Google Nexus 6P + Google Fi: Week One Update

Posted on January 7, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 0

Google Nexus 6P + Google Fi: Week One Update

A week ago, I wrote about my very early experiences using the Nexus 6P smart phone with Google’s Project Fi mobile connectivity solution. Here’s a quick update.

Nexus 6P

As I noted in Google Nexus 6P + Google Fi First Impressions, this new smart phone is the first I’ve used that actually outmatches Apple’s iPhone when it comes to hardware beauty and quality. It’s beautiful to look at, and beautiful to hold in the hand.

It’s also as slippery as a bar of soap, which is something else the Nexus 6P shares with my iPhone 6S Plus. So as with the iPhone, I purchased a cover, mostly so I don’t accidentally drop it. Google offered me a discount on a third party case as part of the laundry list of discounts and gifts you get for purchasing the phone. But it was out of stock, and what I really wanted was the official Nexus 6P Case from Google anyway.


Like many cases, this undercuts the thinness and feel of the phone, but I really enjoy the textured microfiber on the rear of the case. Plus, the cutout for the Nexus Imprint makes the fingerprint reader even easier to find when you pick up the phone.

Between the hardware—which is as powerful as it is beautiful—and the improvements I see in Android 6, the Nexus 6P is slowly winning me over to the dark side. I wrote a few times last year that were I to switch from Windows phone, I’d pick the iPhone—see Best Tech of 2015: Smart Phones and Ask Paul: iPhone or Android? as two obvious examples—but that opinion is changing thanks to this device’s overall quality.

In fact, if you re-examine what I wrote in Ask Paul: iPhone or Android?, you’ll see that three reasons really put iPhone over the top back in March: iPhone hardware quality, the content and app ecosystems, and the camera. Today, the first and third of those reasons have tilted in favor of the Nexus 6P. And of course, Android’s content and app ecosystems are very close in size and quality to what we see on the iPhone.

This is an awesome smart phone.

(Goofy side-note. I can print from Android now. I’m not sure why I’d want to do that, but I did set it up, and using Word for Android, I can print documents to my network-attached Dell laser printer. What a world.)

Project Fi

The process of onboarding Fi’s celullar services is interesting, but I’m not sure if what I experienced was because of my decision to port over my Google Voice phone number rather than get a new number (or port over an existing cellphone number). Long story short, you don’t just activate your account and get online. Instead, when you receive the Fi SIM card, you insert it in your phone—only the Nexus 6, 6P and 5X are compatible—and start the activation process using the Fi app.

On December 30, Google emailed me to tell me that my service was activated. Well. Sort of.

You’ve activated service on Project Fi. This means your Fi data connection may be active, but calls and texts won’t switch over to Project Fi until your number has been transferred. You’ll get a notification on your phone as soon as your number transfer is done.

So I waited for the notification. A couple of times, I tried calling the house line—turning off Wi-Fi because Fi can do this over Wi-Fi and I wanted to see if the cellular service was really working—but it didn’t work. I also tried cellular data out in the world a few times, but that never worked either.

So yesterday, I contacted Fi support online, and use the live chat option. Unlike with my recent Microsoft support experience—when I tried last week to get all of my Groove Music Pass devices removed, without success—I was greeted quickly and the person I dealt with knew exactly what to do. He told me that my service was in fact activated already, but couldn’t explain why I hadn’t gotten the promised notification. And sure enough, when I tested a call (with Wi-Fi off, you gotta be OCD about this stuff), it did work. Huh.

Embarrassed a bit by this, I apologized and that was that. Then I received the following email.

Thank you for contacting Project Fi Support! It was great speaking with you today about the status of your number transfer. Together we were able to see that your number transfer has been successful. Project Fi is a very exciting new program and we are happy to have you on board! I have credited your account $5.00 for the time it took to get your number transferred over. I know how frustrating it can be having a new device and new phone service and be unable to use it. It is not a huge credit but I hope it will help compensate for the time without service. You will see this credit on your next Project Fi billing statement.

Nice. Unnecessary, but nice.

Last night at basketball, I decided to test cellular data while I was away from Wi-Fi as well. This time, it didn’t work. Wondering if this was some setting, I looked around and turned on data roaming. That did the trick, but I’m curious if I’m missing something. Obviously, Fi availability/reliability is something I need to monitor over time, and while traveling. But I’ve not left Dedham yet.

Anyway, so far so good. There’s more to do, and once I’ve figured out how the service really works, I’ll probably do more to “Microsoft-ize” the phone with the software giant’s lock screen and launcher apps. But for now I’ll leave it on vanilla Android for testin purposes.


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