Google’s Project Fi combines a trio of networks into a first-class wireless service with an unparalleled customer experience, though it’s not the cheapest option out there.
Google’s Project Fi combines a trio of networks into a first-class wireless service with an unparalleled customer experience, though it’s not the cheapest option out there.9/10 Superior $50/month >Google
It used to be a foregone conclusion that if you were shopping for wireless service, you’d end up at one of the Big Four wireless carriers. Until about five years ago, prepaid service in the United States wasn’t particularly popular, and was typically reserved only for those who prioritized spending the absolute least amount of money over all else.
Today, prepaid networks are viable alternatives to the likes of Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint, no matter who you are, what phone you own, or how much you’ve got to spend. And since 2015, one of the most intriguing options on the market has been >Project Fi, Google’s stab at a wireless carrier. As you’d expect, the company that gave us the Pixel and >Pixel 2 does wireless a little differently than the competition.
How Project Fi works
Project Fi is an MVNO (mobile network virtual operator), meaning that it uses other networks to deliver service. In Fi’s case, those networks are T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular. By consolidating all three, Google provides better coverage than any of them individually.
Switching between the networks is seamless, and happens without the user knowing. Google’s software is designed to use the fastest, most reliable signal at any given time, and also automatically connects to over a million Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide to save data consumption. The service works overseas, too, in more than 135 countries.
Phones that support Google Fi
Project Fi’s biggest limitation is that there’s a very exclusive family of phones that support the service. The only Fi-compatible devices currently on the market are Google’s >Pixel, Pixel XL, Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P. Newly added phones include the >Pixel 2 and 2 XL, as well as the Android One edition of the >Moto X4.
Google Pixel 2 XL and Pixel 2It’s important to note that unlike most other low-cost carriers, you can’t bring your own phone to Project Fi unless it’s one of the above handsets.
How much it costs
What really makes Project Fi really special is its pricing structure. Plans begin at $20 for the first line, and $15 for every line thereafter. That initial fee essentially covers your talk and texting. You pay an additional $10 per gigabyte at the start of every month for the amount of data you expect to use. Auto pay is mandatory.
At the end of the billing cycle, Google will credit your next statement with money back for the data you didn’t use.
For example, an individual who thinks they’ll need 2GB will pay a total of $40 plus tax at the start of the month. (That’s $20 for the phone line, plus another $20 for the data.) Because Fi prominently incorporates public Wi-Fi networks, you may not even need to purchase quite as much data as you would on other carriers. An average smartphone user consumes between 2GB and 3GB a month, so you’re likely to pay between $40 and $50 under Fi’s pricing.
$20 per line fee plus $10 per GB of data; unused data credited to next month’s account.
Unlimited plan costs $50
5GB plan costs $40; Unlimited plans start at $50
Price reflects current pricing promotion; usually, it’s $60 a month
Restricts video streaming to 480p
Unlimited options also available starting at $75
At the end of the billing cycle, Google will credit your next statement with money back for the data you didn’t use. So if it turns out you only needed 1.5 GB of the 2GB you paid for, you’ll see a discount of $5 applied to the upcoming month.
Even if you go over, Google will simply charge you extra at the standard rate; you won’t automatically be bumped up to the next gigabyte. Many carriers provide rollover data, but shockingly few let you to pay for only what you consume, making Project Fi instantly worthy of consideration — provided you own one of the few supported devices.
How Google Fi performed
I tested Project Fi on the new >Moto X4 Android One, switching midway to last year’s Pixel XL. Setting up service was a cinch using the handy Android app and my existing Google account (i.e., the same one I use for Gmail). Within minutes I was up and running, with the Signal Spy app telling me I was connected to T-Mobile’s LTE network in New York City.
By leveraging networks from T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular, Project Fi provides better coverage than any of them individually.
A speed test displayed 19.5 Mbps downstream and 4.6 Mbps upstream. That’s consistent with what we’ve observed when testing T-Mobile network performance in the past, so you won’t take a performance hit.
Overall, Fi’s service was as reliable and consistent as any major network I’ve tested, and the automatic switching to fast open Wi-Fi networks makes it even more convenient to live with. But that’s not the whole story, because half of the network’s charm resides in its brilliantly designed app and overall customer experience.
About the App
No matter what phone you keep in your pocket, we’re all painfully familiar with terribly designed carrier apps that hide simple features and information behind dated, clunky interfaces that are excruciating to navigate. Project Fi is a breath of fresh air, as you’d expect from the company that built Android.
Open the Project Fi app, and you're immediately presented with a bar displaying your data consumption. Scroll down, and you’ll see an overview of your plan above settings for voicemail, call forwarding and blocked numbers.
Swipe to the right for Billing and Support tabs, where all your previous statements are easily viewable. Getting in touch with a representative is a snap, too, with options for phone, chat and email alongside estimated wait times. I received a response to a chat query in just 1 minute.
The app is such a pleasure to use, and unless you enlist the expertise on Google’s wonderfully enlightening Project Fi forum, you’ll never need to leave it. But the most impressive part of Fi’s interface is the way it handles multiple phones and lines.
We pulled our SIM card out of our Moto X4 and placed it into a Pixel XL, and Fi was smart enough to know that not only was it in a different phone, but precisely what phone it was and how much data was consumed on it. You can even break that down into graphs, where daily usage is tallied per device. It’s an impressive bit of detail that is typically absent for users on other carriers who frequently swap SIM cards and devices.
Should you use Project Fi?
So Project Fi works well and has a great app — but how does it compare to the value offered by other networks? Despite the strength of three carriers, Google’s coverage map is smaller than Verizon’s, though not by much.
Project Fi coverage mapWhen the conversation turns to price, however, things are a bit different. Verizon’s cheapest postpaid plan costs $35 for 2GB. On Project Fi, 2GB will run you $40 before you’re reimbursed. Although Big Red doesn’t pay you back for the data you don’t use, it does allow you to carry your data over from month to month.
Verizon coverage mapBecause Verizon is the exclusive major carrier partner for Google’s new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones, comparisons against Project Fi are inevitable. But perhaps it’d be more appropriate to cast Google’s network against another prepaid carrier.
MetroPCS is currently our favorite discount-service provider, offering T-Mobile’s speedy network for even lower prices. Customers can get 2GB for $30 per month, or 5GB for $40 — with taxes and fees included. Project Fi runs a whopping $70 for 5GB, though MetroPCS leaves you with two caveats: tethering is not allowed, and all video streams are capped at 480p.
Fi is also great if you travel, offering international data and text for no added charge, and calls at 20 cents a minute. MetroPCS has $5-per-month that extends coverage to Mexico and Canada, but its $10-per-month World Calling package is tremendously limited, providing only a paltry 200MB of data, 200 minutes and 200 texts.
Project Fi’s biggest limitation is that there’s a very exclusive family of phones that support the service.
Unfortunately, families don’t stand to benefit quite as much on Project Fi. Google’s multiline discount is only $5 per line, compared with $10 through >MetroPCS’ 5GB plan and $20 if you opt for an unlimited plan. And both MetroPCS and >Boost Mobile provide each user with their own data bucket, whereas with Fi, every line’s data is shared.
Project Fi is by no means the cheapest carrier out there. If you eat up a lot of data, Google’s service can get quite expensive fast, even with end-of-the-month credits for unused data. Discounts on multiple lines are also modest compared with other prepaid carriers like Boost and MetroPCS, and everyone draws from the same pool of data on Project Fi.
Still, Google offers a competitive coverage map that dynamically switches you to the fastest network at any given time, and a user experience that is second to none. It’s the best mix of cost and convenience out there, with a simple pricing structure and properly designed app. And in wireless, those two things go very, very far.
Credit: Tom's Guide
Source : https://www.tomsguide.com/us/google-fi,review-4771.html