Google Fi Or Republic Wireless: Which Cheap Cellular Service is Best

Google Fi or Republic Wireless? If you are tired of high monthly cell phone bills there is relief available. You might have heard of Republic Wireless but Google’s Project Fi is new and not really promoted by Google yet. So which provider should you choose, Google Fi or Republic Wireless?

First some background. Republic Wireless has been in business since 2013 with a mission of helping users lower their cellphone bills by using WiFi as much as possible. They use phones modified to route calls and data over WiFi in preference to your cell connection.

Google Fi or Republic Wireless

As the graphic shows Republic Wireless can cost as little as $10 per month if you use no cell data. Many customers will use only 0.5 GB of cellular data and wind up paying less than $20 per month. That is a good deal. So what is the downside to jumping on the Republic Wireless bandwagon?

Well, the Republic Wireless phone choice is limited to Morotola Moto E, Moto G and Moto X phones with a maximum of 16 GB memory. You do have the option to special order a Moto X with 32 GB storage for $350 direct from Motorola if you are prepared to wait for the phone to ship. Most users would order the stock Moto X with 16 GB memory for $250.

While $250 may seem like a good deal for a new phone realize that 16 GB of memory is now considered bare minimum for an Android phone. You will soon find you have maxed out memory and have to start removing apps you do not consider essential. Most users really should be considering 32 GB memory instead if finances permit. Android power users won’t buy a new phone without 64 GB memory minimum.

Republic Wireless phones have custom firmware to handle the hand off from WiFi to cellular so a phone you buy from them cannot be taken to a different carrier just by changing the SIM card. They do offer a 30 day money back guarantee if you do not like the phone you buy or the service.

Enter Google Project Fi

Google has been quietly rolling out their Project Fi to new users at the Project Fi website. You have to request an invite and depending on your location may have to wait a week or so. Many users are reporting now that the invite process only takes a day or two maximum. Project Fi has an interactive tool at the website to help users determine savings:

Google Project Fi

Compared to Republic Wireless a Google Fi customer who uses 0.5 GB of data will pay $25 compared to $17.50 on Project Fi. So why would anyone choose Google Fi over Republic Wireless?

Coverage may be better at your location for Project Fi as the service uses both the Sprint and T-Mobile networks while Republic Wireless only uses Sprint. Also, Google Fi does not charge extra for roaming while Republic Wireless does, and considerably more than their base rate. Republic Wireless does not permit tethering while Project Fi makes a point to tell prospective customers that tethering is no problem. Google Fi also has much better international coverage.

The phones offered by Project Fi are the excellent Nexus 5X and 6P. The least expensive phone you can buy is a Nexus 5X with 16 GB memory for $379. A top of the line Nexus 6P starts at $499 with 32 GB. Both phones use the latest Android 6.0 Mashmallow operating system and updates are automatic when pushed out by Google. Like most other carriers phones on Republic Wireless will have to wait until the company gets around to updating.

The Nexus phones Google sells for Project Fi are not modified and if you decide to change carriers you only need to replace the SIM card.

The Bottom Line: Which Service Is Best For Me?

If you are on a budget and cannot justify more than $250 for a phone Republic Wireless is the clear choice. The Moto X with 32 GB memory is a decent phone and your wallet will appreciate your new low monthly phone bill.

If you live in an area with poor Sprint coverage you will have to go with Google Fi. And if you are an Android fan who appreciates the best Android phone money can buy you will go for the Nexus 6P and the Google Project Fi service.

We have used both services and much prefer Google Project Fi. The phones and coverage are better than Republic Wireless and if you have a question Project Fi has friendly customer service representatives you can actually talk to.

On a Budget? Google Project Fi for less than $300.

If you can not swing the price of a new Nexus 5X or 6P bought directly from Google don’t despair, you do have a lower cost option. The Motorola Nexus 6 Unlocked Cellphone, 64GB, Midnight Blue (U.S. Warranty) can still be bought new from Amazon for $299.99. The Nexus 6 is the left phone compared to the new Nexus 6P on the right.

comparison

You will still need an invitation from Google Project Fi, and once you receive the invitation follow these instructions to buy a SIM and activate your Nexux 6 for Project Fi. The Nexus 6 will update to the new Android Marshmallow operating system when activated and you will have a great Android phone for $300!

  • Google has the Nexus 5X 32 GB on sale for $350 with free shipping 11/27 through 11/30. This matches the price Republic Wireless charges for the Moto X 32 GB and is a better phone. If the Nexus 6P is the best Android smartphone ever, the 5X is a solid runner up.

  • Mark Wheeler

    I was with Republic since Beta. I took two lines to Fi. I have one house line for talk with Republic. Republic was awesome until my Moto X (1st.gen) didn’t get any android updates and everything started to go bad! Throughout this ordeal Republic was silent. if you go to their blogs there are literally thousands of unhappy campers. Many left and many who are in debt and cannot afford to spend $379.00 are stuck with RW. They may be better off at Walmart buying a pay go phone for $20.00 on Black Friday. I hope RW pulls its head out (?) and gets its act together. It has become a rudderless ship and it saddens me.
    Google-Fi has been awesome !!! LOVE it !!!!

    • Preaching to the choir! Google could really put the hurt on Republic Wireless if they wished, all it would take is cutting monthly fees a bit and adding a less expensive phone than the Nexus 5X for those on a tight budget.

      • Mark Wheeler

        Google doesn’t have to do anything else. Motorola can’t get Android updates to RW for their “junk” phones. RW will burn out sooner than later.

    • Appears they finally released lollipop for all but the Moto E 1st gen, FWIW.

  • Appears Republic wireless supports tethering now. https://community.republicwireless.com/docs/DOC-2599 FWIW.

    For me though, I was able to survive via a Moto G 16GB for like $100 on ebay, and since I use like 200MB data/month, it costs…maybe $15/month? Cheap skatedness for the win! 🙂 (no I don’t work for RW, though I do pay them money each month so…maybe that means I do work for them? 🙂