Visible vs. Google Fi: Which carrier should you subscribe to?

Google Fi is a great choice for many people, especially those looking for some of the best coverage around. Google Fi's coverage isn't the best fit for everyone but with T-Mobile's growing network and expansive 5G coverage, and it will likely improve. Google Fi also stands alone on international roaming, being the best carrier for traveling abroad. Visible is still a strong choice, with solid domestic coverage from Verizon. Visible's cheap unlimited data. And with no soft data caps, Visible can save heavier smartphone users a lot of money.

Visible vs. Google Fi: Get the right network

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The biggest difference between these two carriers is the network. Visible is one of the best MVNOs that uses Verizon's network. Visible uses this network to great effect, with LTE and 5G support on select devices. Visible has no support for 3G or roaming, so you won't have a fallback if you are in an area with spotty Verizon coverage. Luckily, Verizon's LTE network is one of the strongest in the nation, with great density and reliability. Long story short, Verizon most likely has you covered.

Visible speed test on LTE

Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central (Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

Google Fi takes a different approach by enlisting the tech of three carriers. Phones specifically designed for Google Fi can utilize the T-Mobile and US Cellular LTE and 5G networks, choosing whichever is best in an area. If you bring your own unlocked GSM phone to Google Fi, you will connect with just the T-Mobile network.

Both networks now include 5G coverage; however, Google Fi's T-Mobile network has much greater coverage and phone support. Visible supports 5G with access to both Verizon low-band and Ultra Wideband coverage. Verizon's C-band 5G network has also been making rapid progress in expanding into suburban and rural areas.

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Header Cell - Column 0 VisibleGoogle Fi
NetworkVerizon WirelessT-Mobile and US Cellular
Unlimited dataUnlimitedSlowed at 22GB
5G includedYesYes
HotspotYes (5Mbps)Yes (shared)
InternationalNone200+ countries

Visible vs. Google Fi: Pick your Google Fi plan

Google FI Website

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Android Central)

Google Fi has three plans, with the major distinction being the amount of data you get and international features. The entry-level Flexible plan costs $20 per month for unlimited calling and texting. Beyond that, high-speed data is $10 per gigabyte, which includes a mobile hotspot. Data is added as needed automatically until you hit the Bill Protections threshold.

Bill Protection on Google Fi is a feature that stops charging the standard data rate at 6GB of usage, and nothing changes unless you hit 15GB. At 15GB, your data is throttled, but you can add high-speed data at, you guessed it, $10 for 1GB. The maximum you'll pay without manually adding data is $80 per month, plus fees.

Google Fi also has two unlimited plans that come with 35GB or 50GB of high-speed data. After you use your data, you'll be slowed to 2G speeds until your next billing period. Your video streaming quality is also limited to 480p. The cheaper Simply Unlimited plan comes in at $60 per month for a single line. No hotspot data is included.

If you want all of the perks of the Flexible plan with more data, Unlimited Plus comes with 50GB and adds hotspot usage back in. You can also order a data-only SIM to put in another device. You do get 100GB of Google One cloud storage and free calling to more than 50 countries.

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Google Fi's plans
Header Cell - Column 0 FlexibleSimply UnlimitedUnlimited Plus
5GYesYesYes
Data$10/GB (up to 15GB)35GB high-speed50GB high-speed
Mobile hotspotShared5GBShared
International data200+ destinationsNone200+ destinations
Video qualitySDSDSD
Extra perksData SIMN/AData SIM, 100GB Google Cloud
Base cost (1 line)$20$50$65

For each of these plans, you can bring up to six additional lines with shared data and plan savings on up to four lines.

If you plan to travel internationally, then there is no contest. Google Fi is the king of international service, offering the same data rates in 200+ countries in the Flexible and Unlimited Plus plans. SMS texts are free, and calling is billed by the minute, depending on the country. Typically, they are around $0.20 per minute.

Visible vs. Google Fi: Save with Visible's plan

Visible has long been known for having a single simple plan, but the carrier has recently expanded its offer with two unlimited plans. The cheaper Visible plan is the most similar to the old plan, with unlimited talk, text, data, and hotspot data at 5Mbps. This plan's speed and service will look very similar to the old Visible plan we tested in our Visible review. You also get calling to Mexico and Canada.

Access to 5G is included though you won't get access to the network's full speed. Even so, it's plenty fast for just about anything you do on a phone, so if you're looking for ways to save, this is a good plan to start with.

Visble+ takes things up a notch with 50GB of premium data, faster 5G access, and more robust international features. Visible+ customers can call 30+ countries for free and text 200+ countries as well. This plan also gets unlimited talk, text, and data while roaming in Mexico and Canada.

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Visible's plans
Header Cell - Column 0 VisibleVisible+
DataUnlimitedUnlimited (50GB premium)
5G accessNationwideNationwide and Ultra Wideband
Hotspot dataUnlimited (5Mbps)Unlimited (5Mbps)
Spam protectionYesYes
Price$30 per month$45 per month

If you're on the old Visible plan and are thinking about which new plan to switch to, the best choice really depends on your personal experience with the carrier. Both plans will see a slight uplift in responsiveness thanks to a shift to the Verizon core resulting in better pings for many people. The Visible+ plan may be worth it if you live in a congested area and have noticed your speeds not keeping up in peak times.

Visible vs. Google Fi: What phones can you get?

Google Fi Sim on map

Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central (Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

Google Fi supports most unlocked phones utilizing T-Mobile's GSM network. There are, however, some phones that support the entire network, including switching to US Cellular if the connection is stronger. You can even have a free data-only SIM card to put in another device if you like to carry a tablet or an extra phone.

If you're ready for a new phone, you can buy one from Google Fi that will work with the carrier's network switching or simply bring one of the best Android phones unlocked if you have solid T-Mobile coverage.

Visible's phone support is more limited due to Visible's nature as an all-digital carrier requiring phones to support Verizon's VoLTE. This list is growing and includes the most popular Android phones, such as the Galaxy S21 and S22 series and the Google Pixel series. Most iPhones after the iPhone 6 are supported as well.

Needless to say, a phone on Visible will need to support Verizon's LTE network. Visible will guide you through checking your phone's IMEI before you pay for service. If you're ready for a new phone, you can buy one directly from Visible or even swap an old Android for a new one with Visible Swap.

Visible vs. Google Fi: Which one works best for you?

Google Fi is a top choice for a lot of people, especially with multiple lines. Google Fi also has great phone compatibility making it easy to switch for just about anyone. The unique international roaming features won't make sense for many, but for the right people, it's unmatched. For most people, especially those that only need one line, Visible is the better choice. Even compared to Google Fi's multi-line plans, Visible is still one of the cheapest plans around. Its growing phone support makes it an excellent carrier for a new smartphone.

When Samuel is not writing about networking or 5G at Android 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.