Justin Tadlock

My Experience With Google Fi

After several years with Verizon, I’d had enough. It was time for a change.

I’d been paying around $55 per month for service while still using my old iPhone 4s. For several months, my iPhone no longer worked over cellular data. It’d been a good phone. Sturdy. Well-built. We had a good 5-year run together. But, it was time to move on.

As for Verizon, well, I don’t have a ton of good things to say about them. They have great coverage in most places. And, even though their coverage map claims to blanket my home and everywhere around, it doesn’t. The one good thing they had going for them was pretty much irrelevant for me. I have a couple of other horror stories dealing with their customer service and somewhat shady business practices, but this post isn’t about bashing Verizon (at least not too much).

I needed a new phone. And, upgrading with Verizon meant getting stuck in a contract and a bill that would be fairly high—higher than any amount of need or enjoyment I’d be getting from its use.

It was time to shop around.

Deciding on Google Fi

I knew for a fact that T-Mobile had good coverage in my area. Several of my friends and family use the service. I wasn’t sold on their offerings though.

Enter Google and its Project Fi, which is now simply Google Fi.

Instead of putting up their own cell towers, Google Fi utilizes Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular towers. Your phone will attempt to find the best signal and switch you to that. Given the many T-Mobile towers in my area, this was a big plus. Calls also go over Wi-Fi.

Pricing is the other factor. Google has an ideal pricing structure for folks who spend a lot of time around Wi-Fi. For $20/month, you get unlimited talk time and text messages. Then, it costs $10/month for every GB of data. Once you hit 6 GB of data, you’re no longer charged. And, your speed is throttled after 15 GB. This is a non-issue for folks like me with near-constant access to Wi-Fi.

And, one of the biggest pluses is there’s no contract. I’ll repeat—no contract. No signing up for a two-year commitment to some company you may decide you don’t like in 6 months. No agonizingly long wait until you can make the switch elsewhere.

The Web site and app

If you’re a fan of Google services, you’ll feel right at home with their Web site and app. Everything is simple, fast, and to the point. I’ve never had to hunt down anything that I was searching for. I can check billing or anything else I need in seconds.

Other carriers could learn a few things from Google Fi in this regard. I feel like I’m constantly be bashed over the head with offers or new phone sales elsewhere. Competitor sites also tend to be slow and clunky.

Google Fi’s site and app interfaces were definitely checkmarks in the “pros” column when making a decision.

A new phone

When I first signed up for Google Fi, there were only a handful of phones that could be used with the service. That’s not the case today. Google has opened its service to many more phones now.

At any other time, not being able to use my existing phone would’ve been a deal-breaker for me. Fortunately, I was in the market for a new phone.

I had previously tested the Google Pixel, and using the latest Android felt just as natural as anything else I’ve used. Frankly, I like the experience a bit better than iOS. Making the switch to the Pixel was a great decision. It even replaced my iPad as my primary device when lounging around the house.

A year and a half later

I’m just past the year and a half mark with the Google Fi service. I’m still using the same Pixel phone and will likely continue using it for at least another year. It hasn’t shown much aging.

Overall, I’m happy with the service. I live in a rural area, about 20 minutes to the nearest small city. I get service at home, which is my main reason for finding a new carrier. There is one stretch of highway that’s a dead zone in an area that I frequently drive. But, it’s something you learn to live with in the country, regardless of the service provider.

My one complaint is the lag while talking over Wi-Fi, and my phone sometimes connects to that when people call in. I’m always a half second behind in the conversation. I suspect that has more to do with my home satellite Internet connection than anything, but I haven’t tested calling over Wi-Fi from a cable or DSL connection. For the most part, it’s a minor nuisance once in a while.

My largest service bill has been right under $25 for a month, which includes taxes and other required fees.

Get some free credit

If you sign up for the service, please use my Google Fi referral link. We’ll both get a $20 credit, which is pretty sweet. Actually, I’ll get a $100 credit for anyone who signs up by January 8, 2019.

I’m not just writing this post for the credit though. I thoroughly enjoy the service and plan on using it as long as Google continues providing great service.