If you’re reading this, you’re likely an Android enthusiast, and that means you’re probably interested in Google’s own carrier, Google Fi. It’s not as straightforward as Verizon or T-Mobile. But once you take a look at coverage, plans, features and more, you’ll definitely want to take Google Fi for a spin.
In this article, we will go over what Google Fi actually is. As well as its plans, phones and tablets that are available, features, costs and much more. Here’s everything you need to know about Google Fi.
What is Google Fi?
In technical terms, Google Fi is an MVNO that runs on T-Mobile and US Cellular’s networks here in the US. It used to run on Sprint’s as well, but T-Mobile purchased Sprint in April of 2020. So that’s all one network now.
Google Fi has been around for a little while now, actually, having officially launched back in 2015. At first it was an invitation only service, named “Project Fi”, and was only available on the Nexus 6. It has since moved out of the “Project” phase and surprisingly did not get killed off by Google, and now works with virtually any smartphone – including the iPhone.
What plans does it have?
The plans that Google offers is pretty easy to explain. And there’s only three. There’s Flexible, Simply Unlimited and Unlimited Plus.
Flexible is going to cost you $20 per month for unlimited talk and text. Then you’ll pay $10 per gigabit of data that you use. And this is down to the penny, so Google does not round up your data. If you used 1.56GB of data then you’re charged $10.56 for your data. And not a penny more. Which is a really nice feature to have. Now yes, if you use 4GB of data per month, it’ll make more sense to get unlimited for $60/month. But Flexible comes with Bill Protection, so you’ll never pay more than $60 (plus taxes and fees), no matter how much data you use.
Simply Unlimited is just that, unlimited talk, text and data for $50 per month. Though, you do not get international calling, texting or data. Nor do you get mobile hotspot. That is all saved for the Unlimited Plus plan. Which also comes with 100GB of Google One storage included. Making it a pretty sweet deal.
Data is slowed once you hit 15GB on the Flexible plan, and 35GB on the Simply Unlimited and Unlimited Plus.
What about family plans?
You can add up to 5 additional lines to your plan. And of course, the more you add, the cheaper it gets. All the way down to $16 per line, per month for Flexible at 6 lines. And $20 per line, per month on Unlimited Plus for those with four lines or more. With three, it’ll be $30 per month. Two lines now costs $40 for unlimited.
This works by adding people to your family group. So you can also share other Google products, like Google One Storage, YouTube Music and YouTube TV. It’s very simple to add others to your plan, through the Google Fi app.
Am I locked in for a specific amount of time?
With Google Fi, you can choose to jump to another carrier at any time. There’s no contracts here with Fi. However, if you did finance your phone through Google Fi, you will owe the remaining balance if you cancel your account. That’s the same as with any carrier, however.
Is international data included?
International data (as well as texts and calls) are included on the Flexible and the Unlimited Plus plans. The Simply Unlimited plan does not have international data, texts or calls included.
On the Flexible plan, it’s the same $10/GB in over 200 countries. So you’re paying the same amount in Europe as you would be in the US. And on the Unlimited Plus plan, it’s included in your bill for over 200 countries. That’s really great news for those that do a lot of traveling.
Update: On April 8, 2022, Google Fi announced some changes to its plans. Dropping the price on its family plans and single-line unlimited plans. Also adjusting the “high-speed” data from 22GB to 35GB.
What are the best phones for Fi?
Undoubtedly, the best phones for Google Fi are Pixel smartphones. This is because Google made them specifically to work with Fi. While a phone from Samsung may not work as well with Fi. That might sound strange, since Fi is just an MVNO. But Fi is a bit more than just an MVNO.
Remember Google Fi works on multiple networks. Originally, T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular and will intelligently jump onto public WiFi and activate the Google VPN when possible. That is not like most MVNOs. Most only work on one cellular network and WiFi. And doesn’t move from network to network on its own. Which is why Pixel is generally the best option here.
Google also has a relatively interesting plan with the Pixel 5a. Where you can basically “subscribe” to the Pixel 5a with 5G and get it, along with device protection and a phone upgrade after two years, for just $15 per month. That actually comes out to $360 over the two-year term, which is cheaper than the Pixel 5a (priced at $449), so that’s a really great deal.
What other phones work on Fi?
Pretty much any phone will work on Google Fi. Whether it’s a Samsung Galaxy, OnePlus, iPhone, or any other smartphone that works in the US. Fi does sell a number of Samsung and Motorola phones on its site, however. In addition to the latest Pixels.
Can I finance my phone through Google Fi?
Yes, but not just any phone. The number of phones that Google Fi has and sells isn’t very large. As of writing this, there are ten phones that you can buy from Google Fi. These range from $99 to $999. So there’s something in everyone’s price range. These can all be financed through Google Fi, and that amount will be added onto your bill. Like with most carriers, it is 0% interest here too. And if you trade-in your current phone, you might get an even better deal.
How good is Fi’s coverage?
Google Fi’s coverage isn’t the best. This comes down to a couple of factors, but mainly because of T-Mobile’s network. Fi runs on T-Mobile and US Cellular, which for most of us, that means just T-Mobile. As US Cellular is only available in a small number of States, mostly in the midwest.
T-Mobile generally has good coverage, however since Google Fi is an MVNO, it doesn’t get the same speeds as a regular T-Mobile phone. The way these networks work, is that T-Mobile Postpaid customers will get the priority on each tower. Followed by T-Mobile’s prepaid customers (that’s T-Mobile Prepaid, and Metro by T-Mobile). Then MVNO’s like Google Fi, Straight Talk and others at the bottom of the pole.
So if you are on T-Mobile now, and think their coverage is good, you may not get the same experience with Google Fi. And that’s just how Google Fi customers are prioritized by T-Mobile. This is similar on Verizon and AT&T too though.
In mid-2021, Google started its own W+ network, which uses WiFi from its Area 120 incubator to improve coverage around the country. This is now included in your plan, and does count against your data cap. So it’s not true WiFi, and Google’s own devices do not treat it as WiFi.
Currently, this is only available on Google Pixel smartphones, and not third-party smartphones. But that will likely change in the future.
Does Google Fi have 5G coverage?
Yes, Google Fi has 5G coverage. Basically, wherever T-Mobile or US Cellular has 5G, Google Fi has it.
If your phone has bands n71 and n41, then you’ll be able to connect to T-Mobile’s 5G network. Remember that it doesn’t really have mmWave available in a lot of areas, so 5G is currently about as fast as 4G. So it might be a good idea to just turn off 5G for now.
Phones that are designed for Fi, include the Pixel 4a 5G, Pixel 5 and Pixel 5a with 5G support. There are also a few unlocked Samsung models, like the Galaxy S21 and Galaxy Z Flip 3.
Other, unlocked 5G phones will work, but they need to support T-Mobile’s 5G bands in order for them to work.
Can I refer people to Google Fi?
Yes. Yes you can.
Google will give you $20 for every person that you refer to Fi, with your own personal link. There is a max of $200 that you can get from referring people to Google Fi. So that’s essentially 10 people. But that’s a good way to bring your bill down a bit, for a little while.
To find this code, you’ll see an option that says “Get $20 off your bill” on your Google Fi account. Click on that, and you’ll see a page where you can automatically send an invite to an email address (or two). As well as a link that you can share.
At the bottom of the page, you’ll see the list of those you’ve already referred and how much money you’ve received. This includes money that will come on a future statement. As you don’t get the money until the person you’ve referred has completed a month on Fi.
How do I contact Google Fi Support?
We all have horror stories with contacting customer support. No company is 100% good with customer support. But Google does a pretty good job. It’s pretty easy to contact them as well.
With the Google Fi app, you can contact Google right there and get help 24/7. You also have the option to call them or email them as well. You can also contact Google through the Fi webpage too.
The Google Fi app is pretty useful too. As you can see your usage, as well as any other lines on your account. You can also pause your account, or cancel it within the app. Google also makes it easy to upgrade your phone and change your plan from the app.
How do I switch to Fi?
To switch to Fi, you’ll want to hit the “Join Fi” option at the top of the page here.
You’ll need to sign into your Google account, as well as pick a new number or transfer your current number to Fi. And then you’ll be choosing your new phone or whether you are bringing your current phone over to Fi.
The good thing with Fi, is that it supports e-SIM, so you’ll be able to switch to Fi the same day. As you won’t need to wait for a replacement SIM card to come to your house. Pixel smartphones support e-SIM, which make switching carriers so much easier.
How do I cancel Fi?
Google makes cancelling its service very easy, thankfully. So if you decide to leave Fi, you won’t even need to talk to someone. From the Google Fi website or app, tap on the Account tab.
Then tap on the Manage Plan option.
Next tap on Cancel service.
And simply follow the instructions, and you’re all set.