Can you let us know about the roaming ability and details? That's a make or break for me...if so, this would be perfect!
This is my initial review after about an hour with the device.
The LG Optimus phone that came in the mail is the Sprint version (LG Optimus S). It says "Sprint" everywhere the Sprint version would. In fact, the box it came in was the Sprint box, turned inside out with a short Republic Wireless brochure and a card with my phone # (in an area code I never selected and don't like) handwritten on it.
I looked, but could not find, any evidence of the Carrier IQ app that has made a few headlines.
Although the hardware is stock Sprint, the bootloader and the OS are not. It's clear that they're running a modified version of CyanogenMod, which itself is an open source version of Android that you can install on any rooted phone. They have, of course, modified CynaogenMod to accommodate Wifi calling, so I don't plan to install any custom roms on this device anyway. The phone does not come rooted and does not have Super User installed, so I can't install Wireless Tether or any of the other "root required" apps, yet.
But, they've already installed Clockwordmod's bootloader on the device. Clockworkmod is a special hacked bootloader that allows you to perform complete backup and restore of your device, and to install third party ROMs such as CyanogenMod. You can access the bootloader by pressing volume up, home, and power on at the same time when the device is off. The up and down volume keys choose options and the camera button selects it.
Don't mess around with Clockworkmod unless you know what you're doing. There are a good set of instructions here:
Normally, you have to root your device and then install clockworkmod, and then backup your device. This creates a risk, because if the rooting goes bad, you have no backup, no ability to restore from the backup. Because they've already installed Clockworkmod, I can do full backup to the SD Card before I even attempt to root.
Wifi Calling works great and sounds excellent. Before Republic, I tried T-Mobile's Wifi calling option, but could never get connected. This one just worked straight out of the box.
I haven't made any cellular calls, because we have crappy coverage in my area with just about every carrier. However, I've read that while Sprint's network is native, you can roam on Verizon. If that's true, this phone will meet every need that I have....
Can you let us know about the roaming ability and details? That's a make or break for me...if so, this would be perfect!
Internet at work and with a Nexus 4 on Straight Talk with AT&T.
Here's a few more comments after making some calls.
1. When you first turn the unit on, it activates a special app that asks you to connect to a Wifi network. At the conclusion of running that app, there's a checkbox to uncheck so that it won't run the next time you turn on the phone. If you fail to check that box, it'll run the next time you turn on the phone, even if the phone is already connected to a Wifi network using the credentials you supplied the first time. You have to then deactivate the Wifi, reactivate it, and then uncheck the box.
2. When in VOIP mode, the phone can support at least 4-way calling. I didn't try more than that. I haven't tried conference calling in CDMA mode, but I've never seen a CDMA phone that could support more than 3-way calling.
3. As advertised, the phone places calls using VOIP when you are connected to a Wifi network using the same dialer that would be familiar to anyone who has used an Android phone in the past. This same dialer puts out calls on the cellular network when you aren't connected to Wifi.
4. When making a call in VOIP mode, there is a new icon on the screen that shows the Republic Wireless logo with a slash through it (i.e. a "Not Republic Wireless" button, similar to a no crossing sign). When I pressed that button, the call was switched from VOIP to Cellular. They're going to need to work on this, and it was not a seamless handoff. The person I called (in this case, myself for testing purposes) heard nothing to indicate that a transfer was going on. The audio path simply turned off but the call remained open. Then my handset switched to cellular and placed a second call to the same number. Thus, while the receiving party (myself) was still on the phone (and would have been saying "Hello? Hello?,") the receiving party then received a second call on the same phone from the same caller ID.
I don't know if this is supposed to be a seamless transition and simply isn't working because my area has poor cellular coverage, or if they just intended the button to place the same call again on cellular. In either case, a beep, or a pre-recorded message advising the called party of what is going on would be a good idea. I guess, for now, I'll just say "Hey, I gotta call you right back...."
5. The phone has a bug relating to the speaker phone. At times, if you press the speakerphone button, the phone remains in handset mode. Turning speakerphone off and back on seems to fix it.
6. When in VOIP mode on speakerphone, the person you are calling will hear an echo of themselves. I've noticed the same thing when using other Android phones running a SIP Softphone, so this isn't surprising. This is probably why the unit was shipped with the bug described in #5, above. While on VOIP, nobody is going to be using speakerphone.
7. Still no details on the Cellular Usage Ratio. The web-site just shows a photograph of a sample graph. I'm doubtful that more Wifi usage will get you more Cellular usage, as some have suggested. I'm guessing that their version of truly unlimited is as follows:
a. In any one month, you can make as many calls as you want. If you use too much for too long, they won't renew your contract. This essentially puts them in the same boat as you are: If you don't like their service, you can leave. If they don't like your usage, you can leave.
b. Cellular usage and wifi usage will both count towards their decision to ask you to leave. However, Wifi usages will count **less**. In other words, if you get 550 minutes of cellular a month before you've used too much, then you might have ten times as much Wifi, i.e. 5,500 minutes. Following this hypothetical, If you used 100 minutes of wifi, that would eat up 10 minutes of your cellular.
Again, the above is just my guess. In the absence of any hard explanation from Republic, that's what I'm going with for now.
8. I forgot to mention that the little booklet that accompanied the phone didn't say much, except to tell how important it was to use Wifi whenever possible. No explanation of consequences. It had kind of a socialist feel to it (i.e., use Wifi and the community will prosper). They can't really be that naive...
Sorry, but I don't know and won't find out anytime soon. My area has plenty of Sprint coverage. But, I've read posts by other RW users that they have roamed on Verizon, and I have no reason to doubt them.
Nice write up. I'm hoping to get more use at home on wifi as time goes by.
If you can do a favor, Load GoogleVoice app on the phone and try it out? I have it loaded on mine and it does not work. It is set to make all calls and no calls go through it. All calls are placed from the phones original number and the phone does not display the little bubble showing it is calling through GV.
I have a question that RW has any live customer service by dialing 611 on your phone?
They do offer roaming, and it doesn't look like wifi counts against the CUI, but like all VOIP services, they probably have some AUP where 5k or 10k minutes is abuse.
I usually support government regulation, but It is unfortunate that the government over-regulated and killed the AT&T/ T-Mobile Merger
The best explanation of the pricing nutiness in the industry.
Why Sprint and T-Mo will always suck.
The only way to end the pricing insanity is to eliminate contracts and subsidies.
I want Wifi calling on AT&T.
If you text while driving, you're an idiot. End of story.
CUR - I'm still confuse why they just put correct information about it. They really buy time from sprint in bulk. So in any case each person will have not more than x minutes. Yes they can do trick part like if I spent less then other person can spend more but it still limited on cell... Yeah it might be unlimited on VOIP. or next month i can spend more (like rollover of minutes in ATT) and i still think there is no connection to VOIP in case you talk more VOIP then you have more cell. Connection will be you talk less on cell then you can talk more on cell next month (something like that)... But if 550/150/300 per month is true then it's still nice for the price .
1. I've read that GV does not currently work. According to their forums, they're working on it.
2. 611 does not work. It doesn't even put the call through. Just gives an error message.
3. I suspect that they don't buy the minutes "in bulk," so much as at wholesale. So, while we each pay $19.00 per month, they pay based upon actual usage. That's why they both want to put a limit on actual use and want to encourage us to use Wifi as much as possible.
Why not get GrooVe IP instead for a one time payment of $4.00 & be done with it?
Because I also need cellular service (about 500 minutes per month and 300 MB per month), and it would cost more than $19.00 per month to get that anywhere else.
Also, GrooveIP is just a SIP client. You've still got to purchase SIP service, from someone. For now, its free from Google, but for how long?
Battery life, most important issue of all. Do you need to tether this to a power cord. WiFi tends to burn through power quickly and smartphone battery life is already bad enough. Thats the main reason I don't like them and keep the land line (well its the cable , but you use a DECT wireless phone and I can leave it off the cradle for long periods of time and not worry. Also, you get multiple extensions, and so on.
Can you really make one of these into a home phone replacement. That's my objective since there is no decent cell service at the house.
Yah you could but the call quality is not near as good as a land line or normal cell service. Don't take me wrong, its better than all the other voip systems I have tried (4 others) and it is free (after purchasing GrooVeIP) where two of the others were free and two were paid services.
I have a Optimus V converted over to voip with GrooVeIP, once set up properly you can also text from the phone. I like the idea behind GrooVeIP but they need to get the Volume and echo issues fixed. Those are the two complaints I get from the people I am talking to when I use it. They either have a very hard time hearing me even with their phone volume cranked all the way up or they hear a very prominent echo when they talk.
I know how annoying that is, the back of my house is an are where all cell phones echo. Does not matter the provider, phones what ever. All cells have an echo there.
So far, on the wifi calls I have made on my RW phone, no one has complained about volume or echoing, so Republic may have worked at least that much out.
I'd be curious to know what the quality though a decent headset is... i.e. is the quality a result of RW's system or the Optimus phone... Cell phones can be higher quality than a landline, like AT&T 3G on the iPhone 4S, so a landline isn't the qualiy benchmark... Skype really should be.
The Optimus S and Optimus V are the same phones, I have GrooVeIP/GoogleVoice on the OV and RW on the OS. Call quality is better on the RW OS than the other.
On the RW/OS the WiFi calls are passable but not great, still better than GrooVeIP, however when the OS makes and receives cell calls the calls are crystal clear. I would not say it is a quality issue on the hand set. But that VOIP quality over all is not what it should be. There are dozens of VOIP companies out there that have call quality that is equal to if not better than ATT land line service and there are those that suffer horribly, and those that fall in the middle.
On a scale of 1 to 10 I would rate the GrooVeIP/GV system a 5 to 5.5 and the RW system a 6 to 7. Both much better than MagikJack or NetTalk but still not cell or land line quality.