beta" issues remain, including service glitches and incomplete or missing features that are commonly provided by other carriers. This article is intended to help you determine, before you commit funds and time or leave your current provider, whether you will be happy with the service.
As a new Republic customer, you should test the phone and service extensively prior to transferring a phone number from another carrier and cancelling that carrier's service. Visit places where you will need cell service. Use Wi-Fi whenever possible, especially for voice calls. Make use of all the features you rely on having with your present phone.
Here are the other major caveats to consider:
- Trial Period and Refunds - New phone buyers have a trial period, allowing the phone to be returned for a refund within that time. The trial period is 30 days for phones purchased from Republic, and 14 days for phones purchased through Moto Maker. Republic pays return shipping but deducts the original shipping amount ($10) from the refund. Buyers must pay return shipping when sending phones back to Motorola. Republic's refund may be further reduced per this list of damage charges.
- Unique Phones - Only phones originally manufactured for Republic Wireless may be used on the service, and Republic's phones cannot be unlocked or activated on other carriers.
- Moto X (first edition) - Motorola's flagship phone for 2013 has a non-swappable battery and lacks a MicroSD card slot for expanding storage. Total storage available to users on the 16GB model is 12.2GB. Moto Maker no longer offers the 32GB or 64GB phones, and the last day of sales for the first edition Moto X via Moto Maker is September 22, 2014 (Republic will continue direct sales of 16 GB models for some time after that).
- Moto G (first edition) - Like the Moto X, this mid-level phone also has a fixed battery and lacks a MicroSD card slot for internal storage expansion. Total storage available to users in the 16 GB model is 13.2 GB, and the 8 GB model, 5.2 GB.
- Moto E - The long-anticipated low-end phone debuts in October 2014 and comes with a fixed battery and 4 GB of internal memory, of which only about 2 GB is available for certain user data and app storage. Those with an addiction to apps will need to keep tabs on their free internal memory and move apps to external (MicroSD) storage whenever possible.
- Motorola Defy XT - The most-sold phone during Republic's beta has sold out, but in case you might buy a used one to activate, you should know the following. It is an entry level Android 2.3 smartphone that will not be upgraded to Android 4.x. Battery life is acceptable on Wi-Fi, but when cell signal strength is weak or 3G data is used, the battery fades quickly. Internal storage for apps is minimal, requiring power users to perform several workarounds to have enough space for more than a few downloaded apps. Rooting the phone can help with app space and battery life issues, but is not recommended, since there is no means of recovery from root-enabled mistakes that stop the phone from booting. Republic has confirmed there will be no more major "OTA" updates, meaning this phone will never get active call handoff from Wi-Fi to cell, nor support texting pictures (MMS), nor send "short code" texts. A workaround for receiving picture texts was promised , but has not been mentioned as an active project during 2014 up to the present date. This phone can only be activated in areas of non-roaming Sprint service.
- Upcoming phones - Nothing concrete is known about the availability of the second edition Moto X and Moto G, but hints from Republic personnel suggest that work on those phones is in progress.
- Monthly Service Plans - New monthly plans and pricing for the Moto X and Moto G give buyers more choice, but plans with mobile data amount to a price-hike over the unlimited-everything $19 plan that remains available only for the Defy XT. Tethering (using the phone's mobile data to provide Internet access to other devices) is not permitted on any plan nor available as an option.
- Voice calling - Republic's technology that automatically uses either Wi-Fi or cell service for calls is still being improved and debugged. When it doesn't work properly, finding the solution can require technical skill and patience. Sometimes upgrading or replacing home Wi-Fi equipment is the easiest solution. At a school or business, Wi-Fi calls may not work without help from those who manage the network. Technology challenges are currently blamed for the inability to add pauses or waits into a phone number, and for Wi-Fi calls' lack of privacy (no encryption for VoIP traffic). Republic phones are not considered mobile phones by other carriers who might allow free minutes for mobile-to-mobile calls.
- Cell Service (non-roaming areas) - Republic's cell service is provided by Sprint, whose quality is generally ranked at or near the bottom among major players in JD Power's 2014 Wireless Network Quality Performance Study While adequate for most, your location may or may not have good signal strength. Zoom in on this map to check Sprint's estimated coverage in your area.
- Cell Service (roaming areas) - Roaming users may experience missed incoming calls, lost texts, and slow data speeds or no data service. New limits on roaming data , including a 25 MB usage cap, were imposed in September 2014. Republic's General Manager has stated plans to allow the separate purchase of roaming data and no longer include roaming data in monthly plans . The roaming data restrictions do not affect voice calls or texting (SMS/MMS), which continue to be unlimited regardless of roaming status. Some roaming users have reported complete loss of service that went unsolved for several months.
- Messaging - Texting to 5 or 6 digit "short code" numbers is in beta (Moto X and Moto G only), with Republic stating they can reach about 40% of the short code market. Republic's phones may not receive texts from online services unless an unsupported workaround is used. Texting is limited to the Unicode character set , which excludes languages such as Chinese. The use of emoji characters is not supported. Picture messaging and group texts (MMS) require use of the built-in Messaging app and lack support for some carriers. Finally, there is no e-mail to text gateway, so texting to a computer via E-mail isn't possible (receiving is possible via the aforementioned workaround).
- International Calling and Cell Service - Republic's phones may make voice calls using Wi-Fi anywhere in the world, but outbound calls are limited to the 50 states and Canada regardless of location. Cell service is not available outside of the 50 states, not even as an option. These restrictions mean that U.S. territories such as Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands cannot be called and offer no cell service.
- Voicemail - The voicemail service lacks features and the administrative support provided by most other carriers. For example, customers who haven't established a voicemail password cannot listen to voicemail when their phone is lost or damaged. Due to these issues, some are using a third party voicemail service (Google Voice). Voicemail improvements promised in 2013, including notifications and transcriptions , have apparently been de-priortized, receiving no mention in the latest update blog
- Customer Support - There are no company stores or local service centers and no phone numbers to call for live assistance. Support requests may be initiated via the company's website, as well as via E-mail, Twitter, or snail mail. Support via online chat is currently available during business hours. Responses to support tickets are sent via E-mail and can also be seen by checking request status at the website. For issues that don't need Republic's direct involvement, members may post in the online Community forums and receive answers from other Republic members (all volunteers). The forums are overseen and lightly moderated by a few Republic personnel.
- Website - The Republic community has a mobile version designed for phone browsers, but that interface lacks functionality compared to the desktop experience. Phone browsers other than Chrome don't work very well with the community in desktop mode. The My Account and Support portals do not have a mobile version.
- But wait - there's more! - Please see Current Open or Unsolved Issues and Feature Requests.
Despite all this, it's important to note that most members continue using Republic's service due to the low cost and freedom from extra charges. Republic also does some things better than expected - for that list, please see The Complete List of Kudos.
Last updated: 18:45, September 17, 2014 (UTC)