Category: Product Reviews
In this post, I am going to tell you why I switched to Google Project Fi, and also share my experience thus far as a Google Project Fi customer.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know that I have been on Verizon Wireless Prepaid service for a long time. I wrote a review of Verizon Wireless Prepaid cellular service back in May 2016.
If you are wondering why I decided to switch, read on!
Verizon Wireless Prepaid
Verizon has the best cell phone network and there is no doubt about that. When I went to Puerto Rico (which is a US territory) in June 2017, using my cell phone become painful as a Verizon prepaid customer.
Prior to my trip, I called Verizon’s customer service and asked if I would have coverage in Puerto Rico. They confirmed that roaming coverage was available and what the roaming charges would be. This was perfectly acceptable for me.
What I did not know is that, I had to dial the same number two times (second time to confirm to Verizon that I really wanted to make a call in roaming) to make calls.
I was okay with the roaming charges, however, dialing the same number two times for every outgoing call was not acceptable. When I reached out to Verizon’s prepaid customer service from PR, I was told that the only way to get past “dialing the same number two times” was to become a post paid customer.
I said, “Thanks, but No, Thanks!”
If your cell phone usage is 100% within the US mainland, and you don’t care about coverage outside the US, then Verizon Prepaid may be an excellent option for you – $40 per month for unlimited talk & text, 3 GB data, and carryover of unused data as long as your bills are paid on time.
Now, you know why I started looking for an alternative.
Google Project Fi
Google Project Fi is Google’s cell phone service. When I was researching Google Project Fi, these are the things that stood out.
Google Project Fi Carriers
Google relies on three carriers – US Cellular, T-Mobile, and Sprint. It switches between these carriers automatically to the one which has the best signal strength.
With these three carriers, I came to a conclusion that I should have pretty decent coverage on my phone.
In addition, Google Fi also supports Wifi calling. In the event that I am at location where there is poor cellular reception, Google Fi would route the call through Wifi and I would still be able to make and receive calls.
If you want to force Google Project Fi to route all calls through Wifi, the only way to do it is to set the phone in “airplane mode” and turn Wifi ON. Otherwise, Google Fi will use cellular or Wifi, whichever is faster, to make phone calls.
At home, I have my phone in airplane mode with Wifi ON all the time.
Free International Texting
You get free international texting to 135+ countries from the US.
International Calling at Reasonable Rates
You can make international calls straight from your cell phone at very low rates.
International Roaming Rate
If you are overseas, and without a Wifi connection, you are charged a flat rate of 20 cents per minute for calls.
Cell phone coverage is available in 135+ countries at the time of this writing.
Flat rate of $10 per GB of data
You only pay for how much data you use. There are no overage charges. If you subscribe for 1 GB of data, and you only use 500 MB, then Google would credit you $5 in your next month’s bill.
This flat rate for data is applicable across all the 135+ countries.
24 / 7 Customer Support
Google Project Fi has 24 / 7 customer support. You can talk, chat, or email them.
These were enough to convince me to give Google Project Fi a try.
Google Project Fi Service Cost
The cost for the first line is $20 and then $10 for every GB of data. So, I decided to give Google Fi a try at the rate of $30 per month (no including fees and taxes) – $20 for the first line, $10 for 1 GB of data.
Basically, if I used more than 1 GB of data, Google would prorate and charge me more (no overage charges). If I used less than 1 GB of data, Google would prorate the usage, and credit my account on the next billing cycle for the unused data.
I signed up with Google Project Fi and ordered the free SIM card.
Now, I didn’t want to spend $600-$800 on a Google Pixel phone and be stuck with it if I didn’t like the Google Fi service. I wanted to go with an unlocked GSM phone that would work across a majority of the carriers.
Moreover, I just don’t like the idea of spending ~$700 on a phone. I have had my iPhone 5S for 32 months – it is now my daughter’s phone, which will make a blog post for another day.
Make Smarter Decisions made it very easy for me to choose Nexus 6.
Nexus 6 has a huge screen and pretty much everything to like about it. It was piece of cake for me to move from my iPhone 5S to Nexus 6.
I was able to purchase a brand new unlocked Nexus 6 on eBay for ~$220. Nexus 6 is available on Amazon at ~$289.
Google Project Fi and Nexus 6
My SIM card arrived from Google and Nexus 6 arrived from eBay. Per Google Project Fi support team’s instructions, I installed the Project Fi application on Nexus 6. Then when the SIM card arrived, I installed it on my phone, and followed the steps on the Project Fi app and I activated my service within five minutes.
If you are porting your number over from another carrier, it would be prudent of you to get the account number (from carrier with whom you currently have service) and pass code in advance and have it ready.
You need this information to port your number and activate it when you get your SIM card from Google.
Google Project Fi Experience
I have been on Google Project Fi for the past three months. My cell phone bill has been averaging around ~$33 per month including taxes and fees for the past 3 months.
This means I am saving about $15 a month by switching a month by switching from Verizon Wireless to Google Project Fi. Also, my phone will work in Puerto Rico :).
The customer support is absolutely phenomenal. Hat’s off to Google’s customer service.
After switching to Google Project Fi, one of the issues I did encounter is that text messages kept going to my iPhone 5S instead of my Nexus 6.
Google Fi support suggested that I switch off iMessage on my iPhone 5S and that should fix the problem.
I disabled iMessage on my iPhone 5S and started receiving text messages on my Nexus 6.
After three months of usage, I am one happy Google Project Fi customer.
Google Project Fi Hack
Use this information at your own risk. I took the activated Google Project Fi SIM card and put it in my unlocked Apple iPhone 5S phone.
I was able to make and receive calls. However, here are the limitations – iPhone 5S + Google Fi SIM card is limited to Tmobile carrier only. Google Fi will not be able to leverage US Cellular and Sprint.
Wifi calling is not supported and does not work.
Lastly, Google Project Fi does not support their service on iPhones.
My hack will work only if the Google Project Fi SIM card is activated. This means that you would need to use one of your friend’s phone (Nexus 6, Google Pixel) to activate the SIM card before you try my method.
Once again, remember that this is a hack and this approach is not supported by Google. Use it at your own risk.
Would you like to give Google Project Fi a try? If you use this link to give Google Project Fi a try, then you will receive a $20 statement credit and so will I.