The Google Fi packaging.

Google boasts a successful line of Pixel phones and a more extensive smart home product portfolio than you can shake a stick at. Why not let it manage your mobile coverage? Google Fi is unique among MVNOs, and it supports a jaw-dropping list of phones. If you want an alternative to the Big Three that’s all about flexibility, it just might be the way to go.

Google Fi’s plans fall into two basic categories, so we’ll cover them both in our breakdown. We’ll also touch on the long list of devices you can bring to the network from OEMs around the world. Although Google Fi is an MVNO already, we’ll touch on a few of its top competitors to give you a bigger picture. Ready to try the carrier made by Google? Let’s get to it.

Google Fi at a glance

Google launched its MVNO, then known as Project Fi, in April 2015 by invitation only alongside the Nexus 6. Project Fi expanded to the rest of the public in 2016, though it’s tricky to track down an accurate number of subscribers. Project Fi rebranded to Google Fi in 2018 and has grown to support more devices, including iPhones, in the years since.

The carrier does not have its own Better Business Bureau page — instead, it falls under the Google umbrella. As a whole, Google carries a flat B rating and a one-star customer average. It’s closed 5,327 complaints in the last three years and is not a BBB-accredited organization.

We’ve mentioned that Google Fi is unique among MVNOs, but here’s why — it combines T-Mobile’s and US Cellular’s networks for coverage. Sprint used to contribute to Google Fi, but now it’s fully controlled by T-Mobile. The combination of networks means that Fi switches automatically to provide the best service wherever you go.

Thanks to its relationship with T-Mobile, Google Fi devices can tap into nationwide 5G. Of course, you’ll have to make sure that your phone is 5G-capable, but there are no extra hoops to jump through.

You can check out the coverage map for yourself right here.

The best Google Fi plans

There are now three simple Google Fi plans — two with unlimited data and another where you pay as you go. Each has its perks, but it’s up to you to decide which fits your needs. Both plans work for up to six lines, so it’s a great option for larger families. Check out the table below for more specifics:

FlexibleSimply UnlimitedUnlimited Plus
Cost
Flexible:
$20 for one line
$18 for two lines
$17 for three lines
$17 for four lines
Simply Unlimited:
$60 for one line
$45 for two lines
$30 for three lines
$30 for four lines
Unlimited Plus:
$70 for one line
$60 for two lines
$50 for three lines
$45 for four lines
Talk & Text
Flexible:
Unlimited
Simply Unlimited:
Unlimited
Unlimited Plus:
Unlimited
Data
Flexible:
$10 per GB used
Simply Unlimited:
Unlimited up to 22GB
Unlimited Plus:
Unlimited up to 22GB
Hotspot
Flexible:
Full-speed at $10 per GB rate
Simply Unlimited:
No hotspot included
Unlimited Plus:
Full-speed included
International
Flexible:
Calls starting at $0.01 per minute
Free texts
Data at $10 per GB rate
Simply Unlimited:
Free calls to Canada and Mexico
Low rates to other countries
Unlimited Plus:
Free calls to over 50 countries
Free texts
Free data
Extras
Flexible:
Data free after per-month limit
Simply Unlimited:
None
Unlimited Plus:
Google One membership

Flexible

The best way to save some money with Google Fi is to opt for the Flexible plan. You’ll pay a monthly rate for service — no more than $20 per month — and then pay per gig of data you use. Data access becomes free after reaching a certain threshold each month, just 6GB for a single line. After that, you can still use high-speed data up to 12GB without further fees. It works as a cap for your bill, so you never pay more than a specific price. What you do with that data is up to you; full-speed hotspot access is included.

If you plan to go abroad following the current COVID-19 pandemic, Fi is the plan to beat. You get free texts, international calls from just one cent per minute, and data at the standard rate.

Highlights:

  • Low price for monthly service
  • Pay $10 per GB used
  • Go abroad with cheap text, data, and free texting

Best for:

  • Users who need talk and text but have flexible data usage

Simply Unlimited

Google recently split its unlimited tier in half, making a slightly more affordable option for those who plan to stay right here in the US. The Simply Unlimited plan, as it’s called, offers all of the talk, text, and data you need as well as free calls to Canada and Mexico. The big kicker is that Simply Unlimited starts at $60 per month for one user, saving you some money over the all-in unlimited plan.

You’ll still get 22GB of high-speed data, but there’s no hotspot tethering this time around. Simply Unlimited doesn’t come with a baked-in Google One membership either, so you may have to drop a few extra dollars each month.

Highlights:

  • Lower price for unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Free calls to Canada and Mexico
  • No international data or texts

Best for:

  • Users who need talk, text, and data but plan to stay in the US

Unlimited Plus

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing — at least that’s the idea behind the Google Fi Unlimited Plus plan. Built for users who know they need it all, the top-tier plan adds plenty of extra goodies on top of unlimited talk, text, and data. Starting at $70 per person, you can take full advantage of a mobile hotspot connection and video streams at DVD quality (480p). The Unlimited plan includes a Google One membership with 100GB of cloud storage for free to make things even better.

Google Fi Unlimited is the better international option, too, as data usage is free along with texting. You’ll still pay for calling, but more than 50 countries come with your monthly rate.

Highlights:

  • Use as much data as you want, up to 22GB
  • Google One membership included
  • Go abroad with free texts and data as well as low calling rates

Best for:

  • Users who want it all and plan to spend ample time abroad

Which plan is right for you?

google fi welcome

It’s pretty easy to determine which plan is right for you — ask yourself how much data you plan to use. If it’s more than around four or five gigs per line, opt for one of the Unlimited plans’ freedom. However, if you spend almost all day on Wi-Fi and you only use a little bit of mobile data per month, grab the Flexible plan.

You can also use international access as your deciding factor. Google Fi is only available to US-based users, but if you plan to spend a lot of time abroad, you may want to pick the Unlimited Plus plan. You could try Simply Unlimited if you plan to call our North American neighbors, too. If you only travel here and there, the Flexible plan should offer enough access.

Google Fi vs the competition

Cricket Wireless stock photo 2
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

The best way to choose your next carrier is to stack all of your options in a head-to-head showdown. Of course, it’s only fair to compare Google Fi to some of the other top MVNOs on the market. We’ve grabbed our favorite options from the Big Three — one each on Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T. You can learn more about our top picks over on the Best prepaid and no-contract plans in the US.

Cricket MoreVisibleMint MobileGoogle Fi
Cost
Cricket More:
$60 for one line
$90 for two lines
$110 for three lines
$130 for four lines
Visible:
$40 per month
Mint Mobile:
$45 per month
Google Fi:
$70 for one line
$60 for two lines
$50 for three lines
$45 for four lines
Host Operator
Cricket More:
AT&T
Visible:
Verizon
Mint Mobile:
T-Mobile
Google Fi:
T-Mobile
Sprint
US Cellular
Talk and Text
Cricket More:
Unlimited
Visible:
Unlimited
Mint Mobile:
Unlimited
Google Fi:
Unlimited
Data
Cricket More:
Unlimited 4G LTE
Visible:
Unlimited 4G LTE
Mint Mobile:
Unlimited
Google Fi:
Unlimited
Extras
Cricket More:
Standard Definition streaming
15GB Mobile hotspot
Visible:
Mobile Hotspot
Mint Mobile:
None
Google Fi:
Full-speed hotspot
Google One membership
International
Cricket More:
Mexico and Canada usage up to 50%
Texting to 37 countries
Visible:
None
Mint Mobile:
International calls to Mexico and Canada
International texting
Google Fi:
Free calls to over 50 countries
Free texts and data abroad

Mint Mobile

Up first is Mint Mobile, the only option on today’s list not owned by a larger carrier. Instead, it’s owned by Deadpool himself — Ryan Reynolds. Mint now offers a new unlimited plan, or you can get 15GB of 4G LTE or 5G access from just $30 per month, and your phone will automatically jump to whichever service is more reliable. International calling to Mexico and Canada is baked in, and you can use as much of your cap for hotspot as you wish.

See also: The best Mint Mobile plans

Instead of snagging an extra fee for your SIM card, Mint will send you a versatile option that you can punch into any of three sizes. The lack of bonus perks and streaming options is a bummer, but Mint makes a great affordable option on the T-Mobile network.

Highlights:

  • Up to unlimited 4G LTE or 5G data per month
  • Calling included to Mexico and Canada

Visible

Visible is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Verizon, which means you get a massive nationwide network without the costs often associated with Big Red. It keeps your plan options even easier than Google Fi does because there’s only one. You’ll get unlimited talk, text, and data for $40 per month, which you can drop to $25 per month thanks to Party Pay.

See also: The best Visible deals

Party Pay involves teaming up with as many other friends on the Visible network as you please. You’ll save $5 for each user you add, but all of you will pay separately. That means one late payer won’t drag down the others. Every time you refer a friend to the network, Visible will reward you with a month of service for just $5. Also, Visible will let you tap into hotspot access, and it’s finally added genuine international coverage for both Canada and Mexico.

Highlights:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Pay as little as $25 per month with Party Pay

Cricket Wireless

The last competitor, Cricket Wireless, relies on AT&T as an owned MVNO. Although it’s part of the AT&T umbrella, Cricket acts like its own network, offering a variety of plans and add-ons to make the most of your service. The best — and most expensive — plan you can get goes by the name Cricket More, and it serves as the high-end unlimited option. For your money, you’ll get unlimited talk, text, and data, and 15GB of hotspot included.

See also: Here are the best Cricket Wireless plans

Sticking to the More idea, you can use your plan in Canada and Mexico, but only if it’s less than half of your service. Cricket also allows you to add on even more hotspot access or add calling to individual international countries for a fee.

Highlights:

  • Usage in Canada and Mexico up to 50%
  • 15GB mobile hotspot included; add more for a fee

What phones can you use on Google Fi?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra back in hand 10
David Imel / Android Authority

Google Fi recently stepped things up in terms of its available phones. You can now get most new Samsung Galaxy phones on the network, including the S21 family and the Note 20 line. Of course, the Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a 5G, and Pixel 5 are available, too, since it’s Google’s carrier, after all. Better yet, your options are almost limitless if you’re planning to bring your phone. Google Fi offers support for so many options that we’ve had to put them in their own list, which you can read here. Keep in mind many of these phones won’t support switching to US Cellular, but this probably isn’t a big deal unless you happen to live in a major US Cellular region. 

See also: Best Android phones | Best cheap Android phones

The list is reasonably all-inclusive, and it’s essential to realize that just about any phone from T-Mobile or US Cellular should work without issue on Google Fi. As always, band support is a crucial part of bringing your device. Check out the bands that Google Fi relies on using the table below:

FrequencyBandNetwork Supported
Frequency:
1900MHz
Band:
1
2
25
Network Supported:
3G
4G LTE
Frequency:
1700/2100MHz
Band:
4
Network Supported:
4G LTE
Frequency:
700MHz
Band:
12
Network Supported:
4G LTE
Frequency:
850MHz
Band:
26
Network Supported:
4G LTE
Frequency:
2500MHz
Band:
41
Network Supported:
4G LTE
Frequency:
800MHz
Band:
10
Network Supported:
4G LTE