Back in 2015, Project Fi launched as Google’s take on cellular service and has over the years added new features, as well as support for more phones. As suggested earlier this month, the MVNO is now simply called Google Fi and vastly expanding its Android device compatibility and supporting iPhones.
Google Fi Rebrand
The first change today is a rebrand from “Project Fi” to just “Google Fi.” A more modern logo makes use of the four Google colors — though in different shades — and of course dots. Dropping the beta-sounding “Project” from the name also reflects a more long-term commitment to the service by Google. In terms of how the service works for existing customers, nothing is changing with today’s announcements.
Wider Android compatibility
Meanwhile, the most important change to Google Fi today is expanded device compatibility. Popular Android phones from Samsung, OnePlus, LG, and Moto can now sign-up for Fi, with Google noting how “the majority of Android devices” are supported. Previously, only a handful of Nexus and Pixel devices could be used to activate the cellular service.
However, there is a caveat with this broader support of phones designated to be “Compatible with Fi.” The majority of devices will not benefit from Google Fi’s network switching technology that helps ensure subscribers have access to the best signal in their current location.
As an MVNO, Google uses the Sprint, US Cellular, and T-Mobile networks. Android devices, including iPhones, not “designed for Fi” will just use the T-Mobile network and the carrier’s international partners when abroad.
That aside, these devices still get access to international data in over 170 countries at the same $10 per GB, and other features like group plans, data-only SIMs that are great for tablets, and 24/7 support. Billing remains the same $20 every month for unlimited talk and text, with Billing Protection kicking in after 6GB. This is essentially Fi’s unlimited plan at $80 with data speeds not slowed until 15GB.
Official iPhone support
iPhones will be included in the “Compatible with Fi” tier, with the MVNO today launching beta support for iOS and a Google Fi app in the App Store. It allows users to manage accounts, see data usage, and other payment information, with the iOS process requiring a “few extra steps to get set up.” Notably, it will walk users through configuring MMS and getting voicemail as text messages instead of in the default Phone app.
Designed for Fi phones
The best Google Fi experience and LTE service requires “Designed for Fi” phones. These devices feature “special hardware and software” responsible for switching between T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular’s LTE networks in order to get the best reception.
That of course includes the Pixel 3, LG’s flagship V35 and G7, as well as the mid-range Moto G6 and X4. These class of devices also benefit from features like a recently introduced built-in cellular VPN and fast switching from Wi-Fi.
Google Fi is celebrating today’s launch with a one-day promotion that sees any phone purchase from the Fi store be matched with travel gift cards of equivalent value.
For any phone you purchase, you’ll receive the same value back in your choice of travel gift cards, which you can spend on flights with Delta and Southwest or lodging with Airbnb and hotels.com.
Meanwhile, those that already have a supported phone can join today and get a $200 service credit that goes towards the monthly bill. Google Fi also has a referral program that for a limited time nets users $100 in credit for every new sign-up (up to 7), while subscribers get $20 in service credit.
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