Google Fi is an alternative phone plan for people who would rather not sign a contract with one of the large carriers like Verizon or AT&T.
It’s a service provided by Google which primarily focuses on data plans although Google Fi also allows its users to make calls and texts.
Unlike traditional carriers where the customer is locked in with one network, Google Fi actually has an agreement with three different carriers to use their networks. Because of this someone who uses Google Fi will almost always have a good connection as their phone will automatically connect to the network with the highest strength.
Another of Google Fi’s unique features is its heavy reliance on WiFi networks. Using Google’s constantly updated database of reliable WiFi networks, a Google Fi phone is always looking for a WiFi network to connect to in order to avoid using data. For security reasons, when a Google Fi phone connects to a WiFi network the connection is routed through a VPN.
Similar to traditional calling plans, with Google Fi it’s possible to set up a voicemail account and even call forwarding is an option. If you want to keep your same phone number you can transfer it to Google Fi as long as your existing carrier will allow it to be switched over.
Finally, it’s worth noting that activating Google Fi on certain phones (Google Pixel phones only) is easy as there is no SIM card. Instead, Google Fi uses an eSIM card which can be activated instantly. On phones which don’t support this feature, however, a traditional SIM card can be used.
As mentioned Google Fi doesn’t just work with one cellphone network, it works with three. Those three networks include T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular. 5G capable phones will be able to use T-Mobile’s 5G network where available. Depending on your location Google Fi will automatically select the network with the strongest signal and connect to that.
While Google Fi is designed to work with three different networks it’s important to note that this only applies to phones designed specifically to work with Google Fi. “Regular” phones will only be able to use Google Fi via the T-Mobile network.
That being the case if you have a regular phone and are considering Google Fi you should check to see what the T-Mobile coverage is like.
With a Google Fi phone coverage throughout the United States should be excellent. Don’t forget that Google Fi phones are also designed to work on WiFi network so coverage in big cities will be even better. You can find out more about Google Fi’s coverage on their website.
For phones not designed specifically for Google Fi it’s possible to look at T-Mobile’s coverage map to determine how the coverage will be in your area.
Google Fi works with a wide variety of phones. For instance, most Android phones work with Google Fi although you will need to unlock your phone first. iPhones can also be used with Google Fi but they require a few extra steps in order to start using the service. As such, Google Fi says that their service is still in beta for iPhones.
In terms of phones designed specifically to work with Google Fi, that includes most Pixel and Moto G phones. These are the only phones that will be able to switch between all three networks. A full list of phones that are compatible with Google Fi can be found here.
One of the great things about Google Fi is that they offer several different pricing plans. People who don’t use much data can choose a cheap plan while those who use a lot of data can choose one of the more expensive plans.
An unlimited data plan costs $70 per month although this price does not include taxes and other government fees. While the plan is “unlimited” in reality it’s a plan for 22 GB per month. After that limit is reached data speeds slow down considerably.
The metered plan costs a base rate of $20 per month and the customer is charged $10 for each GB of data that they use. That extends up to 6 GB of data usage which would equate to a $80 bill (non-inclusive of taxes and government fees). After that point the plan effectively switches over to the unlimited plan and any more data usage is free.
All plans include unlimited texting and calls. The unlimited plan features free calls to dozens of international countries while the metered plan has a base rate of $0.01 per minute for calls to other countries.
At anytime customers can switch between plans. Perhaps the greatest feature of Google Fi however is that the plan can be cancelled at any time. That’s a huge difference as compared to plans on other carriers like Verizon or AT&T which typically have a two year lock-in period. More information on Google Fi plans is available here.
In recent years SIM swapping has become a real problem, especially in the cryptocurrency space. With SIM swapping a hacker steals personal details from a target (typically a wealthy individual) and then calls up the phone company and uses the personal information in order to convince the phone company to assign that person’s phone number to a new SIM card.
The hacker controls that new SIM card and once he has the target’s phone number ported to it he can use the phone number to log in to personal accounts like cryptocurrency exchanges.
The problem with this scenario is that there aren’t really any good safeguards to prevent the phone company from porting a phone number to a new SIM card. Google Fi is different. With Google Fi before any changes can be made to an account the person must log in to their Google account. If you’ve got 2FA set up on your Google account then this can be very robust security that will prevent hackers from stealing your phone number.
Not only that but Google Fi also has even more advanced security features to keep your account and person data safe. More information on those features is available here.
For Bitcoin users, this is a very important feature.
Google Fi security is essentially Google security. That being the case it’s recommended to take as many precautions as possible to protect your account. That includes selecting a strong password and also enabling 2FA (Two Factor Authentication) protection. Some users may also want to install the Google Smart Lock app.
While it is possible to use an iPhone with Google Fi the service is still in beta. That means that you’ll need to change the settings of your phone in order to get Google Fi to work correctly. Thankfully Google Fi has created a great guide to make the process easy and 24/7 customer support is always on hand to answer any questions.
As mentioned, iPhones will only be able to connect to the T-Mobile network with Google Fi, not U.S. Cellular or Sprint. More information about using an iPhone on the Google Fi network is available here.
One of Google Fi’s most helpful features is that the plan makes it every inexpensive to place calls to foreign countries. This makes Google Fi a great option for people who frequently travel internationally. When you go abroad to any one of the dozens of countries where Google Fi works, data usage is free for those with an unlimited plan and $10 a GB for the metered plan just like in the United States.
Calls for both plans are $0.20 a minute which is quite expensive, however, with data usage it’s easy to use an app like WhatsApp or Viber. For more information about where it’s possible to use Google Fi and what the rates are please check out this page.
Google Fi does over device protection however that protection plan is limited to certain devices. When you purchase device protection from Google Fi it covers accidental damage as well as device malfunctions. There is a deductible for each claim as well as a set monthly fee for device protection which depends on which phone you are buying insurance for.
As an example, device protection for the Pixel 4 incurs a monthly charge of $8. If the device must be replaced there is a deductible of $79. For a cracked screen repair the deductible is $49. In the event of a device replacement Google guarantees that the device will typically ship the next business day.
For more information about device protection, and to find out whether your phone qualifies, please click here.
According to Google the best phone to use with the Google Fi service is the Pixel 4 XL. This is Google’s top of the line phone. With dual cameras and 64 GB of internal storage it’s designed to meet the needs of even the most demanding cellphone user. Of course, in terms of Google Fi the main benefit is that the Pixel 4 XL is built to use the network so that it can automatically switch between any of the three carriers that Google Fi works with.
Other phones that will work on the Google Fi network include the Google Pixel 3 and the Moto G7. To see the full list of phones compatible with Google Fi please click here.
If you’re ready to sign up for the Google Fi service now we’re happy to announce a good deal for you: $20 off your first month! Simply click here to use our special discount code and you’ll get a nice rate cut for your first month. Even if you’re not quite ready to sign up yet we recommend bookmarking the link. We can’t guarantee it will work forever though so the sooner you sign up the better.
When you sign up with Google Fi you may be able to keep your existing phone number. Keeping your number can make the switch to Google Fi that much easier, however, the ability to switch depends on your existing carrier and what their policies regarding number transfer are. To find out more about transferring your number please click here.
If you’re already using Google Fi and you’d like to change your number it is possible to do so. To start the number change process please contact Google Fi support.
To get started you should check whether your phone works with Google Fi. If your phone is currently locked with a certain carrier you’ll need to unlock it. After making sure that your phone is compatible all you need to do is go to the Google Fi website, select the plan that you want to use and begin the registration process.
After choosing a phone number, entering your payment method and completing the registration process Google Fi will send you a SIM card. Simply put it in your phone and begin using Google Fi.
Unlike plans from other carriers it’s possible to cancel a Google Fi plan whenever you want. Google Fi has 24/7 customer support so it’s possible to call and cancel at any time. You will not be refunded for that month’s billing but next month you won’t be billed for the service. This makes Google Fi a far more versatile service for people who don’t want to be locked into a long contract.
Verizon is one of America’s largest cellphone company and commonly regarded as the carrier with the best coverage. That’s especially the case in more rural regions out west. Thus if you live near the west coast in an area with spotty cellphone service, Verizon may be the best choice.
At $70 a month Verizon also has an “unlimited” plan at the same price point as Google Fi. The difference is that Verizon’s plan has a daily data limit usage of 500 MB whereas Google Fi’s plan has no daily limit but a monthly limit of 22 GB.
Comparing Google Fi to T-Mobile in terms of coverage is a bit pointless as they share the same network. In terms of plans, T-Mobile has an unlimited plan for $60 a month that includes data usage up to 50 GB.
That’s a pretty good deal compared to Google Fi except that the T-Mobile plan requires a 2 year contract. Both plans come with unlimited talk and text although Google Fi’s international coverage is much better. T-Mobile offers talk and text abroad but only in Mexico and Canada.
AT&T is another one of America’s largest wireless carriers and they have excellent coverage throughout the United States. Most notably, their coverage in the Midwest and west is excellent. Even though AT&T is just one carrier, and Google Fi uses three carrier networks, AT&T still has comparable coverage.
In terms of unlimited data plans AT&T has several options which can compete with Google Fi. Their cheapest option is $65 and their most expensive option is $85 a month. The $85 a month plan has unlimited data up to 100 GB per month which makes it an ideal choice for people who plan to do a lot of video calling or movie streaming. AT&T’s most expensive unlimited plan also comes with a complimentary HBO subscription, something that Google Fi lacks.
Again, Google Fi’s major advantage is in their international network. AT&T’s plan only works in the United States, Mexico and Canada whereas Google Fi subscribers can use their phones in dozens of countries around the world.
Republic Wireless is an interesting carrier as their plans seem to cater mostly to people looking for unlimited talk and text, not so much heavy data usage. At $15 per month Republic Wireless has the cheapest plan of any of the carriers so far reviewed. However, that plan includes no data and all data must be purchased at $5 per GB.
That’s cheaper than what it costs for the Google Fi metered plan, however with Republic Wireless you can keep paying for data so there could be a maximum charge of almost $100 a month if you use the maximum of 15 GB. That’s as opposed to Google Fi which stops charging after $80 and automatically switches over to unlimited.
Realizing this it’s clear that Republic Wireless is best for consumers who want unlimited talk and text but who don’t care about data. Google Fi is a better option for anyone who plans to use data heavily.
Review by: Jordan Tuwiner