Best Alternatives to Google Fi Android Central 2019

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

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 now works with Android!

For $40/month, Visible gives you unlimited talk, text, and LTE data on Verizon's vast LTE network. Video streaming is limited to 480p, but you can use as much data as you'd like throughout the month.

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, 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.

Visible works with more phones all the time. Visit the BYOD page to see if you have a compatible device. In addition to being able to bring an unlocked S9/S9+ if you already own one, you can also buy a handset directly from Visible with 0% financing through Affirm.

Don't forget to make sure your have coverage.

Pros:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data
  • Verizon LTE
  • Simple plan
  • Unlimited hotspot

Cons:

  • No roaming
  • No international service
  • Limited phones

Best overall

Visible

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 US.

Buy in bulk: Mint Mobile

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 three, six, 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 choose; 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 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.

Don't forget to make sure you have coverage.

Pros:

  • Works with most unlocked phones
  • Lots of data choices
  • Hotspot included

Cons:

  • No unlimited option
  • Must buy in bulk

Buy in bulk

Mint Mobile

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 data packages: 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.

Don't forget to make sure you have coverage.

Pros:

  • Lots of data
  • Save with more lines
  • Cloud storage with unlimited plans
  • Works with most unlocked phones

Cons:

  • No hotspot on smaller plans

Tons of data

Metro by T-Mobile

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 on 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, since it runs on 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.

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." A mobile hotspot is available, but you'll need to hand over another $10/month to use it.

One significant advantage to 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.

Don't forget to make sure you have coverage.

Pros:

  • Big AT&T LTE network
  • Mexico and Canada calling in unlimited plan
  • Unlimited data (slowed after data allotment)

Cons:

  • SD quality video
  • Hotspot only on biggest plan

Best on AT&T

Cricket Wireless

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 custom plan: 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 two networks, Sprint and T-Mobile, though unlike Google Fi you can't dynamically switch between them — your phone may be compatible with both services, but you'll need to choose whether you want GSM or CDMA service, and can switch SIM cards based on your location and coverage.

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.

Don't forget to make sure you have coverage.

Pros:

  • Only pay for what you need
  • T-Mobile or Sprint network
  • GSM and CDMA devices

Cons:

  • Can get expensive for data
  • No network switching

Best custom plan

Ting

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 on Sprint: Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile operates on Sprint's network and even brings along roaming to fill in the gaps on Sprint's coverage maps. This is a great bonus and not something available on all Sprint MVNOs.

Virgin Mobiles plans all have unlimited talk and text with different tiers for LTE data. At $35 per month, you get 5GB of LTE data with free 2G data after that. $45 per month gets you 10GB and $60 per month removes all of the limits. International calling is available at $5 per month.

Virgin mobile sells plenty of phones from iPhones to the Galaxy S10e. It should be possible for anyone to find a phone that fits their needs. You can also bring a compatible device if you have one. Check your phone for compatibility here.

Don't forget to make sure you have coverage.

Pros:

  • Sprint LTE with data roaming
  • Unlimited talk, text, and data (2G after data allotment)
  • International calling for $5/mo.

Cons:

  • Hotspot is extra
  • Limited BYOD

Best on Sprint

Virgin Mobile

Sprint with roaming

Many MVNO providers drop roaming support, but Virgin Mobile keeps it intact with no additional fees. Competitive pricing makes Virgin a strong option.

Bottom line

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 US.

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.

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