Since he's started In 2015, Google's Fi project was one of the best technology offerings. As an alternative to mainstream operators, it offers simplified data packages, easy international use and many other benefits. The trap: Only Google Nexus and Pixel phones – and, more recently, a small number of third-party Android options – have worked there. This changes on Wednesday, when Google Fi, slightly renamed, will begin to accept the latest Android smartphones and iPhones under iOS 11 or higher.
As always, there is a trap whose size depends on the smartphone you bring. However, it helps to clarify why you might want to do it, especially if you're not familiar with Google Fi.
Unlike the four major US carriers you've heard about, Verizons and Sprints, Google Fi does not operate its own network. Instead, it merges with those of T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular, transferring your phone to the one that offers the strongest connection at one time. This makes it a "mobile virtual network operator" rather than an actual operator. In practice, this does not mean much to you, apart from a hypothetically stronger and ever stronger coverage, wherever you are.
Or you will notice a difference is the simple price. On Google Fi, you receive an unlimited number of calls and SMS for $ 20 per month, while the data costs $ 10 per gigabyte, up to 6 GB. It's probably the most that you will pay; any data exceeding this limit is free, although Google starts limiting you to 15 GB. (You can still save $ 10 per gigabyte at that time to restore maximum speed.) The other ride: You do not pay only for the data you actually use. If you reach 2.5 GB, for example, you get five dollars.
This may be a complicated way of explaining how simple it is. Google Fi also has no long-term contracts; you pay every month and you can go there as you wish. And the data cost the same price internationally as at home, at least in most countries.
But as formidable as Google Fi has been all this time, his selection of devices has been disappointing. Google's pixel range is still excellent, but expensive. And the non-Pixel options on Project Fi were derisory: a few LG and Motorola handsets. Above all, he left millions of iPhone owners in the cold.
They will finally have the opportunity to join Google Fi Wednesday, but here are the caveats. IOS compatibility is technically in beta, so expect a less than fluid experience. It also leaves out some important secondary features, such as visual voicemail, calls and text over Wi-Fi, automatic spam detection and international connection sharing.
Similarly, Android smartphones that are not designed specifically for Google Fi (so that any device other than Pixels and these LG and Motorola handsets) will not be able to seamlessly switch between, for example, T-Mobile and Sprint, or between Wi-Fi and cellular. They will also miss blocking spam, Wi-Fi calls and SMS. And if you're stuck on a device running a version earlier than Android 7.0, you're out of luck. That's about half of all currently used Android smartphones.
It sounds ominous, but it's probably worth thinking about how many features your current carrier offers. And even more useful to think about how much they charge you for it. The real appeal of Google Fi has always been its simplicity and affordability, which remain both, no matter what device you bring on board.
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