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 activated on other carriers.
- Moto X - Motorola's flagship phone has a non-swappable battery and lacks a MicroSD card slot for expanding storage. Total storage available to users is about 11 GB.
- 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, so this phone will never get active call handoff from Wi-Fi to cell, nor fully support MMS (texting pictures). A workaround for receiving MMS messages has been promised but not yet delivered.
- Upcoming phones - Republic has announced the Moto G phone will be launched on on April 17, priced at $149 (8GB) and $179 (16GB), a nice savings for those who don't need the high-end features of the $299 Moto X. Another phone is expected to follow the Moto G later in the year, and cost even less.
- Monthly Service Plans - New monthly plans and pricing for the Moto X and upcoming phones give buyers more choice, but plans with mobile data amount to a price-hike over the unlimited-everything $19 plan for the Defy XT.
- Phone upgrades - A number of older Motorola phones with Android 2.3, including the Defy XT, are eligible for a $100 trade-in rebate when purchasing a Moto X. Members who wish to keep their Defy XT for use with Republic might be able to find qualifying phones for sale elsewhere at less than the trade-in value.
- Wi-Fi Calling - .The signature feature of Republic's service is still being improved and debugged. When it doesn't work properly, finding the solution may require technical skill and patience. The Republic Community forum can often help, but for some, upgrading or replacing home Wi-Fi equipment may be the easiest solution. At a school or business, you may need help from whoever manages the network for that establishment.
- Cell Service - The cell network used by Republic is the same used by Sprint's customers, which 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. The Defy XT requires non-roaming Sprint service for activation. Some roaming users have reported problems receiving calls and 2G data speeds.
- Messaging - Texting to 5 or 6 digit "short code" numbers is not yet possible, and 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. 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).
- Voicemail - The voicemail service lacks features found in most other carriers' voicemail systems, and has sporadic unplanned outages that may extend to 30 minutes or more. Rather than put up with these issues some have chosen to use a third party voicemail service (Google Voice). Some long-overdue voicemail improvements are still expected this year, including notifications and transcriptions .
- Technical Support - There are no company stores or local service centers, no call center, and Republic discourages members from using employees' direct business numbers to request assistance. Help requests may be initiated via the company's website , as well as via E-mail, Twitter, or snail mail. Help Request responses are sent via E-mail and can also be seen by checking the request status at the website (in some cases Republic does contact members on the phone after a request is opened). Republic's support center operates daily from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. eastern time. 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.
- Customer Service - The same contact methods as Technical Support apply. After a rocky start with many billing and refund problems, Republic's payment and refund system has improved considerably, but some still report that duplicate pending authorizations to debit cards are causing problems for their accounts.
- Website - The primary online venues for help and support, i.e. the online community forums and the My Account Portal, do not work well with some phone browsers.
- 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 or limits. Republic also does some things better than expected - for that list, please see The Complete List of Kudos.
Last updated: 21:51, April 12, 2014 (UTC)