My Mint Mobile Switch: First Steps

Posted on March 27, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Mobile, iOS, Android with 23 Comments

My Mint Mobile SIM arrived this morning, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and make the switch immediately. It went much more quickly and was much simpler than I had expected.

And that’s true on both sides of this equation: Mint Mobile’s mobile app makes it easy to switch on the service, of course, and carry over your phone number from your previous provider. Meanwhile, Google Fi, in keeping with everything I still do like about that service, also made things very easy.

And that’s nice, as I’ve really sweated over this kind of thing in the past. When I originally switched to Google Fi back in September 2017—back when the service was still called Project Fi—I experienced a few issues, some self-inflicted. But switching wireless carriers is a bit like switching cable providers: You worry about it but it gets easier each time.

To get started, I turned off my iPhone 11 Pro Max, inserted the Mint Mobile SIM, and turned the iPhone back on. (I’d been meaning to revisit the iPhone, similar to what I did previously with the Pixel 3a XL, so what the heck, I’ll use that for a while.) After signing in, I noted the presence of cellular bars next to the notch at the top of the display, and I downloaded and installed the Mint Mobile app from Apple’s store.

After a few introductory screens, the app told me I’d need a few details—an account number and PIN—from my current carrier if I wanted to bring over my phone number, which I did. It also suggested that I might need to call them for this information, which I wasn’t looking forward to.

But as it turns out, Google makes this easy: You just sign-in to the Google Fi website and there’s a Cancel service link right on the account management plan. After checking a few boxes related to what I wanted to do, Google coughed up the account number and PIN. No drama.

Back on the iPhone, I entered that information and was then told that transferring the number might take a while, even up to 48 hours in some cases. Like many of you, however, I have nothing but time these days. So again, whatever. I’d wait if I had to.

But looking back at the Google Fi website on my PC, I saw a link to finalize the transfer. I clicked it, and the Mint Mobile app on the phone instantly updated, noting that my number was successfully transferred.

Was it really that easy?

I made a phone call to test that, and it worked fine. I configured Wi-Fi calling in Settings and tested that, too, and it worked fine. Then I went into Messages, the iOS app, and saw that I needed to enter my phone number for some reason. Here we go, I thought.

I recalled seeing links on the Mint Mobile website about configuring iOS for Mint and figured I might need to manually change some settings. But after looking around in Cellular settings and making no changes, I went back to Messages and successfully sent a few texts too.


Now comes the time-consuming but boring bit: I need to actually use the service, each day, and see how it goes. Based on my experience switching my number over, I hope and assume that goes well.

More soon, as warranted.

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “My Mint Mobile Switch: First Steps”

  1. will

    What about Visual Voicemail for iOS? Does Mint support this or do you have to call to check for messages?

  2. mclark2112

    Can you tether on Mint? I tend to use this sporadically at best, but I like to have the option.

  3. harrymyhre

    range extenders

    I learned about this from Mickey papillon (aka The Cellphone Junkie).

    most (all?) the big carriers offer their customers range extenders (aka femtocell).

    as soon as I switched to T-Mobile I ordered a range extender. T-Mobile basically GIVES YOU a range extender. They ask for a $25 deposit. That didn’t break my bank.

    It took me a while to get the thing configured but I have the patience of Job and 35 years experience in trouble shooting this kind of stuff.

    to anybody reading this who orders one. Tell T-Mobile support they need to REGISTER your range extender on their end. It won’t work until it is entered into their system.

    now that it’s working I have four bars of T-Mobile everywhere in my house I never miss a call. Calls never drop.

    AFAIK there is no way to limit the phone numbers that can use my range extender. So any of my tmo neighbors are now getting four bars.

    i doubt that mint will offer customers a range extender but who knows. Doesn’t hurt to ask. Without a range extender I would not be able to use T-Mobile service at my ranch because I live near wilderness.

    how does it work? It’s like a little cell tower inside your house. It plugs into your WiFi router.

    my friend has one that works with the At&t. They are carrier specific I. E. If an At&t user visits my house they won’t benefit from my range extender.

    and I know some of you might be thinking “he should have used WiFi calling”. I tried that. It worked but it was not a good experience.

  4. deedub86

    We have a similar network in the UK called giffgaff, plans available are excellent. Transfer over from network previously was simple.

  5. faustxd9

    What is everyone doing for International calling. I only use it once a year, but it looked like Mint was going to be expensive for that portion and I thought you could only pause Fi for a limited amount of time?

  6. Chris Payne

    Hm... so the article where Paul talks about _why_ he wants to switch to Mint Mobile and the implications is premium, but this one is not. So I have no context as to what's going on here. Can anyone provide the gist of why we should consider MintMobile?

    • Paul Thurrott

      Everyone gets three free premium articles per month but I'll save you the credit usage: Cost is the primary issue. This will save me over 50 percent each month.
  7. wdhawkins

    Why is mobile data so expensive in the US, compared to other parts of the World? Don't get me wrong, I'm not gloating, but I subscribe to a £10 ($13) monthly plan from ID Mobile (UK VMNO) that gives me 7GB. This isn't an introductory offer, but the standard rate I've been enjoying for years.

    • harrymyhre

      In reply to wdhawkins:

      For one thing USA is like 3.7 million sqmi. I'm is like 93,628 mi².

      USA for the most part doesn't have domestic roaming.

      so the four (soon to be three) carriers are expected to provide coverage over those 3.7 million sqmi.

      Its a complicated subject.

  8. dbonds

    Pulled the trigger today on Mint Mobile (coming from Google Fi) and a new Oneplus 7T phone (coming from a LG G7, with quickly dying battery). Both the phone and the SIM should be on their way to me soon...

  9. rmlounsbury

    I have dabble with the idea of moving over to Mint many times but haven't been able to pull the trigger. Of course, now that saving every dime is more important than ever for my family I'll have to re-evaluate this again and look forward to seeing Paul's experience. I won't lie, having Deadpool in charge makes it kinda nifty as well.

    A year or two ago the plans Mint offered had too low data caps and I'd blow through them. It looks like they fixed that problem. With that barrier gone it looks like my wife and I could save in the ball park of $840 a year. Which is a pretty fantastic number.

    I'd lose the ability to use JOD which is less of an issue for me now since I'm trying to get more usage out of my device and not upgrade so frequently. One of the other benefits was free league pass which I can now do a single team for $80 a year so still saving $760 a year with that factored. The last is Apple Watch as Mint doesn't support the cellular function but that isn't really a huge deal anymore since I mostly use a Note 9 these days and my iPhone Xr exists mostly to sync my Apple Watch.

    I might have just talked myself into Mint Mobile... I'll wait for Paul to do the first pass at the experience before making the leap however!

    • Paul Thurrott

      So far, so good. I was a bit surprised by how well/quickly the number transfer was, and that everything just worked.
  10. Gerard Samuel

    When I dabbled with Mint last year, I was also migrating from GoogleFi. I do not recall having problems with MMS on my XS Max.

    It was a very painless and quick transfer from what I recall.

    Good luck!

  11. jotowler

    How are the data speeds compared to being on T-mobile? I understand Mint uses T-mobile’s network but do they throttle the data compared to being directly with T-mobile? If so by how much?

  12. jlv632a

    Not sure if the US is the same as Australia but one thing with these Australian MVNO servicesis they can't offer Apple watch or Galaxy Watch single number support. Wonder if this this is a means of the big telcos trying to keep business

    • rmlounsbury

      In reply to jlv632a:

      I have an Apple Watch 3 w/Cellular and I checked with their support and they don't currently support Apple Watch. I think this is true for any MVNO in the US as well. Hopefully they can eventually get the capability; not sure if it is a infrastructure issue or an Apple issue.

    • Paul Thurrott

      I'm pretty sure you cannot use an Apple Watch (with LTE or whatever) over Mint, yes.
  13. frederick_madera

    Looking to make the move to mint this weekend myself. My concern is the strength of cell service when on the go, mainly for phone calls, iMessage and WhatsApp

    • aerofann24

      In reply to Frederick_Madera:

      I made the switch last year (in fact, while I was still using my Lumia 950XL), and everything works pretty well. I live on the jersey border next to the Lehigh Valley, and haven't had any problems there. I'm guessing that if you would normally get good service with T-mobile you should be fine with Mint. Switched from Straight Talk with an AT&T Sim & I believe I have better service now.

  14. mikemeltz

    I've also been thinking about switching and after reading Paul's article I decided to take the plunge. I ordered 4 - 3month, 8gb starter kits from BestBuy as they had a special for $45.00 (15 per month - I did need to do 2 separate orders since bestbuy had a limit of 2 for some reason. I already received the new sims and completed the transfer process of 4 lines from AT&T ( all iPhones not under contract) . I did need to complete the unlock request for 2 of the devices on AT&T but it only took about 2 minutes each. The port in process took less than 10 minutes for each device and it was interesting to watch each line come off my AT&T account until it was finally canceled.So far the phones are working great, calls, txt and surfing is working fine, the speed tests were definitely slower but it was noticeable even watching some streaming videos.I hope things continue to work well as I paid LESS for 4 lines over 3 months than I was paying for just 1 month with AT&T. Once the 3 months are up I will buy the 12 month plan size depending on what the usage looks like after the trial is completed.

    That's the push Paul !

    • Paul Thurrott

      Nice, congrats. And good luck going forward.
    • markld

      In reply to mikemeltz:

      Thanks for the info. We need competitive carriers to get the prices down. I used to be with Verizon but changed to Spectrum Mobile. Been very very happy at about 45% of what I used to pay, but still using Verizon's lines.

      I do like your thinking, and I bet I'm switching soon.

      You got a great purchase at Best Buy, too. Rather creative. Lol, 15$/month!!!

      • Paul Thurrott

        Yeah there are lots of great, cheap options now. It's scary changing something like this, but it can really be worth it.
  15. rmlounsbury

    Curious, does anyone use this with their entire family? I just realized that you can't group Mint Mobile sims into a single "family" group to centrally manage the service. Not a deal breaker but I thought it interesting they don't offer this functionality.