Project Google Fi – Would it save you money?

If you’re wondering what Google Fi is, you’re not alone.

Google Project Fi is Google’s first effort to become a mobile phone company in the United States. Instead of buying a wireless carrier or building its own towers, Google chose to rent space from existing wireless carriers. Google is also offering an innovative new pricing model for its phone service through Project Fi. Will this save you money? In some cases, you would almost certainly save money, but there are some strings attached.

There are no cancellation fees or contract with Google Fi, but it may not be the case with your old provider. Find out what fees would apply. It may make more sense to wait for your contract to expire.

How does Project Fi work?

Project Fi works in many ways, just like regular cell phone service. You can use the phone to make calls, send text messages and use applications. Google Fi bills your credit card. You can also group up to six family members under the same account and share data.

The data isn’t unlimited, but you only pay for the data you actually use instead of paying for the ability to use it like you do on some plans. Unlike traditional networks. Project Fi uses a combination of towers that they lease from different phone networks. However, these phone networks use a combination of GSM and CDMA towers. This is the phone world equivalent of an appliance that is both AC/DC.

Project Fi currently leases space from US Cellular, Sprint, and T-Mobile, which means you get the combined coverage of all three networks. Traditionally, wireless carriers used either GSM or CDMA, and phone manufacturers put one type of antenna on your phone or the other. It’s only recently that quad-band phones with both types of antennas have become more common. However, to take full advantage of different towers and networks, Google Fi offers compatible phones the ability to quickly switch from one tower to another to give you the strongest signal. Other phones already do this, but unsupported phones just have to switch from tower to tower on the same band.

Project Fi changes the voice of Google:

Google voice number works differently with Project Fi. If you have a Google voice number, you can do one of three things with it when you start using Google Fi:

    • Use your Google voice number instead of porting your mobile number
    • Permanent deletion of Google voice number
    • Transfer your Google voice number to a different Google account (one that is not the primary account for your Project Fi number)
    • Start over with a brand new phone number and remove both your old mobile number and your Google Voice number


If you use your Google voice number, you will no longer be able to use the Google Voice web app or Google Talk. However, you can still use Hangouts to check your messages or send texts from the web, so you’re just giving up the old Google Voice interface.

If you transfer your Google Voice number, you won’t be able to forward calls to your Project Fi phone number. However, you can use the Google Voice App on your phone, as long as you use a secondary Google account.

Google Fi Pricing

Your total average monthly cost would include your base rate , your base rate, your data usage, your price, your phone purchase (if applicable), and your taxes. You should also be aware of hidden costs, such as early termination fees from your current provider.

Phones compatible with Project Fi

In order to use Google Project Fi, you need a phone that works with the service. At the time of this writing, it only includes the following Android phones (phones don’t stay in stock for long, so some may not be available right now):

  • Pixel ($649-850, depending on size and options, or around $27-$35 per month)
  • Nexus 6p ($399) $16.63 per month
  • Nexus 5X ($199) $10.38 per month

The monthly payments are non-interest, so even if you choose to buy the phones right now, use the monthly payment to calculate the total cost of your Project Fi plan. If you already have one of the qualifying Nexus or Pixel phones, you don’t have to replace it. You can request a new SIM card free of charge.

The reason Google makes you replace your phone is because Project Fi quickly switches between different cell towers from Sprint, US Cellular, and T-Mobile, and the Nexus and Pixel phones have antennas that were specifically designed for the task. The phones are also unlocked quad-band phones, so if you ever decide Google Fi isn’t for you anymore, they’re ready to go on any major network in the United States.

Google Project Fi charges

Google Fi costs $20 for an account for basic cellular service, which means unlimited voice and text. You can link up to six family members for $15 per account.

Each gigabyte of data costs $10 per month, which can be ordered in increments of up to 3 gigabytes per month. However, that’s really just for budgeting purposes. If you don’t use the data, you don’t pay for it. Family accounts share this data across all lines. There’s no charge to tether or use your cell phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot when you’re in an area that doesn’t have Wi-Fi access (although doing this tends to use more data than using your phone.)

How to calculate average data usage

For Android marshmallows or nougats:

  1. Go to Settings > Data usage .
  2. You’ll see how much data you’ve used for the current month (our example phone says 1.5 GB).
  3. Tap Cellular Data Usage and you’ll see a graph of your data usage and the apps that use it the most (in this example, Facebook).
  4. At the top of the screen, you can toggle back to the last four months.
  5. Check each month and make sure this usage is typical. (On this phone, a month had 6.78 gigabytes of usage, but the extra data usage was from downloading movies at an airport before a long flight.)
  6. Use the last four months to calculate your average bill. Including the peripheral month, the average use was 3 gigabytes per month. Excluding it, it was less than 2 gigs.

Using this example, the person who owns this phone would end up paying for basic service ($20) and three gigabytes of data ($30) for a total of $50 per month. Or if they felt confident that they wouldn’t normally be such a heavy data user, $40 per month. For a single user, Google Fi is almost always the cheapest option.

Families are a bit more complicated because the discount is only $5 per user. An example family plan for a family of three would cost $50 for basic service ($20 + $15 + $15) and would share five gigs of data between all three accounts ($50), for a total of $100.

Taxes and fees with Google Project Fi

Google has to collect taxes and fees like any other mobile operator. Use this table to estimate your total taxes. Taxes and fees are controlled primarily by the state in which you live.

Reference and Special Codes for the Fi Project

If you decide to switch to Project Fi, ask on your social media if anyone has a referral code for you. Currently, Google offers a $20 discount for both you and the person who refers you. Google Fi also offers other offers and promotions from time to time.

International calls and Project Fi

If you live in the US but travel abroad, Google Project Fi has some great deals on international coverage. International roaming is the same at $10 per gigabyte per month in over 135 countries as it is in the United States. Before you get too excited, keep in mind that international coverage may not be as strong as coverage in the United States. In Canada, for example, you are limited to slow 2x data service (edge) and coverage becomes more limited the further north you travel (as does Canadian population density).

International calls do not have the same price. Receiving international calls is free, but calling internationally costs money and the rates depend on the country. This includes calls from your phone number from Hangouts on the web. However, these rates remain competitive. If you need frequent international calls, compare the rates offered by Google with those of your current provider.

How to save data usage on your phone

With Google Project Fi, data costs money, but Wi-Fi is free. So keep your Wi-Fi on at home and at work and in any other area with trusted Wi-Fi networks. You can also be aware of the data you use and prevent apps from taking up additional bandwidth when you’re not actively using them.

Activate data warning:

  1. Go to Settings > Data usage .
  2. Tap the bar graph at the top of the screen.
  3. This should open the Set data usage warning box .
  4. Specify the limit you want.

This will not hack your data. It will only give you a warning, so you could specify 1 gigabyte for a 2 gigabyte plan just to let you know you were halfway through your month’s worth of data, or you could set the warning to let you know you’ve exceeded your monthly limit. (Google Fi won’t cut you off when you go over your limit. You’ll just be charged the same $10 per month.)

Once you’ve set the data warning, you can set an actual data limit that will cut off your data usage.

Activate your data protector:

  1. Go to Settings > Data usage .
  2. Click Save Data .
  3. Activate if it is currently deactivated.
  4. Tap Unlimited data access .
  5. Toggle any apps that you don’t want to restrict.

The data saver turns off background data signals, so you don’t have Pinterest telling you that one of your Facebook friends has pinned something to their wall, for example. You can give important apps unrestricted access to your data so they can keep checking things in the background (for example, your work email).