Our Full Review
Our modern lives almost require a smartphone on our hip at all times.
They make life easier and more complicated at the same time. If you are with one of the major cell service carriers, like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or T-Mobile, then you know how expensive they can be too.
Google Fi (Our Affiliate link to Google Fi)aims to turn that all on its head.
When researching for a cell carrier, you should be looking for good service, but the cost is a major factor, too.
- Will you take on a phone payment?
- Unlimited data?
- Can you control costs or are you given a rate and that’s it?
- Service coverage area?
These are just a few questions you should ask yourself before choosing a carrier. Once you reach our conclusion, you’ll see why Google Fi puts up a damn good argument for being the low-cost leader.
What Is Google Fi?
Google Fi is Google’s interpretation of cell phone service and an attempt to simplify the process. What you wouldn’t have seen coming, is that Google believes you should be in full control of your costs.
As one of the largest companies in the world, Google isn’t known for a lot of consumer-facing products other than Android and the occasional tablet or phone.
Google Fi is a revolutionary take on cell phone service that links directly with your existing Google account and can even use your existing phone.
The service itself relies primarily on jumping from WiFi to WiFi to make sure that you are not using data when you don’t have to. They also use WiFi for calling and texts when connected.
Google Fi has specific phones that handle this operation on their network very well and they are the recommended phones for the service.
The coverage area of Google Fi is a combination of two existing cell carriers’ networks. Sprint and T-Mobile networks are used to seamlessly connect you to the best signal at all times.
Like we said before, the phones will connect to WiFi as primary, but these two networks are always there when outside of WiFi range.
It is a strong coverage map but is not industry-leading by any means. If you have any issues with Sprint’s or T-mobile’s networks, then Google Fi may not be for you.
Good coverage is, of course, necessary, but you may have to pay $60-$80 more per month to get a better network.
One of the best traits of Google Fi is the billing process. For unlimited talk and text on your first line, it is $20 per month. Data is handled on a per-use basis and will add up to $10 per gigabyte per month.
You have full control of what your bill will be each month.
The phones will default to WiFi when in range, saving you precious gigabytes and dollars.
For a single line, if you exceed 6 gigabytes, your plan will no longer charge you for data and you will be unlimited for the rest of the month.
Adding a line is super simple and is $15 a month for unlimited talk and text and will join in sharing how much data is used. After 8 gigabytes for multiple lines, it becomes an unlimited data plan.
You can set alerts for data at different levels and Google Fi will let you know if you are using more data than you wanted.
The billing is dead simple and a breeze to view and update anything. It is refreshing for a service to be so easy to use and stay abreast of your service. There is no bloat here whatsoever.
Google requires you to pay your bill on an automatic payment plan that withdraws the funds on the 1st of every month. You are prepaying for basic service for the next month.
For example, my single line is $20 for talk and text and approximately $6 for taxes and fees. This is what I will be paying for the upcoming month.
In addition, you will pay for the following month’s data. The crazy thing about it is that with full control of my data, I can whittle that data cost to almost nothing.
Because I spend the large majority of my time in WiFi locations, I was able to limit my data to .09GB for an entire month. This led to $0.89 in data charges!
This is why Google Fi is the frugal choice(Link to our article on being frugal).
Limited Phone Choices
Unfortunately, there are some restrictions to the service when it comes to your phone choices. Google Fi only has a select amount of phones that work fully with its network hopping and WiFi switching.
Don’t worry they have everything from the state of the art Pixel 3 all the way down to the frugal favorite Motorola G6 or the all-new Motorola G8(Links will take you to Amazon to check prices).
No iPhones will be fully adapted to the way Google Fi does service at this time. But some of them do work on Google Fi in a limited capacity.
We are sure you can find a phone to fit your needs, and if you need a lot of features for not a lot of money, the Pixel 3a (Link to Amazon for pricing) is a great choice.
No matter which phone you choose, you can finance the phone and make 24 monthly payments until it is paid in full. The phones are fully unlocked from a carrier and need to have the Google Fi sim card installed to initiate service.
The process is, once again, very simple, and you can shop for your phone anywhere that offers unlocked phones, like Amazon.(Link to Amazon’s selection of smartphones)
Even if you don’t take full advantage of Google Fi with their approved phones, you still may be able to bring your existing phone to the network.
Google gives you a full breakdown of phone compatibility and what features may be lost if you bring that phone to the network.
So if you are absolutely in love with your current device, you still may be able to bring it into the Google Fi family and continue using it. You’ll just have to sacrifice a little of what makes their service unique.
From a cost standpoint, if you own your phone, this may be a very attractive option to save money compared to the major carriers.
Don’t buy a new phone if you don’t have to. We did, but we did it prior to Google opening up the network to more phone options.
Google Fi is more flexible than ever right now, and they seem committed to letting you use any device that makes you happy.
Why We Chose Google Fi
I was disgusted with how much money I was spending just to have cell phone service. As a previous Verizon customer for 15 years, the bill had crept up over $90 per month for one line and 2 gigabytes of data.
The tipping point came as my phone started to show its age and was not holding a charge very well. That took me into the research phase of looking into new phones. It also made me reexamine what the hell I was paying for.
Verizon broke down a little something like this:
- $40 for unlimited talk and text and 2 gigabytes of data
- $20 for data access per line
- $30 for god knows what and taxes and fees
I will be completely honest, I am not even sure how they got to over $90 for one freaking line.
Needless to say, I immediately started shopping for a new carrier and wanted to exemplify the frugalness that we espouse on this site regularly.
After researching all the major carriers and reading reviews of the smaller ones, I settled on two primary options:
- Google Fi (Affiliate link to sign up for service)
- Republic Wireless(Affiliate link to check out another super low-cost option)
Both options are very inexpensive, Republic being even less than Google Fi, but the part that tipped me to Google Fi was the coverage.
These carriers both utilize the WiFi networks wherever you are and have phones that do the switching automatically for you.
Google Fi’s coverage map just worked better and I felt better going with the backing of Google.
Republic Wireless has a lot of strong recommendations out in the wild too.
I bought a Motorola X4 outright for $200 and now pay about $30 a month including all fees and taxes.
The Frugal Choice
The major carriers are too expensive. The longer you stay with them, the more your bill creeps up for less and less actual service in return.
Google Fi gives you back all of the control you were missing. I can use down to the 1/10th of a gigabyte my data usage. My data is mine to pay for as much or as little as I choose.
The simple and clear billing, along with being able to update your account as you see fit, makes managing your Google Fi incredibly easy. You can add or remove lines with ease.
While being a low cost carrier, you still have the enormity and backing of Google.
We love Google Fi! If you want to check them out, please use our link(Affiliate link to Google Fi) and sign up.
Once you do, Google has a program where your personal referrals will get you bill credits. Once again saving you a ton of money for little effort.
Have you looked into the low-cost carriers out there? Who did you go with and why? We would love to know in the comments below!