Sunday, October 21, 2012

Product review: Republic Wireless Defy XT 557

I admit: I'm a luddite. Although I worked as a mobile software developer for several years, I'm one of the last to acquire a smart phone. But now, I am the owner of a Motorola Defy XT, thanks to Republic Wireless. I guess that it's about time that I joined 2010 (my previous phone is a Verizon Samsung SCH-U620).

Frankly, I'm kind of pissed off that this has happened. Nobody does voice calls any more. Everyone seems to want to live a quiet, silent life of text messaging. When I ride mass transit, people look at each other when they make voice calls. I was very happy with my itty bitty Samsung device with physical buttons that fits conveniently in my pocket, but not happy with the prospect of paying $60 per month for a data package that I deemed useless. Republic Wireless' voice roaming onto 802.11 wireless networks was just hackerly enough for me to appreciate their innovative business model, and actually want to try out their service.

I can do everything that I can do on the smartphone better on my netbook computer. As I've attempted to let the smartphone take over my life, I've noticed that it takes me a lot longer to communicate with others. I suppose that the smartphone thing is pretty cool for people who don't regularly touch type, but the lack of a physical keyboard is a serious drawback.

However, the ubiquitous 3G data roaming onto Sprint's network within the greater Los Angeles area has been superb. I'm very impressed with how easy it is for me to do simple email communications and web browsing on the small platform. That stated, if I amortize the cost of the device out over one year, the device costs me $43 per month. At that price, it is extremely competitive with any existing Verizon wireless plan, and I have all of the features that I could possibly want. Plus, any dead zones that I regularly encounter on USC's campus are filled in with Republic Wireless' ability to roam onto wireless networks.

Overall, I'm really impressed with the product. My only quibble is that I cannot unlock / root the phone, because the SPC / MSL numbers don't seem to be readily accessible, although it's probably just a matter of time.

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