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The Best Mobile Carrier Might Just Be Google’s Project Fi

written by: •edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 8/5/2016

Although the name sounds somewhat silly, Google’s Project Fi aims to save you money and reduce the complexity of mobile carrier plans. With a supported phone you can easily make the switch, but is it right for you? Read on to find out.

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    Project What?

    The Best Mobile Carrier Might Just be 

    As you probably know by now, Google has its hands in a little bit of everything – from throwin’ down fiber for consumers to self-driving cars. Google’s next big thing looks to revolutionize the mobile service provider industry. This service is called Project Fi.

    Project Fi was released in a limited test program last year but has recently opened up publically this year. With it, you buy a supported phone, slap in a SIM card and instead of paying one of the “big four" carriers (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile), you pay Google for your monthly service.

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    The Service

    Before you check out, listen to this. Google charges you $20 for unlimited voice and text messages. Want data? It’s $10 per gigabyte. Want two gigs of data? That’s $20. Hey – what if I sign up for one gig but only use half of that? No problem – Google will give you a $5 credit on your next bill.

    There is no contract to worry about either.

    You are probably thinking the service itself sucks, right? Well, this is where it gets even more interesting – Google has partnered up with Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular to provide coverage. You don’t have to pick a carrier – you get all three. Project Fi will automatically use the best connection available no matter where you are.

    Fi will also prefer Wi-Fi networks when available (and the connection is strong). This means calls and surfing will use Wi-Fi when possible to cut down on the amount of data used on the cellular networks. The great thing here is that Wi-Fi doesn’t eat into your data usage. It’s almost as if Google isn’t trying to nickel and dime you…

    Another interesting aspect is Fi’s international support. If you travel a lot, consider taking a look at Fi. Data rates remain the same - $10 per gigabyte in 135 countries. Calling rates are billed by the minute, but seem to be lower than other comparable service providers are.

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    Things to Think About

    All right – there is always a gotcha right? Project Fi is no different, although the gotcha really isn’t too crazy if you are in the mood for a new phone. Project Fi currently supports three phones – the Google Nexus 6, 6p and 5X. Project Fi requires specific phones because of the special hardware requirements of being able to switch between different cellular providers and Wi-Fi on the fly.

    The good news is that if you’re in the market for a new phone, the Nexus 5X can be yours for as little as $199 directly from Google. Heck – even the top of the line Nexus 6p runs $349. Keep in mind these phones are unlocked so if you ever decide to move back to a traditional carrier you can still keep your device.

    Another thing to consider is the number of phones currently on your plan. If you have a family plan with many devices on it, it may not be as worthwhile moving to Project Fi. Currently there are no discounts given for multiple devices on the same account. Everyone pays the flat $20 fee plus $10 per gig of data.

    Lastly, if you are a road warrior or data hog and go through tons of data each month, Fi may not be the best option for you. Keep in mind that Google will only charge you for what you use when it comes to data. You can sign up as little or as much data as you want but you will only pay for what you use. Look at your previous carrier’s data usage to see what you typically use each month.

    Have you tried Project Fi yet? Let us know how it worked out for you in the comments below.