The reasons to not try Project Fi are diminished or gone completely, but there are still a few big restrictions.
When Project Fi first launched, invites were hard to come by and it was restricted to just the original Nexus 6 — both things that made it tough to consider for many people. Now that Google is rolling out invites at a faster clip (even recently opening the service to everyone for one day), and you have the choice of a new Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X, it may be worth reevaluating if its a good choice for you.
Get to know Project Fi
In order to consider Project Fi, you'll probably want to get acquainted with the basics of the service first. Learn about how Project Fi handles network switching between T-Mobile, Sprint and Wifi, how the international data rates stack up and just how the billing works overall. Here are the high points:
- Project Fi only bills you for what you use — data is $10 per GB no matter what, and you're refunded for anything you paid for but didn't use up
- Unlimited calls and texts are included in the base plan, and there's no other option
- You get access to both T-Mobile and Sprint's networks (it switches automatically), plus calls and texts over Wifi when available
- Project Fi phones will automatically connect to fully open Wifi hotspots, and use a VPN to protect your data when it does so
- There's no contract or commitment, so you can pause or cancel service at any time
- You can forward calls to your Project Fi number to other phones, just like Google Voice, but there aren't as many bells and whistles
The bottom line is that Project Fi is easier to understand than your average carrier. The billing is dead simple, the features are robust and the service works as intended. You have to deal with a few limitations — like device choice and not being able to walk into a store for help — but it's a great tradeoff.
Who Project Fi is for
Right off the top, chances are Project Fi will only be a good carrier choice for you if you have a single device. If you're someone who uses a shared data plan with multiple people — or even just multiple devices — on one account you'll likely save money staying on a more traditional carrier with a shared data plan. Right now Project Fi is really only set up to run one phone at a time, and doesn't support tablets or hotspots, so the savings of the carrier are quickly removed if you have to have multiple lines.
Project Fi really isn't designed for heavy data users.
Next, Project Fi really isn't designed for heavy data users. Sure Google has great transparent pricing at a flat rate of $10 per gigabyte used, but that means you aren't getting a discount if you're someone who would normally buy upwards of 10GB of data per month. For example if you use 5GB of data per month you'd pay $70 (plus applicable taxes) on Project Fi — at that price you may get a better deal elsewhere. But if you regularly use less than 5GB, and every once and a while need some extra data, Project Fi can make a lot more sense.
You also have to be realistic about how the Project Fi coverage area will work for you. If you currently use T-Mobile or Sprint and have no issues with coverage then Project Fi will work even better. But if you're on Verizon or AT&T, it's worth looking at coverage maps to see how Fi will work for you instead — and though Wifi calling helps a ton if you have abundant wireless internet at home and work, it won't help you everywhere. Just be realistic about your coverage needs and how those line up with Fi — saving money is great, but not if you can't use your phone where you want to.
Finally, hopefully you like Nexus phones. You'll either need to bring your own Nexus 6P, 5X or 6 to Project Fi or buy one when you sign up, though the latter option is actually quite a good one since Google offers zero interest 24-month financing of phones through Fi.
Should you try it now?
Chances are many of the main issues keeping folks from trying out Project Fi have diminished or disappeared by this point. We're over six months into Project Fi being available, so it's rather easy to know what you're getting into at this point in terms of service quality and pricing. At the same time it seems invites to the service are easier to come by — and perhaps the biggest issue, the size and price of the Nexus 6, is removed now with the latest Nexus phones being great options.
If you were holding out on trying Project Fi for one of the above reasons, we think now's a time to seriously consider it. If the need for a family plan or better coverage were your sticking points, those still aren't fixed (and we're not sure if they ever will be) — but many of the other bumps have been smoothed out and Google's own mobile carrier offering is ready for you to give a spin.