Best Alternatives to Google Fi Android Central 2020
There's nothing quite like Google Fi when it comes to service and coverage. Not everyone needs all of the features Fi offers, and if you aren't traveling internationally, the data can be quite pricey. If you've been looking to Google Fi for your phone service but don't think it's quite the right fit, here are some of the best alternatives you can get.
- Best Overall: Visible
- Buy Alternative: Mint Mobile
- Best Freebies: Metro by T-Mobile
- Best for AT&T: Cricket Wireless
- Best Coverage: Ting
- Best Customization: Tello
Best Overall: Visible
Visible debuted in May 2018 as a new carrier powered by Verizon's network, and at the time, we couldn't thoroughly recommend it as it only supported iPhones. However, as of January 2019, Visible works with a growing list of Android phones, too!
For $40/month, Visible gives you unlimited talk, text, and LTE data on Verizon's vast LTE network. In other words, you can use your phone however you want and as much as you want without having to worry about going over any limits. We also love that hotspot access is included for free, which is a perk you won't find everywhere.
That's a good enough deal on its own, but Visible goes the extra mile by being about as customer-friendly as cell providers come. After ordering a SIM through its website, you just wait for it to be delivered, pop it in your phone, and then download and open the Visible app. Through here, you'll handle all of your billing, get in touch with customer service, and more. When you want to pay your bill, Visible accepts credit/debit cards, PayPal, and even Venmo.
If you have family members or friends that also want to use Visible, things get even better. With Visible Party Pay, you get monthly discounts for your service as you have more people in your party — $35/line for two people, $30/line for three people, and $25/line for four people. Unlike other family plans, everyone in Visible Party Pay is responsible for their own bill and gets their own unique Visible account. It's a different take on a formula that hasn't seen a lot of change over the years, and for a lot of folks, it could be what you're looking for.
- Unlimited talk, text, and data
- Simple, easy to understand plan
- Verizon's excellent LTE coverage
- Hotspot doesn't cost extra
- Party Pay system
- No roaming
- No international service
- Limited phones
One plan for everyone
With unlimited everything and the massive Verizon LTE network behind it, Visible is very competitive as long as your stay in the U.S.
Most wireless service providers require you to pay your bill month-to-month, but Mint Mobile takes a different approach by charging you upfront for 3, 6, or 12 months of service at a time. It's a unique concept and one that requires a bigger check from the get-go but could result in some significant savings over time.
All Mint Mobile plans come with unlimited talk and text, and depending on the one you pick, you've got your choice of 3GB, 8GB, or 12GB of 4G LTE data. If you decide you need additional LTE speeds during a month, you can get an extra 1GB for $10 or 3GB for $20. Oh, and the mobile hotspot is included no matter what plan you get.
Mint Mobile is powered by T-Mobile's LTE network, and as such, you can bring over virtually any unlocked GSM phone.
If the service sounds like something you'd be interested in, you can test-drive it for seven days with a money-back guarantee.
- Works with most unlocked phones
- Lots of data choices
- Hotspot included
- No unlimited option
- Must buy in bulk
Save by buying more at once
Start small with three months or save more with twelve months. Get unlimited talk and text and as much data as you need on the T-Mobile network.
Big Freebies: Metro by T-Mobile
Metro by T-Mobile (formerly known as MetroPCS), got an overhaul in 2018 with a new name, logo, and plans.
At its cheapest, you can sign up for a plan with unlimited talk, text, and 2GB of 4G LTE data for just $30 each month. At its most expensive, Metro by T-Mobile costs $60/month for unlimited talk, text, LTE data, 15GB of hotspot use, 100GB of Google One storage, and even a free Amazon Prime membership.
Taxes and fees are included with Metro's pricing. And since it runs on T-Mobile's network, you can bring just about any GSM unlocked the phone to it and have everything work just fine.
- Lots of data
- Save with more lines
- Cloud storage with unlimited plans
- Works with most unlocked phones
- No hotspot on smaller plans
Save on more lines
Metro by T-Mobile takes advantage of the improving T-Mobile LTE network with great prices on big buckets of data. Online storage is a great bonus.
Best for AT&T: Cricket Wireless
AT&T's discount brand, Cricket Wireless, doesn't tick every box for Google Fi wannabes, but it comes close on a few. For example, it offers excellent nationwide coverage thanks to being powered by AT&T's network. And as a result, it should be compatible with almost every unlocked phone sold in the U.S. today.
It also has simple, inexpensive, and flexible plans that offer unlimited U.S. talk, text, and data, plus the ability to roam in Canada and Mexico on two of the higher-tier (but at $55 and $60, still affordable) plans. Those plans also include free texting to 37 other countries, including the likes of Australia, China, India, Japan, and more.
There are a few caveats, though. The $55/month Unlimited plan is limited to data speeds of just 3Mbps, which compared to regular LTE speeds on AT&T, is a lot slower. The 2GB and 5GB data plans are increased to 8Mbps, and the Unlimited Extra plan for $60/month has access to Cricket's "fastest 4G LTE." That $60/month plan also includes 15GB of mobile hotspot at no extra cost.
One significant advantage of Cricket is that taxes and fees are included with its plans. In other words, if you sign up for the $60/month plan, you'll pay exactly $60 and not a penny more.
- Big AT&T LTE network
- Mexico and Canada calling in unlimited plans
- Free texting to 37 international countries
- Taxes included in monthly price
- SD quality video
- Hotspot only on biggest plan
Best for AT&T
AT&T without the contracts
Access to the massive AT&T LTE network with no contract is no joke. Starting small and moving up to unlimited, Cricket has a plan for everyone.
Best Coverage: Ting
To many of its long-time users, alternative carrier Ting is a darling of flexibility and customer service. The main appeal for Google Fi admirers is the flexible, modular plans, which let you pay for exactly how much talk time and texting you need, along with simple, affordable data tiers.
Prices for a single line start at $32 for 100 minutes of talk and text and 2GB of data, but it doesn't cost much more to add features from each category. It's also just $6 per additional line, which is pretty great.
Ting also has access to three networks (Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon), though unlike Google Fi, you can't dynamically switch between them. Instead, you get to choose which network you want to power your service depending on which one has the best coverage where you live.
One thing I constantly hear about Ting, too, is that it offers fantastic customer service and flexibility. And while its roaming rates are not included in the base package like Project Fi, they're relatively inexpensive.
- Only pay for what you need
- T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon network
- GSM and CDMA devices
- Can get expensive for data
- No network switching
Custom plan for light users
If you only use a little data, you can save a lot with Ting. Pay only for what you need with good coverage to boot starting at the bare minimum.
Best Customization: Tello
Tello is a carrier you might not have heard of before, but that's something you should change. It's quickly becoming one of the most interesting players in the mobile space, and as an alternative to Google Fi, there's a lot to like.
The best thing about Tello is its Build Your Own Plan tool. Tello includes free unlimited texting for everyone and then allows you to choose how much data and minutes you want every month. The options aren't as fine-tuned as Ting, but the value offered here is undeniably great.
If you don't use your phone a bunch, you could get 2GB of data and 300 minutes for just $12/month. If you want to go all-out with "unlimited" data (LTE speeds capped at 25GB) and minutes, you'll spend just $39/month. All plans include free calling to Canada, Mexico, China, and Romania, not to mention Tello's international rates for other countries is quite competitive.
Rounding out the experience is free hotspot access, the ability to reconfigure your plan at any time, and a BYOP program that enables you to bring your own CDMA phone over to Tello.
- Highly customizable plans
- Unlimited everything plan is very affordable
- Hotspot access is included
- Free calling to Canada, Mexico, China, and Romania
- Can only bring CDMA devices
- Sprint's network isn't as good as the competition
Sprint with roaming
With a customizable plan, included hotspot, and free calling to select countries, Tello gives you a lot of value for your money.
The reality is that nothing in the U.S. is like Google Fi. Google's carrier experiment may be a little more expensive on a per-gigabyte basis, and more restrictive from a phone choice perspective. But in many ways, and for many people, it's the ideal network provider.
Of course, not everyone has access to a phone that taps into Fi's full potential, so hopefully, these offerings will come in handy when you're searching for your next alternative carrier. And with no contracts, you're free to try out more than one. Thanks to unlimited service, a low price, and an extensive LTE network, Visible is the best alternative as long as you don't need to use your phone outside of the U.S.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Samuel Contreras When Samuel is not writing about networking at Windows Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.
Joe Maring is Android Central's News Editor and has had a love for anything with a screen and CPU since he can remember. He's been talking/writing about Android in one form or another since 2012 and often does so while camping out at the nearest coffee shop. Have a tip? Reach out on Twitter @JoeMaring1 or send an email to email@example.com!
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