Google Fi Comes to the iPhone… Mostly

(Jeff Porten) #1

Originally published at:

Google’s Project Fi phone service has become Google Fi, with official support for using the iPhone you bring to the plan. But the iPhone experience isn’t the same as for Android phones using regular Google Fi. So for now, Google Fi is worthwhile in select circumstances.

(Ron Risley) #2

I’ve been using Project<<<<<<<Google Fi since before the beginning (I was an early beta tester). I quickly became disillusioned with the whole Android ecosystem when my less-than-year-old Nexus 6 phone stopped getting security updates and I discovered that there is no way to fully back up an android phone without rooting it. As a consequence, I’ve been using Google Fi with a cheap iPhone for several years.

The fact that Google is now officially supporting iPhones is nice, but I never had any problems before. I guess it would have been a hassle had my Nexus 6 actually died, but it still runs – swollen battery and all – well enough to re-active Fi had I needed to before the iOS app rolled out. T-Mobile has had good-enough coverage everywhere I’ve needed it, so the inability to switch between multiple carriers hasn’t been an issue for me.

A couple of things about Fi that Jeff didn’t mention, that I have found invaluable: the first is having Google as my wireless carrier. For customer service, they are head-and-shoulders above any other wireless carrier I have even encountered. They used to send us Christmas presents every year and other random goodies (I guess those days are over), but their well-designed apps and web presence make managing my accounts (I now have two) a joy instead of a chore.

The other is their data-only SIMs. You can request a second or third (I don’t know the limit) SIM card which will provide a data connection to other phones or tablets. Google ships the SIM to you at no cost. They even cover shipping. All the devices using data-only SIMs share your data plan with your primary phone, with the same simple pay-by-the-byte rate as your phone. That means your (cellular-equipped) tablets or old phones can be made quite functional. (You don’t have direct text or calling, but you can use apps like Hangouts or Signal to text and call when you only have a data connection.) Since it’s getting to the point where most of us have old devices floating around, it’s surprisingly useful to be able to turn them into back-up phones, surveillance cameras, or wireless hotspots without adding any new monthly charges.

Fi isn’t the amazing bargain it was when I first got it (I was paying about $110/month to AT&T which immediately dropped to about $30 with Fi), but I’d still be reluctant to switch. I’d recommend it highly to anyone with good T-Mobile coverage.

(Fearghas McKay) #3

Ron is correct about the data only sims - it is a real cost saving measure that Fi provides. Like him I am long time user mostly on iOS, you can get up to 9 data sims and they can just sit in devices with no monthly charge unless you use them. It is great to just be able to grab a device and take it on the road.

The only time I needed a US billing address was for the delivery of the SIM card, even though delivery was free it insisted on a US billed card for a zero charge, other than that it bills to my UK card. You might get cheaper data, and you probably can, but for roaming internationally nothing can beat it and the multiple data sims just add to the value.

I will admit to being a bit of a corner case in terms of International usage but having just spent 50 weeks in the US with no overseas travel I think it has still worked out cheaper than ATT etc.

I use Hangouts for making voice calls on wifi and it worked well last time I used it but that was just before the change from Project Fi to Fi so no guarantees it still works.

(Tommy Weir) #4

Every carrier should offer this. I’ve two old iPhones and I’d consider an iPad with data if I could. Very handy around a family.