Why is this phone not on Republic? Can we push for it?

After browsing phones for a while I am noticing a terrible pattern in them. Namely, almost none of them have what I want in a phone in 2019. I remember stumbling on a phone back in 2018 called the “Ulefone Armor 3” and “Ulefone Armor 3T” (for those with the desire or need to have a literal Walkie-Talky included)

The main points are:
Rugged, Waterproof, High Battery Capacity, Decent Camera, and Specs quick enough to keep up.
If you want to go into the super-details, check it out on Amazon or other sites, they give all the specs down to the Octo-Core CPU.

The reason I bring this phone (well, 2 phones technically, the 3T having additional antenna and function that most may not desire, but otherwise the same phone) is I really want this to be “my next phone”.

I plan to do a lot of things that normal phones will require an additional case (otterbox, etc) like I have been using on my current phone since I got it, but this Otter Box is heavily damaged- suggesting it went to good use. This means I will 100% require another in the future, but Otter Boxes don’t provide the same ip68/ip69k type of rating - and I plan to use near water more often, especially in the summer time.

Considering most phones seem to sacrifice either the camera or battery life or something else just to get in some of the features, this phone almost seems like a no-brainer. The phone also supports a hugely wide range of bands, and really shouldn’t ever come locked. (it’s always advertised as unlocked that I have seen) Especially as Sprint states " The company’s 4G network uses LTE technology in bands 25, 26, and 41" – and all of those are listed on the phone’s “Band Details” section, combined with T-mobile listing it’s bands - the phone has everything EXCEPT bands 66, and 71 which are specific 4G LTE bands. (71 running at 600MHz) with band 66 being an extension of 4.

What this means is that while band 4 can be used, it will be, but if band 4 goes out of reach - it would try to switch to 66 if able to stay connected. With no band support for 66, it can’t switch meaning a dropped call/service. (at least in my limited understanding) the same with band 71.

So to me, still with limited knowledge and information, starting thinking, “Why ISN’T this phone listed as a approved phone?”

So that’s why I ask/detail here…

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I’ve never even heard of those phone manufactures or models.
Sound like a foreign or non USA model?

Hi @bradleyl.6u8dy4 and welcome to the Community!

In a nutshell, the reason is Republic’s unique (sufficiently unique to be patented) blended WiFi/cell service. There’s more to compatibility with that than hardware specifications. Specifically, the combination of hardware and the flavor of Android (each manufacturer’s can be different) must be tested and demonstrated as being compatible with Republic’s blended service. Absent that, Republic’s app will not activate a phone on Republic’s network.

To date, Republic has tested and established as being compatible the phones listed here: Republic Wireless Phones – Republic Help. Currently, no other phones may be used with Republic’s service.

The phone that interests you certainly has some unique features of its own. You ask in your thread title if “we can push for it”. I do not mean this disrespectfully but who is we. Put another way, how many folks would be interested in a phone I suspect most have never heard of. As a small company, Republic is forced by business reality to prioritize where it invests its resources for testing phone compatibility with its unique blended service. By orders of magnitude, far more folks will want to use a Samsung, Motorola or Google phone than the Ulefone Armor series.

All of the above said, please know by posting here, you’ve brought to Republic’s attention your desire to see the Ulefone Armor series or, perhaps, other ruggedized phone supported. There is, however, no guarantee it will happen soon or ever.

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With regards to that, is there a test team checking phones? I mean, if others like me are so die hard in love with a phone that isn’t on the tested list - couldn’t there be some way to have those people (myself, and the die hards) have our phones, and test for Republic Wireless?

When you boil a phone down it has bandwidths it can access (network signals), an OS (usually Android based in this matter, versions vary - my Moto X is still on 5.1, while some of the available options are 8.0, 8.1, and 9) With the -yes non US made - Ulefone - it’s an Android 8.1 that was crowd sourced(indiegogo I think) in 2017, and made available in 2018- it shouldn’t have any OS compatible problems, it has (nearly) all the bands a phone could have, it has dual sim slot technology as well.

The only thing I can really find is that it is NOT CDMA compliant. But even phones in the RW store like the Moto G7 are “CDMA currently not available” eg: not compliant. So I can’t really see this being a reason to keep it out.

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Hi @bradleyl.6u8dy4,

By the way, I’m a fellow member (Republic likes to call customers members) not staff.

As much as some of the more technically minded members here (myself included) would be willing, all phone testing is currently done internally by Republic staff.

You’re still a bit too focused on the hardware specs. Republic’s service blends the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) network of its former corporate parent Bandwidth.com with one of two cellular network partners. No other service provider blends VoIP for WiFi and cellular the way Republic does. Said blending does pose unique requirements that go beyond hardware specs and even Android versions. In other words, one manufacturer’s variant of Android 8.1 might work while another’s might not.

You are correct some Republic compatible phones are GSM only. In and of itself, that’s not the issue.

The bottom line is Republic won’t let a phone on its network until and unless Republic has tested it and confirmed that it works well with its blended service. You might look at it this way; Republic is currently unable to support iPhones. If it were you making the business decision where you invest limited resources, which would you choose? Getting iPhones running on your network (and I’m not saying that’s going to happen anytime soon or ever either) or getting Ulephones running?

Understandable but it’s not just Ulefone, but like Doogee and other Rugged Smartphones. There is a whole category of phones out the (rugged) that isn’t being supported, while one might argue “but no one is really supporting them” you might also argue “why not be the first?” this -could- be a potential untapped market, or it could be a niche category - and of this I am aware, and the risks in doing such.

What I am trying to get at here is - perhaps we should have some sort of Pre-testing group before Republic has to spend time, effort, money into the compatibility testing of the phones, something the general public could do, and then take notes on how many people are interested in what phones (rugged, gaming, holo-tech, or whatever else comes down the line, brand and model specific) then have a test done however fast they can do the tests for compatibility based on the most desired.

Example being the Doogee S60, yes there is a s60lite, s70, s80, even s90 - but if a large number of people chose the S60 for a “please consider testing this phone next” for Republic Wireless compatibility - then they would have an idea of a phone that isn’t so mainstream that is gaining attention - of at least a small portion of users - that could very well fit wonderfully into the Republic Family. To take that one step further, they would then be one of the few (if not the first) company to outright state they support that type of niche phone. (be it Rugged, Gaming, VR, whatever) - which can then churn not only more already-members to buying that phone, but also new individuals who may have never heard of Republic Wireless before.

And yes… on top of which, I personally get something I want, that’s not the point though - but if you only take that as the point - then also consider how much effort I am willing to put into it to get a Rugged phone on the Republic Wireless supported phones list - and I know at least 3 others (sure, it’s not thousands) who would love a rugged phone for similar activities. Biking, hiking, camping, outdoors sports in general, even dedicated Pokemon Go players. (10000 mAh battery and waterproof makes one hell of a PoGo device)

“So that’s why I ask/detail here…”

Even when RW only offered only Motorola phones and there were PTT (Push To Talk) handsets available from Moto those handsets were not offered with PTT support. The Relay devices seem to implement PTT functionality but I am only speculating without any understanding of what the underlying OS/platform is on that hardware. To breifify my speculative idea-thread here, PTT may not be as trivial to implement and support. as you appear to presume. I apoligize if I am conflating what you have written into something it’s not; just sayin’.

I am just inferring from the historical list of handsets.

And there is likely to be more than one other member who knows what the root issue is here. Getting their attention and luring a reply from them might prove enlightening. And may require some inspirational work as well; to draw them in and then out, so to speak, on this topic. The typical suggestion in that regard is to edit/craft a title for post in such a way as to attract comments on what you want answered.

You may have touched on it in regard to it only being available from a gsm-based partner carrier thus implementing it only on a subset of handsets,which may be a divisive policy in regard to both hardware/software development – will doing this impact product development negatively [possibly WAY] down the road? – and community/social bases – will this create an “us and them” within the community of users that has negative effects?. So both Engineering and social cohesiveness issues could, potentially, be involved, IMO. This is, after all, a community-based operation. We are here to help each other.

I realize this is more of a philosophical treatise than an actual answer, but it may still be relevant-- also IMO.

I am just speculating in response to such an open question, but does any of that seem like possibly/meaningful considerations? Not just word spray/salad…

The fact is that these niche phones can usually be brought to T-Mobile AT&T, or their traditional MVNOs for use. I would caution that much of the attractiveness of these phones may disappear when they are actually put to use. The major brands spend a lot of money developing phones, working through bugs, and making them perform nearly flawlessly. The off brands usually focus on getting a product out the door for quick sale. I’ve owned a number of these too good to be true phones, and they have all been, without exception, exactly that.

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So, to throw another wrench into the works, compatibility needs to be maintained throughout the life of the phone. You wouldn’t want to advertise compatibility today, only to have the manufacturer render the phone incompatible by leaving out an API in the next software update. For this reason, some level of relationship needs to be established between the OEM and the service provider (Republic Wireless). This is not a trivial matter.

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@bradleyl.6u8dy4
There are FAR more requests by long time and new RW customers for small phones, or basic, flip phone…and Nokia branded smart phones. Even more requests for iPhone support as well.

This obscure brand, that pretty much nobody has heard of, is not gonna ever be supported by a company like Republic. Also, obscure, one off specialty phones, like the RED or that Crypto mining phone or ASUS ROG gaming phone.

But…if you really want to use one of those phone, there are plenty of other MVNOs that do support the use of any phone. Mint, Fi, Metro…so check those companies out as they would be a better fit for your requirements.

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“But…if you really want to use one of those phone, there are plenty of other MVNOs that do support the use of any phone. Mint, Fi, Metro…so check those companies out as they would be a better fit for your requirements.”

Amen to that!
I admire your patience, SpeedingCheetah!

The issue I have here is, no one “in america” has heard of these phones, that’s for the simple fact that, America is not the entire world. There are plenty in the UK, China, and Russia that know - and review and use these phones.

While you mention some niche phones there - they have even less support than the one I am suggesting. Gaming Phones are a joke at best, simply tagging the hot clickbait word “gaming” onto a product and sell it for higher. This was proven years ago in the PC market, where “gaming” grade parts came in swarms, only - nearly none of them actually improved “gaming” over “non-gaming” labeled versions. Crypto Mining? Sorry if you think your PHONE is going to GENERATE money for you like that, your even more delusional than the miners already are/were. The bubble popped, mining is dead, or at least the majority of it.

I am not talking a 1-specific function device here, that happens to be installed into a phone, I am talking a TYPE of phone, that has multi-function/purpose. Something rugged can be used by anyone, not just ‘gamers’ and ‘elite specialists’, construction workers, military persons, kids that are a bit rough on electronics, etc. In fact, if Rugged phones became the ONLY phone out there - no one would mind, it would benefit everyone - except those that don’t like either the design, or the bulk they include. A 10,000 mAh battery isn’t small, and is going to increase the size of the phone drastically. There are other rugged phones that have half the battery life to solve that issue - but battery energy density is a thing, and we are at basically the peak that our current tech can produce. This means you want a longer lasting battery, you either have to cut the draw (power use) by dimming screens or killing functions, or make the battery physically larger.

it’s funny you mention Fi - because they have the EXACT SAME response as Republic Wireless did when I emailed them - to “buy the phone, use our sim, see if it works”

Kinda funny when even T-mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T - with Google FI and RW - all state the exact same thing. Made me wonder “what exactly does an ‘unlocked phone’ even mean then?”

So I found out.
“’ The point of unlocking the phone is to allow it to accept a SIM card from a different carrier so that the user can make phone calls, send text messages, use the new carrier’s mobile network, etc.”"

This boils down to having the network/bandwidths access (which are listed on any reputable seller’s description of the phone) so it can actually communicate with the devices (satellites, towers, etc)

Wile Republic Wireless claims it has an additional step - something to do with the “handshaking” of the Wifi to carry over into the network seamlessly (important if your mid-call or use, but otherwise easy to step around by establishing a connection first, then making a call or using the device) I fail to see how it could be so difficult to figure out if a phone can do this or not, especially as my Old, aged, weak Moto X Gen1 can do it, why couldn’t some of these “super phones” with 4x the memory, CPU, Storage space, internet speeds, bandwidths and more - do it? It makes little sense.

Republic provides service only in the US, what a consumer in Russia or China likes is of no relevance at all. And phones made for other regions often don’t even have the LTE bands for the US making whether they’re popular in China even less relevant. Borscht it pretty popular in Russia, but opening a borscht restaurant in Tulsa based on this would be a mistake.

That is not and has not ever been Republic’s answer. Republic’s answer is very specific. Use a phone on this list: Republic Wireless Phones – Republic Help anything else is a violation of the Terms of Service.

But they don’t. Republic has one list of phones that work. Everything else does not. Fi has two tiers of phones that get differing levels of service. AT&T / T-Mobile will activate almost any GSM phone but coverage and major features such as VoLTE and Wifi Calling may not work on unsupported phones. Sprint and Verizon are in a completely other tier as to what may activate on their networks.

The key here is that simply because you don’t understand doesn’t cause it to be false. Republic’s calling system is unique enough to be covered by several patents. This introduces a level of complexity that requires very specific things from the OS build on phones that isn’t apparent by looking at any tech spec. And comparing the legacy phones to modern phones is apples to oranges because in order to make it work on the legacy phones it required Motorola and Republic to modify the phone’s operating system to a custom version that makes the phones incompatible with any other network!

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The simple fact is…RW is an American Company providing service in America. It is not unreasonable that they are focusing their product availability in their target demographic. They do not offer International service and thus, are not focused on obscure hardware that is not used in the USA.

NO.
There is 2 types of unlock. Carrier unlock and Factory unlock.
It is a common misconception that they are one in the same.

Carrier unlocked is a Carrier modded device, with carrier specific and modded software builds on it, that can be SIM Unlocked to work on other carriers.

Factory unlocked is a device with Factory unmodified software, no carrier apps or rom
customization, and is already SIM unlocked to work on any carrier.

It has been stated already, Republic only allows certain North American Factory Unlocked devices on their network. These are models that have been tested by them, and to which they have communication and dealings with the manufacturer of the device to further support their own proprietary hybrid coverage and software tech…etc. If that company wont work with RW, then RW will not be able to test or allow their devices on their service. And the chances of some unknown to USA users, companies like you mention, a company that may have little to no products or support in the USA…u think they will be willing to work with a USA based small business so closely…highly unlikely. You can complain to RW all you want, but you really should be complain to the manufacture of the device. I would be very surprised if they paid any attention to you though.

ANd again, u are free to use that device on other providers. there are many that have very close pricing to RW.

Edit: I am not arguing your desire or reasons for using a “Rugged” phone. But for the average person…they can make their current phone “Rugged” enough by buying a LifeProof case or an OtterBox. I see it all the time. Police and Constriction workers have their S9 or whatever in a thick otter box case and their phones get all beat up with use and the case protects the actual phone fine.

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Fi is different. And it is only a recent change they have made to allow "Not designed for Fi’ devices. They used to be exclusive to only 3 phones.

When u look into it, those phones are not really working on Fi, but are just stuck on the Tmobile network. All the Fi features do not exist on those devices. (network switching, VVM, VOLTE, wifi calling…etc) Also, them now allowing any and all devices has crippled any Support system they had in place. As you can not call in or get in contact with Support anymore as they are over run with folks with issues.

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that’s rather odd, because just a day ago I emailed support and got ahold of them and talked about my dying phone and the ability to switch over to them, using a new phone (the Ulefone) and they gave me excellent support, as far as comparing them to every single other provider I have emailed. (they all said the same thing, give the IMEI or buy the phone and try our sim card yourself) This is with contacting and emailing T-mobile, Verizon, Sprint, Google Fi, Republic Wireless, Boost, and a few others I can’t remember off the top of my head…

So where exactly are you pulling this “can not call or get in contact with support anymore” theory?

That is your opinion. Others may think that Rugged phones, or flip phone, or dual screen phones… are a joke to them.
Or phones that are test tools, like the FLIR Infrared cameraphone…or the phone that is an OBDII test computer or other specialty phones.

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From personal experience with Fi.
I have already posted my full experience with them on their own forums.
And many more users posted there similar experiences.
They shut off their phone support when too busy, chat also is spotty and emails takes weeks to months to get back to you. (I still have my emails from them that state they “are too busy to address your issue at this time” )
Fi also does not have any Employees or staff on their forums whom can directly help folks with legit issues that need higher level access.

Edit: Anyway…further talk about my Fi experience is going off topic a bit.
The Customer Service and Support of RW, not just the low cost, is what keeps me on RW over any other company. They have been VERY communicative and helpful when i need them

actually while they mention this, they also simply suggested to get the Sim card kit (which they sent me) and pop it into the phone and give it a try. So either the people Emailing me don’t know what they are talking about, or the forums are getting confused, or a bit of both.

an INCOMPLETE list at that. You can’t expect me to believe they have tried literally every phone in the US - let alone world wide available, can you? Even they don’t try to claim such a thing. They simply try the most common, the most branded, or the highest paying phone manufacturer - don’t kid yourself, they have to make money too, after all.

From the emails the “unsupported phones” are more likely to be “untested” phones, and the comment they seem to all state (RW included) is “buy/obtain our sim card and try it yourself”

That’s the whole reason this post even started - btw- because “buying a phone that may not work” is a huge gamble.

kinda funny since the friends I have that use it - claim the opposite, with no problems and “just like any other carrier” service/chat experience.

Weeks and months to get back to you? Odd how someone who doesn’t even have the service can get an email within 24 hours then, and someone who does have service with them - gets a response in the same amount of time. How many years ago was this for you? Ever think maybe they got more employees or handle it better or basically changed? I don’t want out dated information.

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