Republic Wireless, the upstart mobile operator with the $19/month unlimited talk, text and web plan? The low monthly cost is made possible because Republic's phones run a modified version of Android that is designed to use Wi-Fi rather than the mobile network whenever possible.
Republic launched a limited Beta last November which closed almost as soon as it opened. Republic has been continuing to add potential Beta testers to what must be a mile long wait list. Applicants have been assigned to Beta "Waves" which were supposed to open one after another starting in "early 2012". The reopening was later postponed until June and then postponed again until July.
Today Republic has finally opened the gates to those lucky folks in Wave B (the initial November Beta users are Wave A). For this Wave, users will need to pony up $249 plus a $29 start-up fee and applicable taxes. In return they get a Motorola Defy XT phone (pictured above) and the first month's service. Going forward service is $19/month plus about $5/month in taxes and fees. It includes unlimited voice, text messaging and data. Wave A users can upgrade to the Defy XT for $149.
The Defy XT is a new phone for Republic. It replaces the LG Optimus S which was used for Wave A. Although it was originally released last month in Asia as a GSM phone, Republic's Defy XT is a CDMA device. Based on the specs, which include a I Ghz processor and 3.7" 480x854px (FWVGA) screen, it looks to be a capable mid-range phone. It's also semi-ruggedized with a Gorilla Glass screen and an IP67 Rating for water and dust resistance.
While Republic's pricing is attractive, based on users' reports in online forums, the service is very much a Beta . Issues include poor voice quality on Wi-Fi, dropped calls when switching between Wi-Fi and mobile networks and perhaps most worrying, very limited and ineffective support from Republic. There is also no MMS (picture messaging) on Republic.
Full specs for the Republic Motorola Defy XT:
- OS: Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) with MotoSwitch UI 2.0, which allows you to switch between personal and work modes
- Processor: 1 GHz
- Memory: 1GB ROM/512MB RAM (Prior to OS)
- Removable Memory: Up to 32GB microSD
- Music Player: supports MP3, MIDI, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, WAV.
- FM Radio
- Cameras: 5 MP auto-focus main camera with LED flash, auto focus, 4x digital zoom. Front-facing VGA webcam
- Video: 720p MPEG4, H.263, H.264 30fps video capture and playback
- Email: SMTP, POP3, IMAP, Corporate Sync, Google Mail, Push Email
- Predictive Text: SWYPE
- Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n with
- DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) support for media sharing and playback
- Bluetooth: 3.0 w/o HS; profiles, HSP, HFP, A2DP, AVRCP, OPP, SPP, GAP
- Ports: Micro USB charging and high speed data (USB 2.0 HS), 3.5 mm audio jack
- Sensors: eCompass, GPS/aGPS, Accelerometer, Gravity sensor, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor
- LED: alerts and charge notifications
- Screen: 3.7-inch 480 x 854 FWVGA (Corning® Gorilla® Glass)
- Ruggedization: Dustproof and water resistant; plus Corning® Gorilla® Glass to resist scratches
- Battery:1700 mAh Usage Time(Continuous) up to 9.5 hours, Standby Time up to 20 days
- Weight: 115 grams
- Dimensions: 115 x 58.5 x 11.95 mm
Source: Republic Wireless via AllThingsD