Google Fi Experience Notes

Note: For another perspective on Google Fi, please see Google Fi "Simply Unlimited" Review

I recently had the good fortune to travel to Canada with several of my family members. I needed a simple way to make sure we all had phone service while we were there.

I ordered SIM cards for everyone. Doing so required that each user have their own Google account. Even though multiple users are on my Google Fi account, they sign in and manage certain aspects of their service (activation, voicemail) through their own Google accounts.

Ordering the SIM cards and activating the phones was fairly simple. I activated my phone using eSIM, which means there’s no physical SIM card to install.

Fi’s documentation indicates that you must use your service in the US before using it abroad. I tested each phone as I activated it, so this was not a problem for me.

I selected the “flexible” plan where you pay for the data you actually use. (Very reminiscent of RW’s Refund plan of yore.) Data is $10 a GB, so it’s not a very competitive offer, but for the purpose of getting all of us on board for this trip, it was a good solution.

All activations were accomplished with no hitches, and when we arrived in Canada the phones just worked. In fact, as you enter a new country, a notification welcomes you to the country and advises you that it may take a minute or two for things to work, as the phone is being provisioned for the roaming network.

When we returned home, I canceled the three other family members’ phones but kept mine and ported my work phone number to Fi from Mobi. Fi offers you the option to port your number at activation or any time later. (Sidenote: I like Mobi very much, but they had been insisting that my phone was not compatible with their network, even though it worked beautifully, so I gave up on trying to make that work.) To my surprise, I received an account credit from Fi for the days the 3 cancelled phones had not been used.

My new job sent me to Aruba in March, and my phone worked flawlessly while there, at no additional cost.

A couple of months later, one daughter had the opportunity to travel abroad again. I added her back to my Fi plan and she was able to roam with no issues while in France, Switzerland, and England.

Since I was happy with my experience, and because two family members relocated to an area with poor RW 5.0 coverage, I moved three family members from RW to my Fi plan. Their activations and number transfers went through with no issues.

Pros:
Coverage, support (I’ve used chat and phone support), porting, and activation have been good on Fi, and international roaming has been almost too easy!

Fi has an option to suspend a service line. I haven’t needed this, but can think of times when it would be useful, and I appreciate that it’s available as a self-service option.

Cons:

  • I find billing to be a bit opaque… or maybe I’m just math-challenged, but sometimes I have trouble understanding how my total was calculated.
  • I did a couple of speedtests around my daughter’s new home, and was told I had consumed 2GB of data. I wasn’t prompted to “add more” data when my first GB was used up, nor when the second GB was used up. I just owed them for the usage. :disappointed: At $10 per GB, those were some expensive speedtests!
  • The three plan options* don’t quite fit my needs when you consider the fact that everyone on the account has to be on the same plan. With 4 people on the plan, the “Simply Unlimited” plan is a great deal at $20 per person, but international roaming in this plan includes only Canada and Mexico. I’ll need to go elsewhere in a couple of months, and moving to “Unlimited Plus” so I’ll have coverage at my destination would mean bumping my entire account up - an $80 per month increase, and my trip would affect two billing cycles. :disappointed: I could bump the entire account down to the “Flexible” plan, which also includes overseas international roaming, but that would mean paying $10 per GB for data, and considering how some of my family members use data, (and how easily it evaporated when I was doing speed tests), that could end up costing me even more! For now, I’ll just get plan to get an international SIM card when I leave North America!

*Plan pricing depends on the number of people on your account. For details, view the plans page here: Unlimited, Flexible & Group Cell Phone Plans & Rates - Google Fi Wireless

If you have any questions about using Fi, please let me know!

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I setup a line with Fi years ago now for the purpose of testing dual SIM via eSIM (before Apple forced other providers to get onboard with the eSIM only iPhone 14).

I still have the line and the pause service feature works flawlessly. Every three months, Fi’s app notifies me service has been restored then, since Fi isn’t an everyday fit for me right now, I immediately use the Fi app to pause service for the next three months. Fi has never complained about this use and it costs pennies, so I keep the Fi line in case it should serve a future use.

5G? It’s really easy to blow through a GB or two when doing speed tests on 5G.

Yes, 5G. :tired_face:

I just got back from a really long road trip that took me through large parts of Ontario and Quebec, Canada.

I had the same experience where I got a “welcome message” to Canada. The message stated it would take a few minutes to get me up and running. My service didn’t work for a few minutes, but then it magically started working again.

In all my previous trips to Canada with other cell phone carriers I never had any service. It was nice to be in Canada and to still be connected. My wife’s phone through her workplace didn’t work, but we got her hooked up through my mobile hotspot and she was happy again.

On our recent trip through Canada and to Main there were some dead spots in the very rural parts of Quebec and Maine. We also had coverage issues in Acadia National Park, but a quick 10 minute drive into Bar Harbor got us connected again.

Google Fi gets a solid B+ for my first international road trip with it!

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Good review. Thanks.

I was looking at Google Fi. For two old folks none of their plans would work for us due to the cost. I agree at $80/mo Simply Unlimited is a great plan for families. Likewise the $10/GB kills their Flexible plan for us as there are “unlimited” plans out there that cost much less once you use a GB or two.

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I agree, the pricing strategy that makes 4 people cost the same as 2 is unfortunate. I had to talk two extra family members into joining my account to make it worth it.

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Even if Google charged more for two lines and came in around $50’sh per month ($25 per line) the Simply Unlimited plan would be competitive and meet our needs.

MobileX offers 30 GB for $25 on Verizon’s network. This is single line pricing. And, that’s 30 GB of premium cell data with no hotspot restrictions.

US Mobile is out today with new plans. It looks like those operate on either Verizon’s network (Warp 5G) or T-Mobile’s network (GSM 5G).

If Fi’s not a fit, either MobileX or US Mobile might be.

So as to not derail Southpaw’s review I’ll respond over on the Boost Infinite thread.

I’m a little less happy with my Google Fi experience tonight.

I’ve just reviewed my bill after maxing out a “Simply Unlimited” plan with 6 people.

911 state taxes range from 55 cents to $6.99.
What?

The chat agent who had the misfortune of having to take my chat insists that there’s nothing that can be done because taxes are determined by the state.

I understand taxes are not something that a chat agent can calculate - they are an absolute nightmare and there are businesses devoted to figuring them out. But there should be a billing specialist somewhere who can at least tell me what state the tax is based on for each of my account members.

There’s no reason for there to be this much variation in the tax bill for two people at the same address.

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Do you add someone with a Chicago address?

No, and I had that wrong. The total tax for that person is $6.99 his 911 tax is $3.00.

Apparently taxes are kinda high in Murfreesboro, TN, too.

I found where the service address is located in the Fi app and we were able to figure out the problem. It would have been nice if the chat agent had told me how to check that.

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More unhappiness to report with Fi, I’m afraid…

I have a total of 6 people on my simply unlimited plan. They recently raised the price $5 per person, which is uncomfortable for two senior citizens and a just-starting-out young couple. So I’m covering the increase for my family at $360 more a year out of my pocket for no additional value.

But worse, their SIM cards keep failing. We’ve now had 3 family members’ phones lose service, two of them twice, due to SIM card failure. Fi’s answer has been , “Go get a new SIM card at your local big box store and activate in in the app.” This answer has been inconvenient, but now it’s even worse: the SIM cards are nowhere to be found. Stores that used to stock them don’t even have shelf tags for them anymore. If your phone stops working, you will have to wait for a SIM card to be shipped. My son-in-law is currently traveling with an inoperable phone because his SIM card failed again last night, during a tornado warning, no less.

I really wanted to love Fi and not have to move my family again, but they aren’t making it easy. :disappointed:

That’s a bummer. I’ve had my family on Google Fi for several years without issue.

I’ve seen complaints of SIM failures online with multiple DISH brands and now your experience with Google Fi. I don’t understand because I’ve never had a SIM outright fail and that’s in decades of use with multiple providers. Maybe 5G SIMs are fragile? Either that or something else is going on and activating a new SIM “solves” the problem for awhile at least.

I don’t suppose the son-in-law’s phone or any of the other involved phones are eSIM capable?

No. We solved the problem for Mr. Southpaw by moving him to an eSIM-capable phone, but the others are just one generation behind eSIM capability.

If you are not planning on upgrading the phones soon, you might want to re-read my post on eSIMS on non-eSIM phones and see if the esim.me card would work for them. Take note of how you can use the card on an incompatible phone if you have a compatible phone to program the card with. There is the cost of the card,. but it’s cheaper than a new phone.

If you decide that this would work, I can help with the setup.

Irritating, the quote of your post failed.

Can you describe what steps you took, and what the failure looked like? I have no problem quoting.

After reading the replies suggesting the problem was unique to my family, and simultaneously receiving an offer on the Pixel 8a from Fi, I decided to upgrade two of the phones. If we keep having trouble, I’ll move the family elsewhere once I’ve satisfied the terms of the offer.

I had forgotten about that eSIM card, but my family members are not keen on trying new things, as they are very much in the “I want it to just work” camp! Thank you for the reminder and offer to help, though!

I just did the usual, then when I posted the response it said I had edited it once already and the quoted section of your post was missing. I’ve never seen that before.

You’re quite welcome.

I tend not to replace things that still work, so I’m always thinking of ways to extend the lifespan of my gadgets rather than have to replace them. When the cost of extending gets too high, then I replace.

Looking at the edit history of your post, I see that the full quote was automatically removed. This is a feature enabled on the platform to cut down on redundancy. No need to quote an entire post it’s right there for all to see. Quoting is intended to highlight a phrase or sentence or two for context.