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A quick look at what you want and do not get with Google Fi



Are you considering switching to Google Fi? You should: It's functional, affordable and transparent. But it may also not work fully with your smartphone. So let's see how this plays out, using a few obvious examples.

As a piece of background, I strongly use Google Fi, which was previously called Project Fi, although I only had one (big) regards to that recommendation to date: Until this week, the service was only compatible with a little selection of mainly Google-branded phones. So if you used an iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy, OnePlus or almost any other non-Google Android phone, you were out of luck.

Well, that was just changed. Effectively immediately, Google Fi is now compatible with iPhone and most Android phones. The problem is that you will not necessarily get the full Fi experience on phones that were not designed specifically for Fi. These phones, which include Pixel 2/2 XL, Pixel 3/3 XL, Moto G6 and Moto X, and the LG V35 ThinQ and G7 ThinQ, include special networking hardware that lets them seamlessly switch between networks, a key Fi advantage. (In the US, these networks are T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular.) You also lose some other features like Fi VPN.

So let's compare and contrast. Let's see what Google Fi features are available on three phones I've used in recent months: Google Pixel 2 XL, OnePlus 6T, and Apple iPhone XS.

Google Pixel 2 XL

Unlimited talk / text for $ 20 per month. Yes
Data for $ 10 per 1GB per month. Yes
Bill protection of 6 GB per month. Yes
Full speed data to 15 GB per month. Yes
Group plan. Yes.
Free international data roaming. Yes
Free International Texting. Yes
Affordable international phone calls. Yes
No contracts. Yes
Seamless switch between mobile networks and Wi-Fi hotspots. Yes
Automatic VPN Protection. Yes
Datafri SIM card for other devices. Yes
Googe Fi mobilapp. Yes

Pixel 2 XL is fully Fi compliant to get the full range of Google Fi functionality.

OnePlus 6T

Unlimited talk / text for $ 20 per month. Yes
Data for $ 10 per 1GB per month. Yes
Bill protection of 6 GB per month. Yes
Full speed data to 15 GB per month. Yes
Group plan. Yes.
Free international data roaming. Yes
Free International Texting. Yes
Affordable international phone calls. Yes
No contracts. Yes
Seamless switch between mobile networks and Wi-Fi hotspots. NO
Automatic VPN Protection. NO
Data-free SIM card for other devices. Yes
Googe Fi mobilapp. Yes

The two key pieces here are the lack of seamless networking and lack of automatic VPN protection.

Apple iPhone XS

Unlimited talk / text for $ 20 per month. Yes
Data for $ 10 per 1GB per month. Yes
Bill protection of 6 GB per month. Yes
Full speed data to 15 GB per month. Yes
Group plan. Yes.
Free international data roaming. Yes
Free International Texting. Yes
Affordable international phone calls. Yes
No contracts. Yes
Seamless switch between mobile networks and Wi-Fi hotspots. NO
Automatic VPN Protection. NO
Datafri SIM card for other devices. Yes
Googe Fi mobilapp. Yes

The two key missing pieces here is the lack of seamless networking and lack of automatic VPN protection.

But Google also notes that iPhone users need to make a manual configuration change for text messaging to work properly, which is common with mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) like Google Fi. That said, iMessage works well.

Also problematic, there is no visual voicemail support on Google Fi. To make up for this, Google will write a transcription of each voicemail you receive, which is fine.


I'm starting to test Google Fi with OnePlus 6T starting this week. I'm thrilled with these changes and I had never expected an improvement this dramatic.

You can learn more about Google Fi on the Google Fi site.

Tagged with Google Fi, Project Fi


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