I’ve been noticing a lot of posts in the community, and other forums, about folks that purchase phones that they believe are compatible with Republic, but it turns out they aren’t. In most cases, it is because the manufacturer makes multiple versions of the same phone, but only one of those versions is compatible with Republic.
I should note, if you already have the phone, the easiest way to check is to download the Republic Wireless App (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.republicwireless.tel) and open it. It will quickly let you know if your phone is compatible. That obviously doesn’t work is you’re still shopping. Tips for that situation are below.
First, here is the list of supported phones: Republic Wireless Phones – Republic Help and Republic’s official advice on checking if a phone is compatible: How to Confirm a Phone You Have or Will Purchase Is Compatible with Republic Wireless – Republic Help
Moto Zs (all generations)
Here, we have the case of the manufacturer reusing the model number of a phone of multiple versions of the phone. Motorola has reused their model numbers for the North America Unlocked Version, the Brazilian version, the Indian version and the International Dual SIM version of their phones. ONLY the North America Unlocked version will work with Republic. There are some things you can check to verify if it is the North America Unlocked version: First, does the SKU include “NARTL”? If so, it is the compatible version. Also, on the phone itself, does the phone have dual SIMs? Then it won’t work. Finally, if you have the phone, you can check the Settings – About Phone – System Version and look for
"en.US" there for the correct version, or check the “Software Channel” and be sure it indicates “retus” or “amzn”, any other software channel is not compatible.
Samsung Galaxy S7 / S7 Edge
The unlocked versions of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are easier to find. Their model numbers (SM-G930U and SM-G935U) are only applicable to the unlocked versions. That being said, there are a number of unscrupulous sellers on eBay and Amazon selling phones that are NOT the “U” version of the phone, but labeling them as such. These sellers are buying carrier branded phones, reflashing them, and selling them as the “U” version. While these models may or may not activate with Republic, they have incompatibilities that will limit your coverage and provide an inferior user experience. There is generally one way to tell that the phone you’re looking at is one of these “frankenphones”. In the listing, does the seller mention that the phone will only work with GSM carriers? Or that it doesn’t work with Sprint or Verizon? If that’s the case, you should skip that phone, as it isn’t the factory unlocked version.
Samsung Galaxy S6
It is quite honestly nearly impossible to get a compatible S6 used. When Samsung released the unlocked Galaxy S6, they used the same model number (SM-G920T) as the T-Mobile version of the phone. However, the T-Mobile version, won’t work with Republic. In addition, Samsung sold very few unlocked versions of these phones, so nearly every SM-G920T that you’ll find used, won’t work with Republic. The only way to tell if the phone you’re looking at will work with Republic is to check the actual Android build of the phone or to verify the SKU, instead of the Model. The compatible SKU is SM-G920TZKAXAR and you can find the supported builds In the Compatible Phones document.
Samsung Galaxy S8 / S8+ / Note 8 / Note 9 / S9 / S9+
Here, we have an issue with Samsung creating a new, and confusing model number scheme. Depending whether you are looking on the phone itself, or you’re looking at the box, or the longer SKU listed on websites, you’re looking for two different things.
On the phone: The model number listed MUST be SM-G950U1, SM-G955U1, SM-N950U1, SM-N960U1, SM-G960U1 or SM-G965U1. The “1” is very important. Unlike previous Samsung phones, the plain “U” version is NOT factory unlocked, and therefore NOT compatible with Republic.
On the box or websites: In this case the SKU must start with SMG950U, SMG955U, SMN950U, SMG960U, SMN960U or SMG965U and MUST end with XAA. The letters in between don’t matter, as they simply indicate color and capacity. To add further confusion, it appears that some retailers are using an entirely different SKU when selling the unlocked version. I’ve confirmed that at least Best buy and ABT Electronics have placed a sticker on the boxes that they sell that shows “SMG950u1Z?AX”, “SMG955u1?AX”, “SMN950u1?AX”, “SMG960u1?AX”, “SMN960u1?AX” and “SMG965u1?AX” as the SKUs for the US unlocked versions. Please note the “?” mark can be replaced with any letter as this letter indicates only color. These SKUs will work as they are the US Unlocked versions.
Once again, we have a case of sellers selling phones with a model number that looks compatible (XT1103) and then saying that the phone doesn’t work with CDMA carriers. This either means that the phone is the international version, reflashed to look like the North America Unlocked version or that the phone is blacklisted with the CDMA carriers because of unpaid bills or something similar. In either case, the phones are to be avoided (and I would recommend, so is the seller). While the phone MAY activate with Republic, if issues arise, Republic will be unable to assist in working to improve the coverage or troubleshoot.
Google Pixel / Pixel XL
Recently, I’ve seen a number of listings on eBay for the Google Pixel and Pixel XL that advertise themselves as the Unlocked Verizon version of the phone. While the Verizon version of the Pixel is compatible with Republic (as Google doesn’t allow Verizon to modify the software on the phone), a number of these listings state “Will not activate with Sprint”. In these cases the phones are equivalent to the “frankenphones” I’ve described above in the S7 section. These phones may activate with Republic, and work on the GSM carrier partner, but in case of coverage issues will never be able to be activated with the the CDMA partner (Sprint). I would advise that these phones be avoided if you’re seeing service with Republic.
This one is fairly simple. Some retailers use the Model Number, XT1900-1. When they use this things are easy, because it matches the Republic documentation. Some other retailers are instead using the MPN (Manufacturer’s Part Number). In this case, they phone will be listed as PA8S0006US or PA8S0007US. These are the same phone, and no matter which way it is listed, it will work with Republic. The Moto X4 Prime Exclusive Edition from Amazon IS compatible with Republic.
Republic now supports the Moto G6. Once again, we have the fun on multiple model numbers. The Motorola Model number is XT1925-6. In some cases you may see the phone advertised by its part number. In this case, the phone will be listed as PAAE0000US, PAAE0002U, PAAE0007US or PAAE0009US. These are the same phone (differences may be Amazon Prime Exclusive version and/or color) and no matter which way it is listed, it will work with Republic. The Moto G6 Factory Unlocked Version of the G6, being sold by Costco, IS compatible with Republic.
I’ve recently begun seeing eBay and Amazon sellers advertising phones as the XT1687 or as “Unlocked” and saying it works with all carriers. However, that’s not what they’re selling. They’re generally Mexican versions (software channel AMXLA) which means they are incompatible with Republic. This creates an unfortunate situation where the only way to tell if the phone is the US FACTORY Unlocked version is to check the software channel on the phone and be sure it is RETUS or AMZN.
Moto E5 Play
Thanks again to Motorola for using the same model number (XT1921-2) for multiple versions. For instance, the Cricket version carries the same model number, but won’t work with Republic. So, once again, you can only be sure a 3rd party purchase E5 Play will work with Republic by checking the Software Channel and verifying that it is “RETUS” or “AMZN”.
Moto E4 and E4+
We once again here run in to the combination of Motorola using the same model for multiple version of the phone and unscrupulous eBay sellers. In this case, the Consumer Cellular versions of the E4 and E4 plus carry the same model numbers as the Unlocked version (XT1768 / XT1775). It appears the CC version of the phone didn’t sell well and inventory of these phones has been dumped in bulk. Unscrupulous sellers are buying these in bulk, unlocking them (they’re locked to CC when sold new) and selling them on eBay as factory unlocked. They are not factory unlocked, and won’t work with Republic. Unfortunately, the only way to tell is to look at the “Software Channel” under Settings – About Phone. The US factory unlocked channel is “retus” and the Amazon Prime Channel is “amzn”. Both these will work with Republic. Any other software channel will not.
I’ll update as more troublesome models appear.