Google Fi Review 2020

One simple plan that will be revolutionary for some but may be too restrictive for others.
google fi logo
Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Month-to-month flexibility
Solid national network
International coverage included
Expensive “unlimited” plan

Much like when I visit the in-laws for the holidays, Google Fi desperately tries to be flexible. Also like me when I visit the in-laws, it largely succeeds up until a certain breaking point. For me, it’s usually when we start to talk politics—but for Google Fi, it happens right around 3 GB of data.

Google Fi plans include unlimited calling and texting, but the data charges can rack up quickly. If you’re a heavy data user, Google Fi can end up costing more than you’d pay for an unlimited plan with a different provider.

But if you can keep your data use in check, Google Fi offers a solid national network, great international coverage, and easy sign-up.

Google Fi data plans

Use your data plan wisely . . .

Pros

  • Flexible data
  • International coverage

Cons

  • Data throttling after 15 GB

What we like

Flexible data

Google Fi is all about flexibility, so your plan can be a month-to-month unlimited plan when you need it and a pay-per-gig plan when you don’t. To get the most out of the service, here’s three main components you’ll want to understand.

  1. You pay a flat rate of $20 per line for unlimited talk and text.
  2. You pay $10 per GB only for the data you use (calculated to the nearest 0.1 GB).
  3. You have “bill protection,” which means you’ll never pay more than $70 for data, no matter how much you use.

Let’s say you ended up using 2 GB of data in a month. This is what your bill would look like:

Average Google Fi single plan
Single line unlimited talk and text2 GB of dataMonthly total
$20$20$40

Of course, you may not use the full 2 GB of data, in which case your total will be less. You only pay for what you use, which makes a lot of sense if you are a low-data user.

But if you do use the full amount, or more, that bill protection from earlier has your back.

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How much data do I use?
By our estimation, the average smartphone owner uses between 2 GB and 5 GB of wireless data every month. Let’s put those numbers in context: an hour of streaming Netflix in HD will cost you about 3 GB. Do your best to stream strictly on Wi-Fi, and your data will last much longer.

Google Fi International coverage

Going on vacation in Mexico (que te diviertas!) or on a business trip in Denmark (held og lykke)? With Google Fi, you’ll automatically be covered in those countries and about 200 others.

There’s a bit of a catch, though. You’ll still get unlimited texts in Google Fi’s international coverage areas, but there is an extra 20¢ per minute charge for voice calls. The data rates stay exactly the same.

That’s still a pretty good deal as long as you don’t narrate every step of your vacation to Mom back home.

Overall, Google Fi is a pretty convenient deal for casual travelers. But die-hard globetrotters may find better international rates from other carriers.

What we don’t like

Data throttling after 15 GB of used data

If you’re anything like us, you sometimes find yourself in a coffee shop that has spotty Wi-Fi, and that is not okay. You’ll feel tempted to create your own wireless hotspot, but before you go streaming the new season of  The Mandalorian, know that Google Fi will start throttling your connection after you’ve used 15 GB.

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What does data throttling mean?
Once you’ve used a certain amount of data, your speeds could slow down dramatically. In the case of Google Fi, once you pass 15 GB of data in a month, your data speed will become glacial.

If 15 GB isn’t a high enough data cap for you, you’ll want to check out other carriers. For example, Verizon lets you have up to 20 GB of unthrottled data, and T-Mobile gives you 50 GB—yes, 50!—of unthrottled data.

Comparing Google Fi’s data plans

Things start to look bleak for Google Fi when you compare its unlimited data option with other providers. Just take a look for yourself:

Currently, you can find cheaper unlimited plans (in some cases, much cheaper) with Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T. Verizon costs the same as Google Fi, but Verizon boasts way more perks than Google Fi.

Long story short, we strongly recommend not going with an unlimited plan with Google Fi, considering you can find cheaper alternatives that are just as good or even better.

Okay, but what about non-unlimited data plans? Let’s say you wanted a cell phone plan with 2 GB of data a month. Let’s see how Google Fi compares to the competition:

All of a sudden, Google Fi looks a lot better when you trim down the data. Currently, the only cheaper plan is Sprint’s Unlimited Kickstart plan, which only applies to new customers. Plus, Sprint doesn’t have coverage as reliable as you’ll find with Google Fi.

Remember, you only pay for what you use with Google Fi data, so do your best to reduce data usage by using as much Wi-Fi as possible and you’ll end up with a much better deal.

Google Fi family plans

Save money every month with a family plan.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Easy to add extra lines

Cons

  • High data costs

What we like

Affordable plans

I have a confession to make: I’m still on my family plan from a decade ago. (Dad, I’ll Venmo you money for the bill soon, I promise.) And I’m certainly not the only one who finds it cheaper and easier to be on a family plan.

Currently, you’d pay $70 a month for a 2 GB family plan on Google Fi. Since it costs $40 a month for an individual plan with 2 GB of data, you’d only be paying an extra $30 for two extra lines. Translation: family plans are always cheaper per line.

Easy to add extra lines

Fortunately, adding extra lines on Google Fi isn’t difficult. You’ll pay a flat $15 per month for each line you add. And each line gets the same goodies—unlimited talk and text, per-GB rate for data, and international coverage.

Bill protection will cap your bill after a certain point (depending on how many lines you add), but keep an eye on it, because everyone on your plan shares from the same data pool.

What we don’t like

High data costs

Because everyone shares the same data pool, and Google Fi will just keep charging you the more data you use (up until the bill protection threshold), things could start adding up quickly.

We would not recommend using Google Fi with any data hogs. Seriously, your teenager (or anybody really) could rack up tons of data before you know it and push your monthly charge up to $110 a month for three lines. At that point, you’d be better off getting a wireless family plan with a different carrier. Speaking of which . . .

Google Fi family plan comparison

Google Fi leads the pack with affordable family plans. Friendly reminder that you share your data pool with everyone in your family plan. So, the price may be low, but it comes at the cost of having less data to go around.

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Interested in a prepaid plan?
Google Fi’s plan is a month-to-month plan, meaning you don’t have to sign a contract. But you won’t have the convenience of paying up front, like with a prepaid plan. If that’s what you’re looking for, check out these prepaid plans.

Google Fi cell phones and devices

Get the latest Google Pixel devices, but not much else.

When Project Fi first launched, it had one gaping problem: it worked only with the Nexus 6 phone. Thankfully, those days are over.

After Project Fi rebranded as Google Fi, the company opened up its service to almost all phones, including Android devices and iPhones (if you bring your own).

Sadly, Google Fi is behind the times with most of its compatible devices. The latest Apple device mentioned on Google Fi’s website is an iPhone 6. (Yikes.) Everything after the iPhone 6 is still in beta testing.

Google Fi is most certainly playing favorites with its own devices and allows all the latest Google Pixel devices without any sort of “beta” baggage.

Which top phones does Google Fi offer?

Apple:

  • iPhone 11 (in beta)
  • iPhone X (in beta)
  • iPhone 8 (in beta)
  • iPhone 7 (in beta)
  • iPhone 6

Google:

  • Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL
  • Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL

Samsung:

  • Galaxy S9/S9+
  • Galaxy Note 9
  • Galaxy S8/S8+
  • Galaxy Note 8

Motorola:

  • Moto G7
  • Moto G6

Want to bring your own phone? You can check if it’s compatible on Google Fi’s website.

How good is Google Fi performance?

Three networks are better than one. Unless that one is Verizon. Then Verizon is better.

As mentioned earlier, Google Fi has a preference for certain phones (which just happen to be the ones Google makes). If you’re using those preferred phones, you can tap into several carrier networks and seamlessly transition between them.

But if you don’t have a “designed for Fi” phone, then you’re stuck on T-Mobile’s network. It’s not bad, but those in the midwestern and western states will definitely lose out (see below).

Not “designed for Fi” network coverage

Source: Google Fi

“Designed for Fi” network coverage

Source: Google Fi

As you can see, “designed for Fi” phones get a superior experience over more common phones. But if you’re going to pick a new phone just for better coverage, you want that service to be worth it compared to other providers too.

Check out Verizon’s coverage.

Verizon Wireless coverage map

Source: Verizon

Overall, Google Fi’s coverage is decent, but it’s not among the best coverage. Even with all three of its networks combined, Google Fi’s coverage can’t beat Verizon’s.

Google Fi’s customer service

Ironically, you might be better off just googling the solution to your problem.

It’s almost like the CEOs of all the major phone companies got together and made a bet that whoever could provide the worst customer service would get a trophy. Seriously.

Unfortunately, Google Fi doesn’t buck the trend when it comes to poor customer service. You can find a slew of complaints online, especially about payment issues, long waiting times, and inconsistent answers.

But Google Fi is a young company, so there’s still time for it to turn around and establish a positive reputation.

Recap: Is Google Fi good?

Google Fi’s plan is definitely unique, but is it revolutionary? The short answer: yes—for people who only want to pay for the data they use. But for others, Google Fi can easily end up being more expensive than it should be.

  • Google Fi’s single plan gives you unlimited talk and text for a flat fee of $20 a month, plus $10 per GB of data you use in a month, which caps at $60 a month.
  • Since Google Fi piggybacks on networks like Sprint and T-Mobile, your coverage should feel reliable in most areas.
  • If you’re a low-data user or your data use fluctuates from month to month, then Google Fi’s plan may be just what you need. Others may find its “unlimited” option too expensive and its phone selection too restrictive.

Google Fi is trying to shake up the cell phone industry. Is it working? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments section.

FAQs

Q: Does Google Fi have overage charges or hidden fees?

No. Thanks to the company’s bill protection policy, there are no data overage charges. There are also no activation or cancellation fees.

Q: Does Google Fi charge an activation fee?

Nope!

Q: Should I get a warranty or insurance for my Google Fi phone?

Do you have a habit of dropping your phone into puddles, toilet bowls, scenic lakes, raging rivers, and other bodies of water? Then you might want to get Google Fi’s device protection plan.

Q: Does Google Fi let you bring your own phone?

It sure does. But as we mentioned, some devices (like iPhones) will have restricted service.

Q: Can I keep my phone number?

Abso-freakin’-lutely. Google Fi lets you transfer your number as long as your current carrier approves it.

Q: What’s Google Fi’s return policy?

All devices purchased from Google Fi are covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.

Q: Does Google Fi have an early termination fee?

Short answer? No. Check out Google Fi’s FAQ page for more information.

Q: Does Google Fi have a military discount?

No, Google Fi does not have a military discount.

Q: Does Google Fi have a student discount?

Sorry, my scholastic friends, no student discounts with Google Fi.

  • Scott

    WORST PHONE SERVICE AND CUSTOMER SUPPORT IN THE WORLD!!! STAY AWAY FROM GOOGLE FI, save yourself the headache….

    I had google Fi for the past 5 years and I have to say it’s the most disappointing cell phone provider I’ve EVER had.. 5 years was 5 years to long…

    3 different times their pixel phones had software or hardware issues that literally was googles fault and they forced me to buy a new phone due to their own faults in design.. the pixel 1 headphone port and the software that controls it, the forward facing stereo speakers failing and the ear speaker failing… All these issues took me WEEKS to get resolved with Google Fi’s HORRIBLE CUSTOMER SUPPORT on 3 different occasions! It’s honestly the worst customer support I’ve ever seen in my life… they waste your time, lie and make excuses the entire time… It’s the core reason I just canceled the service after 5 years and now the phone is stripped of all googles software and acts as my media device and camera for my house.. I will NEVER use a google provided service again due to how they treat their customers. They don’t give a rats ass about you and your happiness. God help you if you ever have a problem with your phone or have to get it replaced.. they won’t even honor their insurance that you pay for, so don’t bother wasting your money on that.. it took them over a week and 8 hrs of my time before I got the damn email to be able to even return the phone!!! And they didn’t offer to do a single thing to compensate me for my time and stress that their ridiculous support team in India caused. Just just read a screen and send you into a black box of no help…. They just want your money and your data. Be warned and stay clear of google and their shit services and support with google Fi. It’s a total scam and they just lie constantly.

    I just switched back to a new iPhone and T-Mobile service and it’s the best change I ever did.. Saving tons of money with their discounts and very happy with it and have the immediate customer service that should be available. I was able to get a brand new phone at the store down the street in 30 min for less than what I was paying with googles scam of a service.

  • http://accuraterater.com Sharla Riead

    If there were a trophy for worst customer service, Google Fi would absolutely win! They do not stand behind their phones they sell or their service. We purchased a brand-new Moto X4 to use with their Google Fi service. The first time we turned it on we see “Sim card not provisioned for voice.” Their customer service team tells us they know about this and to just ignore it. Well, it was very hard to ignore because the phone would not connect four times out of five. Long story short, replacement with a refurbished phone that still didn’t work and after lots of hours back and forth and round and round in circles with them and after four months in ‘escalation’ (“please wait until you hear from our technical team”) now they tell us that if we didn’t like it we should have returned it within the 14 day refund period and since we did not do that, we are screwed and there is nothing they plan to do about this. They say that there will be no refund and no resolution – our only choice is to purchase a Pixel or go somewhere else. I am seething!

  • E Oh

    By far the most incompetent customer service i have experienced. I regret dealing with them and suggest you look elsewhere if you have any options. I elected to move my google voice number to fi and try their service. The ONLY reason I chose to port my google voice number was because in their own terms of service I would be able to port it out if I discontinued googlefi. I also spoke to an agent before porting in to confirm I would be able to port out later. So with that knowledge in hand I tried it. And honestly the phone and connection worked fine. However I chose a month later to port out. Guess what. GV port out was grayed out. I called. A long hold with an agent later and I was told my number was never a GV number. Really? It boggles the mind. So how… for the previous three years was I logging into my GV account/settings and using this number? No answer – except for their repeated insistence that it was not a GV number. Just useless to deal with – including the supervisor I requested to escalate to… who simply ‘parroted’ the agent. Also keep in mind that Fi customer service is a contract company and NOT A PART OF GOOGLE. After what felt like an eternity getting nowhere I gave up, cancelled my account with fi ( because they could not do anything to correct their incompetence) and created a new GV account with a new number. Stay far away from fi if you need any support. You have been informed and warned.

  • Wendy James

    BUYER BEWARE! Google Fi continues to charge my credit card even though I was never able to set up my phone. I received NO technical support and now there is NO support from their billing department and NO refund for “two billing cycles”?! Yes, really, two billing cycles. It is a customer service nightmare. Run, don’t walk away from Google Fi.

  • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/1370228443/ Tommy Danielle Heffernan

    Hello, this is in regards to Google Fi, Google’s cell phone provider. I recently had damage to a Google Pixel 3a that I had purchased with google fi. I also was paying for a replacement plan with them. I placed an order for a replacement device and received it in short order. i wiped the old device and shipped it back the same day. However, my new device wouldn’t activate. I keep getting an error ID:D003. After a 3 hour chat with tech support they said I needed to have tier 2 involved. They said it would be 24-48 hours before they would get back with me and that it would be via EMIAL. 72 hours later I received the first email where they asked me if I had rebooted the phone after my sim card was installed! This was a simple thing that a new employed would be able to handle.

    Currently, 8 days later, my phone is still not active. No credits have been applied. The latest email says it will be another 72 hours till an engineer can review the data I sent them, and they will not let me out of my service without paying off the device in full. I asked if I can simply return the NEW device I got as a replacement and close my account and that was met with a no. I HIGHLY WARN individuals that the service and customer support of Google Fi is a nightmare. Do not buy a device from them as they will keep you trapped in their service that you cannot get yet will pay for.