Republic Wireless Motorola Defy XT Review

Posted: Jun 1 2016, 5:46pm CDT | by , in Deals

Time left: 11121 days


$391. That's how much money Republic Wireless claims you can save with their highly disruptive cell phone plan. The math is simple, you pay $199 for the phone and each month you'll be billed $19. This totals out to less than $420 for the first 12 months. In total cost of smartphone ownership, that is not a lot of cash. Republic Wireless puts up a Leading Brand cost on their site of around $820 -- offering up a near $400 savings. You may be thinking, What's the catch? Well, to be quite honest, there is none - but there are a few things you should know before tearing up that contract with AT&T or Verizon. Read on to find out what they are.

The Handset:

  • Motorola Defy XT
  • Dual-band antennas for roaming on both 1900 and 800 MHz frequencies
  • Water resistant up to 3 feet for 30 minutes
  • Powered by Android 2.3
  • 1GHz Processor
  • 3.7 FWVGA Touchscreen covered by Corning Gorilla Glass
  • Hybrid Calling Certified
  • Google Play Store
  • 3G, Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth, GPS

The Plans:

  • Option 1: Phone cost of $199, monthly service cost of $19
  • Option 2: Phone cost of $79, monthly service cost of $29
  • Unlimited Talk, Text and Data -- Contract free

Ordering and Activation:

Getting started is as easy as pointing your browser to, choosing one of two service plans and checking out. Paraphrasing Henry Ford, you can have any smartphone you like, as long as it's a Motorola Defy XT. There are only two options during checkout, giving you the option to pay more up front for the phone and less per month for the service, or less for the phone and more each month. However, no matter which plan you choose, they both come out to a total first year cost of $427. Keep in mind, if you decide to keep the phone for another year, you'll end up paying about $10 more each month if you go with the lower priced phone plan.

At the time of order you can choose to either port your existing phone number to the new handset or start out with a different one. Should you decide to go with a new number you simply input your zip code and pick from a list of available numbers. There is no stopping you from putting in any zip code here so if you always lusted after the area code of a particular state, it is as easy as point and click. A few days after hitting go your Defy XT arrives -- activated and ready for action.

Using the Defy XT

The Defy XT is a small phone. Its 3.7-inch display is tiny by today's smartphone standards. But this is not a luxury cell phone. We had to keep telling ourselves that during the review. $19 per month, $19 per month, $19 per month -- that is the mantra here and you should not forget it. Running a lightly modified version of Android's Gingerbread OS (quite dated at this point), the Defy isn't the snappiest smartphone in the world either. Animations take some time and multi-touch misfires are a frequent occurrence. But when you get down to it, this is a fully featured smartphone. It has apps, maps, text messaging and Internet browser -- oh yeah and it makes and receives calls too.

Speaking of calls, one of the first things you notice about the Defy is the Republic Wireless icon in the menu bar. When it's green, it means you are connected to a reliable wireless network and VOIP is enabled. Yes, you read right, this is a VOIP phone (more on this in the next section) and it switches automatically when the Wi-Fi network is available. Pretty cool. In terms of other smartphone functionality there are no big surprises here. The long and the short of it is there isn't really much this phone can't do - with the exception of MMS messaging.

How is It So Cheap?

To sum it up: Wi-Fi. In what could be considered an ingenious move, Republic Wireless have developed a way for their little Defy to utilize Wi-Fi as a primary network for all the phone's functionality. Think about it for a moment, when is your smartphone not connected to Wi-Fi? Chances are pretty good you'll be connected at home, at the office, at a friend's house and even at the local coffee shop. Wi-Fi is everywhere and mostly free, thereby greatly reducing network leasing costs for Republic. Voice calls are automatically routed to wireless networks and the quality is surprisingly good. In terms of data, it may be unlimited but it is the 3G variety -- and painfully slow. $19 a month. Say it again.

The Good:

  • You will not find a contract free smartphone with unlimited everything for less money
  • $19 per month
  • Fully-functional Android handset
  • Excellent call quality

The Bad:

  • Calls are dropped if you're using Wi-Fi and you physically leave the network
  • Somewhat dated handset/OS
  • No MMS or group messaging
  • Cellular data at dial-up speeds

Our Verdict:

For the hardcore tech enthusiast in the room, there is absolutely nothing to get excited about when it comes to the Defy XT. It's an aging handset that gets the job done without causing any commotion. But this isn't a typical gear review -- as Puffy once said, it's all about the Benjamins and $19/month is something to get excited about. Yes, there are major annoyances like dropping calls when leaving Wi-Fi and some minor ones, like the lack of MMS and group messaging but these are easily ignored when taking the service cost into consideration. For those looking to save money on their phone bill or get their first smartphone, this may be one of the best options on the market. Republic Wireless is out to shake up the cell phone industry and if they can keep this up while improving the hardware offering (imagine an iPhone or Galaxy S4 for this price!) they will have single-handedly started a revolution.

Our Score: 4 out of 5


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Republic Wireless Motorola Defy XT Review