Google Project Fi Review

A few of my friends have picked up Project Fi, a wireless plan offered by Google. This is an innovative service because you can switch between US Cellular, T-Mobile, and Sprint networks in America. Pricing is also very reasonable.

There’s only one plan, starting at $20 per month. The plan requires a minimum of 1GB of data, with each additional GB costs $10. If you don’t use all the data during your billing cycle, you’ll get a refund based on your usage. For a new subscribers, you can get a $20 credit for signing up and using the service.

The best part for travellers, however, is that all data is the same price. This is whether you are using data in the US or roaming in any of their included countries. But, Google Fi is only supported by selected Google Pixel and Nexus models.

However, Canadians can get Project Fi. You have to jump through a few hoops, but as long as you meet the criteria, you’re good to go. Second, Project Fi theoretically works with any unlocked device. At least it has in my case.

Project Fi - $20 Signup Bonus

Project Fi – $20 Signup Bonus

For the longest time, I’ve had T-Mobile service for my travels abroad, because they pioneered international data roaming. I’ve now had the service for three years, and don’t plan on dropping it anytime soon since they added coverage for Canada and Mexico. It also doesn’t hurt that I’ve had a $10 Data Plan and now a $20 Voice and Data Plan with no limits. However, I’ve gotten quite dissatisfied with the international roaming speeds from T-Mobile. Even though nothing has changed, I feel the data quality has gotten worse and worse.

Project Fi Canada – Can Canadians Get It?

Even though Google Fi is targeted to the US, Canadians can still get this service. Here are the step-by-step instructions:

  1. Sign up for Google Fi with a US-based account in the US (or using a VPN).
  2. Wait for the SIM to be delivered to your US address.
  3. Download the Project Fi app on Android.
  4. Activate the SIM Card with a supported device (Nexus/Pixel)

So to be able to get Project Fi in Canada, you need a US address, a US-based Google Account, and a Nexus or Pixel Device. This is the only way to do it. The SIM can only be delivered to a US address; shipping is free. After activating the SIM card with a Google phone, you can then use it in any unlocked device. The network switching, however, will not work on an iPhone.

All this was pretty effortless for me, but I understand how people might have some difficulties. Hopefully you have a nice American friend. 🙂

Project Fi Canada Review

The speeds internationally are quite good. As per the screenshot below (roaming in Canada on Bell), I’ve gotten speeds anywhere from 2-12 Mbps. It’s sufficient for social media, browsing the web, and using most apps.

Project Fi Canada - Roaming

Project Fi Canada – Roaming

Google Fi works with the same carriers and countries as T-Mobile, so coverage is comprehensive. Obviously, the more data you use, the more your monthly bill will cost. It’s not like T-Mobile where you can use an unlimited amount of data internationally for free.

So, Project Fi is perfect, except there’s one drawback. If you’re using an unsupported device like an iPhone, get ready for technical difficulties.

This has happened in a few countries so far. In at least half of them, I had errors with connectivity. In Switzerland, my data wasn’t working, so I had to tinker with the network settings, while in Peru, the primary network didn’t support data, so I had to solve that. It still kept on dropping compared to my friend who had T-Mobile.

This might be just bad luck, but there isn’t much information online either, other than the consensus that “it works internationally when it does.” That isn’t helpful at all. It also removes the seamless nature of using only one sim worldwide. When I land, I just want my phone to work. It’s a hassle if it doesn’t, and in the time I spend trying to figure out what’s wrong, I might as well have just bought a local SIM.

Normally, support for Google Fi is great because all their call center representatives are based in North America. However, when roaming, support is useless as they usually ask to check or reset something on the Project Fi app, which doesn’t work because it’s not even available on iOS. You’re basically on you’re own if roaming isn’t working – but if you have instead a supported device like a Pixel, everything should work fine. In that case, getting Project Fi should be a no-brainer.

Summary – Project Fi Canada

In spite of all of this, I still highly recommend Project Fi, especially for Canadians. This will save you so much money over normal roaming plans. While it isn’t perfect because I have an iPhone, this is still a net positive. I love the speeds offered, and it’s a great addition to how I stay connected while travelling.

It also reduces the hassle in getting a local sim whenever you travel to a new country, especially if you’re only there a short time. While T-Mobile is cheaper as it includes unlimited international data roaming, Canadians cannot get it without a credit check. You can still get Project Fi easily in Canada if you follow the steps above.

Sign up for Project Fi and get $20 off your plan!

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Comments

  1. The complaints in this article appear to be based on using an unsupported phone. No wonder why you may there may be problems … duh!

    I’ve been using Project Fi on a supported device (LG Nexus 5x) for a little more than 1 year only when traveling outside the USA. When I return to USA, I pause service and do not receive any bill. When I travel internationally, I just resume service and Voila … service starts immediately!

    Pricing is simple, easy, straightforward and affordable for international travel. Internet speeds are fast and reliable. $20/mo + $10 for every 1GB data, which is prorated based on amount used/unused. Phone Calls using cellular data average $0.20USD/minute, but are FREE when using wifi and calling USA numbers. Wifi calling is what I have problems with Project Fi.

    Calls are automatically routed over the fastest and best connection, which is either wifi or cellular data. Even when I am connected to wifi with a strong signal, 99% of the time, the calls will be routed over cellular data and incur $0.20USD/minute charge. I even turn off cellular data and calls will still get routed over cellular data and not wifi.

    There are a few settings that can force calls over wifi when connected to wifi:
    1 – Select 2G for cellular data speeds
    2 – Use Hangouts app for calls

    Project Fi on my supported device (LG Nexus 5x) has been great, except for the wifi calling, but I’ve finally figured out the settings. Cellular Data speeds have been fast, reliable and service included 120+ countries. I’ve used it successfully in Taiwan, Japan, Peru, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, UK, Australia, Spain, and Portugal.

    Customer support (even contacting them when I’m outside the USA) has been satisfactory.

    I’m happy with my use of Project Fi for the past 1+ year but just wish it came with better instructions.

      • agreed with Jeff. don’t think they were *complaints* per se, just warnings that it has some issues on iPhone. Clearly it’s a hack to try using it on an unsupported phone.

        thanks for the tip! wish I knew this before i bought a KeepGo SIM.

  2. I use Fi on a nexus phone. I’m pretty happy with it as it has save me a ton when traveling to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, thailand, Malaysia etc.

    The only thing I don’t like is that whenever I land in a new country the auto network selection doesn’t always work. So normally I have to go to the Manual select and just keep trying networks. Once I find the one which connects (frustrating when there are many networks) I then have to reboot my phone. From that point on it seems to work fine there. Either way I hope they address that issue. In the USA I sometimes find the sprint and T-Mobile network coverage (in rural Virginia and North Carolina) to be limiting. Where my old Verizon or ATT would have a good signal these networks sometimes are useless. Last summer in Nag Head NC Which is a mid sized beach resort area I also had problems so not just limited to the back woods.

    All in all though I have been happy with FI and more the willing to recommend as the price is great comparatively.

  3. You absolutely can get TMobile One without a credit check. All it requires is $75 deposit that is refunded after 12 months. I have it and live in Canada.

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