A Project Fi Review

project fi review

Google’s Project Fi Review
I was a T-Mobile customer for a million years (er, slightly less—but still probably a decade) and I dreaded the day that they’d merge with another (awful) carrier. I was very happy with T-Mobile, as long as I didn’t have to speak with their customer service department, which still sends me bills for service I never had. (ARHGGH.) The rates were good enough, but for me the main thing was its international service, which included free overseas low-speed data in almost every country in the world, at no extra fee.

Now that day has come, and T-Mobile is likely to merge with Sprint. I, however, don’t care, because I jumped ship a year ago, and I’d never go back. This is my Project Fi review.

I hadn’t even heard of Project Fi until I read about it in an interview with Tom Turcich, who is currently walking around the world. Project Fi is Google’s telephone service. It starts at $80 a month, with $20 of that going to unlimited domestic calls and texting, international texts, and wifi hotspot tethering. International calls are an additional $.10 a minute. Data charges make up the other $60 of the monthly bill, charged at $10 a gigabyte—so 6 GB are included. I have never used under 6GB, but if you do, you’ll get money back. Data speeds are throttled over 15GB. Without thinking about it much, I tend to use around 8GB per month, with home wifi use and no super-heavy downloading otherwise. My bill has tended to be around $100 a month, with most of that $20 coming from international calls I’m making away from my wifi network. I could tamp that down if I were more restrictive making international calls away from wifi and really cutting down on my data usage.

Here’s what’s so great: Unlike T-Mobile, Project Fi offers unlimited high-speed data roaming. I can’t even say what a big difference this is. With T-Mobile’s data service, I would constantly be looking for a wifi connection—it was good in a pinch, but no more. Project Fi’s data speed is almost indistinguishable from my French phone, which runs on a fast local network. Half the time I end up using my Project Fi phone instead of my French one, because I like my Google Pixel better than the iPhone attached to my French account.

Speaking of: If you move to Project Fi, you’ll need to use of their (very select) range of phones. I didn’t qualify for financing (which frankly seemed weird, since I did for every other cell phone provider out there), so I paid for my Google Pixel upfront even though it meant putting off signing up for the service for a couple months. (I ended up liking this—it’s nice to not feel like I’m paying down a debt every month, as I always did with T-Mobile.) I love my Pixel—whenever I use my iPhone I find myself wishing I weren’t.

As for the coverage: My Project Fi coverage actually seems slightly better overseas than at home—there have been a few times I’ve had to work to find a good signal, in more rural areas near home. This is a hassle, but it’s not enough of one that I’d ever consider going back to a traditional cellular operator. AT&T? Seriously—never. Never. 

American cell phone service is still a disgusting rip off. (For the record, in France, I pay about $120 for my cable TV service, home wifi, and landline and cell phone both with free calls to the U.S.—combined for everything, thanks to a lack of monopolies here.) And I don’t like giving even more of my data to Google than they already have. That said: My Project Fi review is positive—in my experience, it’s absolutely the best offering out there, especially if you’re traveling internationally and especially double if you’re looking for a post-merger alternative to T-Mobile. I don’t know how long it will last, but I’ll be using it as long as it does.

Sign up for the Faraway Places newsletter!

My weekly newsletter shares the best things I've found from around the world (mostly in France). It always includes a free, downloadable map of a lovely city from around the world (like this one).

Filed under: travel advice

by

Avatar for Diana

Hi, I'm Diana. I've written about travel for The Wall Street Journal, Buzzfeed, The Cut, Travel + Leisure, Outside, and lots of other places. This is my blog.