We’ve already stacked Google Fi against two of the Big Three — Verizon and AT&T. Now, it’s time to see how the MVNO fares against its host network, T-Mobile. The two may share a network, but there’s far more that sets them apart. We’ll dig into all of the most important categories to help you decide on a new mobile carrier. Ready to learn more in our Google Fi vs T-Mobile comparison? Let’s get to it.
We’ve compared the prices, coverage, and even the phones you can bring to both networks. If you want to see how Fi stacked up against Verizon, click here. For the AT&T comparison, click here. Now, let’s get to the comparison.
Google Fi vs T-Mobile — Pricing
T-Mobile and Google Fi tend to find themselves remarkably close in terms of pricing, at least if you have a plan with only a few lines. As you reach three and four-line plans, the Uncarrier actually becomes the more affordable option. However, it can’t really compete with the convenience of the Flexible plan. Before we get too into the details, check out the comparison table to get a sense of where we’re going:
|Google Fi costs||T-Mobile costs|
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
$60 for one line
$45 for two lines
$30 for three lines
$26 for four lines
Google Fi costs:Unlimited Plus
$70 for one line
$60 for two lines
$50 for three lines
$45 for four lines
$70 for one line
$60 for two lines
$40 for three lines
$35 for four lines
Google Fi costs:None
T-Mobile costs:Magenta Max
$85 for one line
$70 for two lines
$47 for three lines
$43 for four lines
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
As you can see, the T-Mobile Essentials plan is almost identical to Google’s new Simply Unlimited option. Both start at $60 for one line and dip down to $30 by the time you reach your third connection. However, Essentials gets the edge when you add the fourth phone, bottoming out at just $26 per line.
If you want to spend a little more money on some extra features, the Unlimited Plus plan matches up pretty well with T-Mobile’s Magenta option. You’ll pay $70 and $60 for one and two lines on both carriers, and this is your best bet for extra perks like Netflix and Google One.
T-Mobile has the most expensive overall option with Magenta Max, and it offers more data than you can shake a stick at. It offers fully unlimited premium data, and you even get 40GB of hotspot access to work with. Sure, it will cost you $85 for one line, but the rate nearly halves to $43 once you hit four lines.
After the unlimited plans are all said and done, Google Fi still has its Flexible card to play. It offers all of the talk and text you could need, and you’ll pay based on your data usage. After a certain point, even the data used becomes free to keep your bill from climbing too high.
If these prices put you off, it might be time to check out an MVNO instead. Here are a few that use T-Mobile’s network:
Google Fi vs T-Mobile — Coverage
Comparing the network coverage of T-Mobile and Google Fi is something like looking in a mirror. Both carriers rely on the magenta network for the vast majority of their 4G LTE and 5G coverage. That means you should have a pretty solid blanket of service throughout the United States.
However, Google Fi has another trick up its sleeve that puts it slightly ahead of T-Mobile’s coverage. It blends US Cellular coverage with T-Mobile’s extensive network to give you the best chance at speed. As long as you have a phone built for Fi, you should have no problems bouncing between networks for whichever signal is stronger at any given time. You won’t find US Cellular’s 5G network outside of the Midwest, but it’s still a great backup to have available.
T-Mobile’s map above does a solid job of showing where the carrier claims to offer 5G coverage. Of course, much of this is the longer-distance 600Mhz coverage. You can check out the full map right here. Google Fi’s map looks slightly different, even though it relies primarily on the same towers. Check out the specifics of your local zipcode here.
Google Fi vs T-Mobile — Perks and promotions
So we’ve pretty much established that you’ll pay about the same amount, and the coverage is pretty close between Goole Fi and T-Mobile. One of the last ways to set the two apart is with the perks and promotions you’ll get. Sometimes a nice streaming option can go a long way, and T-Mobile comes out just ahead on that front. However, Google Fi is not without its benefits. Check out our quick table to see what we mean:
|T-Mobile Magenta||1 screen of Netflix Basic with 2 or more lines|
|T-Mobile Magenta Max||1 screen of Netflix Basic with 1 line|
2 screens of Netflix Standard with 2 or more lines
|Google Fi Flexible||None|
|Google Fi Simply Unlimited||None|
|Google Fi Unlimited Plus||Google One membership|
If you have hopes of bingeing Shadow and Bone or someday watching Stranger Things season four, T-Mobile is the place to be. Once you sign up for a Magenta-level plan, you’ll get at least one screen of Netflix Basic to binge the day away. Should you opt for Magenta Max, you’ll get Netflix Standard instead. You won’t get a free music streaming perk to enjoy, but at least Netflix beats not having a perk.
Over on Google Fi, you’ll have to jump to the premium Unlimited Plus plan for any added excitement. You won’t get a streaming perk of any kind, but you will get a Google One membership. It’s useful if you’re looking for discounts on Google products or a little extra cloud storage. However, the Simply Unlimited and Flexible users are pretty much out in the cold as far as perks go.
As for discounts, T-Mobile is probably still your winner. It offers various BOGO deals and hefty discounts on the latest from Apple, Samsung, and more. In fact, you can get a free 5G-ready phone just for making the switch to the Uncarrier. Google Fi might be your best bet if you want a Samsung Galaxy device right now. It’s currently offering up to $300 off the brand-new Galaxy S21 family, or you can snag the previous Galaxy S20 lineup at an impressive $600 off. Check out both offers here.
See also: The best T-Mobile deals
Google Fi vs T-Mobile — Phone selections
It’s not too surprising to hear that Google Fi won’t sell you an iPhone. However, you might be surprised to learn that the carrier does, in fact, support them. You’ll just have to bring one for yourself. Google Fi will instead try to steer you towards an Android device, especially one that’s specifically designed for the carrier. You can buy the latest Pixels, Galaxy devices, and even Motorola’s Moto G series straight from Fi or bring a phone from the extensive list of options. We’ve created a list of our favorites, or you can search for a specific model right here.
T-Mobile, on the other hand, will sell you just about any one of the latest smartphones. It carries everything from Apple to Samsung and even OnePlus. That means you can dip into the iPhone 12 series, Google’s Pixel 5, or any of Samsung’s Galaxy S21 devices. You can bring even more devices, just as long as they support the right mix of GSM bands.
Which carrier is right for you?
Finally, the answer you’ve been waiting for — which carrier should you choose? In the T-Mobile vs Google Fi showdown, it’s not nearly so simple. Ultimately, you have to choose based on your needs. The two carriers share a great network, plenty of phones, and some of the best prices around. Google Fi brings US Cellular into the picture, and it’s the perfect mate for a Pixel device. However, you won’t get a full slate of features on an iPhone, and there are just three 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: