A few years ago, Google got into the cellular service game when it launched the beta project Project Fi, the online-only cellphone plan. Back in 2015, it was available by invitation only to Nexus 6 phone owners. Recently, Google has opened the project to a wider audience, so here’s a look at what’s good and what could be better about Google Fi.
When Google announced, “Hi everyone. We’re excited to announce that Fi SIM cards are now available for purchase in 500+ Best Buy stores across the US,” we said, “We better dig into this so our audience will understand.”
If you’re paying too much for your cellphone service, Google has a cheap cell service for you. However, there are a few things you should know about. In this episode of Consumer Tech Update, Kim looks at Google’s cellphone service Fi and its pros and cons.
Here’s what you need to know about Google Fi
There are phones specifically designed to work with Google Fi (like Google’s Pixel) and then there are phones that are compatible with it, and others that aren’t. You’ll get more features with Fi phones, including what Google calls “intelligent” switching between three LTE networks and Wi-Fi hotspots.
You can check to see if your neighborhood is serviced by Fi. You just type in your address on the Fi site – fi.google.com – it’ll show you if you’re covered, whether you’re using a Fi phone or one that’s compatible with Google Fi.
There are phones on the Fi site that are designed for Fi, including Google’s Pixel. Other manufacturers make Fi phones, including LG.
You can also check the site to see if your phone is compatible with Fi. You’ll notice that some phones are still in beta with Fi, notably iPhones.
You might save money with Google Fi
Google is going for simplicity with Fi. You can order a SIM card on the Fi site for free or buy one for $10 at Best Buy.
Then, you choose your plan. It’s $20 a month for unlimited phone calls and texts and $15 for each additional phone line.
It’s $10 a month for each GB of data you use. Google will not charge you over 6 GB a month, but it will slow down your data when you go over 15 GB. The idea is to prevent you from spending more than your budget.
You pay the same price for data if you’re connecting in more than 200 countries. You’ll also have free, unlimited texting. Phone calls in other countries that are served by Fi at $0.20 a minute when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi.
Here’s how to switch to Fi
Google has set out to make switching to Fi simple, just like its pricing plans. You do most of the work on the Fi site.
Go there and you’ll see a Join button. You’ll be prompted to choose your phone, whether you’ll be using your current phone or buying a new phone that’s specifically designed for Fi.
You’ll be prompted to type in your phone maker, model and cellphone provider if you’re checking to see if your phone is compatible. Or you can select the Fi phone you’d like to buy.
Then, you’ll be prompted to select your pricing plan. It’s $20 for calls and texts, then you select your data plan.
You’ll need to contact your current carrier to disconnect your service, once the switch to Google Fi has been confirmed.
Should you switch to Fi?
If your phone is compatible with Google Fi’s network and if you’ve compared what you pay with your carrier to what you’d pay with Google Fi, then the switch may make sense. If you don’t mind jumping through some hoops, switching your SIM card, unlocking your carrier-locked phone and suffering through the sales pitch when you try to cancel with your current carrier, then, yeah, it might be worth it.
And, if you don’t use a lot of cellular data and don’t mind being early adopters who suffer through the glitches of newer technologies, then go for it. For the rest of you and iPhone users, we say wait to see how Google perfects its Fi.
One more thing to think about — remember years and years ago when you learned not to put all your eggs in one basket? We can’t help but think about that when we think about switching wireless carriers. Do we want our email, internet services, document storage and cellphones all under the control of the Google universe?