Affiliate links on Android Authority may earn us a commission. Learn more.
PSA: Phones that aren't built for Google Fi will have these limitations
- Phones made by Samsung, OnePlus, Apple, and others might now work on Google Fi, but there will be limitations.
- Handsets not made for Fi will only work on T-Mobile’s network, won’t include the carrier’s VPN, and automatic Wi-Fi hotspot connections.
- Customers with iPhones will have to update settings to get text messages to work.
With the rebrand to Google Fi, the search giant’s MVNO opened up support for phones not built for Fi. While almost every modern smartphone is now compatible, there are a good number of limitations introduced by bringing your handset to the network.
One of Google Fi’s flagship features is its ability to switch between T-Mobile, Sprint, UScellular, and free Wi-Fi hotspots automatically based on the quality and strength of the network. Unfortunately, any phone not built for the Fi network loses this functionality.
Instead, these devices will rely on T-Mobile’s network in the U.S. and the carrier’s roaming partners overseas.
And since Google Fi can’t handle the network switching, it also can’t protect the phone using the company’s secure VPN. While this isn’t the worst thing in the world when transmitting data over a cellular network, it does mean you’re left exposed on Wi-Fi hotspots unless you set up your own VPN.
All of these limitations get expanded upon even further if you decide to use an iPhone on Google Fi.
First, according to Google’s compatibility tool, only iPhones newer than the iPhone 5C will work with Fi. Second, users will have to adjust MMS settings to accept text messages from non-iPhones (yes, iMessage will work). And third, voicemails will show up as transcribed texts and won’t be available in the phone’s voicemail app.
The Verge also points out that iPhones won’t be able to “make calls or text over Wi-Fi, use visual voicemail, or be used as data hotspots outside the US at all.” Google did release a Fi app for iOS in beta to make setting up the network and controlling your account from your iPhone as easy as possible.
You’ll have to decide if the number of limitations introduced by using a phone not built for Fi on Google Fi’s network is a dealbreaker for you or not. In time, Google will hopefully find ways to make the experience as seamless as possible for everyone.
What do you think about Google Fi opening up support for additional Android handsets and iPhones not designed for Fi? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!