This year marks the 10th anniversary of my dumb-phone-ness. And to celebrate, I am officially joining the 21st century with my recent purchase of the Moto X through Republic Wireless.
The cellular beginning
10 years ago, I was the last of my college roommates not to have a cell phone. I was okay with using email and making outbound calls from our land line. But that summer I worked in sales, and we were all required to have a cell phone. I had that phone for a few years until it stopped charging correctly.
Then around 2009, I got the beauty that I have now. This thing has been stepped on, thrown, bitten, dropped on the asphalt (dozens of times), dropped in a sink full of water (twice), and dropped in the toilet (I know what you’re thinking…yes). It’s battery lasts for several days at a time. I can talk, text, and play etch-a-sketch to my heart’s content.
Too cheap for a smart phone
I started my first big person job in 2007, and I remember my coworkers starting to get iPhones. They didn’t really hold much appeal for me at the time. I probably just didn’t even consider getting one because we were living very frugally at the time. But as the years progressed, more and more people (likely including you), transitioned to the smart phone way of life. I started to feel increasingly out of place but not self conscious enough to drop $300-$500 bucks on a new phone.
Republic phone number one
Fast forward almost 8 years, and we finally got one for Amanda for her birthday. It just made sense. She’s always on the go–homeschooling, taking the kids to their activities and appointments, managing her home violin studio, teaching at the college, etc. There are a lot of varying schedules and people for her to keep track of. Her phone has been a life saver for her, having her schedule, (archived) emails, and quick texting completely available while she’s out.
I, on the other hand, am in front of a computer all the time. I literally have my schedule and my email in front of my face all day. When we first moved to the area, I stopped by the local Verizon store to see if I could take advantage of a discount through my employer.
While I was there, the lady was trying to sell me on a smart phone by describing all of its amazing features. I told her that I could do any of those things at almost any time—that I was in front of my computer all day and that I had access to more computers when I came home.
Her response was classic. She thought she was so clever when she asked me “Well, what about your ride home? What are you going to do then?” Keep in mind I live in a small town, so I don’t know what this lady was smoking. Did she really think I couldn’t handle being disconnected to the internet for my 8 minute commute?
So for the next 3 years I continued to demonstrate how uncool I was when I whipped open my sliding qwerty keyboard to text Amanda that I’d pick up eggs or a child on the way home.
We all know how easy it is to waste time with any technology, but smart phones have also been incredible tools for efficiency and productivity. Sure, there have been a few times over the past few years when it would have been really convenient to have one, but overall I’ve been technologically content.
On my (free) trip just a few weeks ago, however, I finally felt inconvenienced enough that I decided it was time.
The benefits of a smart phone
Not that I need to tell you, but here’s what I finally realized I was missing out on.
Scheduling & networking
- I try to keep things as neat as possible. There was an app designed specifically for the conference on my trip which included the schedule and a social networking tool. I wans’t able to take advantage of any of that. I was the guy walking around flipping the pages of the hard copy schedule trying to look like I knew where I was going.
- I met a lot of new friends who I would have loved to take a picture with to post on twitter, but alas, I could not do so.
Cost & customer service
- I met the fine folks at Republic, and I liked them. They are still small and very customer and value focused.
- I needed a new camera. Phones have those these days. I’m no professional photographer, and the Moto X 13 megapixel camera is more than enough for me.
- I’ve definitely gone through different phases of exercise, and though I haven’t yet obtained the body I’ve always wanted, I still try to get a few good workouts in each week (see how ripped I am here). I usually have to carry some combination of laptop & speakers down to the basement in the mornings to accompany my workout, and it’s just awkward and inconvenient.
The financial lesson
I’m obviously a little late in the game to try to convince anyone to buy a smart phone, and it’s not my intent to do so. I do, however, think there are some deeper lessons that can be gleaned from my journey–financial lessons, of course.
You don’t have to do something just because everyone else does
Yep, just like your mom always said. I like to apply this to financial decisions. Every time I make a purchase, I ask myself why.
- Will it save time?
- Will it provide enjoyment or flexibility?
- Will it cause me to waste away my life?
- Is it within my budget?
We’ve all jumped onto one band wagon or another, and that’s fine. Just make sure you know why you’re jumping in before you do.
It’s on my to-do list to create a “is this purchase really worth it” flow chart, but until then, check out this food related one I used for my 30 day sugar fast. It’s the best decision flow chart I’ve ever seen, and you can easily substitute finances.
Being financially smart gives you flexibility to make investments when you are ready
- When I did finally feel the urge to get a smart phone, it wasn’t that painful to drop the $300 on it. Okay, it’s always a little painful for me to spend any money, but it was a lot less painful that it would have been 5 years ago.
- Making mostly smart financial choices has really given us peace of mind and freedom to invest in our health and some of our wants.
Republic Wireless Review – What you should know
Okay, so why did I sign up with Republic Wireless?
It’s $10 freakin bucks per month! What else is there to say?
How it works
The first thing that caught my attention with Republic Wireless was their absurdly low pricing. We’re talking plans between $5 and $40 per month. One of the reasons they are able to offer their services so cheaply is because of the innovative way they have integrated high speed internet with traditional cellular networks.
When I am at home or at work or any place in range of a Wifi broadband internet connection, my Republic Wireless phone takes advantage of that connection by routing all calls and messages through it. When I am beyond the range of any WiFi networks I’m connected to, my phone automatically switches to utilize regular cell towers.
They care about their customers
To be completely honest, when my wife signed up six months ago with the 1st generation Moto E for $99 at $10/month (so cheap!), she sometimes had higher than average dropped or delayed calls (this usually happens in the first 10 minutes between leaving the house wifi network and switching to cell-towers). The thing I really admire about Republic Wireless, though, is that they completely own their issues (couldn’t say the same about Straight Talk, her previous provider).
Republic was the first to admit that the technology of switching to and from WiFi networks was a work in progress. They are good about communicating issues they are aware of and the steps that they are taking to correct them.
I was frustrated with the problem Amanda was having, so I sent them a quick email describing the problem we were having. Check out their response to me (yes, I pretended to be Amanda. Like you haven’t done that):
Thank you for contacting us. I am sorry to hear your calls are being delayed. I fully understand how frustrating this may be when you are unable to make a call when you want to, then your phone does it 20 minutes later.
We are aware of a “delayed dialing” issue that has started affecting a few Republic Wireless members after the 4.4.4 update. Our Engineers have worked diligently to identify the cause of the delayed dialing, you have been experiencing and have reached a conclusion.
Here is a quick breakdown to describe what is happening on your phone:
Your smartphone is a small personal computer, where multiple processes and services run simultaneously. For the most part, your phone tries to handle all requests at one time; if it cannot, those processes are queued up and executed as soon as the ones that came before it have completed. Essentially, when you experience a delayed call, it is because the call is “queued” behind multiple other processes that must complete first.
We recently posted a detailed technical explanation of the issue in our community. In summary, we have a fix, but there are a few dominoes that need to fall before the fix is released. This is likely 3 to 4 months away, but could be longer if any of the events that need to take longer than expected.
Below you will find our suggested methods to help improve performance for most users:
- Increase the free storage space on your device. Android utilizes open space for various processing caches and performance can suffer when the device storage is full.
- Reduce the number of apps open and running on your device. Periodically close out of open apps that are running in the background to free up processing resources.
- Occasionally (more than once a week) restart your device. This clears processing queues and memory caches and helps the device operate at peak performance.
For more information about the app and device storage management, check out the managing apps document in our community.
If you have already read all of this in the community, thank you for opening a ticket to report your experience. Stay tuned to our community for updates as the dominoes fall into place.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any further questions or concerns, we are happy to help.
Have a wonderful night, Amanda!
I thought that was one of the best customer service responses I’ve ever received. There are a few good things going on here.
- Owning the problem from the start
- Explaining a high-level reason for the problem
- Providing a resolution timeline
- Giving suggestions to increase performance during the interim
And the amazing thing is that Republic is actually resolving these issues. I have noticed an increasingly seamless service, which only makes the value that much better.
After phasing out their stock of 1st generation Moto E phones that my wife has, they now offer the Moto E 2nd generation for $129 and the Moto X 2nd generation for $299.
Though the price of the Moto X is more than half the price of the Moto E, I surprisingly talked myself into it. One of the big reasons I decided to fight against my deeply rooted frugal inclinations was for the camera, which is probably the biggest difference between the two phones. The $170 difference was less than I would pay for a new camera (which we desperately needed), so I decided that alone was worth it.
I also like having more internal memory. The Moto X comes with a standard 16 GB, while the Moto E has 8GB. 8GB should be enough for a standard user, I just hate running up against the limit, so having the 16 is a nice bonus.
To those of you who are not ruled by your impulses to buy an iPhone 6s Plus (i.e. rational humans), I would probably recommend the Moto E. If you need the latest and greatest, your other option with Republic Wireless currently is the Moto X.
Here is a comparison of the two from the Republic Wireless website.
|Moto E||Moto X|
|3G + 4G LTE Data||3G + 4G LTE Data|
|8GB Internal Memory with removable storage options||16GB Internal Memory|
|Android™ Lollipop® 5.1||Android™ Lollipop® 5.1|
|5MP Tap-to-Focus Camera||13MP Tap-to-Focus Camera|
|4.5″ qHD Display||5.2″ AMOLED Full HD Display|
Amanda initially had more problems with her Moto E than I have had with my Moto X, but I think that’s more a function of timing and bugs being worked out of the technology than it is the phone itself. Overall, I have been satisfied with the quality of both the calls over WiFi and the cellular calls.
Republic Wireless Phone Plans
A beautiful thing happened the other day–I got our first combined bill. It made me smile. I don’t remember the last time I ever smiled upon receiving a bill, probably because I never have.
The after-tax total was $24.06.
I have no idea what people pay these days for the typical smart phone plan, but I do know that it is a heck of a lot more than $24.06…and that’s for two phones.
Republic recently changed their phone plan structure. Under the prior plan, data was all or nothing.
Republic Wireless Refund Plan
The new plan is known as the Republic Refund. The amount you pay is directly tied to your monthly usage. Any unused data will be credited back to you at the end of the month.
Here is a summary I put together of the current available plans:
- WiFi only: $5/month
- Unlimited talk & text & WiFi: $10 per month (My plan)
- Unlimited talk & text & WiFi with 0.5GB 3G/4G network: $17.50 per month
- Unlimited talk & text & WiFi with 1.0GB 3G/4G network: $25 per month
- Unlimited talk & text & WiFi with 2.0GB 3G/4G network: $40 per month
- Unlimited talk & text & WiFi with 3.0GB 3G/4G network: $55 per month
Republic was able to optimize the plan structure by conducting trials and has found that most customers on the data plans are now saving money. With the new plan structure, the average plan trial participants paid just $13.82/month.
Another cool thing about Republic is that you can add additional data when you need it. The Republic Refund plan incentivizes users to use Wifi when available in order to have more data left over at the end of the month. If you find that you’re in this boat, it might even make sense to reduce your data and save even more money.
Both Amanda and I currently have a $10 base plan with unlimited WiFi data, unlimited talk, and unlimited text. If we ever wanted to add a 3G/4G data component, it would essentially add an extra $15 per additional GB.
Given our current lifestyles, we haven’t felt the need to add any data to our plans. Data is virtually unlimited with the WiFi part of the plan, and there is almost nowhere we go that doesn’t offer free WiFi.
Most of my life is spent at the following places: home, work, church, the grocery store, and Taco Bell (yes, I live an exiting life! But hey, that’s why we are working toward mini-retirement). And guess what? All of which have free high speed WiFi. Brick and mortar stores are increasingly offering free WiFi in order to stay competitive.
Most hotels, a growing number of airports, and most gyms also have free Wifi. The main exception is any car travel, so if you’re always on the road you may need to be connected to a 3G/4G network. We’re also out of luck with outdoor sporting events, but that just forces me to be a good parent and pay attention to my kids.
Republic Wireless Review Bottom Line
The bottom line is that Republic Wireless offers amazing value. Their phones are solid, and I love the fact that they are transparent with their customers. I’ve met some of the Republic team in person, and I like them–you know, like as real human beings. And who doesn’t like doing business with people they like in exchange for great value?
And while I’ll miss the freedom of being a bit careless with my indestructible dumb phone, I am enjoying the convenience of a great phone at an amazing price.
Suffice it to say, I finally found plenty of reasons why it made more sense for me to get a smart phone with Republic Wireless.
But all smart-phone banter aside, let’s face it—it’s just a relief to no longer have to tell my friends I’m on my mom’s family plan.
Do you have Republic Wireless? Do you pay more with another provider? If so, why?