Google Project Fi Review

By: Carl Laron on December 12, 2017

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
Our Analysis

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 marks for value at Consumer Reports, where it's also the top rated prepaid plan overall. It's also the top rated carrier in PCMag's annual survey, and a winner of the site's Readers' Choice award.

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, 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 Pixel and Pixel 2 phones, and the Motorola Moto X4. If you want to use an iPhone or any other 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. Consumer Reports' survey respondents gave Project Fi top marks for customer support.

Recently Updated
Prepaid Cell Phone Plans buying guide

What every best Prepaid Cell Phone Plans has:

  • Good selection of phones.
  • Wide coverage.
  • Responsive customer service.

Read More »

Learn More »