Google Fi wire­less ser­vice now works with iphones and most An­droid phones, but there’s a catch

You’re re­ally only get­ting T-mo­bile ser­vice.

Macworld (USA) - - Ioscentral - BY MICHAEL SI­MON

Look out Ver­i­zon, AT&T, and T-mo­bile, there’s a new car­rier in town. Google is open­ing up its Project Fi na­tion­wide wire­less ser­vice ( go.mac­world.com/mtfi) to way more phones, in­clud­ing the hottest iphones, Galaxy phones, and Gsm-only An­droid phones of the year. But, sadly, you won’t be get­ting the full Fi ex­pe­ri­ence.

To mark the ex­pan­sion, Google has re­named the ser­vice to Google Fi (or just Fi for short), be­cause it’s no longer a project. It’s now a real-deal net­work, us­ing three mo­bile 4G LTE net­works and more than two mil­lion se­cure Wi-fi hotspots to cre­ate a blan­ket of cov­er­age.

Where the ser­vice was pre­vi­ously lim­ited to a hand­ful of hand­sets de­signed for Fi— namely Pix­els, the Moto G6, and a cou­ple LG Thinq phones—the new ser­vice ex­pands avail­abil­ity to phones made by Sam­sung, Huawei, Nokia, Es­sen­tial, Ap­ple, and oth­ers. And it’s not just the new­est hand­sets ei­ther— com­pat­i­bil­ity goes all the way back to the Galaxy S6 and iphone 5S and SE.

Google Fi for IOS ( go.mac­world.com/ fios) is still in beta, so Google warns that not all Fi fea­tures will be sup­ported. Most no­tably, visual voice­mail won’t work and you’ll need to up­date your iphone’s MMS set­tings in or­der to send and re­ceive texts with non-iphones. imes­sage works out of the box, how­ever, ac­cord­ing to Google.

But that’s a small price to pay for Fi com­pat­i­bil­ity. And speak­ing of small prices, Google Fi is based on a pay-as-you-go model, so your bill might go down sig­nif­i­cantly. Google charges $20 for un­lim­ited calls and texts, and $1 per 100 megabytes (or $10 per gig) for data. So if you only use 2.6GB one month, your bill will be $46 (plus taxes and fees). And the max­i­mum you’ll pay is $80 a month, as Google caps the data fees at $60 or 6GB. If you go above 15GB, how­ever, your speeds will be throt­tled un­less you agree to pay $10 for each gi­ga­byte over 15.

But the newly com­pat­i­ble phones won’t be get­ting the full Fi ex­pe­ri­ence. While hand­sets de­signed for Fi get cel­lu­lar cov­er­age across T-mo­bile, Sprint, and U.S. Cel­lu­lar and Wi-fi hotspots, Fi-com­pat­i­ble phones will only have na­tion­wide ac­cess to T-mo­bile’s net­work, as the phone won’t be able to switch be­tween the net­works and hotspots.

So if you’re us­ing more than 6GB of data per month, go­ing di­rectly through T-mo­bile is prob­a­bly the bet­ter deal, as it charges just $70 per month for un­lim­ited ser­vice, in­clud­ing taxes and fees. With Google Fi, the same data will cost you more than $90 with taxes and fees. How­ever, Google Fi seems to sup­port way more phones. A quick check of mod­els and car­ri­ers showed a large num­ber of Ver­i­zon phones ready to sup­port Google Fi.

But if you sip megabytes and hate pay­ing for data you don’t use, Google Fi is worth con­sid­er­a­tion for your iphone or Galaxy phone. ■

Green means go on Google Fi’s cov­er­age map.

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