Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Battle Theme of the Republic (Wireless)

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is... or is it? My eldest daughter's boyfriend (let's call him Pete) was bragging on this new company, Republic Wireless, for a while even before he decided to try them out. They offer a unique product – the ability to conduct phone calls via cell and wireless connections. It uses wireless whenever it can and when it can't, switches to cell. If even bridges the services, so that your call isn't dropped when switching between them. Pretty neat technology there.

Cost? There are four monthly plans currently $5 (unlimited calls), $10 (unlimited calls & text), $25 (unlimited calls, text & 3G data) and $40 (unlimited calls, text & 4G data). Downside? If you like choice, then you are not going to be happy. They had offered only two phones. Neither of them were iPhones. One is the feature-filled Moto X ($299), the other was the rugged Motorola Defy ($99), which has since been discontinued. As part of the deal, you have to buy the phone outright. Luckily they subsidize the cost by about 50%, so you're not loosing any limbs.

Pete went ahead and made the purchase. I kept close tabs on him to determine his reaction. He seemed to like it. It apparently works pretty well, moving between cell and WiFi with no complaints. His aunt bought one and she liked it. Hmm. I had been thinking about going to a smart phone for quite some time, but all I kept thinking of was the cost of having the data plan so I had kept to my Samsung flip phone (I know, I know, don't laugh).

Now about the phone. The Moto X is Android 4.2.2 based and can access the usual selection of apps and media from the Google Play store and elsewhere like the Amazon App Store. Use their handy coverage indicator to see if your area has service. Both myself and my daughters (both currently in VT) had coverage.

I went ahead and got the Moto X for myself and my youngest, who is still on our phone plan. Wouldn't you know that Pete got my eldest the same phone for Christmas? We are using the $10 unlimited call and text with WiFi data only and I am not really missing the roaming data access it so far, since I can acquire the data from many locations that offer free WiFi. And they offer you the ability to switch your service twice a month, so if you're on vacation and want data access, you can, and then switch it back when you're home.

I have to admit, I am liking the phone more for its computer functions than the phone, but the phone seems to work at least as well as my flip phone. People on the other end say it sounds great. It's fast. Maybe because I am comparing it with my iPod Touch 2nd gen. But it even seems to hold up next to my new iPad Air. And when comparing the apps between my iPad and the Moto X, I was able to obtain almost all of the same ones Weather Channel, IMDB, Bible, Steam, Evernote, Chrome, Email, 1Password, Bank of America, Netflix, Dropbox, Strava and more. And where I couldn't match apps, I was able to find replacements to play music, podcasts and videos.

Is it perfect? No. No phone is and this one with it's new technology is still evolving. But it works as a phone and it's great as a hand-held computing device, and well, you can't beat the price. The phone will pay for itself in a year and then it'll be $20/month for two phones instead of the $80/month I was paying Verizon. Can't beat that with a stick.