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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:
Note: T-Mobile and Sprint have been approved for a merger, but that deal is currently delayed.
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.
Personally I haven’t had to contact customer support for Google Fi (because I honestly haven’t had any issues), but those who have had to contact support do seem to have issues.
Of course, you won’t find brick-and-mortar stores for Google Fi like you would for Verizon or AT&T. You will find threads such as this Reddit thread that aren’t overwhelmingly positive. A few users do complain about bad experience with support.
Again, I haven’t had to use support at all myself, but I do have to acknowledge that this could be a soft spot for some customers.
There is a lot to like about Google Fi. Here are the positives:
Despite its strong offerings, Google Fi is still not perfect. Here’s where it could be improved:
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!