Google Fi Replaces Project Fi, Adds Support for iPhone

Posted on November 28, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Cloud, Google, iOS, Mobile with 21 Comments

As expected, Google has replaced its Project Fi wireless service with a new offering called Google Fi. And the new service now supports iPhone and most Android phones, addressing Fi’s only major drawback.

Yes, this is excellent news.

There’s no blog post about the new service yet. But the Google Fi website has gone live, and it explains what’s changed.

Update: Google’s blog post is live now too. —Paul

“Most Android phones and iPhones work with Google Fi,” Google notes of the most important new feature. “You’ll have reliable coverage and the Google Fi features you know and love, like flexible data and international coverage.”

What’s missing when you use an iPhone or non-Fi-certified handset, of course, is Fi’s unique network switching. With a Pixel or other compatible handset, you will seamlessly switch between different cellular networks, ensuring you always have the best coverage.

For the iPhone specifically, there are other missing features. You won’t be able to use Google Fi’s VPN, for example. And visual voicemail won’t work; instead, Google will send you a transcript of each voicemail via text messaging. The good news? iMessage works “out of the box.”

I’ve long hoped that Google would make this change. And this may have dramatically altered my smartphone plans. Some testing is required.

 

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Comments (21)

21 responses to “Google Fi Replaces Project Fi, Adds Support for iPhone”

  1. colin79666

    Worth pointing out this is still a US only product (with international roaming). As someone in the UK, I’d call that a pretty major drawback.

    • jbinaz

      In reply to colin79666:

      At least it's not Microsoft not launching something U.S. only this time! ;)


      All kidding aside, it would be nice if it were available outside the U.S. I suspect the regulations and carrier relationships are probably harder to navigate.

    • jptacek

      In reply to colin79666: Google Fi is a US only project? Or the deals? Project Fi worked for non-us customers
      • BeckoningEagle

        In reply to jptacek:

        No, in Project Fi you had to have a US Address to activate. Even US Territories had to have an address in the States in order to activate. Once activated you can use it wherever for the same amount of money. In Puerto Rico, for example, you can use it and it will not cost you any additional money, but in order to activate I had to use my father's Texas address.


        My current provider is Sprint, and their infrastructure in PR is slow as hell, that is the reason I did not change to Fi, since there is no real advantage. Although I read that US Cellular uses AT&T to roam in PR so that may be an option, if I can lock it to US Cellular.

  2. harrymyhre

    Am using an iPhone 6s plus with project fi.

    I cannot RECEIVE SMS messages using iMessages.

    I can SEND SMS messages.

    But if somebody important sends me an SMS message, I won't see the message and I will get yelled at.


    When I use Google hangouts, I can send and receive fine.



    • harrymyhre

      In reply to Harrymyhre:

      I had a chat with google fi support. They said

      1) disable imessage

      2) disable facetime


      I did that in iOS settings.

      then google sent me to an apple website. I deregistered my phone number from apple.


      Then I installed hangouts. Now I can receive and send sms.

  3. Bill Russell

    Great, you can go back to an iPhone, Paul maybe! Enough of the Pixel issues.

  4. Patrick3D

    Sadly, no support for Nokia 3.1, Google Fi only support the 7.1 and above. Shame they are blocking affordable phones from the service.

  5. justme

    Technologically, this is certainly interesting. To be able to seemlessly go from the US to Europe or Asia is huge. Three jobs ago, this would certainly have been worth investigating.


    I do, however, have a few problems with it:


    1) If I use the actual, you know, PHONE feature of the phone (non-wifi calling) to call internationally, how much is the added cost? I would assume there is a per minute charge, then a network access charge like most traditional phones.


    2) $80 for one line and 6GB of 'regular speed' data is...extortionate by UK/EU standards. Sorry, while I know data costs are high Stateside, that is aggregiously expensive. And that is _one_ phone. If you have a second line, the numbers just dont add up.


    3) There is also the whole 'you need a US address' aspect of it.

  6. Davor Radman

    I still don't understand this.. How can this ever be a good deal?

    80$ when I choose unlimited data, with slowdown after only 6GB?


    With multiple EU carriers I can get something like 10€/20GB.


  7. gregsedwards

    Microsoft really missed their opportunity to do something exactly like this with Skype. Imagine being able to get a Skype phone number and use it as your cellular service.

  8. UbelhorJ

    I'd really like a comparison of this vs. Mint.


    Do you get to choose which network you end up on, or is it random? Technically, AT&T has better coverage in my area vs. T-Mobile, but my specific house is a black hole for AT&T for some reason.

  9. Sprtfan

    They announced a $200 Fi Service Credit with Compatible Phone Activation on Google Fi Promotion today also for those that want to give it a try. I'm trying to figure out how/if I can take advantage of it. Offer is for today only it looks like.

  10. Chris Hedlund

    I wonder if I can keep my existing service and add Google Fi as a second number using the e-sim on my iPhone XS...

  11. jbinaz

    So let's say you have a phone that is unlocked but was locked to the T-Mobile network before. If you can't switch intelligently between networks, what network do you end up on? Kind of an important consideration, since where I live T-Mobile's coverage is awful, and I'm guessing Sprint and US Cellular's isn't any better. (And I am assuming that those are still the providers they use.)

  12. chrisrut

    Sigh.

    I finally made the break from Windows phone to Android just weeks ago - explicitly to have the family on Fi for a European vacation. I picked up a pair of LG ThinQs - nice enough phones, on a half-price special that bottom-lined at about $450 each, which made it a super value. But a wide range of devices - including iPhone - might have tipped the value proposition some other direction, dollars be dammed.

    But yes; this is good news.

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