Google Fi, formerly known as Project Fi, is a unique cellular service that uses multiple cellular networks and WiFi behind the scenes - automatically picking the best partner wherever you happen to be.
When Google announced Project Fi in April 2015, the initial two partner networks were Sprint and T-Mobile - giving Google access to the combined coverage maps of the third and fourth largest cellular carriers in the country. In June 2016, they added US Cellular to the line-up.
Basic service costs $20/mo (plus taxes and fees) and includes unlimited talk, text, and support for mobile hotspot use.
There are no unlimited plans or discounts for heavy users.
Until November 2018, when Project Fi was rebranded to Google Fi, the service had a very limited selection of compatible smartphones. The list of phones is now greatly expanded, to include Apple iPhones, but these phones cannot take advantage of Google Fi's multi-carrier and other features. In other words, smartphones that are not specifically designed to take advantage of Google Fi will have a more limited feature set.
Those considering a non-Fi device should consult Google's support article before signing up for service to discover specific device limitations.
Google also rolled out a built-in VPN service and an "enhanced networking" service that improves transitions between networks, particularly between cellular and WiFi. These two features only function with phones that are fully compatible with Google Fi.
For Our Comparative Pricing Grid:
Guide to Cellular Data Plan Pricing
We carried a Project Fi account (before it became Google Fi) for about a year and can report it works as advertised.
Policies & Perks:
- Carrier Networks Used: T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular
- Carrier Relation: MVNO
- Plan Types Available: Phone
- Device Types Permitted: Any - although not all will work properly.
- Device Purchase Required: No, but can purchase a device. Smartphones that are not specifically designed to take advantage of Google Fi will have a more limited feature set.
- Mobile Hotspot Use: All data is available for mobile hotspot use except for on iPhones outside the US.
- Throttling: None
- Network Management: "Yes. Google Fi engages in reasonable network management policies to protect its network, systems, equipment, services and users from harm, ensure reliable, quality services to its users, and improve its services."
- International Roaming: Data can be used around the world at the speeds depending on your device and what the roaming partner supports. It is billed on an as-needed basis at $10/GB. iPhones cannot use mobile hotspot data internationally.
- Domestic Roaming: Phones specifically designed for Google Fi use the native coverage map of three major US carriers domestically - Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular. Plans include the domestic roaming agreements each of those carriers have for phone & TXT service, and data is reduced to 256 kpbs speeds when roaming. Non-Fi phones are limited to T-Mobile's network.
- Plan Period: Month
- Data Roll Over: You set a budget with Google Fi for your projected data needs, and unused data is then credited back to you on your next bill.
- Overage Charges: Data is priced on an as-you-use it basis at $10/GB (not rounded up - you use 1.3 GB, you're charged $13). With their Bill Protection feature included on all accounts, billing is capped at $60 for data usage after 6GB of usage. Customers can then use up to 15GB of data at high speed - still capped at only being billed for 6GB of usage. After 15GB of data are used, speeds will be throttled to 256kbps, for an unlimited amount of data. Or customers can elect to resume billing at $10/GB for high speed. Group plans offer higher thresholds.
- Streaming: No additional streaming services are provided with prepaid accounts.
- Unlimited: No
- Compatible Phones: Google fi has a limited set of fully-compatible phones that can take advantage of all of Fi's features - as of 2018 this includes Google's lineup of Pixel and Nexus phones, the Moto X4 & G6, LG G7 ThinQ, and the LG V35 ThinQ. Most of the phones can be pricey. Most other Android phones, as well as Apple iPhones, are semi-compatible - they can be used on Google Fi, but come with fewer features and are limited to the T-Mobile network while in the US.
- 2018 Mobile Internet Year in Review & Looking Forward Into 2019 Posted on: December 31, 2018
- Project Fi Rebranded to Google Fi - New Features and Phone Options Posted on: November 28, 2018
- Google Project Fi Adds 'Bill Protection' Offering Kinda / Sorta Unlimited Data Posted on: January 17, 2018
- Google's Project Fi Adds High-Speed International Data Posted on: July 12, 2016
- Google Adds U.S. Cellular to Project Fi Coverage Map Posted on: June 8, 2016
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Google Fi Ratings
A very flexible and affordable option to keep T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular as part of your arsenal. However, data costs do get pricey after a few GB of usage.