In the never-ending quest to be the best carrier around, only one can emerge victoriously. This time around, we’re pitting high-tech newcomer Google Fi against one of the oldest carriers around, AT&T. Will the unique MVNO have what it takes to outperform Big Blue? Let’s find out in our Google Fi 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, read more here. Now, let’s get into the details.
Google Fi vs AT&T — Pricing
AT&T tends to find itself pretty close to Verizon in terms of pricing, which isn’t great for most people’s wallets. 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 Costs||AT&T Costs|
|Entry-Level Unlimited Plan||Unlimited|
$70 for one line
$60 per line for two lines
$50 per line for three lines
$45 per line for four lines
$65 for one line
$60 for two lines
$45 for three lines
$35 for four lines
|Mid-Level Unlimited Plan||None||Unlimited Extra|
$75 for one line
$65 for two lines
$50 for three lines
$40 for four lines
|High-End Unlimited Plan||None||Unlimited Elite|
$85 for one line
$75 for two lines
$60 for three lines
$50 for four lines
|Other Plans||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
As far as costs go, Google Fi falls pretty close in line with AT&T’s mid-level Unlimited Extra plan. Of course, it’s the only unlimited plan that Fi offers, so it’s tough to properly categorize. Fi’s Unlimited plan starts at $70 per month, which is between the Unlimited Starter and Unlimited Extra tiers. It bottoms out at $45 per month as well, which is actually more expensive than Big Blue’s four-line plans.
AT&T holds down the most expensive slot if you go for Unlimited Elite, with plans starting at $85 per month. It stays more expensive even as you reach four lines, though you’ll get a few perks that help to sweeten the deal.
After all of 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. Here are just a few top picks:
Google Fi vs AT&T — Coverage
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 US Cellular for the bulk of its service. Fi uses the dwindling remnants of Sprint to offer CDMA coverage as well. So long as your phone is designed to work with Google Fi, you should switch between the networks seamlessly.
If you take a look at the map above, the darkest green area indicates Google Fi’s 4G coverage. The lighter areas show off 3G and 2G coverage in comparison. Google Fi relies on T-Mobile’s 5G network for top-end speeds, so don’t be afraid to reference that 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 vs AT&T — Perks and promotions
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 to round out your experience, and most top carriers throw at least one into the fray. We have 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:
|AT&T Unlimited Starter||None|
|AT&T Unlimited Extra||None|
|AT&T Unlimited Elite||HBO Max subscription|
|Google Fi Unlimited||Google One subscription|
Whether you’re rewatching Game of Thrones or you want to catch Wonder Woman 1984, AT&T is the way to go. It’s the only carrier to offer a free HBO Max subscription, even if you have to get Unlimited Elite for the perk. You won’t find any music perks or other benefits, but the HBO Max library is nothing to ignore.
On Google Fi, 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 plan, though, Flexible subscribers are left hanging.
AT&T tends to have a better selection in terms of perks as well. It offers a larger catalog of devices, which means more room to slash prices. In fact, AT&T has been offering $700 off top phones with a trade-in for a few months 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 $300 off most of the newest Samsung Galaxy devices as long as you activate your service today.
See also: The best AT&T deals
Google Fi vs AT&T — Phone selections
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Google Fi won’t sell you an iPhone. In fact, 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 that 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.
See also: The 10 best Google Fi phones to get
AT&T, on the other hand, will sell you just about any mainstream device you can think of. It has phones from Samsung, LG, OnePlus, Apple, and more. That means you’re open to the iPhone 12 family, the LG Velvet, or any member of the new Pixel 5 family. Of course, you can also bring a phone to AT&T, you’ll just 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 own personal needs. AT&T has a great network, plenty of local stores, and HBO Max included with its top plan. 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 two plans to choose from.
When all is said and done, 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. Here are even more carriers to research: