cs-product-header
Google Project Fi Review
Bottom Line

While Google's Project Fi isn't perfect for everyone, if you don't mind the limited phone selection, and live where its networks (plural) have good coverage, its pricing model is winning tons of kudos. Robust speeds, reliable service, and good customer service are other pluses.

Pros
  • Uses three networks for broader coverage
  • Only bills you for data used
  • Automatically connects to secure Wi-Fi access points to keep data costs down
  • Good customer support
Cons
  • Will only work with Google Nexus and Pixel phones
  • Coverage spotty in rural areas
  • Not the cheapest for heavy data users

Breaking it down

Plans and flexibility

Pay only for what you use. Project Fi has only one pricing plan, but it's unique. Subscribers pay a flat $20 for line access plus unlimited talk and text. Data is charged at a rate of $10 per GB. You sign up for a bucket of data in advance, but that's merely bookkeeping. If you sign up for 2 GB, but only use 1.403 GB, you receive a refund of $5.97 for your unused allotment, credited to your next bill. Go over your allotment, no sweat, you'll be charged for the excess at the same rate on your next bill; use an extra .4 GB (400 MB), and you'll be billed $4. No overage fees, no throttling of speeds. Simple. Up to five extra lines can be added to an account for $15 each. The added lines all have unlimited talk and text, and share the same data pool as the primary line. There's no extra charge for using your device as a hot spot, and international travelers can use their plan in more than 135 countries, paying 20 cents per minute for non-Wi-Fi voice calls, and the same $10 per GB for data as in the U.S. All that leaves subscribers thrilled. Project Fi earns the highest mark for value at ConsumerReports.org, where it's also the top rated prepaid plan overall. At PCMag.com, where it's a Readers' Choice award winner, it gets a 9.6 out of 10 rating for satisfaction with fees.

Performance

Look ma, three networks (plus Wi-Fi). Aside from its pricing structure, the thing that sets Project Fi apart from other providers is that is has the ability to switch between networks and secure Wi-Fi access points seamlessly to provide solid connectivity -- within limits. Mobile coverage is provided over T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular, with the device using whichever network provides the best coverage at the moment. Where available, the phone will also use Wi-Fi both for data and phone calls. The one fly in this formula is that while these networks -- especially Sprint and T-Mobile -- have seen marked improvement in their coverage, they are still best in cities, suburban areas, many small towns, and along major highways. While that covers a good percentage of the country, it leaves many areas -- particularly rural areas -- with spottier performance. For those users, a provider like Cricket (Est. $25 per month and up), which uses AT&T's more far-reaching network, might be a better bet. Also, the downside to this multi-network switching is that few current phones can support it -- just Google's Nexus and Pixel phones. If you want to use an iPhone or another device, Project Fi won't be for you.

Customer service

Multifaceted, and effective. If you need help, and who doesn't with a cell phone service from time to time, Project Fi has multiple support channels, available 24/7. You can contact a representative by phone, open an online chat, or email. There's also an official help forum with information and user to user assistance. ConsumerReports.org's survey respondents gave Project Fi top marks for customer support.

Our Sources

1. ConsumerReports.org

U.S. Cell Phone Carriers, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, September 2016

ConsumerReports.org polls more than 100,000 cell phone users, and Google's Project Fi finishes on top, by a relatively large margin, among prepaid services. Customer service, value and data performance are among the services highest rated areas.

2. PCMag.com

Readers' Choice Awards 2016: Smartphones and Carriers , Ben Gottesman, March 15, 2016

This reader survey of cell phone users includes both prepaid and postpaid services. Google Project Fi is a co-Reader's Choice winner. "The new kid on the block, Project Fi is shaking things up with very affordable pricing and an innovative network that's always looking for the fastest, most reliable connection," Gottesman says, adding that "So far, users are thrilled."

3. Computerworld.com

Project Fi revisited: 6 months with Google's weird wireless service, JR Raphael, April. 14, 2016

ComputerWorld.com contributing editor JR Raphael reports on his and his wife's six-month experience with Google Project Fi. He says that both are thrilled. "We're spending less and getting more than ever before, with a service that's more flexible and has fewer annoyances than anything else out there," he says.

4. Thurrott.com

Google Project Fi Review, Paul Thurrott, July 11, 2016

Tech guru Paul Thurrott weighs in with his take on Project Fi. "Google's Project Fi is a near-perfect reinvention of what a wireless carrier can and should be, a great service with reasonable and fully transparent pricing," he says. The one major issue, and one that he concedes could be a deal breaker for some, is that it only works with Google phones.

5. HowardForums.com

Forum: Google Project Fi, Contributors HowardForums.com, As of January 2017

Google Project Fi gets its own subforum here. While not particularly busy, there's still lots of discussions and opinions to see, including a fairly long thread where users share their Project Fi experiences.