Before the move I had been a relatively happy customer with T-Mobile. Unlimited everything, though it was costing me about $90 / month. Unfortunately T-Mobile doesn't have towers in Nebraska, so the coverage sucks!. So I have decided to give Google Fi a try.
Google has started their own cell phone carrier. They have peering agreements with T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular. The cost is $20/month for unlimited voice and text and then $10 / month per GB of data. since most of my time I will be at home I won't need very much data so the savings should be nice. I wanted the Pixel XL in 128GB, but they were sold out, so I went with the regular Pixel in 128GB size. The extra half inch in screen size isn't worth another $100 and waiting to me.
My past experiences with WiFi based cellular coverage hasn't been great. T-mobile tries, but often times interference between other devices on your network cause you to drop calls. I am hoping that google got everything figured out. The reviews have been good, but when I went to try to get services for my new zipcode 68526, they said they didn't provide coverage, even though they map looks good. I put in my old zipcode of 77584 to get past that screen and sign up for service.
I will update this blog later with feedback on how it works out. Excited for the new phone. My current phone is a Samsung Galaxy S4 with a monster Anker battery, and running Android 6 thanks to a Cyanogenmod ROM. The phone isn't as fast as it used to be.
My Pixel Phone arrived on the 21st. 3 days later I am blown away. I have yet to drop a single call. The phone is fast and stable. Battery life is excellent. Network coverage is excellent I have 4G LTE coverage everywhere in lincoln, NE. Over the holidays when we travel to see family I will keep tabs on my signal strength. Thus far I couldn't be happier for the service, or the phone.
Yesterday we traveled from Lincoln to Omaha to visit family. I kept an eye on my data during the trip. I had LTE coverage the entire time. Did a little internet radio streaming in the car, and checked email. My data usage so far this billing period is at 80 Megs. Not bad. One interesting thing about having a metered data connection is it will make you look at your Apps differently from a developer standpoint. I now understand why google is rewarding websites with more efficient layouts with high ranking. Most importantly I have yet to drop a call. Only thing I will point out is when your internet connect gets under load, the voice will get a little choppy. Our home is on a Time Warner ( Charter ) internet connection. Speedtest.net shows I cam getting about 70Mbits down and 6 Mbits up. Of course once we upgrade to Gigabit Fiber with Allo, I don't think speed will be an issue. Thus far I am very happy with the quality of service.
Google Support Note
I understand we live in a diverse society with a mixture of cultures and races. But when I call in for tech support for my Pixel Phone with Google, I am finding google has either outsourced tech support to overseas call centers, or they have hired locals who have very broken english. Either way its very difficult to understand what they are saying. They might know their stuff, but the language barrier is a problem. For all the years I was with T-Mobile any time I had to call in I was always greated by am american happy to help me.
Its one thing to outsource manufacturing to China and India, but when you outsource tech support, that is when I draw the line. Have they solved my issues, yes, but Google needs to understand that talking in person with someone who is from another culture is hard enough. When you are doing it over the phone voice is distorted which makes it that much harder to make out what they are saying. This could be the breaking point for many customers. Google wants to win over Apple people, but Apple customers in my experience need a lot more hand holding, and that means you better have a top notch support team that can communicate with the customer.
I can honestly say this is the best phone I have ever owned. I had my doubts about Project Fi, being Wifi based calls back when I was with TMobile was so spotty. Google has really figured this thing out. I have yet to drop a single call. When I leave the House I have LTE coverage everywhere. My wife is currently with Verizon paying over $100 / month. I am about to switch her over to Project Fi, but I was worried her coverage with Google's service wouldn't be as good as Verizon. She works in a bank, and as many know, banks tend to have weak signal strength. So I went to her place of work with my phone to test my signal strength. I had full bars the entire time. No issues. Now I am waiting for Google to restock on their 128GB White PIxel phones, so I can get her switched over.
The only negatives I have had are the device itself. The phone is very thin and has an anti finger print coating, which means you need to hold it firmly else it will slide right out of your hand. I need to order one of their silicon cases for it, so I have a better grip on it. There have been a few times when the phone almost slipped right out of my hand. The air here in Nebraska is very dry this time of year, and that doesn't help things. Another issue I had was my phone was ringing, yet there was no screen to answer the call. This was after the phone being on for almost 2 weeks straight. A reboot fixed that issue. My other complain is the finger print scanner on the rear is pretty easy to accidentally touch when just picking up the phone. It takes some getting used ot.
Many people are worried about battery life. Thus far this hasn't been an issue. At the end of the day I still have 40% + of my battery left. Data usage was also something I was concerned about. But here I am 20 days into my billing period and I have only used 170 MB of data. Much less than I would have thought. Granted I spend most of my days in my office, but when I leave the house to drop off and pick up my son from school, grociery shopping ect.. I do check email, price shop, and look up directions. At this rate my bill for the month is looking closer to $24 after taxes. Much better than the $93 I was paying T-Mobile.
Should I switch to Google Fi?
This is going to depend on a few things. If you use a lot of data on LTE, then no. If your mobile data usage is under 5GB per month, then yes. Anything more, and you might be better off with Sprint, or T-Mobile if they have service in your area. Another question is if you could be happy with a Nexus or Pixel Phone? Project Fi only supports these devices, You can't bring your Iphone to Project Fi, or any other devices. Don't let that scare you. The Nexus and Pixel Phones are very fast and polished devices. If you are like me and are usually on a WiFi network, then switching is a no brainer.
I used to pay $93 / month after taxes to T-Mobile for Unlimited data. My wife is paying about $100 / month on verizon for 2GB of data, $26 of my wife's was payment plan for her GS7. So if we go by just the carrier costs our combined bill was $167 / month. Switching to Google's Project Fi, will take my bill down to $20 / month, hers to $15 a month, and then figure 1GB of data shared between us for another $10. After Taxes our combined bill will be under $50 / month. We are saving $117 / month + or - depending on our actual data usage, considering you only pay for what you use. Giving us an annual savings of $1400 / year. After the first year the savings alone paid for our Pixel Phones.