The beginnings of Google Fi on iPhone are accompanied by reservations


As a reminder, Fi is an MVNO, or mobile virtual network operator, that relies on existing wireless networks to provide a service similar to that of Boost Mobile or Republic Wireless. The big difference with Fi is that it switches between three wireless networks – T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular – instead of using one. The idea is that she switches to the best performing network wherever you are.

The problem is that only some phones are equipped with this ability to change providers dynamically. At the time of writing, these phones include all Pixel models, the Moto G6, the LG V35 ThinQ, the LG G7 ThinQ and the Moto X4. If you do not own any of these phones, Fi will still work, but this will only affect one carrier: T-Mobile.

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I should explain that even before the announcement today, you could make sure that Fi works with an unsupported phone, and yes, I've already used a Fi in an iPhone. But there were some obstacles to overcome. On the one hand, you needed the right data settings or some things would not work, like MMS or web browsing. To begin, you also had to activate the SIM card in a supported phone, otherwise it would not work at all.

But now, this is no longer the case. However, there are still some problems, especially for those with iPhone. For the moment, Fi support of iPhones is still in beta, and it shows. According to Google, iPhones with Fi are cut off from visual voicemail, can no longer call or send SMS via Wi-Fi (iMessage is exempt) and can not be used as a point of access to outside data the United States. Like many other unsupported devices, the iPhone also does not have the ability to change providers dynamically. Plus, if you have an iPhone 5, 5c or older, you have no chance.

I've inserted a Fi SIM card into my iPhone XS and opened the Google Fi app for iOS released today. The application has sufficiently warned that not all Fi features are supported on the iPhone, and then explained to me the changes I needed to make to my cellular data settings. I've changed the APN values ​​(access point name) to "h2g2" and entered a new URL for MMSC (Multimedia Message Center) as shown, and lo and behold, I've been able to send and receive text messages as before. I also went to the Web without much problem. It should be noted here that Google has indicated that you will probably need to adjust these settings from time to time with each iOS update. In addition to this, you can also use the Fi application to check your data usage as well as your monthly statements.

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It is clear that the experience on the iPhone is not perfect and that even on Android phones previously "incompatible", the results will certainly be better (you may not have you do not need to change your data settings and the international connection sharing feature is supported). you benefit from dynamic operator switching and you will not be able to route data via Fi VPN as you would with phones designed for Fi.

With so many warnings, why bother with Fi? Well, there are some important benefits. On the one hand, if you live in the United States and do not use a lot of data, then Fi could prove a good deal. You pay $ 20 per month for unlimited calling and texting, then $ 10 per GB until you reach 6 GB of usage, after which Google will not charge you anything. When you reach the threshold of 15 GB, Google makes you switch to EDGE speeds (which, according to the company, only affects 1% of users), but you can also decide to pay 15 USD for each concert exceeding 10 GB if you you really need all that speed and data.

This may seem like a lot of money, but in practice it works. I use Fi regularly on phones that I test and I usually only pay $ 30 or less a month, since I am almost always surrounded by WiFi. My colleague, who uses Fi as the main carrier, pays only $ 80 a month for him and his wife. That's a lot less than the approximately $ 150 I pay for me and my husband's monthly plan on T-Mobile. This is the beauty of the pay-as-you-go model instead of the monthly unlimited data capture of most traditional operators. When I consume a lot of data, I pay more. When I skimp, I pay less. It is as it should be.

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Fi really makes sense when traveling abroad. Through partnerships with operators in more than 170 countries, the US $ 10 per GB of data usage is also applied internationally. Calls cost 20 cents a minute, which is quite expensive, but there are still alternatives like Skype or WhatsApp. T-Mobile offers a similar unlimited international data plan, in which you do not pay per gigabyte, but you are relegated to 2G speeds. With Google Fi, at least you will enjoy LTE outflows abroad without having to pay more than your usual bill.

Another great benefit is that you can order a SIM card containing only data for other devices, such as tablets, even though it is built into the 6 GB collective data threshold. And when I decide that I do not want Fi at all, I can cancel without having to make a phone call – I can do it via the app or online.

Of course, Fi is not suitable for everyone, especially if you use a lot of data consistently. And as I mentioned earlier, if you use an iPhone, it's not really the best option for operators, although not having visual voicemail may not be a dealbreaker for some people. The lack of international connection is a pretty big drawback in my mind because I sometimes rely on that when I travel abroad. In addition, Fi does not support number sharing, which means you can not pair it with your LTE smartwatch, for example.

With all these caveats, Fi seems destined to remain a niche option even after wider adoption to other phones. That said, it is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, that's what an MVNO is supposed to do: offer an alternative to the Big Four. It may be that Fi is not the "game changer" that Google wanted back in 2015, but it may not be necessary to attract a loyal, low-profile audience. imported.


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