Republic Wireless promises an unlimited data plan for just 19-dollars a month. That means you can talk, text, and e-mail all you want, and surf the Web.
"Republic Wireless makes it easy for you to make calls over Wi-Fi instead of cellular," says David Toner of Consumer Reports. "Ultimately this saves them money, and you money."
Republic Wireless uses a phone with built-in Wi-Fi Hybrid Calling technology. That means the phone uses Wi-Fi for calls, texting, and data whenever Wi-Fi's available. It automatically switches to Sprint's cellular network when Wi-Fi isn't available.
But Consumer Reports' tester Dave Toner found switching back and forth from Wi-Fi to cellular 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.
Currently, Republic offers just one phone - the Motorola Defy XT, an Android smart phone with camera for $259. It's pricey for a phone that's not top-of-the-line. It's only 3G, so when using cellular service, you won't get the fastest Internet connections.
But there are some positives according to the Consumer Reports team:
"It's great if you're still carrying around an old flip phone and haven't upgraded because of high data costs. 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," Toner says.
MMS, which lets you text, pictures and videos, isn't yet available on Republic but you can send pictures and videos over mobile e-mail or through apps like Facebook.
Even if you don't sign up with Republic, you can try using the company's tactics to save on your cell phone bill no matter which company is your carrier. Switch to Wi-Fi coverage from cellular service when you can in order to avoid going over your plan's allotment of data.