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Posted: 2:33 p.m. Monday, Aug. 25, 2014

The Cheapest Cell Phone Plan Worth Having

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By Kali Hawlk, Contributor

ClarkHoward.com


Looking to slash the expenses in your budget, but feel as though you’ve run out of costs to cut?

You can score big savings by switching expensive services and products for inexpensive alternatives. For example, you may cancel your $100-per-month membership at the new, big, fancy gym complex and opt for a $20-per-month membership at the smaller, more basic establishment down the street. You could cut cable and pick up a subscription to Netflix, or you might start shopping for generics instead of name brands.

There’s one switch, however, that many families feel requires too much of a sacrifice: your cell phone plan. The bill for cell phones in your household might be one of the highest you’re willing to put up with and pay each month because you think there aren’t many good alternatives out there.

In the past, discount carriers and services were cheaper for a reason. The coverage was spotty and dropped calls happened every other day. The phones offered didn’t come with many bells and whistles -- and most of us are now too attached to our smartphones to use anything else. Basically, it was a frustrating experience.

But if you’re serious about savings, take another look at switching from your current cell phone provider. There are new companies on the block that are providing solutions for consumers who want reasonably priced service on desirable smartphones with reliable service. That’s right - the total package.

So what’s the cheapest cell phone plan worth having?

In my experience, Republic Wireless offers the most frugal plans that still come with the benefits and features we’ve come to expect from bigger carriers that charge an arm and a leg for cell phone service each month.

I switched to Republic in May. I’ve since been enjoying my cell phone even more than I did before when I was with Sprint and had an iPhone. I’ve also saved over $50 per month on my phone bill since making the change. That’s a LOT of money!

And I’ve put together this review for you if you’re interested in learning more about how you can save and get the cheapest cell phone plan worth having for yourself. Let’s run through the basics first, and then I’ll share my personal experience with Republic Wireless.

How Does Republic Wireless Work?

Republic Wireless provides no-contract cell phone plans. They offer two smartphones that were specially designed for their company.

Why specially designed? It’s due to the way Republic is able to offer such cheap service for their customers. The phones are designed to run off Wi-Fi signals first. If there is no Wi-Fi available for the device to connect to, then the phone jumps onto network coverage that Republic leases from Sprint. Switching back and forth doesn’t cost you any extra money.

When the company first came out, that jump from signal to signal could be a little shaky. In the years since they’ve been providing service, however, the newest versions of Republic Wireless smartphones have improved and are better at seamlessly moving from Wi-Fi to cellular service and data.

Republic Wireless also has a very online-focused business model. They’ve set up online communities for users and all customer service inquiries are handled through email. It allows the company to operate with lower overheads, but the inability to call in and speak to a representative straight away may frustrate some customers who are accustomed to doing so.

What Plans Are Available?

Republic Wireless offers four different plans:

    1. Unlimited Wi-Fi at $5 per month: This is a ridiculously low price for a smartphone plan, but with this plan the phone can only run off Wi-Fi signals for everything: calls, texts, and data. It will not switch to cellular.

    2. Unlimited Wi-Fi with Unlimited Cell at $10 per month: This plan can run off cellular service, but only for calls and texts. You won’t receive data unless you’re on Wi-Fi.

    3. Unlimited Wi-Fi with Unlimited Cell with 3G Data at $25 per month: This plan provides you with calls, text, and data whether you’re on Wi-Fi or using cellular service. Be aware that data on the cellular service runs at 3G speeds, which may seem slow if you’re used to 4G networks.

    4. Unlimited Wi-Fi with Unlimited Cell with 4G Data at $40 per month: This plan works exactly like the $25 plan, but offers 4G speeds for super-fast data.

All of the plans are contract-free and extremely flexible. Republic allows you to switch between plans up to twice per month.

What Phones Are Available?

Again, Republic Wireless only offers two phones. But they’re both smartphones on Android platforms and have received good reviews.

You can choose between the Moto X or the Moto G. The Moto X will be the preferred choice for anyone used to today’s newest smartphones. With 16 GB of internal memory, a 10 MP camera, a 4.7 inch AMOLED display, and using Android’s Jelly Bean OS, the Moto X can compete with other Android phones and the iPhone.

The Moto G is functional, but is smaller in size and has less memory, a simpler camera, and an older operating system than its sleeker cousin.

If you switch to Republic Wireless, you must buy one of these two phones outright. The Moto X costs $299 and the Moto G runs at $149. You do have the option to customize your phone for an additional fee using the Moto Maker, a cool service that allows you to make your phone uniquely yours.

My personal review of Republic Wireless

So, what’s it like to actually make the switch and use a Republic Wireless phone -- especially coming from a big carrier and leaving an iPhone behind?

I was skeptical at first. I loved my iPhone and was concerned about how reliable Republic would really be. But saving $50 per month was huge! The incredible difference in price convinced me it was worth a try.

I bought the Moto X and chose the $25 plan. I work from home and am on my laptop and phone all day, so I’m usually not glued to any electronics in my free time. Because of this, I assumed the 3G data speed would be sufficient for me.

My phone arrived promptly and thanks to the fact that it was made specially for Republic Wireless, setting it up on my own was simple. When you power on the phone for the first time, it walks you through everything you need to get set up with the plan you want.

While the Moto X comes with a new phone number, you can also port your old phone number to your new Republic smartphone. I chose to port my number to keep it the same. Be sure not to cancel your old cell phone plan before the porting process is complete.

And if you are switching from an iPhone to a Republic Wireless phone, turn off your iMessages about 48 hours before porting your phone number. Otherwise, you may hit some snags for a few days when attempting to receive messages from other iPhone users.

I quickly realized how much I loved my new Moto X (and just as quickly forgot about my iPhone). It integrates wonderfully with Google, which was perfect for me and my work. The screen quality is great and, to me, the size of the screen is perfect. It’s large enough to make reading text on it comfortable, but the phone isn’t so big as to be awkward to hold or carry.

I’m really looking forward to the additional savings I can take advantage of thanks to the ability to switch back and forth between plans. The next time I travel overseas, I can opt for the $5 per month plan and run everything off Wi-Fi -- which means I’ll be able to make calls back home and use my phone wherever there’s a Wi-Fi signal without insane international charges. Pretty sweet!

Considering I end up paying $30 per month after taxes and fees are calculated in to my $25 plan, I can’t complain about Republic or the Moto X. I love saving so much money per month. But, this is a review, so I’ll share the few complaints I have had in the months of owning and using what I would consider one of the cheapest cell phone plans worth having:

  •     There have been a handful of times where the voice quality has been spotty while being connected on a call with Wi-Fi.
  •     The phone has dropped two calls, which happened within about two days of each other. Both times I was on Wi-Fi.
  •     I underestimated how slow 3G data can really be, but I’ve never been in a situation where I needed data and couldn’t access it fast enough because of a slow network. I can always make calls, send and receive texts, and access things like email and Google maps without issue. (Getting on Facebook or Instagram, on the other hand, can sometimes take forever on 3G.)
  •     I haven’t been blown away by the photo quality from the Moto X’s camera. In anything but less than excellent lighting, the photos are good at best. If I miss anything about my iPhone, it is the quality of the pictures you could take.

 

Conclusion

Ultimately, the switch to Republic Wireless has been well worth the savings. The Moto X suits my needs almost perfectly and the service has been extremely solid. I’ve been recommending Republic Wireless (and the Moto X) to all my friends and family members who have asked me how they can save more on their living expenses each month.

In my opinion, Republic Wireless is the place to go to secure the cheapest cell phone plan worth having.

 



About the author: Kali Hawlk is the founder of Common Sense Millennial, a resource for members of Gen Y who want to do more with their money. She works as a writer and content manager, and is passionate about personal finance and business. You can connect with her on Twitter @KaliHawlk.

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