Option 1: Republic Wireless

Republic Wireless uses Sprint's network so let's check Sprint's coverage map.

Got coverage? Good. Now:

Republic Wireless is pretty different from the other options we will look at. It only offers two phones, the Moto G and Moto X. They both have great reviews, and Republic Wireless has another thing going for it—price. At just $25 per month for unlimited calls, texts, and internet, Republic Wireless trounces every other carrier on price. If you want to spend even less, they have $5 and $10 plans as well.

How can they do this? Wi-Fi. When you're in range of Wi-Fi, instead of using Sprint's network, it sends calls and texts right over the internet. It's a pretty clever system. It's simple and it works great. They are the best service for most people in the United States.

You can sign up at Republic Wireless's website.

Skeptical? Don't take my word for it.

Option 2:
$200 Unlocked Smartphone & Cheap T-Mobile Prepaid Service

First, check T-Mobile's coverage map.

Online T-Mobile Special

T-Mobile currently has an internet only special where $30 per month gets you 5 GB of data, unlimited texting, and 100 voice minutes. If 100 minutes isn't enough, you can add money directly to your account and spend 10 cents for each additional voice minute you use. Alternatively, there are VoIP services like Skype that could replace your voice usage entirely. Also, you can use that 5GB however you want—even as a portable hotspot with no additional fees.

Update: There's a catch with that 100 minutes. Let's say you use all of your minutes. At that point, you would be able to start the next month early and get another 100, but that’s probably not very cost effective. As I said earlier, you could add money to your account. Unfortunately, this can take time to transfer in. So what you should do is add money ahead of time.

So, let’s say you add $10. That $10 credit will last for the next 90 days. That’s ok, but you might want it to last longer. If you add $100, it will last for a whole year.

Got coverage? Good. Now:

  1. Order Moto G from Amazon for ~$200.
  2. Order T-Mobile micro sim card for $10.
  3. Pop sim card into phone.
  4. Figure out a plan that works for you.
  5. Activate your phone service.

Option 3:
$200 Unlocked Smartphone & Cheap AT&T Prepaid Service

First, check AT&T's Coverage Map.

Got coverage? Good. Now:

This time, instead of going directly through the carrier themselves, we're going to go through a wireless reseller, aka, an MVMO.

There are many available including:

Got a plan? Good.

  1. Order Moto G from Amazon for ~$200.
  2. Order a micro sim from your MVMO.
  3. Pop sim card into Nexus.
  4. Activate your phone service.
© Philip Swanson