Google Fi Review: A Digital Nomad’s Dream

Google Fi Review: A Digital Nomad’s Dream

Last updated on September 21st, 2019 at 03:23 pm.

TFF's Rating
4.5/5

Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links. This means I earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you purchase a product through my link. To learn more, read our full disclosure policy.

Google Fi is a relatively new mobile service provider. In a world where most of us are familiar with the larger providers, how does this new player stand out? That’s what we will discuss in this review.

Google Fi Networks

One of the reasons we don’t often see a lot of new cell service providers is because the barriers to entry are so high. Installing new mobile infrastructure is extremely expensive which means only a few companies can afford it.

Even though Google is a large company, they did not take on the expensive job of building out a new network. Instead, the partnered with some of those bigger companies to use their infrastructure for Fi customers.

What that means is that Google Fi customers actually use the cell towers owned by three major carriers:

  • T-Mobile
  • Sprint
  • US Cellular

By default, your Google Fi phone will automatically switch between the three carriers depending on which has the best coverage. This means you get much more reliable coverage, especially in areas where all three carriers have service.

Google Fi Rates

Rates are very straightforward. Here’s what you’ll pay:

  • $20/month for unlimited talk and text
  • $10 per GB of data

And that’s it. So, if you use 2 GB of data, your bill will be $40 for the month. If you use 3 GB, it’ll be $50, and so on.

Also note that they will charge you for partial gigabytes. I just wanted to clarify this since they say data costs $10 per GB. But if you use 1.5 GB of data, you’ll be charged $15 – not $20. In this scenario, your bill for the month would be $35.

And although you are charged $10 per GB, they have bill protection that kicks in at 6 GB. This means the most you can be charged for data is $60, for a total of $80 (before taxes). Even if you use more than 6 GB of data, you’ll still pay $60.

I have heard they limit use or throttle data beyond that, but this is not something I have been able to confirm.

Google also offers 0% financing on Fi-branded phones (only the Pixel line currently).

All in all, Google Fi is not the absolute cheapest, but their rates aren’t bad if you don’t use much data.

Google Fi Devices

The flagship devices for Google Fi are those of the Pixel line. When the service was new, those were the only devices that worked on Fi. However, google has been working to change that.

Nowadays, there are several devices that work with Google Fi. This includes phones from Samsung, Apple, and other popular manufacturers.

View the full list of devices here.

One thing that you should keep in mind: although many devices are now compatible with Google Fi, that is not the same thing as “designed for Fi” devices. That still only includes the Pixel line and a few other models (detailed at the link above).

The reason you need to be aware of this is because some features may not be fully functional on devices not designed for Fi. Most features should be working, but you may want to research your particular device before bringing it to Fi.

Google Fi International

Google Fi’s international coverage is precisely why I call it a digital nomad’s dream. On Google Fi, you get the same coverage in 200+ countries.

That’s a huge deal. No more worrying about buying a SIM card or some shady international plan. Instead, you bring your phone with you and it just works – almost anywhere in the world.

It’s said that people will pay for convenience. This is a really nice convenience and the reality is that you probably won’t pay a ton more for it.

The biggest difference you may see between countries is data speeds. In some countries, data might be a little slower, and Google Fi has to simply use what is available.

International Calling Rates

One thing to keep in mind is that you will have to pay by the minute for calls while out of the country. In addition to your $20/month charge, you’ll have to pay $0.20 per minute of talk.

Data and SMS are the same. Data is $10 per GB and SMS is unlimited.

The Good

There is a lot to like about Google Fi. Here are the positives:

  • Seamless switching between three major US providers (T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular)
  • Only pay for how much data you use
  • Coverage in 200+ countries; no need for an international plan

The Bad

Despite its strong offerings, Google Fi is still not perfect. Here’s where it could be improved:

  • Despite being relatively affordable, there are cheaper plans out there
  • Some popular phones may not be fully compatible
  • Pay by the minute for talk when traveling overseas

Overall, Google Fi is an excellent option, especially for those who often travel overseas. Paying $0.20 per minute for talk is not exactly ideal, but it’s manageable.

While no plan is perfect, this one is a dream for digital nomads and frequent fliers alike.

Interested in signing up? Use my link and we’ll both get a $20 credit!

Related:

Bob Haegele

Hey there. My name is Bob Haegele and I blog about personal finance here at The Frugal Fellow. I was raised in the Windy City, also known as Chicago. After working for a few years in the Midwest, I’ve bounced around to different parts of the country in my mission to become a full-blown digital nomad. I’m also an alternative energy and EV enthusiast and have recently become semi-vegetarian. Another thing I started doing recently? Dog walking. I’m now doing that as a side hustle and loving it! I’m now working toward financial independence making money via my own ventures. If you’d like to work together, send me an email.

Leave a Reply