I’m always looking for the next big thing and I thought Project Fi might be it. Google’s new cell phone service, Project Fi, offers free data and texting in more than 120 countries worldwide — and with Wi-Fi calling, you can even make phone calls abroad (with your normal phone number) at no extra charge.
I already had international data and texting with T-Mobile, but I wanted something better because T-Mobile is patchy where I live. Since Project Fi offers service through T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular combined (plus Wi-Fi based calls), I assumed my coverage would get better. Two other advantages were a lower monthly bill for the same amount of data and faster international speeds (4G with Project Fi vs 2G with T-Mobile).
The Basics of Project Fi
Project Fi keeps prices low because the phone defaults to using Wi-Fi whenever there’s a strong enough connection.
If you’ve ever chatted on FaceTime, Skype, Google Voice, or other apps, you know that Wi-Fi calls can be high quality. When that’s not available, Google Voice claims to seamlessly transfer you over to either T-Mobile or Sprint towers…even if you’re in the middle of a call. Data and texting work much the same way, with Wi-Fi being the default coverage.
Plans start at $20/month for unlimited talk and text and then you pay $10 per 1 GB of data thereafter. So, if you typically use 3GB of data, plan on spending a total of $50/month.
If you use less data than you signed up for, they’ll actually refund you on the unused data and if you use more, they’ll charge you accordingly at the same rate.
NEW: Activate service using my link and get a $20 Google credit after you keep Project Fi service for at least 30 days.
As a downside, not many phones are compatible with Project Fi service, so most customers will have to buy a new phone. I chose the Nexus 5X since my previous phone was a Nexus 5 that I loved. The Pixel, Pixel 2, Pixel XL, and Moto X4 are all solid choices.
Project Fi International for Travelers
As noted, Project Fi currently includes international data and texting in 135 countries, which is perfect for travelers. I’ve come to rely on apps like Google Maps to get me around, not to mention on-the-go email service to stay on top of work while I’m away. Being able to make and receive FREE calls when on Wi-Fi is a huge bonus (and when you’re roaming internationally, calls to/from the United States are $0.20/minute — reasonable for emergencies, but can add up for “just catching up”).
Project Fi Service Abroad
Project Fi coverage abroad is amazing. It’s fast enough for almost everything with 4G speeds (certainly enough to upload some Facebook photos, use Google maps, and check emails). It’s also very reliable, easy to use, and I love that my friends and family can dial my normal, US-based phone number to reach me.
…And Then I Cancelled Project Fi
After two weeks of Project Fi service, I cancelled. Even with T-Mobile and Sprint coverage combined, I found a lot of dead spots at home — ironically, more so than when I had T-Mobile alone. I don’t have a good explanation for that, only that I didn’t think my U.S. based coverage could get worse until it actually did.
When on Wi-Fi, my calls had a lot of static and a few callers complained that I was breaking up. When I dropped a call while on the phone with an important client even though I hadn’t moved from the spot I was in for the first 10 minutes of the call, I knew it was time to cancel.
The Silver Lining
Project Fi offers refunds on your phone when returned within 15 days, so there’s little risk. Switching from T-Mobile at the beginning of my service was simple and switching from Project Fi at the end was easy too. I’ve kept my number throughout the process and have nothing but good things to say about Google Project Fi’s customer service.
I tried Project Fi again, mainly because I wanted service abroad for three weeks in Europe. It does seem like they’ve worked out some of the U.S. based kinks and international service is still incredible. I don’t think Project Fi is perfect in rural areas, but it’s spot on in major cities in the USA and everywhere I’ve been abroad.
As a bonus, you can always pause or resume service if you want to make this a secondary line, paying only for Project Fi when you use it.
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Try Project Fi and get a $20 Google credit after you keep Project Fi service for at least 30 days.
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