I don’t normally do tech reviews but something came up that I just have to share with you, and that is Google’s Project Fi. I ended up migrating away from Verizon Wireless and am now saving over $33 a month! And I even migrated from a family plan to a single plan. Check out my review of Project Fi below and how Google is revolutionizing the cellular carrier space.
What is Google Project Fi?
So I actually just recently heard about Google Project Fi myself from a colleague. Project Fi is Google’s new wireless cellular network. Or as they like to call it, wireless service. In my opinion, they are already now competing with the big players in the space such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T. When I first heard about this I thought it sounded a little far fetched. But just wait, I think you will be blown away by what Google is offering.
The first thing you are probably wondering is what kind of network coverage does Project Fi have? As Google is not in the business of building cell towers. Well, Google has partnered up with not one carrier, but three major carriers: Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular. One amazing kick-ass feature of Project Fi is that it utilizes a newly designed SIM card that allows your phone for the first time to bounce between multiple networks. And yes, this includes lightning fast 4G LTE, as well as 3G and 2G. And taking that one step further, it also utilizes Wi-Fi, which I will go into more further below.
I am not personally a huge fan of any of any of those networks if they stood alone, but when you combine them together you suddenly have coverage with massive reach! The only places that might have some issues are those in the midwest.
Google Project Fi Features and Personal Experience
So there are a lot of amazing features that Project Fi has to offer. I am going to be comparing a lot of this to Verizon as that is who I personally migrated away from.
First off, I have to give props to Google on their Project Fi website. It loads incredibly fast and everything is super easy to navigate. I just went to pay my last Verizon bill and was met with load times of upwards of 20 seconds per page. Craziness! I don’t know why they can’t speed up their site. This is important because I was on a family plan to save money. This meant that each of us had to login to the Verizon Wireless website each month and pay our portion of the bill. For those of you that are on automatic billing, this might be less of an issue.
The way Project Fi stands out above the rest is that you get to take advantage of an intelligent shift in networks. I’m not just talking about different carriers, but also wireless! That’s right, phone calls are made over your wireless network when you are in range. So whenever your cell phone is connected to a Wi-Fi network this means you aren’t using any data! It then switches to a cellular network once it loses the Wi-Fi connection. People have said they notice a 1 second or so delay when the switch happens. I have done quite a few tests myself and don’t notice anything when the switch happens. This feature alone can save you a ton of data.
I also thought the call quality was pretty good! I would say the call quality on Wi-Fi is slightly less than when you are on 4G LTE, but nothing to write home about.
Project Fi’s service works in 170+ countries automatically at no extra cost! There is no running down to a local vendor to grab a different SIM card. Or like I did on my recent trip to Budapest, I used Verizon’s International Travel Plan feature. It did work ok, but the problem is that it cost me $10 a day. Yes, per day. If you are a frequent traveler then you should definitely check this out as it could make your life a lot easier.
There are no contracts! Yes, I said it, no contracts. You can cancel at any time with no early termination fees.
You can also use your existing number from whatever carrier you were previously using. I actually transferred my number with one click of a button and no phone call required to Verizon. It was way easier than even I expected. My transfer was completed within an hour or so.
Another amazing feature is the ability to block what appears to be an unlimited amount of numbers. When you do the caller will get a message saying your number has been disconnected. I get a lot of telemarketers that call me, even though I am on every do not call list. With Verizon they only allow you to add up to 5 blocked numbers for free so it was almost worthless for me. I am going to be taking full advantage of Project Fi’s blocked numbers feature.
So far I have only really found two downfalls to Project Fi and neither of them are that important in my opinion.
- The call quality on Wi-Fi is a little worse than over data. However, if you have a super important call you could always turn Wi-Fi off and just use data. I personally use Wi-Fi from my apartment to make all my calls and it works just fine.
- On the family plans, there is no way to login and let each person pay a portion of their own bill. That is how we did it on Verizon. So if you go for family plan on Project Fi you would need to get the additional members to pay you in a different way. You can always easily use Venmo or PayPal. So definitely not a deal breaker.
Google Project Fi Pricing
So I know you are curious about the pricing, as this is one of the primary factors in me leaving Verizon. I was on a 6 person family plan on Verizon and was paying $65 a month (including insurance). I only use about 300MB of data per month. I use my phone for emails, texts, calls, and Spotify in the car. Note: I always download my songs on Spotify to my device so in fact I don’t use up any data when listening to music in my car. Your data might vary if you play games or stream videos outside of your Wireless network.
So with Project Fi, you have the base package. There is only one plan, which makes it dumb easy. This costs $20/month and gives you access to calls, texts, and 24/7 support. You are then charged $10 for every 1GB of data you use. But the kick-ass part is they only bill you for what you use! So if you don’t use the full 1GB of data, they refund you the difference back at approximately one cent per MB. So for me, if I use 300MB of data in a month I pay the $20/month for service, $10 for 1GB of data, and they refund me $7. Which brings it back down to $23. Note: The credit back is put on your account, not in your pocket.
They offer device protection for $5 a month (optional) which I do have, and my taxes come out to $3.28 per month. So adding that all up per month I am only paying $31.72, for a savings of over $33! Or $38.45 if you don’t include the credit on the account for future use. Here is a screenshot of their billing area. You can’t get much simpler than that! Other cellular networks should be copying this.
November 2016 Project Fi Bill
And here is an update with my November 2016 bill! A total of $31.72. Amazing.
Update: December 2016 Project Fi Bill
And here is an update with my December 2016 bill! A total of $30.39. Speechless. As you can see I got a credit of $7.89. Woot!
Update: January 2017 Project Fi Bill
And here is an update with my January 2017 bill. Because they launched their new referral program, and I have a new credit card hack to get free cell phone protection (blog post coming soon), my bill was only $3.23. Amazing.
Update: February 2017 Project Fi Bill
And here is an update with with Project Fi bill for February 2017. I am basically just now paying tax each month because of referrals. I pay more for a cup of coffee than I do for my cell phone bill.
Google Project Fi Requirements
So for some, the one drawback here is that Project Fi currently only works on six different mobile devices: The Pixel, the Nexus 5X, and the Nexus 6. Now for me, I was actually migrating away from my Windows Phone so I went for the Pixel as I had run my old phone into the ground. One reason for this is because they use a different type of SIM card which is capable of bouncing between all three different cellular carriers.
Note the prices:
- Pixel: starts at $649 or $27/month (G-2PW4100 – North American version)
- Pixel XL: starts at $769 or $32/month (Model G-2PW2100 – North American version)
- Nexus 6 Model XT1103 (North American version)
- Nexus 6P: starts at $399 or $16/month (Model H1511 – North American version)
- Nexus 5X: starts at $199 or $8/month (Model LGH790 – North American version)
Tip! If you are on a tight budget, go to Craigslist and get a used Nexus.
I might do another review on the Pixel itself, but I can tell you it is amazing! To be honest, it is basically an iPhone clone running Android. But I love the look and feel of iPhones so I say copy away! Another thing to mention about the $5 device protection is that this covers drops, cracks, and spills. And there is no deductible. I know with Verizon there was. You only pay a $75 deductible if you break 3 of them. I can live with that. I have never broken a phone yet and will probably cancel the device protection once I have the phone for a year or two.
Update: I have canceled my device protection because I found a way to get free cell phone insurance for life. This saves me another $5 a month.
There is so much going for Project Fi at the moment and I was very impressed. I never thought I would get my cell phone bill under $40 a month, but I did! Let me again sum up all that Project Fi has going for it:
- Massive coverage on not one but three major carriers with 4G LTE
- Ability to use Wi-Fi to make calls and save massive amounts on data usage
- Works in 135+ countries at no extra cost
- No contracts and no early termination fees
- Charges you only for what you use and gives you credit back
- Cheapest device protection ever at only $5/month
- Offers group plans for families (up to 6) to save even more money
- No additional charges for tethering
- Easily block as many numbers as you want
What do you think about Project Fi? Let me know below in the comments.