It has been a little over two years since I made the switch to Google's phone service Fi. And I'm still using the service so it can't be all bad. And it isn't. In fact, it has probably been one of the smoothest changes in phone plan that I have ever made. And it has come with a few perks that I did not see coming.
It isn't perfect of course, so I'll be sure to go into the cons down below as well. But let's start off with what Google got right with this.
Super easy setup
The entire process of setting a new Google Fi account was one of the quickest and most straightforward experiences that I have had with any phone carrier. There weren't any last minute deals thrown in my face or special manager access codes required where I'm forced to spend 2-3 hours in a lobby waiting.
Everything is done directly on the web at the official site. https://fi.google.com/about/
You can either use an existing phone, if it just so happens to be unlocked and compatible with Fi, or you can pick up a new one from the Google Store. When I first signed up, the options were mainly limited to Google's Pixel lineup however they have since added a long list of unlocked devices that you can bring with you.
It took maybe 10 minutes max in order to complete the process. A few days later, my new phone arrived essentially already setup and ready to go.
One of the main reasons that I decided to shift away from my old phone carrier was to finally get away from those dreaded 2 year plans. They were way too restrictive and made it difficult to actually find a phone plan that adapts to my personal needs.
Google Fi has no contracts and no activation fees so you can pretty much cancel whenever you'd like without any lease agreement issues. They offer 2 styles of plans, flexible and unlimited. More recently they have added group/family plans in which the more people you sign up to an account, the less you will pay.
I personally started with the flexible plan for a single line which comes out to 20$ per month +10$ per GB used. If you aren't big on using mobile data and find yourself near WiFi routers often, than this would be a super cost effective way to go.
Personally, I am a freelancer which means that I am typically found having meetings in the most random of places. So the hotspot feature has been a giant boon for me. I tend to use a fair amount of data monthly, which is why I eventually shifted over to the unlimited plan.
You can also add multiple lines to a plan, in which case the $20 per month charge goes down the more lines you have.
The unlimited plan comes at a heftier $70 flat fee for the month. But as its name implies, it is unlimited. You won't have to worry about using up those prescious GB's and can freely surf the interwebs.
Once I made the switch over to unlimited I did not look back. At a 70$ a month rate, it is still a much better option when compared with the current options available elsewhere. When shopping around to various carriers, basic data plans without mobile were priced at a much higher pricepoint than Google Fi.
Full-speed data hotspot
I typically keep 2 devices tethered at any one time, a tablet and my primary laptop and the speeds are definitely much higher than any coffee shop that I have visited.
This is the one feature that I found lacking with my old phone companies as well. While most big carriers had hotspot plans, they were severely limited in data or even worse they charged a extra fee in order to turn on the feature.
With Google Fi it comes right out of the box and it is fast.
See your full data usage
Because Google Fi essentially runs entirely on the cloud (and your phone) the phone in a sense becomes almost like the phone company. The Google Fi app that comes installed with the phone pretty much has any feature that you would need to run your phone plan. You can even upgrade/downgrade plans with a few clicks of the app.
One of the features that I find more useful however is the ability to see all of your data usage for each billing cycle. You can even go as far as seeing which apps are taking up the most bandwidth so that you can adjust accordingly.
I monitor my data usage to avoid hitting any data limits. Because while I am on the unlimited plan, there is one point of contention there which I will break down below.
"Limited" full-speed data
While the unlimited data plan is definitely unlimited in its namesake, it only brings with it full-speeds up until a certain point. I believe the original limit of full speed data was set to 20GB, which is still a very generous amount.
After the 20GB limit is reached, you still have free unlimited data, though it will be at slower data speeds. If you are a patient person, then this might not be an issue for you.
Note: Google Fi has increased the cap to 30GB due to recent current events and the ever increasing importance of telecommunicatins.
Also note that if you hit your monthly quota, you also have the option of turning on full-speed data once again at the cost of 10$ per GB. I have personally only run over my limit a handful of times and normally within a day or two of my new cycle beginning.
So while this might not be a huge deal overall, it is something to be mindful of if you are streaming 4k movies on your phone every day.
Google has grown the list of compatible phones to a very robust size, however for the most part you have bring your own unlocked version if you wish to do so.
Google's own selection of phones to choose from their own store is still mainly limited to the Google Pixel brand. Depending on your affinity for the type of phone that you wish to use, this could be a deal breaker.
I personally am a big an of the Pixel lineup. They are cost effective, have some of the best cameras and are priced at a very reasonable point. But if you are a Samsung Galaxy S20+ fan, then you will have to bring your own.
If you are looking to get away from the traditional multi-year lease contracts that have plagued our networks for years, then I definitely can't recommend Google Fi enough.
The network speeds are fast and reliable. There are no contracts and the entire process to setup takes no more than 10 minutes and can be done completely online.
And if you find that you don't require high amounts of mobile data typically, the flexible plan can definitely save you a decent amount. I personally find the hotspot quality to be the biggest selling point.
If you are looking to sign up, you might a well save a few bucks while doing it. Get an extra 20$ in credit when you sign up and use my referral code right over here.