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The Complete List of Caveats

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Republic Wireless, a newcomer on the mobile phone landscape, declared their "Beta" period over in late 2013 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 - Phones sold directly by Republic have a 30-day trial period, allowing the phone to be returned for a refund within that time.  Republic pays return shipping but deducts the original shipping amount from the refund.  Republic's refund may be further reduced per this list of damage charges.  Phones sold directly by Motorola have a 14-day trial period for which the customer pays the return shipping.
  • 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 E (second gen) - Republic's newest and lowest-priced phone includes 8 GB of internal memory, of which about 5 GB is available to users.  Additional storage can be added with a MicroSD memory card.  There's no flash for the rear camera, and the battery is non-swappable.
  • Moto X (second gen) - The latest Moto X phone is available in black with 16 GB storage directly from Republic.  Other colors and the 32GB model can be purchased from Motorola's MotoMaker.  Like the first gen, this Moto X also has a fixed battery and cannot accept a MicroSD memory card for storage expansion.  The 16GB model has 10GB available to users. Unlike the first gen but like some other "Sprint Spark" capable phones, 4G data is disabled during voice calls.
  • Moto G (first gen, no longer offered) - 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 8 GB model is 5.2 GB, and the 16 GB model provides 13.2 GB of usable storage.
  • Moto X (first gen, no longer offered) - 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 E (first gen, no longer offered) - The least expensive phone in Republic's lineup has 4GB of internal memory, a fixed battery, and no front camera. The rear camera lacks an LED flash and adjustable focus, making extreme close-ups impossible.  With only about 2 GB of internal memory available, an add-on MicroSD memory card is recommended and additional measures  may be needed to have sufficient space for apps.
  • Motorola Defy XT (no longer offered) - Republic's beta phone does not support texting pictures (MMS) and will never get active call handoff from Wi-Fi to cell.  Newer apps may not be available for the Android 2.3 operating system of this phone.  Battery life is acceptable on Wi-Fi, but when the cell signal is weak or 3G data is used, the battery fades quickly.  Internal app space is minimal, requiring power users to perform several workarounds to have enough space for more than a few downloaded apps. This phone can only use the $19/month unlimited plan, and activation must be done in an area with non-roaming Sprint coverage.
  • Android Guest Mode - Republic's phones with Android Lollipop 5.1 have the guest mode feature disabled, due to incompatibilies with Republic's modifications.
  • Monthly Service Plans - The Republic Refund plans  (a.k.a. Republic 2.0)  provide limited amounts of either 3G or 4G data at a fixed price per GB, and at the end of the billing month issue a refund for unused data before charging for the next month's allotment of data.  Compared to the classic unlimited plans that began in November 2013, this new pricing model favors those who used less than 1 GB on the 3G plan or less than 2 GB on the 4G plan.  New customers who may use high amounts of data and can't move enough of their data traffic to WI-Fi would do well to compare total monthly cost with other providers.  Those who were customers prior to July 6 2015 can continue with the unlimited plans (throttled at 5 GB) until July 31, 2016.  Tethering (using the phone's 3G/4G data for Internet service on other devices) is supposed to become available with the Republic Refund plans, but has not yet been enabled, and will require Android 5.1 (Lollipop) which is not yet available for all phones.   While the Wi-Fi only plan still exists in the 2.0 universe, users may not change to it instantly as they could under Republic 1.0 - the change is delayed until the next billing cycle.
  • 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 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's phone numbers cannot receive collect calls, and are not considered mobile numbers by other carriers who allow free mobile-to-mobile minutes.
  • Cell Service (non-roaming areas) - Republic's cell service is provided by Sprint, whose quality is ranked at or near the bottom among major players in JD Power's 2015 U.S. 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 lack of data service in some areas. Under the Republic Refund plans, roaming data costs almost $275 per GB, which means roaming users who need more than slight amounts of cellular data will need some other data solution.  Voice calls and texts (SMS/MMS) continue to be unlimited when roaming.   Some roaming users have reported complete loss of service that went unsolved for several months.
  • Messaging - Republic does not operate an E-mail to text gateway, making it impossible to send texts to their phones by using an E-mail address.  For the same reason, Republic may not appear as a supported carrier for online services that send texts.  Picture messaging and group texts (MMS) lack support for some carriers and require use of the Messaging, Hangouts or Google Messenger apps.  Off-network texting is limited to the Unicode character set, which excludes languages such as Chinese. Texts to make a donation or purchase do not succeed.
  • 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 U.S. and Canada regardless of location.  Cell service is not available outside of the 50 states, not even as an option.
  • 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 any Product Recap since.
  • Phone numbers - Potential customers should check in advance to see if they can keep their existing number because Republic cannot transfer numbers from all areas.  Those wanting a new number may not be able to get one in their local calling area, and new numbers are rarely available in the entire state of Washington.  Phones on a cell service plan have an undocumented second phone number  that's used in the background, and that number may receive unwanted calls and texts for its prior owner.  911 call centers will see the second phone number when emergency calls use cell service..
  • Billing and Payments - It is not possible to temporarily suspend service on a phone line.   Monthly service is billed at the start of the month and may only be paid via automatic charge to a credit or debit card kept on file with the phone's account.  A single account may contain one payment card that is used to pay for all phones on that account.  If it becomes necessary to use a separate payment method for a phone that's on an account with others, moving that phone to a new account requires multiple number transfers and the temporary cancellation of the phone.
  • 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 weekdays between 9 AM and 9 PM Eastern.  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: 23:57, July 28, 2015 (UTC)

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