Republic Wireless' $19-per-month smartphone put to the test


Republic Wireless is a new cellphone service provider that promises an unlimited data plan for $19 per month without a contract. That means users can talk, text and email all they want, and surf the Internet.

"Republic Wireless makes it easy for you to make calls over Wi-Fi instead of cellular," said David Toner, a tester at Consumer Reports. "Ultimately, this saves them money and you money."

However, Toner found that switching back-and-forth from Wi-Fi to cellular service is a bit tedious. If you're talking to someone, you have to have the person wait while you make a call to switch your service, then you continue the conversation.

Republic Wireless currently offers just one phone, the Motorola DEFY XT, an Android smartphone that goes for $259. That's pricey for a phone that's not top of the line and it's only 3G, so when using cellular service, users won't get the fastest Internet connections. But it does have acceptable voice quality and a decent camera.

"It's great if you're still carrying around an old flip phone and haven't upgraded because of high data costs," Toner said. "It's also good if you live in an area with spotty cellular coverage, or if you're a college student and have access to a Wi-Fi network all over campus."

If you can live with a fairly basic smart phone and service, Republic Wireless can be a real money-saver.

One way to save on cellphone service without subscribing to Republic Wireless is to switch to Wi-Fi coverage from cellular service when you are at home or the office to avoid going over your plan's allotment of data.

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