Google has been a wireless carrier since 2015, when the company launched its Google Fi MVNO (it was called Project Fi at the time). But up until now the company has stuck with a single pay-as-you-go pricing scheme.
Now Google is offering two plans: Flexible or Unlimited.
Light data users may still be better off with a Flexible plan, with prices starting as low as $20/month for unlimited talk & text plus $10/GB of data.
But if you’re regularly getting to the point where you pay $70 or more… or just want to stop keeping close watch over your data usage, then Unlimited plan looks promising… although there are a few catches.
In a nutshell, every Google Fi user gets unlimited talk and text, the ability to use their phones internationally in 200 countries without paying extra, and support for calling from the US to 50 countries and territories for no extra charge. And there are no additional fees for using your phone as a mobile hotspot, which is one of the key reasons I switched to Fi a few years ago.
But Unlimited customers also get a free Google One membership with 100GB of cloud storage (which is worth $2/month or $20/year) and “unlimited” data usage.
Now for the caveats: Unlimited only guarantees up to 22GB of high-speed data per month. If you exceed that limit, then Google may slow down your data until the next billing period.
Google also notes that “video may stream at DVD-quality (480p) for Unlimited customers. There’s no such restriction on Flexible plans (even though you might be more likely to want lower-quality video if you’re on a plan that charges you just for the data you use).
Anyway, like most wireless plans, Google Fi’s new unlimited plan looks a lot more appealing if you’re signing up your whole household, since there are discounts for multiple lines:
- $70 for a single line
- $60/line for 2 lines
- $50/line for 3 lines
- $45/line for 4-6 lines
I work from home, so in months where I don’t travel much, my Google Fi bill is sometimes as low as $30. Months where I have multiple trips for work or leisure, that bill can climb northward of $50. I don’t think I’m going to switch to an Unlimited plan anytime soon… but if I had a commute that was longer than walking a few steps from my bedroom to my office, I’d probably at least consider it.
Google Fi used to exclusively support Google Nexus and Pixel devices, but then the company added support for data-only SIM cards and last year Google added support for iPhone sand most Android phones — although some features (like automatic switching between wireless networks) might not work on non-Pixel devices.
Customers can also pick up a Pixel 3 or Pixel 3XL for half price through Google Fi through September 18th. With prices starting at $399, that makes the Pixel 3 the same price as a Pixel 3a… and probably half the price of the upcoming Pixel 4.