Are you ready to dump those big carriers, with all their contracts, hidden charges, and unreasonable fees? There are some great options in the market, but many argue Google Fi (previously known as Project Fi) is among the best. It is affordable, simple, and transparent.
You will get no surprises with Google Fi. Google is very clear about its prices. The equation is rather simple. You are charged a base price for basic services and what you pay will mostly be affected by the amount of data you use.
Those looking to switch to Google Fi have come to the right place. In this post we will give you all the details you need, as well as info on how much you will be shelling out for a Google Fi plan. Shall we dig right in?
How does Google Fi work?
Google Fi is the company’s first real attempt at entering the carrier market and it’s taking a slightly different approach. In essence, Fi is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) with a twist. In the U.S., Google Fi piggybacks off three other networks: Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular.
It uses whichever network has the strongest signal available, so you have the best signal possible at all times. Normally this would be a nightmare when the time to pay royalties comes, but Google has a trick up its sleeve. When connected to Wi-Fi, Google Fi routes all calls, messages, and (of course) data through your internet connection. This should reduce their bills plenty, as many of us spend most of our days near a Wi-Fi connection.
It’s a very nifty and unconventional system, which also means you need nifty and unconventional software to handle things.
Until just recently, Project Fi supported a limited number of Android phones. However, when the change to using Google Fi as its new name, the company has added support not only for many more Android phones but for Apple’s iPhones as well. In that particular case, iPhone users can sign up via the new Google Fi for iOS app, which is currently in beta. From there, you can pick how you want your plan to look.
While many more phones now work on Google Fi, some of them do not support the carrier’s nicer features, like automatic carrier switching, Google Fi’s VPN or Wi-Fi calls. You can go here to see if your phone is compatible with Google Fi and which features may or may not be missing. Here’s a list of the phones Google Fi currently supports.
* = Supports automatic network switching, Google Fi VPN, and Wi-Fi calls
- iPhone 5S
- iPhone 6/6 Plus
- iPhone 6S/6S Plus
- iPhone SE
- iPhone 7/7 Plus
- iPhone 8/8 Plus
- iPhone X
- iPhone XS/XS Max
- iPhone XR
- Moto E4 Plus
- Moto E5/E5 Play/E5 Plus
- Moto G5/G5S
- Moto G5 Plus/G5S Plus
- Moto G6*
- Moto G6 Play/G6 Plus
- Moto One/One Power
- Moto Z
- Moto Z2 Play/Z2 Force
- Moto Z3/Z3 Play
- Moto X4 Android One edition/Open Market edition*
- Nokia 7.1
- Nokia 8 Sirocco
- OnePlus 3
- OnePlus 3T
- OnePlus 5
- OnePlus 5T
- OnePlus 6
- OnePlus 6T
- Galaxy Note 9
- Galaxy Note 8
- Galaxy S9/S9 Plus
- Galaxy S8/S8 Plus/S8 Active
- Galaxy S7/S7 Edge/S7 Active
- Galaxy S6/S6 Edge/S6 Edge Plus/S6 Active
- Galaxy J7 (2018)
- Galaxy J7 (2017)
- Galaxy J3 (2018)
- Galaxy J3 (2017)
- Galaxy A6
- Mi A2
You get all the perks!
What makes Google Fi so awesome, especially if you use a phone with all of its features, is it gives users all the perks of a large carrier with none of the downsides.
For starters, you can opt to buy a phone with installments, which is always a nice option if you don’t have hundreds of dollars to drop on the spot. Hotspot data sharing is included for free. You can also trade handsets in for credit towards your next phone (or towards your account if the price of the trade-in exceeds the value of the new phone).
Another great perk you get with Google Fi is international coverage. You can roam within more than 170 countries without paying extra charges for data and texting. Texting is still unlimited and data costs the same as in the United States. Making and receiving cellular calls will simply cost you $0.20 per minute when using Project Fi in one of the more than 170 listed countries (cellular rates outside those countries will vary). Cellular and Wi-Fi calling rates to international numbers vary (check international rates here), but receiving calls over Wi-Fi is free.
Let’s talk money
Google Fi’s cost equation is rather simple, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Unlimited calls and texts: $20
- Data: $10 per GB
- Extra lines: $15 per line (up to five extra lines, six in total)
Google also offers a complimentary service called Bill Protection. With Bill Protection, you are no longer charged for extra data once you reach a certain amount of gigabytes. The amount of GB used before Bill Protection kicks depends on the number of lines you have. After reaching this cap, you will no longer be charged for extra data.
- 1 line: 6GB
- 2 lines: 10GB
- 3 lines: 12GB
- 4 lines: 14GB
- 5 lines: 16GB
- 6 lines: 18GB
You will be throttled after using 15GB, but most carriers do the same sort of thing with their unlimited data plans. They just keep the details hidden in small print, somewhere in a 20-page document. If you really don’t want to be slowed down after 15GB, you can simply pay the usual $10 per GB for data used past 15GB in a given cycle.
Google Fi recently introduced true unlimited plans as well. Prices begin at $70 a month for one line, $60 a month each for two lines, $50 a month each for three lines and $40 a month each for four, five or six lines. Taxes and fees are not included in these prices. They include unlimited data, calls and texts in the US, free calls to 50 countries and territories, and unlimited data and texting abroad in 200 countries.
In addition, Google Fi unlimited plan customers can also get free 100GB of cloud storage via Google One, special discounts for other Google products and more. Google does state that download speeds may slow down if customers exceed 22GB of date before their monthly billing period ends. Also, at times video streaming quality may be cut down to 480p.
Extra fees to look out for?
The great thing about using a Google Fi plan is that surprise fees are rare — unless you start making long voice calls internationally.
Data and text messages cost the same in any of the over 170 supported markets. When you’re outside the U.S. in one of those supported countries, you’ll simply pay $0.20 per minute to make or receive cellular calls. Outgoing calls only incur extra fees when roaming or calling countries outside the United States and Canada with no Wi-Fi (check international rates here).
We are fans of Google Fi’s simplicity. You know what you are paying for and no weird surprises pop up. Google ensures you only pay for what you use — heck, you don’t even get charged for a full GB if you don’t use it all — and Google voluntarily offered Bill Protection for free when it could have easily made it a premium unlimited option.
It seems insane you could be paying under $30 for your phone plan, especially with Wi-Fi hotspots, international coverage, and much more. Since Google Fi uses three big U.S. networks, you rarely have a weak signal either. It’s easy for any one network to mess up, but three going down at once is unheard of. When all is said and done, Google Fi offers the best of all possible worlds.
Anyone signing up for a Google Fi plan? Do we have any Google Fi users around here? Hit the comments and tell us what you think of the service.