Anyone have Google Project Fi yet?

#2

As far as I know, no invites have gone out yet - would be interesting if I was proven wrong though!

The limitation on the Nexus 6 being the only phone is a physical one; I don’t believe any other previous Android phones will be supported - but newer ones should! (Especially Nexus ones - the other new ones would depend on manufacturer of course)

Seems like a fantastic option though - I can’t wait; I have an invite waiting as well.

#3

My understanding is that the “Works in 120 countries” is through the T-Mobile agreement that already exist. I’ve been using T-Mobile since they started this and I’ll have to say, that it’s nice having data everywhere I’ve traveled, but it’s not high speed data. It’s around 2G speed. But, something is better than nothing in places I’m staying too short to pick up a SIM card.

#4

Yes, I believe you’re right. And yes, I’ve heard the same about T-Mobile’s international network. However, Fi allows calls over wifi, and while Skype and other programs sort of do the same thing, you still have to pay (sometimes), and well, Skype sucks. Unlimited international texting is a big deal for me, so I’d still say it’s worth it.

#5

Ya, T-Mobile does the calling over wifi as well. I actually stock to skype though, it’s been more reliable (from a laptop at least). That being said, I’m still signed up for Fi and will switch to it in a heartbeat. :slight_smile:

#6

Just an update on this: I got signed up for Fi and have been using it in the US for a little over a month. I just got to Guatemala today and it’s been awesome so far. I had full bars right after landing, Google sent me a “welcome to Guatemala” notification and reminded me that international texts are unlimited, data is the same price as in the US ($10/GB), and calls over wifi are free (calls over cellular here are $.20/min).

Really loving it so far. Would recommend it to anyone who is on the fence.

#7

I requested the invite as soon as it was announced and have had the phone for about 2 months now, or this is my second billing month. I love it. I haven’t tried it outside of the US yet, but would have loved to have this last year where I picked up a SIM card in 3 countries during our 5 month outing. Iceland (SimInn) was easiest as I got it on board icelandair, after landing it was all setup. Spain required some paperwork and a physical address in Spain (tuenti movil), Italy required a codice fiscale (like US Social Security Number) on their paperwork (Wind.it), we didn’t bother with picking up a sim in Germany for the month long stay since we had strong wi-fi at the apartment. Most of the prices seemed to be around 7 Euros for a GB of data, plus some odd # of minutes phone/texting. Having the google project Fi phone will help us stay connected and remove the hassle of picking up up a SIM card in each country. Excited to try it out, and would love to hear some real world uses of it in the mean time.

#8

It’s an incredible convenience as a Nomad. Here in Guatemala, the connection speeds are pretty slow when you’re on cell towers, but it’s better than nothing.

One issue I do have sometimes is with the handoff from WiFi to cell networks, at least here in Guatemala. When I leave a WiFi zone, sometimes there is a problem with the phone switching to a tower. Usually, I can just turn airplane mode on for 5-10 seconds, switch it off and it’s fine, but it is kind of annoying to have to do that every time I leave the house.

Otherwise, it’s been fantastic. I was in the middle of nowhere Guatemala last week, headed for the beach, and I was answering work messages and emails. Customer service is really good, viewing and navigating your account online or from the Google Fi app is very intuitive.

Still highly recommend it.

#9

I was just sent an invitation to Google Fi and went with the Nexus 6P. About to possibly head to China in November and thankfully they are on the list of countries where the phone will work.

Does anybody have any experience with cell and WiFi coverage in Beijing, if so would you mind sharing your experience?

#10

Project Fi in Beijing and it worked flawlessly. I had no problems with cell service while there and used both WeChat (locals) and Messenger (friends & family) for texting.

WiFi is available around the city, so connecting wirelessly was not a problem. I used a VPN to access the social media services and Google because the Chinese government block these sites.

Now back in the states and the phone is working like a champ, glad to have made the switch.

#11

Just an update to this thread.

I’ve been in Canada for about 5 weeks now — 4 weeks in Vancouver, 1 day at Whistler/Blackcomb ski resort, and I just got to Banff a few days ago — and have had a chance to use Fi in several contexts. Here’s my report:

  • Somewhat spotty service, even in Vancouver. I was surprised a little by this, being in a major city in a developed country.
  • Had some issues with calls over wifi sometimes. Dropped a couple calls to the US and several calls to Mexico were very poor quality.
  • Data is relatively slow. This is the one that gets me. Even when the phone says it has and LTE connection to a tower with full bars, it’s still slow. I had better luck in Southern Mexico, believe it or not.

These problems were not absolutely horrible, but they were inconvenient. I image as cellular network technology spreads and matures, all of the above issues will go away in time for Google.

#12

Anyone else have an update here? Been going back and forth with people in various forums (Project Fi included) to try and get a read on this…since I’ll be relocating to Mexico and Central America in the next month or so.

I will say: the AT&T Project Hemisphere story is definitely pushing me towards Project Fi…

#13

Hey Dani, I’ve used Project Fi in both Central America (Guatemala, mostly) and Mexico. It works reasonably well in both.

I spent a lot of time in Antigua, Guatemala in late 2015 and there was no LTE but you could get data on their extended network (2G and 3G). Not super fast, but helpful when you need to look up a location in Google maps or something similar. Belize was pretty much a crap shoot, even in Belize City. Panama City was good, though I didn’t test it much outside of the airport area.

In Mexico, I had great service in Mexico City, almost always had LTE there. Spent some time in San Cristobal de las Casas and had solid coverage, mixed between LTE and 3G. Same with the Yucatan and Quintana Roo.

I spent several months in Oaxaca and it was hit or miss there. The city in general doesn’t have good cell coverage for data. I would get fast LTE sometimes and then walk half a block and all data would drop, but pretty much everyone told me that was their experience too on different carriers.

#14

Dani:

I just started with Google Fi with the new Pixel. So far the speeds are as good as T-Mobile here in Los Angeles, and the connectivity rock solid. With the dual carrier set up I don’t lose calls as I cross town.

When I travel it will become my go to phone, but since I also have all unlocked Androids and iPhones I’ll also buy a local SIM.

#15

Been with Fi since beta, love it. I will never buy another foreign SIM again. Some countries make it such a hassle. Most countries in Europe require paperwork, social security number or local equivalent, or passport number. What a hassle and a waste of time. With Fi, I just cross the border and I am connected, full cell plus data. And the data is almost always cheaper than local discount sim options, not even factoring in the inconvenience tax.

#16

Mule5,

I agree with you on the “hassle” factor of each country as it’s the time involved in doing all that. The upside to local SIM’s is the type of connectivity you have. I’ve found that roaming on a pre-paid get’s lower priority than roaming on postpaid. Some only access 3G, while post paid gets 4G/LTE. If speed isn’t a concern that’s fine, but if you’re doing real time comms (conference calls or a collaboration session) then thats the difference between being professionally connected on a business grade service vs, a vacationing tourist.

With that in mind, as a business person, whose livelihood depends on a really good connection, I’d opt to pick up a local SIM for my iPad. Then using Dialpad (I actually beta tested their iPad app last summer) or Telzio I have my phone service on it. I’m local back in the states, but on either WiFi or LTE/4G usually.

The other key feature to using Dialpad and Telzio on the iPhone is enhanced now on the iPhone with CallKit which allows you to answer incoming calls as if they were coming via the native dialer. That’s a big plus.

Back to the Fi. Between my FI account now, and the services I run on the Pixel (Zoom, GoToMeeting, WebEx) I’m good for conference calls too using the data.

I’d be interested to hear what your experience has been like on conference calls using those web based services, and apps, and using the data side vs. dial in. My guess is they should be perfect, but having now yet taken the Pixel outside the USA, I’m curious.

#17

I am in the same situation as @aabramson, my livelihood depends on a good, reliable internet connection. Also, my 3 children travel with us and must connect to school online, and require a daily full robust connection as well. Before traveling to ANY place, or renting ANY lodging, our first priority is ALWAYS the internet connection, even going so far as getting screenshots of a speed test at that location. I have successfully worked from South America throughout the US to Europe without my clients knowing I have switched locations. My work is 100% online, mostly working with servers in the cloud, either coding, maintaining, or conference calling with clients using tools like skype, goto, joinme, freeconf, webex, teamviewer, etc… We usually spend 50% of the year outside of our home travelling, we try to sojourn a month at each location, so it’s less hectic, less up ending, and more slow/local travel exploring.
It’s been a huge time saver using FI, just in Europe alone. We last visited 7 countries over 5 months, and would have had to go through the pre-paid SIM hassle at least once a month, which is a lost hour of productivity easily in each country. For a few day trips from our base in Germany into Belgium, it didn’t make sense to get a SIM for just Belgium, for the few days we visited over the course of a month, in situations like that, when you are highly mobile, it’s a time saver and life saver with maps access or whatever. Same for day trips into Switzerland crossing from Southern Germany. If you are a nomad, FI makes the most sense. One bill, no effort. Fi doesn’t have a cost to tether other devices, which is also awesome. Fi also has “FREE to purchase” data only sims for devices, that just use your same data allowance. I have 2 extra sim data only devices on my account, and family plan with another fi service (wife’s). The data only sims cards were free, and there are no extra costs to use those devices or data. Totally love that. My kids have those older unlocked androids and are able to hangouts, data call, duo, allo, telegram, pokemon, etc… without any issues, and without any extra costs, besides the data usage. Their laptops (3), and my backup chromebooks (2) have no issues sharing, connecting and using the service.
I love that I can answer my fi calls on my laptop (without picking up my phone - data), or my wife’s calls on my laptop (data), or either of our calls/numbers on any of our devices (all data), including my kids laptops or data only devices. To us, this is a huge plus, it’s like have so many phone extensions, all sharing the same numbers. My wife also doubles as my secretary and we field each other’s calls if necessary, super handy if you have a team. As for the dial in versus data, it really depends. Lately, since $15 gives you unlimited talk/text in the US, to keep data usage low when not on wi-fi, I’ll take the cell method for conf calls instead of data. We are also very frugal, so it doesn’t make sense to take a 1 hour conf call via data even at only 100mb = $1 versus free on cell in the US. It adds up quickly. While outside of the country it depends, I usually see what the per minute call charge will be, and then figure out the best method to place a voice call, either using data or cell.
All that said, upgraded from Nexus 6’s to Pixel XLs (not even 2 weeks ago we got the phones), and also have not had the pixels outside of the country yet. We were trying to plan Decemebr - April in Europe again this year, but nothing set in stone yet, but can’t imagine it working differently than with the Nexus 6s. We leapfrogged over the 6Ps, thought about the 5xs as we loved the Nexus 5s, still one of my favorite devices, I use 2 of them as data backups since passing the 6s down to the kids, I like them more than the phablet sized 6s and they are great grab and go ready with a chromebook in case of an emergency. Wow, after rereading this, I think I might have over shared. haha - wish everyone the best for their day.

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#18

Good summary and encouraging. With Fi having a relationship with 3-UK now, that makes a lot of the calling and Data traffic closer for those in Europe. To your point about a call vs. data to be on conference calls, the hassle has always been local number dial ins vs calling the number back home. The practical reason though I tend to prefer the data connection is HD voice quality which is not always present when calling while roaming.
Since you were using Fi internationally, and possibly calling other FI users, did you find you had HD voice on traditional mobile calls back to the states to someone on T-Mobile or did the roaming “break” that feature?

#19

I never felt like I was “roaming”. Not sure which carrier I was on during those times, so maybe that was a factor. I always felt like I had a solid HD voice connection. I have since installed a few apps, like “Internet Speed Meter Lite” - so I can see how much wifi data/mobile I am using as any given time, and also which SSID I am connected to, or mobile carrier at a glance (notification and top bar). I love this tool, it’s very useful for us.
Another tool I have installed is “FI Info” - which shows me the time/date and which cell carrier I connected to, and a widget button for me to quickly switch/toggle carrier. Allows me to switch cell carrier between providers very easily, shows stats and connection speeds/types on each connection, and counts on number of connections to which ssids or which cell providers in a running log.
Another tool I use for cell is “Network Cell Info Lite” - shows signal strengths, plots, maps towers, etc… useful info when figuring out why there is no coverage in the middle of nowhere.
I use “Wifi Analyzer” for wifi signal strength, along with other connectivity tools.

Overall, it’s been the best cell experience we’ve ever had. I could never go back to Verizon or AT&T, or any other service really. I’ve been spoiled with convenience and simplicity, and it’s always getting better. The family plan they just rolled out shaved $5/mo (not much, but still $60/year), the only pay for what you use data (think how prius owners used to coast - we use so little mobile data not on wifi it’s really awesome), the wifi assistant to auto connect with vpn while out and connecting to open wi-fi, the free data only sim cards, 24/7 near instant project fi support through the device, and just read that the new fi app version will show you real time data usage by the app (android N only), so you can see which app is using mobile data = awesome for data leak checking or reducing mobile data usage. I don’t think there is comparable service being offered anywhere. Sure I’d like unlimited mobile data, as metered internet usage is a joke, but until that happens, I am more than pleased with Fi’s refunds each month for data we don’t burn.

#20

Mule5,

The only other service that’s on par is Truphone, post paid. More countries but also more pricier and not aimed at the Nomad market. We tried to get them to understand that market up through 2014 but they we’re more focused, and remain focused on larger enterprise customers vs. solo accounts.

Great to hear your experience and these apps sound useful. Thanks.

#21

Google Fi user here… And I’m a huge fan.

In some mountainous parts of the USA, way better service than my wife’s T-Mobile.

In Korea and now nearly two months all over Thailand (Phuket, BKK, Chiang Mai) it has been rock-solid. We’ve been on the T-Mobile ‘free 2g’ thing for a while, but now my wife is going to ditch her iPhone to get on Fi because the data is so good.

Price is right, and knowing that I will land in my next country and have the fastest data possible from the get-go is worth more than the cost, to me. And if I don’t use all of my data, they refund me for the unused portion! Go over and they only charge me for the MB I used.

And, having that full speed internet backup without having to fiddle with sim cards in case the internet is out and I need to tether or just check in with my team on Slack… #Priceless.