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Google Fi Wireless vs AT&T: Which carrier comes out on top?

Should you go for AT&T's massive network or Google Fi's connection flexibility?
By

Published onJune 14, 2023

Google Fi Wireless logo on smartphone with SIM card and SIM ejector next to it Stock photo 1

In a crowded market of US mobile carriers, only one can reign supreme. This time around, we’re pitting Google’s flexible upstart, Fi, against one of the oldest and largest carriers, AT&T. Will the unique MVNO have what it takes to outperform Big Blue? Let’s find out in our Google Fi Wireless vs AT&T showdown.

We’ve set our sights on the plans, perks, promotions, and coverage in this head-to-head battle. If you want to see how Verizon stood up against Google Fi Wireless, read more here. Now, let’s get into the details.

Google Fi Wireless vs AT&T — Pricing

ATT logo stock image 2

AT&T tends to find itself pretty close to Verizon regarding pricing, which probably is not what you want to hear. Of course, we’re talking about a massive nationwide network here, so you’ll get top-notch service for your money. Before we offer a full breakdown, here’s a quick reference table of each carrier’s costs:

Google Fi CostsAT&T Costs
Entry-Level Unlimited Plan
Google Fi Costs
Simply Unlimited
$60 for one line
$45 per line for two lines
$30 per line for three lines
$30 per line for four lines
AT&T Costs
Unlimited Starter
$65 for one line
$60 for two lines
$45 for three lines
$35 for four lines
Mid-Level Unlimited Plan
Google Fi Costs
Unlimited Plus
$70 for one line
$60 for two lines
$50 for three lines
$45 for four lines
AT&T Costs
Unlimited Extra
$75 for one line
$65 for two lines
$50 for three lines
$40 for four lines
High-End Unlimited Plan
Google Fi Costs
None
AT&T Costs
Unlimited Elite
$85 for one line
$75 for two lines
$60 for three lines
$50 for four lines
Other Plans
Google Fi Costs
Flexible Plan
$20 for one line
$18 per line for two lines
$17 per line for three lines
$17 per line for four lines
Plus $10 per GB of data used
AT&T Costs
None

As far as costs go, Google Fi’s Unlimited Plus plan falls pretty close in line with AT&T’s mid-level Unlimited Extra plan. It’s the more expensive unlimited plan that Fi offers, but it’s tough to categorize properly. Fi’s Unlimited Plus plan starts at $70 per month, between the Unlimited Starter and Unlimited Extra tiers. It bottoms out at $45 per month as well, which is more expensive than Big Blue’s four-line plans.

The new Simply Unlimited Google Fi plan kicks off at $60 per month if you want a more affordable alternative. It drops to $45 per line with two lines and $30 per line for three or more, making it an excellent low-cost alternative.

AT&T holds down the most expensive slot if you go for Unlimited Premium, with plans starting at $85 per month. It stays more costly even as you reach four lines, though you’ll get a few perks that help to sweeten the deal.

After all the unlimited options are said and done, Google Fi still has a card to play — the flexible plan. You’ll pay a low monthly cost for your calling and texting, and Google Fi charges based on the data you use during the month. Each Gig will run you $10 up to 6GB on a single-line plan, after which all further data is free.

If you’re hoping to save some cash, an MVNO might be more your speed. We’re big fans of Metro by T-Mobile and Cricket Wireless, just to get you started.

Google Fi vs AT&T — Coverage

google fi map 2021

We all know AT&T’s massive network is one of the best around, but Google Fi has another trick up its sleeve. Rather than sticking with a single carrier for service, it blends T-Mobile and UScellular for the bulk of its service. Fi also uses the dwindling remnants of Sprint to offer CDMA coverage in very few locations. So long as your phone is designed to work with Google Fi, you should switch between the networks seamlessly.

If you look at the map above, the darkest green area indicates Google Fi Wireless’s 5G coverage. The lighter areas show off 4G LTE coverage in comparison. Google Fi relies on T-Mobile’s 5G network for top-end speeds, so don’t be afraid to reference the Uncarrier’s map for accurate coverage as well. Check your local Google Fi coverage with a zip code right here.

On the other hand, AT&T offers some of the most wide-reaching 4G coverage in the nation. The Big Blue network covers parts of all 50 states as well as a solid portion of Canada. You’ll have to zoom in quite close on the map for an accurate picture of 5G coverage, though. AT&T relies primarily on wide-reaching 5G, though its 5G Plus network is available in select cities. Find out more with this map.

Google Fi Wireless vs AT&T — Perks and promotions

The VPN by Google One website.

Coverage is essential, and you have to know what you’re willing to pay, but sometimes a nice mix of perks can tip the scale one way or the other. They help round out your experience, and most top carriers throw at least one into the fray. We used to give AT&T a slight edge when it comes to streaming, but Google Fi is useful in its own right. Here’s an overview of the perks:

Perks
AT&T Unlimited Starter
None
AT&T Unlimited Extra
None
AT&T Unlimited Elite
HBO Max subscription
Google Fi Unlimited
Google One subscription

AT&T used to offer an HBO Max subscription with its top Unlimited Elite tier. However, it’s now rebranded to Unlimited Premium, and the perk has gone away with the old name. There’s no trial of Stadia Pro, either, now that Google has axed its gaming service.

On Google Fi Wireless, you’re looking at a free welcome to the Google One service. It’s only worth $2 per month, but it offers a boost to cloud storage, special deals, and support for other Google products. You’ll only find Google One on the Unlimited Plus plan, though, Flexible and Simply Unlimited subscribers are left hanging.

AT&T tends to have a better selection in terms of deals as well. It offers a larger catalog of devices, which means more room to slash prices. In fact, AT&T has been offering $800 off top Android phones with a trade-in for a while now. Better yet, you don’t have to be a new subscriber to get access to the deal. Over at Google Fi, you’re looking at up to $800 off the Samsung Galaxy S23 series or Motorola’s new Razr Plus, as well as up to $1,000 off the premium Pixel Fold.

Google Fi vs AT&T — Phone selections

motorola razr plus cover screen viva magenta

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Google Fi won’t sell you an iPhone. It will primarily try to set you up with a Pixel, Samsung Galaxy, or Motorola device. However, you can bring a nearly endless list of devices to the network, which means iPhones are back on the menu. Not all phones will offer the same features, though, so check your compatibility first. We have a list of the best phones you can bring to Google Fi, or you can always search for your specific model here.

AT&T, on the other hand, will sell you just about any mainstream device you can think of. It has phones from Samsung, OnePlus, Apple, and more. That means you’re open to the iPhone 14 family, the Galaxy S23, or any member of the new Pixel 7 family. Of course, you can also bring a phone to AT&T; you’ll have to be sure that it works with the carrier’s GSM format.

Which carrier is right for you?

Finally, the answer that you’re no doubt looking for — which carrier should you choose? In the battle of Google Fi vs AT&T, the answer isn’t nearly that simple. Ultimately, it depends on your personal needs. AT&T has a great network, plenty of local stores, and slightly more phones to choose from. However, it tends to cost a bit more. Google Fi offers a solid blend of networks, and it’s the perfect mate for a Pixel device. You just won’t get a full slate of features on an iPhone, and there are just three simple plans to choose from.

Maybe neither one is right for you. There are plenty of other networks in the running, and each one offers its own benefits and drawbacks. After all, this isn’t a race to the finish line.