New money-saving cell service

FRESNO, Calif.

Republic Wireless makes it easy for you to make calls over Wi-Fi instead of cellular. Ultimately that saves them money, and you money. But Consumer Reports' testers did find switching back and forth from Wi-Fi to cellular service a bit tedious. If you're talking to someone, the person needs to wait while you make a call to switch your service, and then you continue the conversation.

Republic currently offers just one phone, the Motorola Defy XT, an Android smart phone that goes for $259. That's pricey for a phone that's not top-of-the-line. It's only 3G, so when you're using cellular service, you won't get the fastest Internet connections. But the smart phone does have acceptable voice quality and a decent camera.

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. If you can live with a fairly basic smart phone and service, Republic can be a real money-saver.

Consumer Reports says that you can use Republic's tactics to save on your cell-phone bill no matter what carrier you use. Switch to Wi-Fi coverage from cellular service when you are at home or the office to avoid going over your plan's allotment of data.

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