Since I am going to travel a bit for work, I was looking for a new phone which could work at least a working day without charging and gives me great coverage. I also wanted a plan with works great when abroad. t-mobile already has excellent coverage world wide and free text and data, but the speed is limited. For $5 a day you can get to regular speeds (1GB for the day). Google Fi has international data included in their plan, so that sounded interesting. In the past when I checked them out, it only worked with a few select phones. Recently they added the possibility to use any Android phone and even iPhones work today. All it takes is installing the Google Fi app and you’re off to go (with your own phone you can test it free for a month, you can always port your number later if you want to).
What’s unique about Google Fi is that it uses 3 operators in the US and picks the strongest one or one of 2million+ Wi-Fi hotspots) and switches for you automatically to give you the best connection. (Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular) You can check out the coverage map here. It can also protect your connection by automatically using a VPN (yes, you have to trust Google, but you already are since you use Android )
So I ordered a Pixel 2XL since that gave me a $300 credit on Google Fi. This made a bit cheaper than the newer Pixel 3XL. (I love the phone, battery life is excellent and so is the speed, can’t wait to test it internationally)
The Pixel 2XL has an eSIM, that means you don’t have to put in a separate SIM card (you can if you want). You download the Google Fi app and you active your line through the app. Porting the number was done in less than 2 minutes. (you need your number and the pin-code you setup with t-mobile).
I signed up my wife and daughter too, few day later the SIM card arrived in the mail and I popped them in their phones, started the Google Fi app and transferred their numbers. All set and good to go.
On the website or in the app you can see more details about your usage. Everybody can see in depth their own usage and which app uses how much (that’s something, I as a plan owner, cannot see, I can only see the total usage per person)
Adding a data SIM was easy too. You order one for free on the website. You navigate to fi.google.com/data and enter the code on the card which holds the SIM, the gmail account you are logged in with determines to what person the data SIM is attached. Activating it was easy. I had to add an APN to my extra phone manually (h2g2) but after that it just worked.
So all in all I am quite happy. Simple model with voice and text, data bundle is easy too. Doesn’t matter if you are in the US or abroad and if you are tethering or not. Also easy to get data SIMs if you have devices which need to be online (I can’t wait for all my laptops to have a SIM slot)
So how does t-mobile compare to Google Fi?
My monthly plan with t-mobile was $126 per month total, this was for 3 lines (I somehow got a free 3rd line in the past). This interesting things included:
- Unlimited talk, text and data (2GB-22GB) hotspot amount is limited
- Streaming like Netflix doesn’t eat away from your data bundle. But by default it’s optimized for DVD-quality (480p)
- In-flight texting on all Gogo-enabled flights
There is a bunch of extra things you can take, voicemail transcriptions etc. But you have to pay extra for those. Since I started my service with t-mobile they introduced new plans where you only pay $100 including taxes and you get a free Netflix subscription as well. So not bad at all.
But when I looked at my usage from my family I saw we only use around 3GB per month total. So let’s look how what Google Fi charges.
The first line is $20 per month (plus Taxes and fees so add another $5). This gives you unlimited talk, text. You have to pay for data! BUT only for the first 6GB, it’s $10 per GB so you never pay more than $60 for the data, after that it’s free. They call it bill protection.
Every extra line costs $15 per month. So for 3 lines I pay $50 plus taxes and fees. The bill protection with 3 lines kicks in at 12GB(!) so this would costs me more than with t-mobile, but my average for the family is only 3GB.
T-mobile charges $20 for an extra line for tablets and $10 for smartwatches. Google Fi doesn’t charge anything for a data SIM, you can order as many as you want, they just eat into the same data from your plan. This I like a lot.
What I also like about Google-Fi is you can use tethering on your phone as well, again the same data from your plan. This also goes for anything you do internationally. It’s all just the same data bundle.
So give it a try. You can use my link https://g.co/fi/r/56XFYR this gives you $20 credit (and I get some too )